Training for Barkley – Boulder to Winter Park As the Crow Flies

Guest UD Blogger: RunAroundaRoo’s Heidi Kumm about Jeremy Ebel’s Adventurous Training Run Over the Western Slope, essentially from Boulder to Winter Park as the crow flies!

Jermey Ebel - West Bound

Jermey Ebel – West Bound

There are a few reasons to head into the wilderness with a pack full of gear, a compass and a map but this particular trip had a very specific purpose – navigation and misery training for the Barkley Marathons.The Barkley Marathons is really just one race; a one of a kind 100 mile ultra meant to test your mental tenacity and technical skills.

In short, the race is set up rather sadistically – you receive a transposed course map to study the night before the race then head to your tent just waiting for the conch shell to blare your wake-up call. An hour later you’re at the start line of a race fewer than 20 people have completed even though hundreds have started, just waiting for the race director’s cigarette to burn out. Then you’re off, headed into the Tennessee brambles in search of a book where you’ll rip out one page to prove you found it. You get no GPS, no outside help, no aid stations as you navigate from one book to another, for a total of five loops if you’re lucky [?!] enough to complete the race. It is just you, your compass, your interpretation of the map and the razor sharp briars around you.

On a mission to get some solid “Barkley training” Jeremy left his truck parked near the NCAR trailhead as he headed toward the snowy mountains with a full UD Fastpack 30 strapped to his back. He had planned out a general route that would take him up the Front Range, over Caribou Pass and down into Winter Park. Of course, when things go as planned they don’t make good stories so reality played its part to throw a curveball or six at Jeremy.

With a little help from Mother Nature the route more technical than expected, covered with deep powder and ice-crusted drifts. Before fully disappearing from the Land of Cell Service Jeremy was able to check in and let friends/family know he was moving slowly but no one expected his 24 hour trip to become a 60 hour adventure!

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.15.17 PMRead Jeremy’s full trip report on the Laps for a Liver blog.

So, how does one survive a wintry trek that suddenly becomes 36 hours longer than planned? Very carefully! Or that’s what Jeremy will tell you! Here’s an overview of what he packed and how it became an essential part of his survival…

  • Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 – this was the first time Jeremy used his Fastpack and it fit the bill [and all his gear!] perfectly!
  • Sleeping Bag + Bivy Bag + Sleeping Pad – knowing that it may get cold and that he’d be out there alone Jeremy took a few essentials for survivable night in the wilderness.
  • Bacon + Brats + Cheese – originally Jeremy planned on packing mostly gels and other “race food” but decided to add a little weight for the sake of having “real food” which made trek tastier and more bearable. He actually ended his extra long trip with enough calories for another day on the trail, perfect planning!
  • The “10 Essentials” – he never needed to use many of these essentials but having them available was comforting. Being able to build a fire for warmth and having enough light to trek through the night was important.
  • Trekking Poles – when you leave your crampons and ice axe at home…be sure to pack along trekking poles! When traversing narrow ledges covered in icy drifts trekking poles are extremely useful for digging out foot holds and maintaining three points of contact while inching along.
Gear Whores Anonymous

Gear Whores Anonymous

At the end of the day [er, weekend?] the gear Jeremy packed was exactly what he needed to survive without hating life. While crampons and an ice axe would have made the trek a bit easier the mental training that came with meticulously picking every step along the narrow ledges combined with the added weight made leaving them at home worth it.

Most importantly, how did the Ultimate Direction Fastpack hold up on this little adventure? Really well! Even with the heavier weight the pack did a great job of holding all of Jeremy’s gear and keeping the essentials snacks easily accessible on the front straps.

Quote from Jeremy’s FB Page: “I took my new Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30 because of its lightweight design and having plenty of storage in the front to allow me to hike for an extended amount of time without needing to access my pack. The front strap pockets had room for half a days worth of food, a knife, map and compass, and some electronics all in immediate access. At first I thought carrying close to 40lbs in a pack without a hip belt could turn ugly fast but my shoulders –although sore – held up just fine to the weight. I was even able to run on some parts with a modified gait. All in all I was really impressed with the UD pack and am looking forward to taking it again on more adventures!”

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