Berthoud Pass-Winter Park Traverse (Mis)adventure


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Even under the light of the moon, I’d have had no idea he was there if it weren’t for the spotlight and blue lights suddenly illuminating the dull shadows around me. I flipped my headlamp back on, as if any more light was needed, and, slightly surprised, greeted “good evening officer.” As he slowly stepped out of his car, he asked, bewildered at the sight of a guy in short shorts running up Berthoud Pass after midnight, “are you okay?”

I thought to myself, okay is a relative term. By most standards, probably not. In this situation at this time of night, certainly not. I replied “you know, I’m in the mountains, which is perfect, but my hopes of hitching a ride back to the top of the pass have been shattered…”

Let me rewind to the start.

Since last summer, I’ve been eyeballing the Continental Divide from Berthoud Pass to Winter Park. Today was the day I would take a shot at checking this one of many mountain traverse dreams off my list. I drove out to the top of Berthoud Pass (11,400’) late in the afternoon to start prepping my gear. Overhead, intermittent clouds from a distant rain storm passed over the sun, varying the vibrancy of colors found on the Divide about 1,500’ above me. I took a long gulp from my water jug before snapping the top back on, and tossing it into the black hole of gear in the back of my Jeep. Here we go.

I started the climb upward toward the weather station, where I would intersect with the Continental Divide trail. After a short 10 minutes, I joined with the trail, and turned my bearings toward the north. The trail was fairly runnable as I wound beneath along the edge of the summit of Berthoud Pass, ultimately adjoining the proper Continental Divide. Beneath to my right was an alpine lake, still partially coated with fissured ice, and blue as could be. The sun, low in the sky, pitched a shade of orange to the top of the lake, making the scene all the more Colorado authentic.


I watched the weather station, perched atop a precipitous cliff, grow increasingly small as I neared the top of my first of five 13,000’ points, Flora Peak (13,127’). The peak was dotted with cairns and wind bunkers, some of them surprisingly deep. I could imagine how hard the wind must howl up here in the winter; those must feel miraculous to hide out in during skimo adventures.

The view from Flora Peak


I broke trail and took the meadow across the next ridge toward Mt. Eva (13,130’). Around this time, I saw my first wild Ptarmigan, a seasonally camouflaged bird that elusively wanders above treeline. Actually, I nearly stepped on it; I’m glad it decided to move when it did!

Ptarmigan in summer camoflauge, center

At the top of Mt. Eva are the ruins of a dilapidated radio tower, completely toppled over and in shambles. The base building is accessible from holes in its foundation, or a jump up to the non-existent door, about five feet from the ground. Again, a great opportunity for some shelter if weather were to suddenly turn, or a place to throw a bivvy for the night.

Near Mt. Eva.
More from Near Mt. Eva.

The sun was setting on my left, emitting a deep red lightshow, pierced by the distant mountains of the Gore Range. For the next 30 minutes, I was able to navigate in the afterglow, before ultimately turning on my Fenix headlamp and flipping up my Oakley Trail Prizms around the top of Parry Peak. From Parry Peak (13,397), the lights of Winter Park and its ski area flickered far beneath me, with James Peak towering above me, across a sizable valley.

I took a moment to enjoy the solidarity and take in the views, everything now a dull grey color, with the moon just starting to rise behind me. I pulled out my Ultimate Direction Ultra Vest to combat the increasingly chilling breeze atop the divide. After a couple of fig bars and gulps of water, I clicked my headlamp back on and descended the talus toward my final 13er, James Peak. 

James Peak from Parry

Honestly, descending on talus is my nemesis. I hate when it shifts, occasionally catching an ankle, or winding me on a sore tailbone. It was that way multiple times on the way to the bottom of the valley between Parry/James, and I was so happy to have that twenty minutes of careful footwork behind me, and also that my brand new Altra Lone Peak 3.0’s had held up to the beating.

Ascending James, previously unseen, in the dark, was a pretty arduous task. Coming up the valley involved a few big moves on large talus along a thin ridge, and a bit of route spotting along a steep edge. Things didn’t get easier when I ran into a steep snowfield not far from the top. The snow, judging from the welling around large rocks, was still between 5-8 feet deep, slick, and steep, though malleable. I climbed up and over what few rocks stuck through the surface to avoid as much snow as possible, and spotted a route that would require me to cross about 30 feet of snow to get back to the dry ground above.



These were the most precise, calculated steps I may have even taken in my life. I jammed my poles into the snow as support on the steep angle beneath me. I slowly kicked out foot placements, one by one. Moving my poles forward, maintaining three points of contact, I kicked out another foothold. I was tingling with adrenaline. After a tense, slow 10 minutes, my feet hit rock. I looked back, and saw my line of footholds across the snow, with light reflecting all the way down. I trudged up the muddy grade to the top of James, and once again could see Winter Park, my next destination, far beneath.

It was quarter to eleven PM. I had been out for 3h20mm, and had covered just 8 miles in that time, with only about 60% of the route done. I took the talus field down to the CDT. I welcomed its buffered, simple surface and finally got some quicker movement in. I ran the CDT for about a mile and a half, just by the light of the moon. My Suunto beeped to let me know I hit my checkpoint; from here, it was an off-trail descent to the Jim River, where I would intersect a forest service road.

Winter Park lights from the summit of James Peak.

I was once again introduced to a talus field for about 1,500ft of descending in the dark. A couple of times I slipped, landing on my poles, which surprisingly didn’t break. Frustrated yells periodically broke the silence, until I ultimately reached treeline.

The James Peak Wilderness is interesting to me, in that it is dense with tall (living) trees, but also equally dense with dead trees lining the forest floor that can at times be incredibly fragile. While bushwhacking, I stuck my foot straight through multiple trees which were approximately 4-5 inches thick. It is also a good idea to keep your sights high for overhanging branches; I had one take my hat and headlamp off.

I met with a stream around midnight, just beneath the forest service road. I slipped on one of the rocks while just steps from the other side, and went down in the snowmelt water, soaking myself up to my stomach in water that was just a foot deep. Nice. (It evaporated within the next hour… no big worries here)

I finally joined with the forest road, and was able to spot campfires along the way. Relieved to be   done bushwhacking and navigating talus, I finally started to run again, until I met Winter Park’s Highway 40, at the northern terminus of Berthoud Pass. I looked up at the Continental Divide’s silhouette high above me, and let out a smile and little “woo!”

I started jogging up the pass, shining my headlamp on an extended thumb for the passing cars.

One. Two. Ten. Twenty. Nobody was stopping. People get picked up all the time on Loveland Pass, just across I-70 from here. Come on. Then, nothing. I didn’t see a car pass for what seemed like an eternity. It was almost 1am, and I’d not even gone two miles on the pass. I turned my headlamp off, and walked by the light of the moon, awaiting my next potential ride. Then, from the back of a pull off, a spotlight shone into my face, and blue lights bounced off off of my surroundings. As I shielded my eyes, for whatever reason, I turned on my headlamp, perhaps in retaliation for burning my retinas. As if it did anything.

As soon as the lights appeared, they turned off, and a police officer climbed from his car, turning on his Maglite. “Are you okay?” I thought to myself, okay is a relative term. By most standards, probably not. I replied “you know, I’m in the mountains, which is perfect, but my hopes of hitching a ride back to the top of the pass have been shattered…”

“How did you get out here?”

“The Divide from the top off the Pass.”

“Wait, you’re trying to tell me you ran down the pass to here”

*Pointing into the dark* “No, the actual Continental Divide, up there.”

“You’re crazy.”


“Of course I can give you a ride, man!”

The officer took my poles and pack, and patted me down before opening the door to the back of the car. I thanked him profusely for putting me in the back of a squad car. He radioed back to HQ, “I’ve got a pedestrian that’s been running the CD all night and needs a ride to the top, so I’m taking him back there.”

He asked the typical questions. What made you want to do this, are you training for something, did you eat or drink anything up there, how do you train…” We had a pretty good conversation out of it on the ten minute ride to the top. We rendezvoused with another officer in the summit parking lot, whom I was introduced to after getting out of the car. Apparently yet another officer had spotted me in the forest earlier that night and told him I was heading toward town. Where do these guys hide??!!

Grateful to be back to where I started, I shook hands with everybody and wished them best of luck and safety. I demolished the PBJ sandwich and bag of peanut-caramel trail mix I had stashed in my Jeep. I looked at the traverse, far above me, and reminisced on the misadventures of the day, thankful for each step in this vast, colorful wilderness. I pointed my wheels toward home, put on the radio, and drove into the night.



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Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile

Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile Race Recap
Brandon Yonke
IG: @brandon_yonke_running
Published content:


When I moved to Colorado in March, one of the first items on my to-do list was to find a race in my new home state. Having been previously enamored with the Sawatch range and the surrounding areas, Collegiate Peaks 50 mile seemed like the logical choice. The history of the race, fast times, challenging terrain, and the horizon of immense peaks summed up my choice; I was registered in almost no time.

Being fresh out of Michigan, I slated elevation training to the top of my training objectives, followed by distance. I spent five of the six of the weekends of my short training/acclimatization period enjoying the vast landscapes of oxygen deprived Guanella Pass and Loveland Pass. My most memorable training run was 15 miles of the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, at midnight, on April’s full moon; no headlamp required. The 12,000ft average elevation of this training run was a confidence boost as the race approached. For a “flatlander”, I was glad to be getting acclimatized well in this land of giants.

Before I knew it, I was driving toward Buena Vista on the night before the race, stuffing garlic-herb rigatoni and fig bars down my throat. I’ve only laid eyes on the Collegiate Peaks once before, about a year ago. Tonight, they were lost behind a blanket of darkness, waiting to be unveiled in the quickly approaching golden-orange rays of sunrise.

I practically sleepwalked into the Buena Vista Community Center to check in the next morning, to find out I had arrived about 30 minutes early. I found my tag, and filled the time with a nap on the floor.

Bill Dooper, “superfan” of trail running, walked through the door as my alarm went off. I greeted him and caught up with him for the first time since last year’s Hardrock 100. His love for the sport and genuine charisma can fill a room; it’s always a pleasure to see Bill at races.

Outside, dawn was in full effect, and the rays were about to light the tops of the peaks. I headed out to line the start with the rest of the athletes. The snowcapped Collegiate Peaks corroborated the  chilly air in town, even some 6,000+ feet below. I stuffed my Ultimate Direction Fastdraw handhelds with water and plenty of electrolytes, as well as fig bars, because, heck, they’re amazing (notice the pattern?).

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One of the many views of the Collegiate Peaks we would experience throughout the day. Courtesy: SkiPix.Com

Legs started turning at 6:30am. From the start, the race was interesting. Tim Parr, Travis Macy, a few others, and myself were running through the first section of dirt, roughly a quarter mile into the race, when one of them snagged a poorly-laid trip wire to the stomach. Luckily, no injuries ensued. I stayed back to unwind the heavy wire from the tree branch and set it aside, bewildered that somebody would do such a thing. I am optimistic that this was a one-off scenario and that people are generally much humane than to do this.

A few minutes later I was back with the front group of assumed-to-be 50 milers, and we blazed our way into the real single track. A fun, rocky first decent emptied into one of many sandy, dry river bed crossings to would be found on the course. A herd of about a dozen deer jumped single-file over a fence beside us and crossed our path as the sun reflected off the dew covered field just to the other side of a stream beside us. It was a relaxing start to what would be an exhausting day.

The group of four of us took turns leading the way for the first 12 miles or so. We hurdled some cattle grates, joking about being subpar  track/field hurdlers in high school, just before triple-jumping the rocks across a stream….. I’ve still got it. We separated at aid station two. I ran into Travis Macy again not long after, and he verified that everybody ahead of us was in the marathon. Woops. At least they were cool guys to go out way too fast with. I wound the corners of the next mile with Travis, and he too took off ahead. I ultimately made my way back up to one of the first guys I ran with, and we tackled the first major hill- about 7 miles long- together.

At the top, much to my thankfulness, an aid station awaited. I dumped the canister of salt into my palms and ate it straight, followed by about 30oz of water. The dry, desert-like landscape combined with a cloudless sky had been evaporating sweat faster than I could sweat it. I took a moment to lay in the nearby stream crossing to cool myself off. I was dry again in about half an hour.

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Rounding out the hill, and topping out the course well over 9,000ft. Courtesy:

From there, I was left with my mind and my shadow under the cloudless sky. The back half of the course grew thin as it passed through massive boulders. The seven miles I had just come up was now a seven mile descent, plus a mile give or take back down to town. I paced with a local track athlete who was getting in a workout for a few minutes. It was a good mental boost to run into another person!

I was welcomed back to town by a crowd cheering as I ran across the bridge that links the course to the Community Center parking lot. At the lap, I stopped to swap out bottles (mainly for the resupply of fig bars and salt caps that was in the little storage pocket😀 ) and sloppily slathered myself in SPF 70 sunscreen; it’s a necessity out there. I turned around and began my second lap, which is just a reversal of the first.

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Crossing the bridge just before the finish/lap line. Courtesy:

My race strategy was pretty simple for this race: run smart on lap one, then run fast and take chances on lap two. That implied the 7-8 mile hill I just came down would be a tough climb back up. I focused on may leg turnover and breathing; the elevation was inevitably starting to creep up on me. I knew I’d have to minimize any unnecessary energy expenditure on the long climb. My situation didn’t get any easier once I caught a glimpse of the second place runner just ahead. From then on, I ran every step of the hill in pursuit of second place, rising up into the horizon. Behind me, the Collegiate Peaks put it all in perspective; it could definitely be steeper. Run fast and take chances…

I was just as happy to see the aid station at top as the first time around. Again, I had a few more rounds of Coca Cola and a handful of salt as I trash-talked the hill with the aid station crew. They wished me luck, and I began bombing down the other side of the hill at a pace that surprised me. It was such a contrast to the previous lap, coming up this steeper side of the hill. It felt good to move fast down the sandy slope and to hurdle over the rocks that reduced me to a walk/hike a few hours prior. Speaking of contrast… it started snowing. Last time I was here, I had just dunked my body in the river to cool off. It stopped stopped snowing as soon as it started, thankfully. I was warm again in no time.

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I still could see second place ahead of me. I knew the road was about four miles ahead now, and from there, two miles to the finish. I did my best to reel him in, but it looks like he did an equal effort of staying ahead. We had our own race going within the race, and it continued at the aid station. I was about ten seconds behind at the aid station, watching and evaluating every move of second place as I approached. Water. Salt. Pretzels. Back to the chase.

We both wound our way through the sandy, dried river bed and back to the road, burning out our last energy reserves as the race grew ever closer to the finish. Reaching the road felt so good, but also was the longest two miles of the race. It made me realize how much everything hurt, and on the other hand, just how far I had come.

The final section of the race went along the banks of the river, begging for me to soak my swollen legs in it. The finish line stood across the parking lot from me; It’s been a while since I’ve seen metal barricades and chalk lines that looked so beautiful.

I ran down the finish chute, relieved to be here, falling right into the guy who had the medals. I was so lightheaded and nauseated from a combination of racing harder than ever before, and the elevation. Kaitlyn, my awesome girlfriend and running buddy, grabbed me under the arms and helped me walk off the course. I immediately found the guy who finished in second, about five minutes ahead of me. Colton and I shared an exhausted handshake and hug, and exchanged our congrats. I’m proud of him for earning a well deserved second place, and thanked him, with a laugh, for staying within my view and keeping me pushing my way toward the finish. He was an awesome competitor, and I feel we both ran a bit harder because of each other vying for the position.

Coming back to life.

As a finishing note, I’ll say that there is so much power in having a supportive, tight-knit community like that of trail running. The volunteers at the race were incredible and always ready to help, the spectators were supportive, and the athletes there to encourage each other to be the best they can be. Cheers to all the people out there for making the race everything it was. It’s one for the books, and I look forward to returning!

Gear shoutouts:

Altra Lone Peak 2.5 & calf sleeves
Ultimate Direction Fastdraw 10
Oakley Flak 2.0 Trail Prizm & compression top
Salomon S-Lab Exo short
Cloudine merino socks
Patagonia hat
I feel Morton Salt deserves a note here as well.

UD Marathon Vest, Jenny V2, Groove

It is here! The Marathon Vest from Ultimate Direction is the perfect vest for somebody who is looking to get into hydration vests for either road or trail. A bottle pocket, nutrition pocket, phone pocket, and a stuff pocket make up just a few of the features on this vest. Don’t forget about the reservoir compartment as well! I review this vest in the video below.

Also out this month are the Jenny V2, a higher-capacity take on the original, women’s specific Jenny vest. Also, the Groove system is a new line specifically for use with the body-conforming soft bottles. Check it all out HERE!

Review: Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket

November 14, 2015
Additional content:

There are few places that I enjoy running at more than on the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass, CO. Choose one direction, and within 5 miles you have climbed nearly 3,000ft over a 13er, then Grey’s and Torrey’s, both over 14,000 ft. Choose the other direction, and follow ridges   that tower over forests and lakes for as far as the eye can see.


I found myself in the vicinity of Loveland Pass this week during a quick trip to Colorado. I always have a change of running clothes and shoes in the car, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to drive a little bit out of the way to run in my favorite places. (Okay, so it was 3.5 hours round trip out of the way… worth it.)

I arrived at the Loveland Pass summit exactly at noon. I stepped out of my rental car, silently applauding it for somehow making to the top. The sky was a blanket of blue above me, seemingly being held up only by the countless mountain peaks that lined the horizon in every direction. Per normal, there was a significant breeze. This time, it was carrying a wintery chill with it.

I reached in to my Ultimate Direction SJ Vest and grabbed the Ultra Jacket, which was tucked away effortlessly inside. I typically keep it stored in my vest this time of year in case I need it for unexpected weather; at just over 3oz, it goes unnoticed.

I started heading up Cupid’s peak, the nearest mountain to the summit of the pass. Footing was better than expected for this time of year. A hard, thin layer of snow dotted the trail in places, mixed in with the equally present rocky dirt. It was a perfect situation to be wearing the Altra Lone Peak Neoshell’s, which are waterproof and gritty enough to claw their way through any sort of terrain.

Two-mile-high tundra.

After a short few minutes, I was plenty warm and started shedding layers. I folded up my lightweight sweater and slid it between the bungees on the SJ Vest, securely out of the way but easily accessible if needed. I never had to reach back for it though. Even with the mid-teen windchill temperatures, I stayed perfectly comfortable in a long sleeve tech shirt and the Ultra Jacket. Being waterproof and windproof, it truly is a great barrier from the elements.

I continued my way up Cupid, alternating between hiking and running. Gasp. I was reminded that at just shy of 13,000ft, I was about 25 times higher elevation than Michigan. From the top, I gazed at the Continental Divide, watching it pass over Grey’s Peak, which was vibrantly reflecting the sunshine from it’s snowcapped peak. Meanwhile, I did my best to hold my ground as the wind whipped into me. I unrolled the built-in mittens from inside the jacket and put them over my gloves, helping to keep my hands a bit warmer.

Run fast, take chances.
Run fast, take chances. (Greys Peak, far left background)

I turned around to run back, the wind now in my face. I put on the hood of the Ultra Jacket and tightened it up. I realized that even through all the effort expended in climbing up here, running, and pushing through snow, I was still completely dry in the jacket. It was nice to know that it was breathable enough not to collect condensation, especially at a time of year and location where hypothermia could be a very real threat.

I bombed down the valley I had just come up, and was back to Cupid in no time. One other hiker was nearly to the top. I passed her on my way down. We exchanged something like “hey! its a beautiful day to be out here!” screaming, still inaudibly, over the wind. We understood each other’s efforts and just smiled and nodded in comprehension.

Hurdling rocks.
Nature Hurdles.

To sum up my experience with the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket:

-Extremely lightweight and packable
-surprisingly good at keeping you warm
-built in mittens are a lifesaver when your fingers get cold
-Waterproof and windproof, yet breathable
-the hood is an added bonus, especially the visor and air-channel that keeps your hair from getting sweaty.
-has an internal pocket to store a phone, tissues, calories, or anything you don’t want exposed to the elements.
-bungees at the waist and in the hoodie to cinch the jacket down to a personalized fit.

Thanks, Trail Runner Magazine!

It’s an honor to have my content posted on Trail Runner Magazines home page, as well as at the top of their email blasts today. These photos and amazing stories wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the resilience and dedication that these athletes had as they tackled one of the most treacherous ultra courses out there. My applaud once again goes out to them; I hope I can bring more of the trail/ultra running spirit to readers again in the future!

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Barkley Fall Classic 50k- Blood, Mountains, and Camraderie

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Instagram: @brandon_yonke_running

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I stood under the jagged skyline of Frozen Head State Park, scanning the briars for signs of movement. I was at mile 18, and despite being four hours into the race, nobody had passed through. The sounds of cracking branches and distant yells of some athletes pierced the sky on occasion, making it known that they were coming.

Frozen Head State Park
Frozen Head State Park

Slowly. Surely. Painfully. A nearby spectator shook her head and with a sigh, recalled similar situations from past runnings of Barkley events. “If you ain’t ever prayed, this race will make you pray. If you ain’t ever cussed, this race will make you cuss too.” Followed by another spectator’s “whoever comes over that hill first is going to be bloody, muddy, and having the time of their life.”

A few tense minutes passed, then branches shook, rocks tumbled, and a loud grunt broke the silence. I rushed over to the edge of Rat Jaw to see which unfortunate runner had the privilege of blazing a trail up a hill that might as well have been covered in barbed wire. To my surprise, and that of the rest of the spectators, two runners appeared from the thicket of thorns beneath us. They made a final push up the last ten meters of the hill, falling on loose dirt, rocks, and briars as they half-scrambled to the service road. The look of relief on their faces quickly faded when they realized they had to climb three more stories of stairs to the top of an observation tower to make it to the official checkpoint.


Troy Allen

Alicia Rich

The whole scene played out exactly how I expected it to. I’d heard and read the stories of Barkley, and I expected this to be relatively identical. The blood and hundreds of cuts on the arms and legs of the first runners accentuated the widely held notion that the 50k race is designed to lead to a DNF, just as its infamous 100 mile counterpart. An hour passed before the next runner made his way to the top, having gone off course for quite some time. Unlike the Barkley Marathons, the Fall Classic was marked, though with serious minimalism, which resulted in multiple routes for runners to guess their way to the top of the various hills. Unconventional gear was spotted all day long. Utility gloves and shin guards were some popular pieces of apparel, and one racer said half-jokingly that the cloth-printed map could double as a tourniquet if need be.




After a few hours on top of Rat Jaw, I ran down to the next checkpoint to catch the runners at the “26.2” mark. As I approached, I could hear an unmistakable, raspy, southern draw heckling runners. “Ya going to keep on going? There’s only nine miles left, all of them gradual downhills straight to the finish.” The race founder, Laz, stood in the middle of the trail, almost like an obstacle. Athletes either accepted further invitation to play his game, or added their name to the ever-lengthening DNF list.

One athlete in particular athlete got a bit different speech from Laz though. I spotted Josh Berry on the trail, blood down his leg and skin flapping at his knee. Some tough love from a rock left him cut down to the bone and sent him sliding downhill, which should convince the average person to call it quits. Laz even made a fair argument “You’re not going to make a PR. There’s no Boston qualifier at stake. You’ve got a good [wound] there. We could call the paramedics and get you to the hospital for some stitches. You’re going to need them.” Even the most sincere invite to sign the DNF list couldn’t sway Berry from finishing the truncated “26.2” version of the “50k”. He picked up his hiking stick and turned his sights for the trail ahead. One step at a time, the trail disappeared behind him until there was no more trail to cover, and crossed the finish line.


Josh's digger.
Josh’s digger.

The day pressed on, and I moved to the finish line to capture some more photos. The finish line atmosphere was a testament to the spirit, heart and determination that trail runners of any distance have. I watched people limp, bleed, cry, cheer, and sprint as they came down that lone stretch of flat ground. I had only witnessed small pieces of their respective race experiences, but once again, I was reminded why I love this sport so much. Cheers to all of the athletes that were out there, crushing mountains, wading through thorns, and living out the sport with grit and perseverance.

Excitement at the finish
Excitement at the finish


Lifestraw: The Go Anywhere Filter

Find Lifestraw at


The Great Lakes have over six quadrillion gallons of fresh water in them, and just about one fifth of the fresh water in the world. They are also lined with dozens of state parks that offer blue waters, wildlife, and  hundreds of miles of hiking trails that make it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The water is certainly blue and beautiful, but as with all outdoor activities, it needs to be purified to drink. Lifestraw creates filtration products for personal and group use, and Lake Michigan offered a perfect opportunity to put this product to the test.

I set off for many miles of hiking along Lake Michigan this morning, carrying my typical trail nutrition, but only a Lifestraw for hydration. The availability of the water around here is certainly a luxury, but as mentioned, drinking it unfiltered would run the risk of consuming bacteria or protozoa that result from runoff, animal, and human waste. It’s good to know that Lifestraw is constructed to remove over 99.99% of contaminants. I’d surely need water on the hike; probably not the entire 1,000 liter capacity, but just in case, it’s good to have.

The sunrise on the horizon as the waves fell on the sand was a perfect way to start the day. Grains of sand licked at the back of my legs as I hiked along the shore. The occasional seagull squawked as I passed by, blending into the sound of the sand  crunching beneath my feet. I set my sightsto some dunes on the shore, and began my way up. As I made my way to the top, sliding backward in the sand with each step, I inevitably began to get thirsty. I remembered a small stream that passes behind the dunes, and decided that would be my first water stop.

The stream was relatively stirred up from the previous night’s rain, yielding a bit of a cloudy look to the water. I reached back to my pack and grabbed my Lifestraw. Though the stream was just six inches deep and a bit murky, the Lifestraw effortlessly drew water through its filter. Whew! The water was even a bit chilly, making it all the more refreshing. Plus, drinking purified water without adding chemicals that result in a harsh taste is something I could easily get used to.

I continued onward, crossing the stream over a fallen tree before reaching the turnaround point in my run. Climbing back over the dunes, and passing the rolling hills in the woods made me realize just how light the Lifestraw was. It was hardly noticeable going up. My tiring legs thanked me for choosing this instead of a bulky filter. I stopped once more to drink right from Lake Michigan.  It tasted just like filtered water should; pure and refreshing.RiverBottle2

It was a perfect day for a hike. Being surrounded by nature is one of the fine things in life, and I had an excellent time even though I carried no water. Actually, I had access to all of those six quadrillion gallons if I really wanted them. After the first 1,000 liters passes through this Lifestraw, I’ll get another. Maybe someday my adventures and miles will allow me to filter even a fraction of that blue, shimmering stretch of horizon.


Made by Lifestraw

One of the greatest parts of hiking and camping is the solitude. Maybe this is found under towering cliffs at Yosemite,  the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or along rushing waters at the Grand Canyon. Maybe it’s a rustic cabin off a two-track that forks off from your favorite dirt road, or in a hammock on a sand dune. Regardless of where you are heading, there are times when the pursuit of solitude can result in base camp being far out of reach of a water tap.

Luckily, Lifestraw came up with a simple way to provide purified water for individuals and groups that get out there and immerse themselves in the outdoors. The Mission is a 5 liter reservoir that utilizes gravity to direct water through a filter at a rate of 9-12 liters per hour. At this rate, you can refill a water bottle in minimal time. Not having to worry about hiking out to replenish the reservoir allows for more time hanging out in paradise, tagging mountain peaks, or prepping a meal after a long day out. To make things even better, the Mission compacts to take up a surprisingly minimal space. If you’re a backpacker or a car-camping roadtripper, this is a great way to save space while satisfying your hydration needs.

Wherever you’re headed, move along freely. As a matter of fact, feel free to invite some friends as well. Stay a while and enjoy your destination. The Mission has got your water covered. The rest of the journey is up to you.MissionHammock1 MissionClose1

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