Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

May 30, 2015

7 Flights in 3 Days!

Finally, a view of the mountains
I think I can say that the weather has taken a turn for the better.  I still haven't flown very far, but I have gotten a very good close up look at the terrain between Turnpoints 3 (Kampenwand) and 4 (Zugspitze) for the Red Bull X-Alps 2015!  In fact I was able to top land a couple of times, hike up a few times, and get a ride up to launch in other places.

Team USA4, Dave Turner and his supporters Eric and Krisha have been keeping pace with us for a few days, so we teamed up for a few flights to go further.  Or so we hoped!  Actually Eric and Krisha ended up having better flights after waiting out some rain.

Dave Turner drops in during a windy hiking day

I am starting to feel a lot more prepared for the race with all of this reconnaissance.    I am definitely learning to give directions better... "I'm on top of that hill with the cross!"  Oh, wait, all of the hill tops have crossed on them here...  "I've landed by the 3rd bend in the road".  Oh wait...that's only obvious from the air.

Anyway, Jim has been waiting for me in the LZ of 4 flights in the last couple of days.  Pretty good considering I didn't even know where I was going to land a couple of times!

It's the hill with the cross...wait...all the hills have crossed on them.
Team USA3 and USA4 launch together

Finally, a hike up to a beautiful wild launch!

Where to land...?
A calm morning, looking good for flying!
A cold stream is great for tired feet

Dave and I looking at X-Alps Section 4 in front of the Zugspitze

May 27, 2015

Raining Hail

Today we finally got an almost break in the weather. The little clouds were hanging around with the occasional rain shower, but it looks like I could get a sled ride if I could get myself in a clearing. We were in the town of Aschau just below the third X-Alps turn point. I had already been up to the turn point, so I didn't want to retrace my steps. Instead, I went up a mountain to the west.

Spitz of rain started just as I laid out my wing. I quickly got ready and took off from the spitzsteig.  Then I had an amazing flight in little bits of hail all the way down to the Inn valley. Luckily I was able to cross the river and get close to my next hike up.  

Of course my wing was soaking wet from landing in a rainstorm! So it is a little heavy!  The sun is almost out now and I'm hoping to get a sled ride down into Bayrizschell. 

Luckily I could fortify with myself with my favorite food; chocolate!

Looking forward to a warmer, dryer tomorrow. It should be a great day for flying!

May 26, 2015

Via Ferrata Galugg

Well, we just made a speedy trip to Zermatt and back during a few days of rain in order to get some mail we had sent to a friend.   On the way back it was almost sunny, and we stopped in the village of Zams to stretch our legs and do a quick Via Ferrata.  This one was short but steep...180 meters high starting almost right out of the parking lot.  Did I mention it was just a few seconds off the main highway as well?  Very nice to pass through without adding a lot more driving to our day.

Kettersteig Galugg (I love that name) is rated a C (on an A-Easy to E-Extremely Hard Scale).  Considering there were more than a few sections where I was literally hauling myself (and my paragliding pack) straight up the cables with few holds, it deserved every bit of a C rating.  It also makes me wonder what and E rating would look like.   I need to find that out as there is a Via Ferrata on the X-Alps route which could be much harder and longer than this one.

Anyway, this was quick and easy (or at least short), taking just over an hour to make the round and get us back on the road.  While there are plenty of routes that could consume a whole day and finish on a beautiful mountaintop, sometimes it's nice to do a tiny one, too.

Here's a website with all sorts of these routes, with maps and photos and everything:

May 25, 2015

Goodies from Sponsors Salewa and Garmin!

We don't live in Europe, but we need mail...so we had a few packages sent to our friend Chris of Alpine Adventures Paragliding in Zermatt.   There were a pile of boxes waiting for us when we arrived, including cool stuff from Garmin and Salewa!

Garmin is providing all the electronics for the Red Bull X-Alps 2015, including a GPS, Fenix GPS watch, and a Virb Camera.   I am NEVER going to get lost with all of this data to help me along the course :)

Salewa is the official clothing sponsor of the Red Bull X-Alps, and they will be providing us with waterproof jackets, shirts, and other clothing during the race.  But in advance they sent me a pair of their Speed Ascent shoes, which I've found are great for using on Via Ferrata routes.  They really grip the rock (even when it's wet) and have good support against sharp rocks on the bottom.  In fact they are so good for climbing, Jim purchased a pair of Salawa shoes as well!  Now our shoes are so bright that we'll never lose each other.

May 21, 2015

Rain, Rain....

I took my paraglider for a walk today.

In the pouring rain.

I guess it was good to check out my new rain poncho (it works) even if I look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  At least, I would if he had worn this vibrant shade of red.

I even kept my feet dry with Sealskinz socks.  Yea!

Yesterday Jim joined me for a rainy walk up to the third X-Alps 2015 checkpoint at Kampenwand above Aschau in Chiemgau.   Jim was very excited to see a Salamander on the trail, along with a slug that was 5 or 6 inches long.  The slug was almost as big as the salamander, come to think of it.

At the Sonnenalm Hutte (it was not sunny, that's for sure), we were able to see over into the valley for a second before the clouds and rain came again.  We fortified ourselves with hot chocolate in the "hut" before heading down in the mist.  This elaborate building had wonderful architecture and a full kitchen plus bedrooms.  Ah, roughing it in Europe for sure.

A Fire Salamander
A nice Austrian yard...aren't they all!

Slug as long as my hand
Every waterfall is running over at the moment

Jim finds the cows with bells on

The antlers in Sonnenalm Hut

May 19, 2015

Oetz to the Solden Pass

A short break in the weather to the SW of us sent us on an early morning drive to the Innsbruck Valley.    Perhaps today I could fly to Italy?   I didn't really feel like hiking up (gasp!), so we managed to drive the motorhome all the way up to an official launching area above Oetz.  Several tandems went off before me but otherwise the hillside was quiet.

It was a weak day, and I launched right at noon.   Perhaps a bit too early, as my first move almost put me on the ground.  The valley winds were kicking, and without a sunny hillside it looked like a cow pasture for me.   I managed to find a bump of a hill directly into the wind, and I soared it, first in desperation and then just for fun.  I had resigned myself to landing and thought I would just fly until I saw the motorhome heading my way.

However, I kept inching higher...inching being the right word as it took me about an hour to climb out of that hole.  But climb out I did!   Then it was just a matter of riding the winds south toward the high pass leading over to Italy.   Jim could hardly keep up with me at times, I was flying almost 60km an hour!

The road up to the pass was definitely closed, so luckily I didn't try to fly over it with Jim unable to chase me!  Plus, we didn't have SIM cards for Italy yet so we wouldn't be able to communicate once crossing the border (argh).

There were tons of waterfalls and the scenery was gorgeous.   The towns were almost deserted on the drive back though, since the pass is closed until more snow melts.

Tomorrow we are heading back north for hopefully another day or two of flying before the rain sets in again.

Here's my track log on XContest, about 42k long:  http://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/detail:westrumd/17.5.2015/10:17

May 18, 2015

A Slugfest

Grounded.  Like the snails.

Today I am as low as I can be, walking a foggy trail up a narrow canyon and hoping it won't rain on me.  This is after two days of pretty steady rain, it's clearing now but these low clouds just won't go away.

The path is littered with snails and slugs, a tribute to the amount of rain that has fallen this spring.  Or perhaps as the signs show, this area is always filled with them.


Just kidding.  So far I've managed to avoid obliterating one of these slimy things, but considering their numbers, it's just a matter of time.  One of them even got into our electrical cord during the night and shorted out our power.   Yuk.

The scenery is always worth the walk!
Carrying my Ozone pack up the Via Ferrata
Jim brought me breakfast along the way from Saalfelden and I continued on route.   By afternoon, the clouds were lifting and finally we could see the hills.   I ditched my pack after a few hours of walking,  to run for about an hour.  I needed a change of pace!  Then met up with Jim (and my pack, again) at the bottom of a short Via Ferrata.  We did the Zahme Gams Kettersteig, here is the webpage if you are interested in trying it:  www.bergsteigen.com

This also took an hour, and although a fairly easy one (according to the book), with my pack weighing me down it felt anything but easy.

Finally by late afternoon, we could see some peaks, and I did a small hike n fly off above the town of Lofer some ways above the lift.  It was a sled ride back into town.   But a busy day by all accounts!