Ras and Kathy share their adventures, advice, techniques, wins, and fails as they move through the natural world under their own power, fully Animal and full...
The Grand Enchantment Trail is a 770 mile route that runs roughly east and west between Phoenix, AZ, and Albuquerque, NM. ***
Starting the afternoon of March 4th (get it, march forth?) Ras and Kathy, Team UltraPedestrian, will begin our attempt to be the first people to yo-yo the GET. We hope to make it in 70 days or so. We plan to adhere to a strict feet-on-the-ground ethic, self-supported, accepting no rides or hitchhiking.
You can follow our progress on our SPOT transponder at:
And we will be posting updates to our Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube when possible:
Ras and Kathy share their adventures, advice, techniques, wins, and fails as they move through the natural world under their own power, fully Animal and full...
What a Blessing to be a Hominid! Give Thanks for Life!
Ras was interviewed recently by Denny Krahe on the Diz Runs pocast. Get the inside scoop of Ras and Kathy’s next Only Known Time project as well as the nuts and bolts of the UltraPedestrian Ethos at the link below.
Ras Vaughan Thinks of an Impossible Challenge, and Then He Does It!
I had a full week off from my weeding job and the organized annual cross country ski trip in the Methow would begin on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Lisa and I would begin tallying kilometers skied, towards accomplishing our 2nd Methow Trails 200k Challenge (skiing 200k of the Methow Trails in a single season). By Saturday night, allowing us five days and four nights, Lisa and I hoped to have this challenge conquered. I devised a plan to drive to the Okanogan Highlands to visit Lisa first, in the small town of Chesaw, on Saturday. This meant an eight hour drive over a mountain pass, and on mostly snowy roads after that, until I reached my friend Lisa’s home, almost at the Canadian border. Near Lisa’s place, Ras and I own a five acre piece of land with a creek and a cabin. Since I was driving over the mountains anyway, I wanted to check in on our place, do some skiing off of the groomed trails, enjoy some time with Lisa in her hand built sauna, and hopefully get in a long run on a snow-plowed country road. Lisa had offered to let me stay in her guest cabin on her garlic farm. She had it heated up and all ready for me, despite the bitter cold weather they had been having. This sounded like the perfect way to turn this whole pre-Rendezvous Huts time, into a winter retreat.
Conditions of Steven’s Pass looked sketchy from reports, so I decided to take the longer but lower, and safer route. I drove off the north end of Whidbey Island and took I-5 south to I-90 and headed east. It would take longer, but it would allow me to take the lower in elevation pass through the Cascades, Snoqualmie. Stevens Pass was more direct but was requiring traction tires while Snoqualmie was bare and dry thanks to it being 1000 feet lower in elevation. Conditions were quite a bit better, although still wintery. I also decided to avoid Blewett Pass and eventually turned north up through Soap Lake and Ephrata. A long, solo drive like this in the winter, was a big mental challenge for me; one I was determined to overcome.
When I finally pulled up at Lisa’s, I could see smoke coming from the sauna chimney. Her husband Jason had been getting the sauna heated up for us already. I stepped out of the car into the shockingly cold air and immediately realized how serious the goal of skiing 200k this coming week was. I reached back into my car and fumbled for gloves, my warmest hat and my down puffy. Any time outside looking for gear in my car was going to be a challenge. I was happy I was as organized as I was.
Lisa led me back to the cabin that farm volunteers and guests use when visiting she and her husband Jason on their organic farm. They grow mostly garlic, but also enough fruit and veggies to preserve and keep them eating their farm food all year round. The small cabin was warm and cozy inside. I was going to enjoy having this space to myself for the next couple of days, and yet also being able to sauna and ski with my Adventure Bestie.
Lisa, Jason, their dog Lucy and I all had a great backcountry ski the following day on the acreage around their home. We spent about four hours skiing through the growth of huge spruce, pine and aspen trees. We skied past a creek with a restoration project in progress. A small black bird called a Dipper was pecking at the frozen banks of the creek. The bird’s presence was a good sign of the habitat being hospitable and offering the nourishment that it needs. That made us all happy.
Back at Lisa and Jason’s, we enjoyed a dinner of Lisa’s homemade veggie curry. We took another sauna at the cord wood structure they built themselves down by the same creek we had skied past earlier in the day. The whole experience was just what my spirit needed. And this was just the beginning of the week.
The following day, Lisa had to work at the small country store about three miles away. I had a hard time deciding whether to run or ski and so I decided to do a route that would incorporate both. I also wanted to visit Lisa at the store later in the day. Jason planned on making us vegan pesto pizza for dinner and I definitely wanted to work up a good appetite for that!
I drove to a pullout on a nearby country road. From here, I could ski and run a loop that would probably take about four hours in the deep snow. I got my Nathan VaporAiress pack loaded up with a few extra layers, some snacks and my Altra FKT’s I’d been wear-testing. The shoes are now on the market and called the King Mountain instead. They have the burliest tread on any shoe of Altras and I’m crushing on them hard right now. The deep snow made the skiing slow in my Fisher OutBounds. I skied through this Grouse Preserve for many winters, when Ras, Angela and I lived in our cabin. My plan today, was to ski through the preserve to the road, where I would cross over to our snowed-in driveway that leads back to the cabin, and change into my running shoes. I would have a couple of miles to run, on snowy country roads, before completing the loop back at my car. I was filled with gratitude that I had the opportunity to ski/run this loop, and was also filled with nostalgia and an appreciation for how far I’ve come with my adventuring. Skiing solo through this preserve land used to be a pretty big deal.
I stopped by the small store to visit with Lisa on my way back to her place. It was fun to experience the rural culture. While Lisa is working, a worn table near the pellet stove becomes a center of Highlands discussions. Her coworker and two other local ladies, one whom I’d known for years, were at the table when I walked in. Geared up with my Zoned Heat jacket and tights, my King Mountain running shoes, and other pieces of warm gear I was still wearing post-loop adventure, I became a curiosity. I answered the questions about all the gear, while ideas of how to put together a shoe drive of some kind in this area danced through my head. I’m still working on this one.
That night, Lisa and I did some baking together and finished packing for our two hour drive to the Methow the following day. It was time for the Rendezvous Ski Hut portion of my getaway to begin. I said good night to Lisa and headed back to the guest cabin for my final night there. I brought all of my gear bags inside to make final preparations and then fell soundly asleep.
The Following day Lisa and I skied up from the Cub Creek Parking Lot with a group of ladies. For many years, I had joined an eclectic group of Okanogan women on a Rendezvous Ski Hut Trip. River Jones had been the first to invite me along on one of these special winter outings. We normally stayed in either the Gardner Hut or the Grizzly Hut, and this year Grizzly it would be. There would be seven of us: Lisa, my adventure bestie from Chesaw, where Ras and I have a cabin on five acres; Melanie, a retired R.N., fun, fit and feisty, who has been on all of the hut trips I’ve been on over the years; Rise, also a retired R.N. who had worked with Mel for years, and brings her guitar to sing soft, soulful tunes in the background while lively lady chatting is going on; Dani, a spirited, young mom of two, a lovely, athletic lady and a good cook; Cassandra, a sweet, soulful mom of a teenage daughter, a grad student and an all- around beautiful & caring woman; and a new friend to me, Erin, a warm gentle healer, easy to be around with deep blue eyes. All of us have partners, so this lady time getaway was very special.
The group of us skied Cougar Bait to Cub Creek, 1.7k & 3k. We took Cow Creek to the Rendezvous Basin for 5.1k. Lisa and I had split off at this point and we continued down the Rendezvous Basin for 2.4k to Grizzly Way for 1.1k to the Grizzly Hut spur trail for .5k. We were staying at Grizzly Hut for three nights and would ski back to the parking lot on Friday. Later, after a wonderful Apple, Squash and Ginger Soup dinner by Dani, Lisa and I went back out into super cold temps, likely below zero, and very strong winds. We took the spur trail and Grizzly Way to Gunn Ranch Road where we skied an out n’ back to the Gunn Ranch parking lot for an additional 11k. We then returned to the hut for some sleep. Our day’s total was 27.7k.
Read Kathy’s entire trip report on our blog at:
The fifth annual UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge is a multi-faceted multi-media adventure blogging contest open to Trailrunners, Fastpackers, Backpackers, and bipeds of all stripes. Entrants may attempt any or all routes on offer. There are no aid stations, no course markings, no start/finish, no lemming lines, no cut offs, no set date; in fact, it's all up to you.
We have 15 total routes on offer for 2017, including all 10 classic UPWC routes, two Mind/Body Challenges (which include a reading assignment in addition to a particularly grueling route), and three new routes for 2017. For each of these 15 routes we will print 100 Finisher’s Patches. After all 100 patches are awarded a route will be closed, whether it takes three months, three years, or three decades for all the patches to be awarded.
Beginning in 2016 an UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge BadAss Of The Year award was instituted to recognize BadAssery above and beyond the normal UPWC level, which is a high bar indeed. The Inaugural UPWC BAOTY was awarded to “Jaunty” John Barrickman, for linking together the La Bohn Traverse route with the Alpine Lakes Grand Tour, in addition to completing the Windy Peak Lollipop and the Double Desolation Mind/Body Challenge route all in a single season.
How to participate in the 2017 UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge:
2. Between the day you sign up and midnight on December 31st, 2017, complete any or all of the routes as well as your trip report, whatever form it may take. Completing a route must include producing content in the form of a trip report, photo album, video, audio recording, artistic rendering, or any other form which reflects your experience of the route and can be posted online via your personal blog and/or the UPWC Facebook Group.
3. Email your proof and documentation, including trip report link and any GPS data to UltraPedestrian@gmail.com with the subject line "2017 UPWC PROOF & DOCUMENTATION" no later than midnight December 31, 2017. (In the near future this step will be replaced by posting your trip report directly to the UPWC website.)
4. In early 2018 a party will be held at Seven Hills Running Shop to wrap up the 2017 event and kick off the 2018 event. Finisher's patches and other awards and swag will be handed out for both the UPWC and UPMBC and the routes for 2018 will be presented.
5. If you are unable to attend the 2017 UPWC Wrap Party/2018 UPWC Kickoff Party, visit UltraPedestrianWildernessChallenge.com for complete results and visit Seven Hills Running Shop in person to pick up your UPWC commemorative finisher's patch. If you live outside the greater Seattle area, arrangements can be made to send you your finisher's patch via U.S. mail.
We strongly encourage all entrants to join the UPWC Facebook Group to ask questions about the routes, gather and share trail beta, connect with other UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge participants, scope out the competition, and keep up to date on the most recent news, information, and general goings on.
Failure to abide by the following may result in a time-based penalty, subtraction of points, and/or disqualification.
All participants must at all times comport themselves in accordance with Federal, State, and Local laws, as well as Leave No Trace backcountry ethics.
Entrants may participate solo or as part of a team. Teams can be independent, unsupported athletes that simply travel together, or team members can mule for one another. But teams will not be allowed to receive any outside support from non-running personnel.
Highly coveted Bonus Points will be awarded by UPWC organizers as they see fit. The value of these Bonus Points is ineffable, and they are generally highly cherished by those awarded them.
Every member of a team must be a registered entrant in the 2017 UPWC. Registration for minors is free.
All participants must submit proof of having completed the route via Spot Transponder, GPS/Garmin/Suunto/DeLorne/Other data, photographic evidence, and/or a convincingly detailed trip report/blog.
If you are submitting your entry for speed based awards you MUST provide SPOT/GPS/GARMIN/SUUNTO/DELORNE/OTHER data as proof.
Everyone who completes a route for the 2017 Ultrapedestrian Wilderness Challenge will be awarded a unique finishers' patch (only available through UPWC participation) for every route they complete. Each route will have a unique patch design of which only 100 will be made. Once those 100 patches are awarded for a route it will be closed.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE AN ENDURANCE ADVENTURER WITH AN AFFINITY FOR SUFFERING AND PRIMITIVE LIVING SKILLS and drop him in the middle of the Fijian jungle with nine other Expert Survivalists and ten pampered novices? Tune in and watch Ras find out when Kicking & Screaming premiers on Thursday, March 9th at 9:00PM on FOX.
For the second year in a row Phil Kochik and Seven Hills Running Shop hosted the UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge Wrap/Launch party. This now annual event is when the Finisher’s Patches and other honors are awarded, exceptional performance is recognized, and out is handed swag for the year recently concluded. Then new routes, rules updates, and any changes to the contest guidelines are announced.
It also happened to be a gathering of some of the most BadAss Hominids in the Pacific Northwest. Phil provided vegan pizza, there was soda pop, and an assortment of beer showed up. Red, gold, and green UltraPedestrian stickers were passed around. There was a vibe of not just excitement, but of long anticipated camaraderie, as well as some eyeballing of the boxes of prizes and swag from Nathan Sports and Altra Running.
The biggest announcement of the night was a change of format. For the first four years the UPWC announced new routes each year, Finisher’s Patches had the year printed on them, and the routes were off the table the next year. But all that ended with 2016.
Beginning with the 2017 UPWC all ten of the original Wilderness Challenge routes are open once again, as is the Double Desolation Mind/Body route and the new Sourdough Sufferfest Mind/Body route, and three new UPWC routes are in the offing. In total, there are 15 routes in play for the 2017 UPWC. For each route 100 Finisher’s Patches will be made. Once all 100 patches are awarded for a route, it will be closed. Each year new routes will continue to be added.
Altra Running supplied buffs for everyone who completed a route. Nathan Sports provided BigShot bottles to each finisher as well. And, of course, each person received a custom Finisher’s Patch for each route they completed.
Nathan Sports generously provided their brand new 25 liter Journey Fastpack as a special award for “Firsties”, the first people to complete a new route. Those who bag Firsties face a more substantial challenge than those who follow in their footsteps, since the do so with little to no route beta. John T. Barrickman got Firsties on the La Bohn Traverse, Jon Armstrong bagged Firsties for Windy Peak, and Lisa Eversgerd, with Kathy Vaughan, nabbed Firsties as the first ever female finishers of the Double Desolation Mind/Body Challenge.
Altra Running also supplied trucker caps emblazoned with their iconic Zero Limits motto. One was awarded to Brad Hefta-Gaub for his NOBO/SOBO/YOYO La Bohn Traverse out-and-back. Another was awarded to Arya Farahani for designing the La Bohn Traverse route. And Rm Shnkr Sv Kmr won a pair of Altra Olympus max midsole trail shoes.
Links to the complete results can be found here:
Ras is featured as an expert survivalist on the upcoming Fox television series Kicking And Screaming. Check out the new promo video at the link below:
There’s a particular type of ill-advised, hare-brained scheme that resonates with me on a fundamental level. When an adventure of this sort first presents itself, whether via outside influence or internal genesis, I experience both a physical and mental response. The physical response includes the sound of blood rushing in my ears, chills up and down my spine, sharpening and narrowing of my vision, and racing heart. Mentally my response is along the lines of, “That sounds impossible. I have to give it a try.” I’ve come to think of projects of this sort as Big Impossible Sounding Ideas.
As intimidating as they may seem at first conception, I’ve learned over the years that Big Impossible Sounding Ideas can be deconstructed into smaller and smaller component parts. Those parts can then be evaluated and explicated until a way is found to make each of them possible. Then all of those little possibilities can be reassembled to make that Big Impossible Sounding Idea not only a possibility but a reality. This is a process which can take months or even years to run its course while my brain chews on the problem, evaluating information, formulating and reformulating plans, and passively letting possibilities bounce around my skull to see if any of them take root. And once I decide that something is humanly possible, the all-consuming question for me then becomes, “Am I the Human Being to do it?” That’s exactly how things played out when I first heard about Chad Kellogg’s idea for the Mount Rainier Infinity Loop.
In 2015 Richard Kresser and I attempted a project I had dreamed up to combine the 93 mile Wonderland Trail around the base of Mount Rainier with a traverse of the summit. It’s not hyperbole to say that Mount Rainier is responsible for making me the man I am today, and I find myself continually drawn to it, persistently pursuing new ways to experience the mountain as completely as possible …
Read the entire article here:
Join us on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:30pm for an inspiring time with many of the most BadAss Hominids in the Pacific Northwest.
There's a lot in store (literally in Seven Hills Running Shop) this year. We'll give out finisher's patches to everyone who completed a Wilderness Challenge and/or Mind/Body Challenge route, award Firsties prizes, distribute participants' swag, and bestow our first ever UltraPedestrian BadAss of the Year award.
In addition, we have lots of big announcements, including a restructuring of the Wilderness Challenge format, a new event sponsor, upcoming media exposure, and the highly anticipated announcement of THREE NEW ROUTES for the UPWC for 2017 as well as a new Mind/Body Challenge route.
Come be a part of the unique inspiration and excitement of the