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A Sky Island Kuna Crest in Yosemite

September 25th, 2015 By   

Time lapse of the recent Walker Fire outside Yosemite.

Who: Rachel McCullough
What: Hiking and climbing
Tuolumne/Yosemite National Park
August 2015

It was a surprisingly warm morning last month in Yosemite National Park, which was nice because our destination for the day was more than 12,000 feet in elevation.

A week before the trip my hiking partner, Tom, and I studied the Yosemite map and bemoaned that we’d done nearly all the established trails close to the road.

So, we set our sights on a high-elevation hike with no established trail. This hike would take us to the top of Mammoth Peak at 12,117 feet and then south along the Kuna Crest, which rose and fell above and below 12,000 feet.

Mammoth Peak, our first destination.

Mammoth Peak, our first destination.

If you’ve read any of my other posts that involved Tom and Theresa (Hiking Yosemite’s Bermuda Triangle: Tenaya Canyon or Gorgeous Day Hike from Lukens Lake to Tenaya Lake in Tuolomne), you know that while we always intend to get an early start, it doesn’t actually ever happen.

We left the trailhead at 8:45 a.m. and immediately stepped off the trail and into the conifer forest, our objective coming in and out of view to the southwest.

Abandoning our usual fast clip we settled into a one-mile per hour kind of pace that involved frequently looking for the easiest route to the summit and agreeing upon our path. We went from a pond to forest to meadow to forest and then to the craggy upper reaches of Mammoth Peak.

Throughout our journey we spotted sheep poop and hoped to spot a bighorn sheep, which were rumored to be in the Mono Pass area just to our east.

We gained the ridge to the west and followed it to the summit, but not before I called a “food emergency.” Some in our group are known to realize they are absolutely starving just before the “hangry” phase sets in. Instead of the usual summit food and water break, we stopped just below the top of Mammoth Peak, with expansive views to the west, north and south.

Summit bound.

Summit bound.

This is where you can really see the difference between areas in Tuolumne that were glaciated and those that rose above the glacier. The Tuolumne domes that many are familiar with, such as DAFF, Fairview, Medlicott, and Lembert, were smoothed over into their dome shapes as the glaciers ran over them. The taller jagged peaks, such as Cathedral and Unicorn, stood above the glaciers.

We summited Mammoth Peak about four hours in, after a little more than 3.5 miles of off-trail hiking and scrambling. And that’s when we saw that the small wisps of smoke we’d spotted earlier that morning were now billowing. In those few hours, what we would later learn was the Walker Fire expanded quickly, and even closed Highway 120, which is the nearest park exit.

We signed the summit register and saw that the last party to sign had been up three days prior. We had the top to ourselves, but didn’t linger long. We headed south along the Kuna Crest.


Walking along the Kuna Crest.

Walking along the Kuna Crest.

Kuna Crest is a sky island, which is one of the reasons Tom and I (the planners for this hike) were interested to check it out. We were drawn to it after watching the Yosemite Nature Notes Sky Island video, which explains that sky islands are isolated high elevation places with unique plant species that don’t grow anywhere else. There are a few of these sky islands in the Park and Kuna Crest happened to be relatively easy to access.

Although we didn’t see the famed blue sky pilots (you can see them in the Nature Notes video), we saw many of the other plants known to grow in the sky islands, such as alpine gold, Sierra columbine, lupine and buckwheat. From afar, you’d never guess that, such as rocky place, was full of so many plants.

We followed the Kuna Crest up and down, stopping along the way to take a time-lapse of the growing Walker Fire, which started billowing white smoke at the top of the plume partway through the day.

The nice thing about our plan was that we could find a place to come down off the crest whenever we felt like it and pick up the Mono Pass trail to walk back to the car. There was a short section of talus to get off the Crest to reach the lakes below, but after that, it was easy walking back to the trail.

We timed it well and were back to the car well before dark, and were eating our pasta dinner in no time. The only thing we didn’t time well was the line at the Tuolumne store, where we stopped to get typical camping essentials, like chips and our ice cream appetizer.

This post comes from Rachel McCullough, an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Peak Baggin’ the Eastern Sierra Nevada

September 21st, 2015 By   

Who: Chris Cloyd
What: Trail Running/Peak Baggin’
Where: Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter
When: Sept. 12, 2015

In mid-September Tahoe Mountain Sports Ambassador Chris Cloyd set out from the Rush Creek trailhead (37.78227°N/119.09786°W) off the June Lake Loop on the eastside of the Sierra with Bill Clements and Luke Garten for a dayshot effort on Banner Peak and Mount Ritter. Check out their day in the high Sierra!
And check out the huge selection of topo maps and guide books at Tahoe Mountain Sports for your next adventure…

Using the Rush Creek trailhead for an approach of Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter isn’t the most economical (it’s closer to start at Agnew Meadows trailhead  37.68296°N/119.09263°W out of Mammoth), but Bill, Luke and I had run the River Trail before and wanted to explore a new zone. Seeing the cable tramway up from Silver Lake, the dam at Agnew Lake and new trails was well worth the extra work.

We ascended North Glacier Pass from Thousand Island Lake and refilled our water supply at Lake Catherine. From there, we ascended just north of the glacier via rock and talus to gain the saddle between Banner and Ritter. Ascending Banner was a glorified walk up via the southwest face — and well worth it.

Views of Thousand Island Lake, Mono Lake and Garnet Lake reward your efforts. Retracing our steps to the saddle, our next challenge was the north face of Ritter. Muir waxed poetic on his ascent and our route was every bit as awesome. We utilized a chute rising from the apex of the glacier and gained the summit ridge, summiting our second peak of the day in fine style.

We opted to descend down the SE face of Ritter to Ritter Lakes to take in some new scenery, regrouped at Lake Catherine and then ran back to the trailhead retracing our route. Just under 10 hours!

Chris Cloyd is a TMS Ambassador and lover of endurance sports. When Chris isn’t training for his next big run in the mountains or out exploring the Eastern Sierra on bike, he’s managing the Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso. Watch for more race reports, gear reviews and fun reading from Chris and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.


September 13th, 2015 By   
Need a race-day wetsuit or just want to take one for a demo swim? Contact TMS and we’ll get you zipped up.

Need a race-day wetsuit or just want to take one for a demo swim? Contact TMS and we’ll get you zipped up.

Tahoe Mountain Sports can’t do much to lessen the elevation for those taking on Ironman Lake Tahoe on Sept. 20, but TMS can help racers and their support crews handle chilly mountain temperatures and the cold water of the Sierra Nevada.

Whether it’s in the lake, on the bike, out on the run or spectating, Tahoe Mountain Sports has everything to cover the pre-race, post-race and race-day nutrition and gear needs of triathletes and their families.

Starting Monday, Sept. 14, Tahoe Mountain Sports, located just off the bike course in Truckee at 11200 Donner Pass Rd., kicks off its annual Ironman appreciation days with a variety of steals, deals and schwag. Make sure to stop by the store to stock up that transition bag and at the TMS booth in the Ironman Village at Squaw Valley for a chance to win gear.

Forget race-day nutrition? Don’t stress; Tahoe Mountain Sports stocks all the best offerings from Hammer, Clif, Gu, Nuun and Epic Bars.

From goggles and swim caps to wetsuits, Tahoe Mountain Sports boasts Truckee-North Tahoe’s best supply of triathlon-specific gear from Tyr, Nathan and 2XU. Need a race-day wetsuit or just want to take one for a demo swim? Contact TMS and we’ll get you zipped up.

And whether it’s a racer taking on the 26.2-mile run leg of the triathlon or the family exploring the area’s trails, Tahoe Mountain Sports has a top-of-the-line selection of footwear for road and trail running and hiking.

From free wetsuit demos and the chance to win a $100 store gift certificate, Tahoe Mountain Sports welcomes those taking on the challenge of Ironman Lake Tahoe. Good luck!

@ TAHOE MOUNTAIN SPORTS (11200 Donner Pass Rd. in Truckee)

Mon-Weds (9/14-9/16) – Take 20 percent off all nutrition products, compression and warm/cold weather gear. Check out brands like Hammer Nutrition, Gu, Clif, 2XU and CEP compression.

Ironman Week (9/14-9/20) – Free 2XU wetsuit demos all week long. While supplies and sizes last, stop by the store and take a 2XU wetsuit out for a swim in Tahoe or nearby Donner Lake. 24-hour rental rates are free; anything over 24 hours is $25/day. Race day rentals are available for $25. Inquire at the store for available sizes and rental reservations.


Thurs-Sat (9/17-9/20) – Visit Tahoe Mountain Sports and 2XU at the Ironman Village at Squaw Valley. There will be a huge selection of 2XU compression and triathlon gear and clothing. And don’t forget to stop by, say hi and enter to win a $100 gift certificate by signing up at the booth during the expo.

Castle Peak 100K Runners Go Big

September 2nd, 2015 By   
Chris Cloyd, TMS ambassador and Truckee local, placed third overall in his Salomon Running kit at the inaugural Castle Peak 100K.

Chris Cloyd, TMS ambassador and Truckee local, placed third overall in his Salomon Running kit at the inaugural Castle Peak 100K.

By all accounts the inaugural Castle Peak 100K trail race on Aug. 29 was a success, but by no means easy.

Of the 55 runners who started the race at 5 a.m. Saturday at Stampede Reservoir, 48 crossed the finish line at Donner Memorial State Park — the majority in the dark.

Shout out to Tahoe Mountain Sports ambassador and Truckee resident Chris Cloyd, who finished third overall. Cloyd covered the 62.5 miles and 11,000 feet of elevation in 12 hours 42 mins. Jace Ives, of Ashland, OR, hammered the course finishing first at 10 hrs 53 mins. The first woman was Roxanne Woodhouse of Weaverville, CA at 13 hrs 02 mins.

Congratulations to all who took on the Castle Peak 100K challenge. TMS looks forward to Chris’ recap of the event, next year’s race and what race organizers — Donner Party Mountain Runners — have in store for the future from racing to group runs.

And while Donner Party Mountain Runners is a great place to connect about the trail running scene, TMS has all your trail-running gear needs covered. Whether you’re gearing up for an ultra-running event or just hitting the area’s amazing trail offerings for your own running adventure, TMS has you covered from head to toe.


Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.32.00 AM

Salomon’s S Lab XT 6

If running 100k wasn’t challenging enough, the Castle Peak 100k threw in another surprise at mile 49 — ascending a steep, exposed cliff band in the Palisades between Mt. Disney and Mt. Lincoln. How steep? Steep enough that runners tackled the ascent assisted by ropes.

OK, not everyone is hitting rated pitches on their trail runs, but wearing shoes designed for mixed trail types will cover most situations. Salomon’s S-Lab XT 6 Trail Racing Shoes offer the company’s Contragrip, which features outsole hardness combinations for a blend of grip and durability.

The shoe company that’s taken the trail-running world by storm the last few years is Hoka. You’ve undoubtedly seen the unique shoes on the feet of your hardcore running friends. Hoka’s thick, rolling rocker and midsole geometry features a high volume, soft density rebounding foam that scores of runners swear by.


Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 12.05.29 PM

Ultimate Direction’s SJ Ultra Hydration Vest

The distance of your run will dictate your hydration needs. Will a hydration pack, vest or hand-held water bottle do the job? Whatever your needs, TMS has it all. For those long runs the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Hydration Vest allows for plenty of water with two 20oz bottle holders and space to accommodate a 70 oz. bladder. Another cool feature is the stretchy pockets so the vest expands as you need it.

If you’re heading out for a shorter run or just don’t like wearing a vest or pack, a hand-held water bottle may be your best option. The Salomon Park Hydro Handset  features an innovative 16-ounce flask that compresses as you drink and eliminates annoying sloshing as you deplete your liquids nearer the end of a run.

For more on the Salomon Park Hydro Handset checkout this TMS review.

Footwear and hydration are just two aspects of what will help you out on the trail. Find everything for your trail running needs from technical apparel, nutrition, headlamps and more at Tahoe Mountain Sports.

Burning Essentials… and a Bit of Bug Spray

August 27th, 2015 By   
Bugs are turning up on the playa prior to Burning Man 2015.

Bugs are turning up on the playa prior to Burning Man 2015.

Burning Man 2015 is just around the corner and we want to make it easy for burners to get last-minute supplies before venturing off to the Black Rock Desert. NOTE that this list is not all-inclusive and will not contain everything you need out on the playa, just a few things we carry at the store that will make your stay in Black Rock City more comfortable.

And, yes, it’s true: According to, there are bugs out on the playa this year, so come on into the store and peruse a variety of insect repellents.

Insect Repellents
Whether it’s some sort of Black Rock Desert bug, mosquito or other annoying creepy-crawly insect, you can find a variety of insect repellents at Tahoe Mountain Sports. Along with a variety of sprays check out the Coleman Cintronella Candle Lantern. The lantern may or may not repel the burner bugs but it does multi-task: 40-hours of pleasant-smelling, mosquito repelling ambient light.

Platypus Water Tank 6


Burning Man is a lot of things to a lot of people, but first and foremost it is desert survival. Water is the single most important thing you can bring out on the playa. The rule of thumb is 1.5 gallons per person per day. Bring more if you are using a solar shower, mist sprayers or anything else that uses additional water. For in-camp water storage, check out 5 Gallon Foldable Water Carriers or the 6 Liter Platypus Water Tank. All of these water carriers can be folded up to save space on the way back. For hydration out on the playa, we carry a variety of hydration backpacks, hydration reservoirs and water bottles.

Bike Accessories

Bikes are an indispensable mode of transportation on the playa. You will be able to see and do more on a bicycle than you will traveling on foot and hopping on art cars or mutant vehicles. Need to carry some cargo? Check out our selection of bike bags and bike baskets. For nighttime riding, bike lights are a must. These Nite Ize Spot Lit lights are perfectly small for playa use as they can be clipped to a bike, clothing, tent door or anything you need to locate in the dark. Better yet, they cycle through the colors of the rainbow. And if you want really want to pimp your ride, check out the Nite Ize See’Em mini spoke lights for extra flair.

Sun Protection

The sun’s rays are very powerful in the high desert, and the reflection off the light-colored alkali ground amplifies the sun’s effects. Protect your skin with Sol Sunguard Altitude SPF 40 or Alpine SPF 25 sunscreen for non-greasy, sweatproof sun protection. Lip Balm is also one of the best things to have with you after a couple days in the desert. Sunglasses are a good idea as well, but will not protect your eyes against dust storms, but something like Suncloud’s Cassandra shades look great. Snow goggles, work well for keeping dust out of your eyes. A big hat like the Kavu Chillba Fisherman’s Hat is another great way to keep the sun off your face.

Read the rest of this entry »

#SendMeSeaToSummit Instagram Contest

August 11th, 2015 By   

Share your best outdoor action photos on Instagram with the hashtag #SendMeSeaToSummit and be sure to tag @SeaToSummitGear AND @TahoeMountainSports. Contest runs August 14 – September 14, 2015. Two winners will be selected to each win a new Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Mat and Air Stream Dry Sack  Pump!



Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Mat – Reg

Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Mat ($170.00 MSRP)The Comfort Light sleeping mats feature hybrid layer Air Sprung Cell technology – a double layer of high resolution cells in the torso for maximum comfort and insulation, and single layer of medium resolution cells in the head and legs for reduced weight. Sea to Summit uses Exkin Platinum, a quiet non-woven fabric, to reflect radiant heat loss back to the user and Thermolite insulation to prevent convective heat loss between your body and the ground.

– Exkin Platinum fabric and Thermolite insulation are combined to prevent radiant and convective heat loss
– Multi-function valve for easy inflation, deflation and fine tuning of air pressure
– 40D rip-stop nylon face fabric offers the right balance between weight and durability
– Sea to Summit’s TPU lamination process – one used in the medical and aeronautical industries but unique to the outdoor industry – is vastly superior to the roll-to-roll lamination process that is commonly used in outdoor products at present. The TPU bonds better and more consistently, virtually eliminating delamination issues.
– Extended storage instructions: mat should be laid flat, folded as few times as possible with valve open
Click HERE to learn more about proper use and care of your sleeping mat


Air Stream Dry Sack Pump

Air Stream Dry Sack Pump ($35.00 MSRP)The Air Stream is Sea to Summit’s big-volume sleeping mattress pump, it’s based on their 20L Ultra-Sil Nano Dry Sack, with added valve plug and foot loop. The 20 liter Air Stream can be inflated with a single breath. Two to three cycles from the Air Stream are enough to fill Sea to Summit sleeping mats, so you’re ready to go quickly, with minimal breath condensation in your mat or dizziness from blowing the mat up. The Air Stream can be used as a 20L dry sack or ultralight pack liner.

– Inflates most sleeping mats in only two or three compressions
– Oval base design
– Fully seam sealed with sealable valve plug
– Made from lightweight 15D UltraSil

Click HERE to shop our great selection of Sea to Summit – Outdoor Gear!

Sea to Summit X Bowl
Sea to Summit X Bowl
MSRP: $15.95


About Sea to Summit:

In 1984 a small group of climbers from the world’s flattest continent pulled off an audacious ascent of Mount Everest – they put a new route up the north face in lightweight style with no oxygen or sherpa support. Six years later, one of the summiteers, Tim Macartney-Snape decided to return to Everest after he realized neither he nor any other person who had climbed the mountain had truly climbed the entire 8,848 meters, as that would have meant starting from sea level. That is, no one had yet climbed it from “sea to summit”.

In the spring of 1990 Tim had a swim in the tepid waters of India’s Bay of Bengal then set off on foot across the Gangetic plain toward the distant Himalayan foothills. Four months later, after climbing alone from Base Camp and without the assistance of oxygen, he set foot once again on the highest point on earth. Tim’s solo ascent of Mt. Everest was named the “Sea to Summit” expedition.

Back in Australia, Tim joined forces with climbing friend, sewing enthusiast and design guru Roland Tyson to build a business that could make use of their knowledge of the outdoors to create truly ingenious, well-made but affordable outdoor equipment. They named their company Sea to Summit after Tim’s expedition and the business prospered.

Today the Sea to Summit brand continues to provide innovative gear and serves a growing band of outdoor enthusiasts all over the world.

Sea to Summit | TMS #SendMeSeaToSummit Instagram Contest Rules

– One entry per user. Must be 18 years or older. Winner pays shipping outside continental U.S.

– Giveaway period runs today through September 14, 2015. Two winners will be selected on September 15 and contacted via Instagram.

– User has read and reviewed the Tahoe Mountain Sports Privacy Policy.

– No purchase is necessary.

– Any and all purchases from Tahoe Mountain Sports (or any of its respective channels) will not improve one’s chances of winning.

– Winner(s) of the will not hold Tahoe Mountain Sports responsible for any/all warranty issues that arise with the giveaway. Sea to Summit assumes all responsibility for any/all warranty issues with the products in the #SendMeSeaToSummit Instagram Contest.

– Tahoe Mountain Sports shall be primary contest sponsor and is the principal place of business (11200 Donner Pass Rd. E5, Truckee, CA 96161).

– Tahoe Mountain Sports will contact the winner via Instagram. Entrants must provide a valid email.

– Free Shipping available in the Continental US only. Any shipments outside of the US are the responsibility of the winner.

– This contest is only open to people in the United States and Canada.

TMS – Launches Customer Rewards Program

August 6th, 2015 By   

Shop, Earn Credit and Save BIG at Tahoe Mountain Sports!

TMS offers the only customer loyalty rewards program in the Truckee-Tahoe area that makes it easier for you to save money on future purchases. Thank you for choosing TMS as your go-to specialty outdoor sports shop! Register for the TMS Rewards today in store (Truckee, CA) or online!


Amidst the entrance to the legendary Sierra Nevada, Tahoe Mountain Sports brings you the best in outdoor gear, footwear and specialty clothing from top brands such as The North Face, Deuter, Salomon, Mountain Hardwear and Black Diamond. We know why you’re here-for the gear. That’s why we keep our products at the forefront of everything we do. From ensuring we carry brands that top industry quality and environmental standards to personally testing our products to know we’re selling you the best. We love Truckee and Lake Tahoe, and believe strongly in supporting our local area and giving back. Tahoe Mountain Sports supports many local nonprofits and also leads the way in community oriented events.

Let us gear you up for your next adventure: Come visit us 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 days a week, at 11200 Donner Pass Rd. E5. Truckee, CA 96161, or anytime at


Running a Remote Aid Station at One of the Toughest Ultra-Marathons: Hardrock 100.

August 5th, 2015 By   

This post comes from Shaun Nauman, a blogger ( and Boulder, CO resident. When Shaun isn’t studying snow hydrology and forecasting avalanches, the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Instructor is finding new adventures in the backcountry on his splitboard. Watch for more adventures, gear reviews and fun reading from Shaun and other Ambassadors of Tahoe Mountain Sports.

1 Hardrock100

The Hardock 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world. The Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run is an ultra-marathon of 100.5 miles in length, plus 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent for a total elevation change of 67,984 feet, at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet. The race is held on a loop course on 4WD roads, dirt trails, and cross country in Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains.

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The San Juan mountains are home to some of the most rugged mountains in Colorado. The run starts and ends in Silverton, Colorado and travels through the towns of Telluride, Ouray, and the ghost town of Sherman, crossing thirteen major passes in the 12,000′ to 13,000′ range. Runners must travel above 12,000 feet (3,700 m) of elevation a total of 13 times, with the highest point on the course being the 14,048′ summit of Handies Peak. This is a test of runners against the mountains. The course is on trails as much as possible. There are 13 aid stations; major aid stations are located in the towns and a few remote aid stations throughout the course. The run is a salute to the toughness and perseverance of the hardrock miners who lived and worked in the area.

For the past five years, I have been part of a team who runs a remote aid station at roughly 12,200’ elevation just below Engineer Pass, known properly as Engineer Aid Station. The logistics and planning that go in to running a remote aid station begin several weeks, if not months, before we even arrive in Silverton, CO. To start, last year the design and engineering of new lightweight canopy shelters would replace the tarp shelter we have used for many years, it was enough to make even the most weight consciences backpacker jealous. Several boxes of gear are inventoried and packed away for the trip to Silverton. Once in Silverton we draw even more equipment from Hardrock 100 (food, beverages, emergency bags, and all the fill-in items that complete an aid station). We then attend general, medical, and radio communication briefings. Once the briefings are complete, equipment is loaded and the last few things are gathered to fill empty spots, and the pilgrimage to Engineer Pass begins.

4 Hardrock100

We typically arrive at the top of Engineer Pass via a four-wheel drive road late Thursday afternoon the night prior to the race start. From there we load up packs and descend in to the Bear Creek valley right at tree line below Engineer Pass. Wildflowers and snowfields fill this valley, and when the light is right, it is a natural spectacle beyond words.

5 Hardrock100

It takes a full day to get the aid station setup. The Hardrock 100 begins the next morning (Friday) at 6 a.m., at the same time we are setting up our station. Engineer Aid Station is right at about the 50 mile mark. Each year the race is run in a reverse direction, but since we are in the middle, it has little bearing on us. The logistics of bringing in food, beverages, tables, and cooking supplies are calculated almost to the pound. Water has to be filtered from a nearby stream, roughly 75 gallons of it. 15 gallons of broth will be prepared, and over 200 pounds of food and beverages will be packed in. Two large wing canopies, four ultra-light tables, lights, a stove, fuel, and emergency supplies are also packed in. All of this is just for the runners and their pacers. Volunteers at the aid station are responsible for packing in their own food and supplies beyond what they are hauling on behalf of the aid station.

3 Hardrock100

The canopies were made using aerodynamic wing designs reminiscent of that seen in MSR Wing or Kelty Noah Tarps and designed from lightweight Tyvek, shock cord, and high tensile strength aluminum. They proved to stand up to all the elements this year, which in a 24 hour period included rain, snow, lightning, wind, sunshine…you name it. While the wing canopies each cover an area of 24’ x 30’, they weigh less than 8lbs apiece!

6 Hardrock100

Once the amenities of the aid station are set up, a radio base station is established between aid stations and with Silverton headquarters some 15 miles away over mountainous terrain. The radio communications are critical, and the use HAM radios and creative uses of radio equipment are employed. Often times we can hit a radio repeater on Engineer Mountain at 13,200’, but not always. At times it is a matter of aiming a lightweight yagi antenna at a cliff wall and bouncing the signal down Bear Creek Canyon to Ouray. Other times it might include a cross-band repeater set up in a vehicle parked several miles away on Engineer Pass. In many instances, our communications have to be intermittently shut down due to electric storms. We stay busy, to say the least.

In actuality, the radio network to cover the 100-mile race is quite a marvel. A diagram of the radio schematic from various aid stations would look like a spider web to some. But it all falls in to place. With all the challenges, we make contact and track every single runner and pacer that comes through our station. Our first runner usually comes through at around 4pm on Friday. For the next 16 hours runners will continue to pour in to our station. Our busiest time is between 10pm and 2am, but we will see them well in to the morning hours.

We have seen just about everything imaginable come through our station. Some runners appear as if they are taking a casual stroll through the park, in high spirits. But, with Hardrock, and the elements of the mountains, a pass that is sunny and still one moment can be a whiteout of graupel, rain, and lightning the next. The runners reflect the experiences they encounter on the course. Even though we only see the runners briefly at our aid station, their experiences will be remembered for a lifetime.

7 Hardrock100

After all runners are accounted for to the next aid station, we get the all-clear to pack up our station. We practice Leave No Trace ethics. In essence, the aid station and any clue of its existence vanish upon our departure. The long hike out of Engineer begins, hopefully getting to the top of Engineer Pass to our vehicles before the afternoon storms hit. This year we encountered a blinding white mix of rain, graupel, and snow ascending to the top of the pass.

In all, it is a tremendous amount of work running this station. But we love doing it and have returned for many years, as a group we have run this station since 2010. The runners in Hardrock are quite honestly some of the most genuine people I have ever had the opportunity to meet. Hardrock is a race like no other, and from a runner’s perspective is a mental challenge as well as a physical one. All of the runners have stories of Hardrock 100 and how they persevered both the external and internal challenges. It’s the inspiration of the runners, and the genuine human spirit that keeps us coming back.

Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
Kelty Noahs Tarp 12
MSRP: $69.95

Salomon Park Hydro Handset Review

July 29th, 2015 By   

Formerly a collegiate miler and cross-country runner, Danny Jenkins has lived in Truckee for the past seven years, racing distances from half-marathons to 100-mile ultras. He has been a fundraiser for youth services, including Girls on the Run-Sierras and is also a former community addictions counselor. His passion is simply running free in the Sierra every chance he gets. Danny can be found on Instagram at @midnightspirit10.


Ph: Danny Jenkins

Swag is good. Swag that works is better. My girlfriend walked away with a free Salomon Park Hydro Handset at the Truckee Running Festival in June. Catching some shade under the Salomon tent paid off. “The rep said you’d love it!” Her enthusiasm overrides mine by a clear mile every time, but she’s usually right.

I stashed it on the shelf next to my front door, along with handhelds I’ve collected and used from half a dozen other manufacturers. A week later I grabbed it for a test spin and a week after that, I grabbed a second Park Hydro from Adam at TMS. One black, one red – toe nail colors for runners. I tested both over a six week period on runs ranging from 6 to 15 miles, with workouts at my usual haunts like the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), TRT (Tahoe Rim Trail), Donner Rim Trail, Sawtooth Trail Loop, Squaw Valley & other local “backyard” trails in Truckee and Tahoe Donner.


Ph: Danny Jenkins

It’s difficult to find something “new” in the world of nomadic hydration. Handhelds are pretty basic; slip your hand in, pull the tension and go. But, the Park Hydro is a little different and shows some unique thought and results from Salomon. First, the Park Hydro is designed to be bottom mounted, and sitting in-line with the under-side of your forearm. Two finger holes near the top lead the way. I wasn’t fully comfortable with this, so I just started playing with different angles and fits. The wrap-around velcro strap (that goes around your wrist and secures on the other side) allows for versatility and I found a better angle (around 130 degree set) without using the finger holes, with virtually no slippage and no need to actually grip the handset if I didn’t want to. It stayed put – no soreness, no fatigue. The ability to find your own “comfort zone” is a huge plus.


Ph: Danny Jenkins

The outer shell is made of 100% polyester; hassle free, comfortable and durable. They got wet. They got muddy. They got hail. I threw them on rocks, in the dirt, sat on ’em & kicked ’em, and yes….wiped my nose with them (an often overlooked quality in handhelds). They never tore and always retained their shape. Good stuff. The Hydrapak softflask (reservoir) holds 17oz and comes with a bite valve for controlled drinking. Sealed properly, it never leaked on me and was super easy to use in any situation, especially on the run and even on fast downhills. The side zipper pouch runs the length of the outer shell and inner softflask. At max capacity, it would hold my car keys, a couple of gels and a nutrition bar. If you really need to, an iPhone barely fits.

I didn’t find many negatives to this new and unique form of portable hydration from Salomon. The wrap around velcro strap, while adaptable to most any size arm, could use more velcro reaching the length of the top-side strap itself. I have thin wrists, so once secured, there is some excess length; nothing that can’t be tucked in, but more velcro is a clear improvement Salomon could look at. The 17oz. softflask seems ideal but I would also like to see how a 20oz. version would handle.


Ph: Danny Jenkins

The Salomon Park Hydro Handset was perfect hydration for runs between 6-10 miles and I simply carried two if I was going up to 15 miles or had chances at re-fueling (maybe Heed in one, water in the other?). I try and prevent putting anything on my back if I can help it (I like to run light), so the Park Hydro fit into my summer hydration inventory nicely. It has a uniquely secure, comfortable fit and feel (think water-bed for your hand & fingers) and didn’t leak after several beatings and approximately 300 miles of trail & mountain running over six-weeks. Revolutionized handheld hydration – Salomon nailed it here.

Sierra Crest 30K/50K – Course Preview

July 29th, 2015 By   

This post comes from two Donner Party Mountain Runner members, Lorenzo Wimmer and Jon Murchinson. Both are avid runners and in preparation for the Aug. 8th Sierra Crest 30K/50K Ultra Run, they took to the trails to give us a course preview!

Register TODAY and enjoy these scenic views:

Donner Panorama-600

Donner Ridge (Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer)

Jon Murchinson’s Sierra Crest Preview:

Distance: Approximately 7 miles
Elevation Gain: 2k+ feet


Ph: Jon Murchinson

The Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center is the starting point for the 30k. Runners pass through the corals and head west into the extensive Tahoe Donner trail system. This first section of the course is largely on horse trails (roots and manure are the obstacles to beware of) which winds through the trees. It is largely flat until the course turns up Boot Hill and starts a slight climb on a broad and exposed trail at Marker 37.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

Runners continue on Dogs in Space past Marker 38 and onto Marker 38a. At this point the course turns right and starts up a series of switchbacks. This is the first significant climb of this section of the course. It is exposed so runners will benefit from having a visor, hat or bandana and sunglasses. As the course climbs it provides views of the Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Area, Prosser Creek Reservoir, Martis Valley and Northstar. The climb ends at Marker 17b,and runners turn right onto Crazy Horse. This section is rather flat although it is somewhat rocky.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

Crazy Horse leads down to Marker 17 at which point the course turns left and starts a long climb up Andromeda towards Hawk’s Peak. This is the longest climb in this part of the course although runners will enjoy additional views of Martis Valley and Northstar. Runners will pass the Hawk’s Peak Loop Trail, at approximately 7,600’ the high point of this section, and continue on towards the Drifter Hut and some of the most stunning vistas of this part of the course.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

At Marker 36 the Euer Valley is off to runners’ right and Castle Peak comes into view for the first time. After a brief singletrack uphill, the course continues on towards the Drifter Hut, turns left and starts a welcome downhill towards Marker 18a.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

Runners start the final uphill of this section at Marker 19, which is the bottom of Sunrise Bowl. The climb is undulating and steep in sections, although not as long or taxing as the Andromeda Hill, it could present challenges due to some loose and rocky terrain. Once again views of the Tahoe Donner Ski Area are abundant. At the crest of the hill there is a stand of trees that provides welcome shade. Runners will enjoy a mild downhill that starts at Marker 19.


Ph: Jon Murchinson

The ridge behind Donner Lake is directly ahead and Tinker’s Knob and Mount Judah can be seen off to the right. At Marker 20, the course turns left and runners do an out-and-back section to the Glacier Way Aid Station.

Lorenzo Wimmer’s Sierra Crest Preview:

I began the run from the Glacier Way aid station number two. I bypassed the starting line to Aid Station #1. The Glacier Way Picnic area was quite a beautiful setting!

The course starts off flat, with a series of gentle rollers following the winter cross country ski trails. (It probably would have been more understandable if I had skied or gone out on snowshoes these runs in the wintertime) I didn’t know any of the names or side trails, therefore I was a little uncertain at some trail junctions. I’m confident with trail markers the ambiguity will disappear.


Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

The trail is in pristine condition, especially from Glacier Way to just below the Donner Ridge, dropping down into Negro Canyon. No obstacles that I could recall, very few tree roots or loose footing to worry about. Only a few areas of vegetation growing over the trail but not enough to make a difference.

One confusing sign was that of the Negro Canyon Overlook near the picnic table, that said the trail was a dead-end, when in fact it was not. Fortunately for me a mountain biker came by and I watched him fade into the distance, asserting that it was not a dead-end. With the mountain bike traffic, one would think that trail may have been torn up a little, but it was fine.


Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

The switchbacks started down the hill, all footing in good shape. Only slippery areas were under the pine trees that had lost a considerable amount of needles from the recent strong winds, and the green needles over the dry, made for a couple of loose steps. It was a warm day in spite of the wind, and the shade now and then under the pine trees was quite welcome. I was the only runner on the trail, so it felt like Disneyland, and I had it all to myself. Only four mountain bikers total that day, two going up and two going down.

The trail junction for Wendin Way Access Trail splits off to the northeast (left) at the creek with decent flow enough to refill water bottles (with a filter) This was the only water source along the route. (No problem as the Aid Station was close by) There is the possibility of someone turning to the right, but I’m sure with trail markers, everyone will be fine.

Not far after that split, a large sign indicating the new Wendin Way Access Trail goes to the left. It is well marked and in good shape, however more stones to navigate around than the earlier part of the trail. This rerouted trail does have a more convoluted route than the trail indicated on trail maps on iPhone applications.

One different turn I took it would seem, was about 100 meters from the Second waypoint. The route on the website indicates that that the trail turns southeast to join the service road… but I didn’t see any obvious trail showing that direction. As you can see from my tracks, my route was a bit more direct to the open area near the Aid Station.


Ph: Lorenzo Wimmer

That’s about it, it was over too soon for me, I wanted to keep going as I had just finally warmed up enough to run. I was waiting for a girlfriend to come pick me up, so unfortunately that was the end of the line for me today. My friend wants to do this segment with me again sometime, as it is quite easy and with such beautiful views, you can’t pass up an opportunity to see it all again! (Follow Lorenzo at

On Aug. 8, the Auburn Ski Club will host the Inaugural Sierra Crest 30K / 50K which is an exciting point-to-point trail run that takes advantage of some of the Truckee/Donner Summit region’s best single track. The Sierra Crest begins at 6650ft, on trails heading out from Tahoe Donner’s new Adventure Center, joining up with the Donner Lake Rim Trail, and finally ending on the trails at the Auburn Ski Club Training Center at 7200ft. For those new to trail running, the 30K (just 18 miles), is an excellent opportunity to join the sport and push themselves in a beautiful environment!

This unique race offers spectacular views of the Sierra Crest and some of the Northern Sierras most spectacular mountain peaks (including, Euer Valley, Frog Lake Cliffs, Donner Lake, Summit Lake, Castle Peak and the many other mountain peaks along the Sierra Crest). Fully stocked aid stations along both courses will be in place to keep runners well fueled, 5 stations for the 50k, and 3 stations for the 30K.

The Sierra Crest Trail Run is organized by the Auburn Ski Club as fundraisers to help support the work the Club does in the Truckee, Tahoe & Foothill regions. Hundreds of local children and teens benefit from the Club’s low cost cross country ski trails, their support of High school skiing and its own quality Nordic, Alpine & Snowboard Teams.

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