Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The "Methow" Experience

Everyone who has visited or lived in the Methow knows of its beauty and the hold it takes on you, compelling you to hike, bike, run, ski and bask your way through day after day of incredible sunshine and scenery. The Valley doesn't have any one "clique" of athletes/adventurers; everyone dips their feet into each pool. The bikers get invited to climb the Beckey Route with the alpinists; the skiers get convinced to go for a run with the runners; the hikers are persuaded to try and see if riding their mountain bike up and down Cutthroat may in fact be more fun than hiking it. We all have a great and humbling time while trying the new activities, and are rarely content to stick within one mold.

The Methow Valley Sports Trails Association (MVSTA) has been perhaps the most influential in creating the above scenario. For several decades now MVSTA has hosted and managed amazing events and festivals dedicated to celebrating the splendor of this place and to encourage people young and old to try their hand at an outdoor activity. With Methow Endurance, we humbly aspire to continue carrying that flag with our own events, bringing newcomers and veterans together in a shared enjoyment of the outdoors and personal improvement.
A group of up-and-comers raring to go at this year's Methow Endurance 5/10km, an event made famous for many years by MVSTA
Yesterday, Alison and I embarked on a run which ended up being a bit longer than expected. We made the mistake of using a Washington Gazetteer for mileage estimates, and assumed the route chosen would be about 25 miles and take somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours. Instead, it was more like 35 miles and took about eight and a half hours. But it was spectacular, and took us over several mountain passes, including Slate Pass and Grasshopper Pass on the PCT. While we were on the run we encountered numerous groups and couples partaking in their own forms of mountain enjoyment. One local couple was excited to be venturing onto a new part of the PCT on a day hike; they've explored all over the Valley but never gone south from Hart's Pass. Another young woman was encouraging her new husband to make the moderate trek to Tatie Peak to see the vista; he was meanwhile wishing he'd done a few more hikes beforehand...

Running along the PCT, south from Hart's Pass
A misconception which Alison and I, through Methow Endurance, are trying to dispel is that "training" is only for athletes. In our minds, you "train" to get better at something, anything. The burgeoning cook "trains" their hands to chop onions faster and cleaner so they don't sob their way through a French Onion soup preparation. The 65-year old recovering from a knee replacement "trains" himself to lift a weight in a certain way which will help strengthen his leg again. And yes, the runner makes two-hour efforts faster as a way to "train" toward a better marathon finish.

The "Methow" Experience is about adventure, exploration, and challenge. It's about "training" yourself to adapt to a new effort, whether that effort is hiking Maple Pass AND Cutthroat in one day, or to prepare for your first American Birkebeiner 50km ski race. We see those goals, all of them, and we are as inspired by the novice hiker as we are the veteran skier.

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