Adventure in a Tlingit Warrior Canoe

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Adventure in a Tlingit Warrior Canoe

Not long after I arrived on Baranof Island, I found myself in a canoe training for a 10.7 mile (nautical miles) paddle in the Pacific Ocean.  Thankfully, I was not alone, but, with 13 individuals who I did not know.  13 people in a canoe would appear to be a survival at sea moment unless it happens to be a Tlingit Warrior Canoe. 

 Toowu Latseen - Photo by Bill Greer

Toowu Latseen - Photo by Bill Greer

The Tlingit Tribe had different canoes for different uses.

Head Canoe: A large ocean-going canoe that was up to 70 feet long with a large prow and stern, used for long voyages and warfare. As trade flourished along the Northwest coast, this type of canoe became less prominent.

Northern Canoe: Designed for long journeys over open-ocean. It had flaring sides and a rounded bottom, designed for buoyancy and speed; the beam was from 5 to 9 feet and ranged from 40 to 60 feet in length. 

Small Canoe:  10-20 feet in length used for local transport and fishing.

The canoe became a visual symbol of community.

Tlingit Phrase:  Aadéi yanal.á!
English Phrase:  Steer toward it!

Tlingit Phrase: Yindei naytsóow yee axáayi.
English Translation: Push your paddles way down.

 Photo by Bill Greer

Photo by Bill Greer

 Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Don Kluting

Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Don Kluting

The Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race was created in 2007 and was the year that I participated.  Entrants used kayaks, rowing sculls and two Tlingit warrior canoes.  Most of the competitors were from Sitka, but there were participants from Juneau, AK, Salt Lake City, UT, Coeur d'Alene, ID and one from Adelaide, South Australia. 

 Photo by Don Kluting

Photo by Don Kluting

Our course of 10.7 nautical miles seemed like a long ways.  Thankfully, no hills!  It was not the longest course, which was 17.7 nautical miles, 20.4 statue miles.  

There were nine finishers in the long course and twelve in the 'sprint' event.  

Not talked about much, but our key competition was Kaasad Heeni Yaakw'.  This was the 'real' Tlingit warrior canoe.  Made of wood and much heavier and slower than our vessel.  Not sure of our construction material but it was lighter and faster.  

 Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' - Photo by Don Kluting

Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' - Photo by Don Kluting

Our Tlingit warrior canoe Toowu Latseen would cross the finish line in 2:52:14 coming in fifth place (short course).  This canoe is owned by Southeast Alaska Health Consortium (SEARHC).  Toowu Latseen means Inner Strength.  

The 'Kaasad Heeni Yaakw' is the Sitka Traditional Canoe Club's boat and means Canoe From Indian River.  They finished eighth in 3:04:22.

Later, we would hope on the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry system) to enjoy the Kake Dog Salmon Festival in Kake, Alaska and race once again.  This time it was only one mile, but the weather was threatening.  Storm arose just as we got to the start line.  

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

A crazy time on the ocean, but we would conquer the seas and our warrior canoe competition.

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

 Photo by Trina Nation

Photo by Trina Nation

 Checking on the Bears during the Kake Dog Salmon Festial - Photo by Dave Nevins

Checking on the Bears during the Kake Dog Salmon Festial - Photo by Dave Nevins

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Diabetes Sports Project

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Diabetes Sports Project

I wanted to give a shout out to Diabetes Sports Project for featuring me on their Instagram page.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BXTM7nNASKO/?hl=en&taken-by=diabetessportsproject

If you are not familiar with Diabetes Sports Project, this is from their about page:

WHO WE ARE

DSP is comprised of the world’s elite diabetic athlete ambassadors who inspire and educate the diabetes community to achieve their goals and aspirations. These ambassadors demonstrate how through proper diet, exercise, a positive outlook and effective blood glucose management dreams can be achieved.

WHAT WE DO

The DSP ambassadors are directly engaged in community events within the diabetes and healthcare industry around the world. We participate in diabetes camps, JDRF & ADA events, industry conferences and trade shows, hospital visits, patient support groups, medical professional events and much more. Additionally, our athletes compete at the highest levels of sports to demonstrate that goals can be achieved with diabetes. 

We are dedicated to empowering the nearly 26 million affected by type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the United State. Through inspirational and educational community engagement along with competition in the biggest sporting events in the world, DSP will inspire and educate millions of people affected by diabetes.

Their website:
www.diabetessportsproject.com

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Eyeballs in the Night (and in the morning)

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Eyeballs in the Night (and in the morning)

Fulfilling the need to run, burn calories, melt the stress molecules, and escape the confines of four walls, I purchased a headlight.  A really, really expensive one (Petzl Nao).  It may become an inheritance item............

I had been chasing the fading daylight as the calendar edged into the end of the blistering heat of summer and into the fall season.  When fall strides our direction and the temperature finally dips below three digits we notice the light switch quickly dims and turns off.  Arizona does not have daylight savings.  While not the 3:30 sunset time I survived in Southeast Alaska, we do lose that extra hour of sun.  Shouldn't we change the time frame to get less sunlight during the summer?  Just asking...

On the run tonight I saw eighteen sets of spherical bodies.  Ok, most of these were drowsy, less than motivated deer.  Not real earthshaking.  Oddly, there were two sets of eyes that I could not identify.  One was from a distance, gazing hungarily at the lone runner.  Or was he or she just bored?  

I spotted a medium sized critter to the left of the ranch road that had become an important part of my daily existence.  I got closer and pulled out my trusty camera for...a missed shot.  I followed the animal.  Did I mention that it looked like a baby mountain lion?  Was he or she leading me back to mom?  Or was it a cat?  I would not expect a cat to be well within the confines of a rugged desert landscape, with a darkness enveloping the terrain. But, I guess I have ended up in places that are not well suited for humankind.  

Did I mention how dark it was out?

Moon making its entrance behind the Catalina Mountains

The new adjustment of running at night, chasing unknown animals and the solitude and joy of running through the desert well after the sun has set, has been a novel and rather amazing experience.  The weekend runs, sans darkness, feel unusual to a degree.  

I would leave the roaming 'critter' and head to the end of the trail and enter a stretch of asphalt.  A grunt up a steep hill and I am on top of the world.  Or, at least, the top of the Tucson valley.  It is the highest road (besides the Mt. Lemmon highway) in the area.  I would gather a sensational view of Catalina, Oro Valley and part of the metropolitan kingdom of Tucson.  

As I neared the end of the varied and beautiful loop run, I would see yet, another unidentified animal.  The sun was tapping on the jagged mountain lines above me, so I had a better look at this critter, but, it was from a farther distance.  What the heck was that?  

 

 

 

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An Ultra Challenge

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An Ultra Challenge

November 12, 2016 was a rather significant day for me.  It was, also, a very long day along the Colossal Vail 50/50 Arizona Trail Run course.  All 34 miles of it were calling my name.  My body was screaming "Dave!", toward the end of those lengthy, tortuous miles across the Arizona desert.  A day in the desert where challenges and goals were met.  Boom!!!

Bright and early near the start line

It had been 10 long years since I ran the Pederson Ridge Rumble (35 miles - Sisters, Oregon) and 5 years since I ran a segment for the Team I Challenge Diabetes in the Canadian Death Race (23 miles - 6500 feet or so, of elevation gain - Grande Cache, Alberta, Canada).  

The day started off well as I reached the parking lot at La Posta Quemada Ranch, next to the Colossal Cave Mountain Park.  How would this day go?  Would I have a great run, good run, a mix of running and walking or the dreaded DNF (did not finish).  Would my diabetes and blood sugar behave?

Only one way to find out!

SAM_2958.JPG

On the walk to the start\

I watched the 50 mile group stride past me and onto the beautiful Arizona Trail.  A half  hour later the 50k troopers toed the line and went through the pre-race talk.  The nerves had been activated, spinning, churning and clunking in the background.  In the foreground was the memory of the last two weeks of training, which had not gone well, by ultra running standards.

SAM_2970.JPG

Ok, it was a little cool for Southern Arizona

Countdown brought reality to the surface, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.........and away we go!  There were about 100 runners in the 50k category.  The race director had warned us that the most likely spot for participants to fall was in the first couple minutes of the race.  A crowded trail littered with a plethora of rocks, with runners anxious  to pass did prove his point.  At least it was a short way to carry the injured runners back to the start.

Cienega Creek, early in the race

Mid Route - suffering is half over!  - Photo by Damion Alexander

The sun had just risen above the ridge line of the  Rincon Mountains and and I was making good time.   In typical race happenings, I was probably moving faster than I should.  Running in a pack causes one to move a bit faster.  By mile 11 I was doing well as the terrain took us through some ups and downs through the beauty of the Sonoran desert.  Those 'ups' would total about 3,000 feet.  With an out and back course we would even out by the 34th mile.  

Runners and the Rincon Mountains in the background

I-10 Tunnel

Video of the I-10 Tunnel and it's occupants

Just past mile 11 my grand start began to fade and took on another dimension.  I was not feeling so good.  I had initially attributed that to a fast (er) start, serious lack of sleep and whatever else I could come up with.  I was wearing a CGMS (Continous Glucose Monitor System) to check on how my blood sugars were treating me.  They were doing well, I thought, as I made semi frequent glances at my insulin pump for readings.  They had appeared good, but my CGMS was not favoring me as I motored forward, with some hitches in the engine.  I now was feeling like I did not want to endure another 22 miles.  Maybe one mile at most.  This was motivated by the fact that the first aid station was nearing and I had a drop bag positioned for my stop.  With my blood sugar looking good (111) I began to question the accuracy of my CGMS and my decision to run 34 miles.  

I sat down, took a couple of huge breaths and pulled out my blood sugar meter to zero in on an actual reality.  Meter read 52.  Normal blood sugar is 100.  I grabbed a precious packet of Honey Stinger Pomegranate Chews and indulged.  And then the next packet.  I now knew why I was beginning to have a rough day.  Duh. Diabetes is a major reason I take on such challenges, though it offers back, a few road blocks, bumps or scary creatures along the way.

I will endure.

Somewhere close to the 1/2 way point.  Photo by Damion Alexander

 l left the aid station with a stomach full of energy chews and a feeling that I was heading away from the DNF (did not finish) category. The five miles to the next aid station included a nice upward trend to the high point of the course and the following downhill to the halfway point.  It also included a runner in a 40 gallon hat, which brought a smile to my face.

Video - Do not know who this is, but, seems appropriate.

Aid Station at 17 miles

At the half way point, my blood sugars were pretty solid and I was doing good in the energy department.  My legs had a few minor issues.  My iliotibial bands were screamingly tight and I was nearing cramp hell at the back of my legs.  I motored on...

The remote restroom at 17 miles

I dealt with another low blood sugar,  after the aid station, but not quite the punch that mile 11 had delivered.  I would catch the next aid station at mile 23 and access my drop bag for the last time.  I do not even remember what I grabbed, but, could not have been much as blood sugar was not yelling 'feed me', 'feed me'!.  Blood sugar/CGMS were playing fairly now and readings were almost normal.  Grand, sometimes, to be normal.

One of the factors in my favor was a lack of blisters.  The Injini toe socks had earned their high praise.  

Around mile 28 I was passed by a seriously nice looking gal named Kaitin.  Let me re-phrase  that.  Not the nice looking comment, the speed involved. She cruised by me.  What on earth was she doing so far back in the race?  I picked up my tempo, temporarily, and ran with her for maybe a mile.  Kaitlin was dealing with some severe stomach issues and proved the point as she would needed to stop and release her guts to the desert floor. We ran/walked together, or in proximity, to each other, for the next six miles.   

Passing back through the I-10 Tunnel.  At least I was ahead of this guy!

The end was near.  It had to be!  Coming up over a rise revealed a beautiful setting with the mountains surrounding me and finish line below. It had evolved into a bit more challenging day than I had signed up for, but, I was very thankful that I had made a step (roughly 70,000 or so steps) in the right direction.  I enjoy unique challenges and finding the finish line, whether it be at the end of a 34 mile race or a completed project.

I came across the line and received my special 50k finisher rock which sits on my desk at work. It is a reminder that I am still alive and kicking and will continue to seek adventure, challenges and more rocks. 

Cienega Creek

Finish line below

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Ending the year with Challenging Goals

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Ending the year with Challenging Goals

6 days from now I will be immersed in a 34 mile trail running race (Colossal Vail 50/50 Arizona Trail Run).  I opted for the lesser of the 50's.....50k - actually 34 miles.  The more impressive 50 denotes 50 miles.  Maybe next year, on the 50 miles.  I will look to survive this year, in sweaty fashion.  

 

Gila Monster on one of my training runs.

 

Along with the 50/50 race I have also signed up a team of 5 mountain bikers to race in the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo race.  All of the team have type 1 diabetes.  A link that ties us together in a cause and probably in carbohydrates.  My goal is to create a film out of the adventure and share our time riding and living with diabetes.  

The team chose No Limits as a team name.  

The 24 Hour race did give me an excellent reason to purchase a new, crazy green, mountain bike.  My previous Gary Fischer model was dating about 15+ years old and was having issues.  I may have issues on the route but at least I will look good while I suffer.  

I created this website today so will continue to post on living a life with adventure and diabetes.  

Kent Loganbill and I riding in the Tortolita Mountains. Kent is helping me with Team No Limits.

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My time with the bat

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My time with the bat

My time with the bat

The day in late July would bring us more extreme heat, surrounded by an extra layer of thick, heavy humidity.  Another day in the Monsoon season, amid the dramatic landscape that is the desert southwest.

The storms were likely crashing the scenery to our southeast, leaving Tucson, with just plain, wicked heat.

Family had just arrived in town and they met me at the bridge at Campbell and River Road.  Not the usual family vacation destination.

Bat looking toward the bat flight and a beautiful sunset

We would be joined by my wildlife biologist friend, Eric Peffer.  

Underneath the bridge, a crowd was gathering, as Eric began an excellent introduction to one of the cities bat hangouts.  An estimated 10,000 Mexican Free Tailed bats reside at this location.   

The bat colony would send out a few scouts to determine the direction of the wind.  Much easier to soar into the wind than with the breeze.  

This is the time of the year that the newborn are taking their first flight.  This flight is a challenge as the little ones have to drop from the thin opening that is between the cement beams that they call home.  They have about 20 feet to learn to fly or they become part of the food chain.  Unless of course, we step in.

Sunset from under the bridge

The runt of a family did not make his/her first flight and ended up on the ground below.  We watched the little guy drag himself along the ground, knowing that he would not be able to gain flight and that he would likely not survive the night.  

I was surprised when Eric picked the bat up.  He would explain that the bat was not old enough to bite (the rabies issue).  Being nature minded and leaning toward adventurous, I would also hold the bat.

Eric would deliver the bat to a friend who transported him to a wildlife refuge.  The last we heard he is one of 3 or 4 bats that have been dropped off recently.

Bats in the bridge, before flight

Short section of the bat flight

Bat Flight at the Campbell/River Bridge

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Dave's Diabetes Story on the ADA Blog

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Dave's Diabetes Story on the ADA Blog

'Dave's Diabetes Story on the American Diabetes Association Blog'

I was fortunate to have a story of mine posted on the American Diabetes Association Blog. The link is below.

For the story, I submitted 3 photos.  If you pull up the story you will see my Medtronic Global Hero photo from 2012.  The photo above is from the Boise trail book of which I am a co-author.  It was an incredible experience to have run over 1,000 miles in the exceptional Idaho terrain that we covered.

This photo is from the 2015 El Tour Expo.  I was a new hire to the ADA and this was an event where I promoted our coming Tour de Cure.  I am sporting the Red Rider jersey which highlights riders at the Tour de Cure with diabetes.  

It has been a real honor and inspiration working with these outstanding individuals.

Dave's Diabetes Story

Link to the story.

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The Mission Hits Close to Home

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The Mission Hits Close to Home

The Mission Hits Close to Home

The following was part of a presentation at the American Diabetes Association Mountain Region meeting in Phoenix, AZ on April 20, 2016.  My story was edited and included with encouraging and inspirational stories American Diabetes Association staff from the Mountain Region.  They were: Lynda Jimenez (Phoenix ADA), Beverly Bartel (Montana ADA), Anne Dennis (Phoenix ADA), Hannah Hoogenboom (Denver ADA), Julie Garcia (Phoenix ADA), Kirsten Weatherford (Montana ADA) and Kaylee Gronau (Phoenix ADA) and myself.  All of us either have Type 1 diabetes or have family members who do. 

I believe my first real connection with the ADA was a journey from Seattle, WA to Glacier National Park (Montana) for a backpacking excursion to the Granite Park Chalet.  We actually celebrated Christmas on August 25

th

while at

the Chalet.  This was the last 25

th

on the calendar before they closed for the season.

The Glacier National Park trip might have been the spark I needed to make an entry into the world of adventure and seeking new challenges.  Another tie in with the ADA was the BBAD (Border-to-Border-Against- Diabetes) Tour.  A group ride from the Utah/Arizona border to the Utah/Idaho border.  4 of the 5 riders were T1’s.  The trip was organized to finish the day before the ADA EXPO Salt Lake City where we were involved/featured.

Hannah Hoogenboom’s uncle Peter was on the tour!

I have also been involved with the ADA being the beneficiary in past events.  Two ocean swim events benefiting the ADA in Alaska (10k/5k) made for some interesting experience in event planning!  So glad and fortunate to be working with the American Diabetes Association and to have such  wonderful people helping me out and inspiring participants in our events.

Note:  I am the Market Manager for the Tucson ADA

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'Aravaipa Canyon and a Connection With Edward Abbey'

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'Aravaipa Canyon and a Connection With Edward Abbey'

Aravaipa Canyon runs for 11 miles through the rugged Galiuro Mountains of SE Arizona.  It is one of Arizona's few perennial streams and this gem is only an hour from home (the west entrance).  

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is a special place for me, and yes, there will be more Aravaipa visits and blog posts in the future.  This post will mainly be photos/videos, but, a recent article on the Nature Conservancy in Arizona Highways (April 2016) gave me some new information I can toss into the mix of photos/videos.   

Eric Peffer

Having heard author Sean Prentiss (Finding Abbey:  The Search for Edward Abbey and his Hidden Desert Grave) at the Tucson Book Festival, I had added interest in the life and death of Abbey (and, of course, the possible location of his grave) I was surprised to read in Arizona Highways that Abbey was the first manager of the Aravaipa preserve.  He was later joined by Doug Peacock.

Hell's Half Acre Canyon (side canyon of Aravaipa Canyon)

Aravaipa provided the setting for some of Abbey's most memorable essays, including the haunting story of his encounter with a mountain lion and a lighter essay about javelina's he titled

Merry Christmas, Pigs!  

More importantly, he completed his novel

The Monkey Wrench Gang,

while canyon-bound, using Peacock as the inspiration for George Washington Hayduke.  Noted author/writer Peacock's observation that the human history of the canyon is "as colorful as a Western novel."

Defenders of Wildlife fired Abbey at the end of that month.  Abbey wrote of his dismissal, "A shabby, sneaky, cowardly thing to do".

Painted Cave Canyon (side canyon of Aravaipa Canyon)

Thoreau had Walden Pond, Edward Abbey had Aravaipa Canyon.  For a city slicker like Abbey, he needed a place of sanctuary, of refuge and of "redemption."  To him, Aravaipa Canyon was his saving grace in a concrete world.

It is for this reason that he fashioned his essay "Down the River" about Aravaipa Canyon with such love, respect and admiration.  

Eric Peffer

I will extend my love, respect and admiration to a brilliant location, along with a few photos/video links and my first blog to include Edward Abbey.

Who shall I include in my next blog?  

Desert Varnish

Lori Conser

Lori Conser & Eric Peffer

Bibliography

Arizona Highways April 2016.  

Weeds and Roses - "Edward Abbey / Mountain Lion".

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That Darn Hole in my leg

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That Darn Hole in my leg

'That Darn Hole in My Leg'

Every Search and Rescue mission is unique and you head out the door with a loaded backpack and sometimes, an unsettled feeling.  Will we be helping an injured hiker, looking for a lost hunter, recovering a body or....a number of other situations that could be life or death or simple first aid.  

This story involves a hiker who had badly injured his leg, on a hike on Gavan Hill.  Sitka (Alaska) Mountain Rescue had been called to assist in his safe rescue down the mountain.  The Sitka Coast Guard was also involved in transporting the injured hiker to the hospital. 

Transporting the hiker to an area that a helicopter could drop a litter

This tale would also involve me, and the rescue that almost happened.  More about that later.  I did a blog about my year with Sitka Mountain Rescue (and this rescue): 

'That's What We Do'

The rescue crew headed up the Gavan Hill trail.  It is a steep,  gnarly trail that is well decorated with roots, rocks, steps, stair cases, and ruts, lacking the traditional dirt trail element that is found elsewhere.  

The hiker was doing ok, just needed extra assistance since he had torn a meniscus on the way down.  Luckily, he was at the edge of cell phone coverage into town and Sitka Mountain Rescue.

Sitka Coast Guard - Photo by Bill Greer

A Sitka Coast Guard helicopter would be called in due to the difficult trail condition for a carry out.  The rescue group carried him in a litter, to an area that was barely wide enough for the basket drop from the helicopter, whirling above. 

Photo by the Sitka Coast Guard

I walked ahead of the wheeled procession to get to the next technical area, where I could help with the maneuver.  I took a route to the right, off the trail and made my way............hmmm something just entered into my leg.  It did not hurt, but I was

a little perplexed at what had just happened.  

My initial thought was that I had just brushed against something.  I never saw what, exactly, had entered my leg but it had cleanly made a jagged path into and out of my calf.  

Eyes now focused on my leg, I took a breath and took in the current situation.  Well, lucky me, I was a few feet from a group of Search  and Rescue personnel.  

Oddly, my leg did not hurt and was not bleeding, much.  I was probably centimeters from having something cut, torn or punctured.  Extra duty by someone on the team and I had a nicely wrapped leg and would not need the helicopter to make a 2nd trip.

We discussed Dave's 'situation' and I gave a thumbs up on hiking down the mountain and making my way to a hospital.

The team on Gavan Hill was not large enough to send a person down with me.  They were needed in a more serious rescue effort.  

"Are you sure you are ok with hiking down, by yourself?"

"Why yes".  I believe I was asked in different ways as to my ability to have a lovely hole in my leg, and do a prolonged hike to actual safety.

"Of course, no problem" or something like that was my follow-up response.  

I was handed a 2-way radio and I assured myself that my body could be picked up on the way down if I had 'issues'.   

I had a contact when I reached the trail head and my own ambulance service to zoom to the hospital.  Trina, would be my rescue, transportation and would provide some humor along my interesting course that I was now on.  

I gave Trina a call once I reached the trail parking lot.  I would not have been surprised if she had nonchalantly asked if I would like her to take care of a parking lot surgery.  A short time later, in life, she would be helping take out clients on fishing and hunting trips in the rugged Alaskan back country.  This would include mountain goats, brown bear and I could only guess on bagging a possible Sasquatch. 

She would also be one the only person I have heard of to sit in on a surgical procedure and snap photos.  This story just keeps getting more interesting!  I would find myself laughing, while looking down on a horrifying gash across my calf that looked like I would have an incredible tale to tell.  Nope, just dumb luck walking into branch/stick.  

I had a single request of the doctor stitching me together.  "Doc, I have a major trail race in 6 days and I am crazy enough to run it".  His answer would turn the 'like' into a 'plan'.  He  strapped that wound with expertise and an extra knot or 2 and I did run the Alpine Adventure Run.  Up the same Gavan Hill I had just limped down.  I was incredibly fortunate.  I could be writing a story with a far different ending. 

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2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

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2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

Following the Canadian Death Race in July of 2011, I was open to another adventure, one a little closer to my home in Sitka, Alaska.  Out my window, opposite the Pacific Ocean breaking under my home, I could see 2 prominent peaks near downtown (Mt. Verstovia & Gavan Hill).  Gavan Hill is known for the ever popular and long suffering Alpine Adventure Race.  Mt. Verstovia is known for its wickedly steep, rugged trail that climbs 2550 feet in about 2.5 miles.  

Gavan Hill trail is no less brutal, with about 2400 feet gained in 1.6 miles.  This would be my own custom created event.  A signature event without the aid stations.

Video of the 2 Peaks adventure

I elected to run/walk from a parking lot (Sitka National Historical Park) between the 2 peaks, run to Verstovia, grunt up to picnic rock, zoom down, run to Gavan Hill and of course, up, up, up to a point that I felt was a high point.  Trail does continue from there but I wound be content with about 5,000 feet of gain for the elevation deposit for the day.

This is trail running/walking in SE Alaska.  One of the nastier sections.

The effort would take place in September, about a month after my 23+ mile, 6,500 foot (elevation gain) ordeal at the Canadian Death Race.  This was a momentous occasion as I signed on to run with the I Challenge Diabetes team.  I had recently had knee surgery and  was hoping for one of the easier legs.  That easier leg transformed into the toughest leg as others on the team withdrew or pleaded a little louder than I.  

The timing should have been perfect for the 2 peaks effort, but I managed only 1 hill training run before September rolled in.  Also rolling in was weather.......SE Alaska rainforest weather at its gnarliest. The teeth would bite later in the day.

1st view point on Mt. Verstovia (800? foot elevation)

I set off with a well stocked Osprey running pack.  The blood sugars were good and the day appeared to be in a stable hold.  It might be a decent day, weather wise in the rain forest.  Could it be?

Despite a lack of specific training, meaning, actually running up hills, I made my way up Verstovia.  Slow but sure, a mix of walking and running.  I passed 1 person (if memory serves me correctly), my only link to humanity on either trail.

I had brought along a camera that was lacking in quality and performance but was waterproof.  I shot footage at various stages, knowing that I would eventually piece together a somewhat rough film (see link above).  It would take 21 clips to create the short film that would be my introduction into the world of filmmaking.  I have been working on my first 'real', quality film as I work through the footage of a No Limits Sea Kayak Expedition,  tentatively, named 'Alaskan Waters'.  

Near the first summit of Verstovia

I would reach picnic rock, which is the first summit of Verstovia in good shape.  The Arrowhead is the true top of Mt. Verstovia was jutting just above me.  A more technical approach, which I was not willing to attempt without a partner. 

Goal #2, Gavan Hill

The weather was turning as I made my way down the mountain.  As evidence by my array of photos, running SE Alaska trails is a challenge and requires a major dose of concentration.  I had a lot of trail time and was somewhat skilled at the ballet on rocks.  Having diabetes increased my need for good planning and focus.  I had dealt with higher blood sugars for the first half of the run but would eventually level out.  

Gavan Hill

I hit the trail head of Verstovia and made a right turn.  On to Gavan Hill.

1st viewpoint on Gavan Hill, approximately 1,000+ feet up

A bit more tired, Gavan would require more walking and an onslaught of nature as the wind, rain and a thick,  layer of wetness became the next chapter in my 2 Peaks experience.

Gavan Hill near the first summit

I would glance at my watch and realize that darkness would begin to envelope the mountain terrain soon and the dismal day would usher in darkness quicker.  

Near the top of the first Gavan Hill summit

Reaching the trail head, I shot a final memory of the 2 Peaks experience.  Darkness casting its shadow across the Last Frontier. Deep in the woods the evening came at an alarming rate as I ran toward my vehicle.  There was an encouraging glow of light and life as I escaped the veil of forest behind me.  

7 hours after my first steps toward Verstovia, I slowed my run to a walk and unlocked my car door.  Done.  A tired, but happy thumbs up for another adventure check off the list.

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A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015

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A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015

A Wild(life) Year in Video! 

I shared in my previous blog

A Wild(life) Year in Photography

Another 'wild' year for me and my encounters with wildlife.  The wildness factor dipped into my photography and in video.  If I am taking photos I am usually just a button touch away from capturing wildlife in video.  It is always my goal to walk away with photos and video if I happen to encounter a Sasquatch, Aliens, javelina, or whatever crosses my path or chases me in the rugged landscape of desert terrain in which I call home. 

I have posted some memorable moments below with links to video(s) taken.  I have not posted all of the videos under each photo.   It was a good year for the videography, whether it was filming a tarantula crawling up my arm, a rattlesnake a few feet away or something away from the animal/insect kingdom.

Other videos on my channel can be found at:  

Dave Nevins YouTube Channel

Thanks for your visit and I look forward to more unique and exciting opportunities to use my camera in the future.

Rattlesnakes interacting

 - on one of my runs

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