Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mt Margaret Backcountry

Just got back this afternoon from a fantastic long weekend in the wilderness with Zach. We backpacked into the Mt Margaret backcountry near Mt St Helens in Washington. Our trip was very challenging but I was super tough and brave and we made it out in one piece.

Saturday we hiked into our camp at a high lake called Shovel Lake. It was just over 10 miles with about 5,000 feet of climbing total. The lake actually only sat at about 4,700 feet elevation, but the trails in went up and down a few mountains. Sunday we mostly stuck around the lake, although we did hike up to the ridge about 750 feet above camp. That was scary as there was no real trail and it was super steep! Today (Monday) we hiked out taking a different route that didn’t have any climbs. However, descending 3,000 feet is pretty hard on tired legs too, so it wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped! The hike out was also about 10 miles.

I carried about 30 lbs and Zach carried 40 (including full waters). At the end of the hike we were both several pounds lighter of food and water and we could tell the difference. Zach has some really good equipment which is nice and light, but it less is always better!

Both days included very challenging sections where the trail was heavily overgrown and I got scratched up pretty bad (I wore long pants on the way out to avoid that, but it was way too hot the first day). Other sections of the trail were along a steep mountain face where a wrong step could have resulted in a verrrry long fall. The post-eruption landscape was very cool but also resulted in tough footing in a lot of places because of the deep volcanic ash, dead/rotten fallen trees, and soft crumbly rock. Another big challenge was a problem with the water filter the first day- after much troubleshooting Zach got it working and we continued along the way.

The views were amazing though and made the journey very worthwhile. From the highest points we could see both Mt Adams and Mt Rainier. The best part of the whole trip for me was the utter isolation- besides a volunteer ranger we saw a few miles in on Saturday, we didn’t see a single human being until we returned to the trailhead. Isolation is such a luxury and something I deeply enjoy. 

We saw a lot of wildlife- deer, elk, marmots, a snake, a frog, and a bald eagle. We also saw a ton of beautiful wildflowers which I love! Lots of pics of those below.

Some of the fun things we did besides hiking were swimming in the freezing cold lake, glissading down snow fields, tracking and watching wildlife, taking pictures, stargazing, and talking. We ate really basic food but after pushing yourself all day any nourishment tastes amazing.

I had such a great time, and I can’t wait to go again. Being from Montana, we’ve always had a love of the outdoors, but it has taken a backseat to running and triathlon for a few years. I’m so excited to get back into it. We have big plans for more backcountry trips and climbing mountains and stuff. Spending time in nature, away from all the pressures and stress of daily life, is such a great feeling. It really renews and revives the spirit I think. It is something I can see myself getting really into in this next phase of my life. :)

We took our old camera since the new one is really big, but we got a lot of great pictures. Here are a few, and then there is a full album linked below. Enjoy!!


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Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week.

Friday, July 23, 2010


It’s amazing how dynamic life is. A lot has been going on this week, and it truly spans the spectrum. In in the past several days, I have had some really fun times with wonderful friends, I’ve prayed and worried over loved ones. I’ve seen my friends celebrate significant milestones and I’ve seen my friends in some pretty dark times. I’ve ran and rode faster than I have in a long time, I’ve sat in silent meditation. Through all of this I have tried to keep a level head. I have done a pretty good job, I think. Life generally will never ease up, and I have to be able to find peace in the midst of it. Or else it will get the best of me. I have to believe that there is a joy that runs like a thread through life. I have to hold onto it like a guide line every moment.

I obviously am not going to go into every single event that happened, but I want to share some of it. The balance-seeking part of me wants to acknowledge that even the tougher moments have some redeeming factors… that nothing is really just Good or Bad.

For instance, my friend’s mom was in the hospital this week for a major surgery. We were all very worried and anxious about it but she is just fine and we’re very thankful. She was in surgery to donate a kidney to a woman in her community, a person she doesn’t even know all that well. She is a deeply religious person, and felt strongly that she had to do this. It’s such a crazy selfless act it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. I have know this woman my entire life and she is truly a saint.

My mom went into the neurologist this week to adjust her medication for the Parkinson’s, and she has started on something new that is supposed to help the symptoms. They will constantly have to assess and revise her meds to control the symptoms and this is just the start. I know it is tough for her to accept this and I think it’s going to take a long time to really make peace with it. The good news here is that they have made a lot of progress in this area and they are constantly improving the treatment options. We are very lucky! And we hopeful that they will even find a cure in our lifetimes. She is such a tough cookie and has kept a good attitude and a sense of humor through all of this. She is a saint in her own right. :)

Moving on to some of the exciting milestone stuff… it’s a boy! That’s right, a baby boy was born yesterday in my family. It’s a baby alpaca. My aunt and uncle have an alpaca farm outside of Reno and they are very into it.  My mom forwarded me this email yesterday and I thought it was hilarious and disturbing. Alpacas are so weird. Right?


Ok, just wanted to lighten the mood a bit! :D But seriously, that thing is scary.

A serious exciting milestone is that my wonderful friend Alisa just bought a new house!! It’s beautiful and I’m so excited for her. Zach and I want to buy a house soon and I hope we end up in something as cool as that house! Congratulations guys! ♥

Lots of fun social stuff this week that I want to mention- Alisa’s birthday was today and we all got together for lunch to celebrate- Emily, Amy, Sarah, and Lisa. I love those girls!! I have found such a great group of friends here. I also went to the Brewfest down on the waterfront with Deana and Dana and a couple other friends last night. Pretty great. Going back a ways, we had a great time with Zach’s parents last weekend. We went wine tasting, spent the day at the lake, ate delicious food cooked by my chef husband and his chef dad- wow I lucked out with this family!!! I love spending time with Melanie too, she is such a great friend to me.

What else, what else… I feel like I’m rambling here! Let’s move on to some running and cycling and yoga stuff, shall we?

I got in a few good runs and lots of yoga and one solid bike ride. I’ll pick the best ones to talk about here.

Run: I had a super sweet run with Zach in Forest Park on Monday this week. I have been doing a lot of pretty easy mileage lately and felt like doing something to test my speed. We did a 5 miler up on my favorite trail and we were haulin. I started off really easy with a 9:00 mile but ran the next four at a 7:29 average pace. Weeeee!!! I clearly haven’t lost my zip.

Yoga: I went to three restorative/meditative classes this week and am feeling very zen. It’s pretty cool how much silence and stillness can change your perspective. It’s become an essential part of my life.

Bike: This was a super highlight of the week. Zach, Alisa, and I drove out to Sauvie Island Tuesday after work for a 30-ish mile ride. Alisa is doing her first half-ironman next weekend and so this was one of her last long-ish rides. I’ve really loved training with her and I know she’s going to do great! Especially after seeing her haul serious ass on this ride. Just like the aforementioned run, I kind of wanted to test my speed on the bike. I’ve been doing some pretty long rides but nothing at a very fast speed, so I was curious if I could go fast on a flat ride. Last year when I was training for the Ironman, I did a few rides up there and would usually average over 16 MPH, which is fast for me! Well we PUSHED this whole ride and were in a draft line for most of it (granted, Zach did most of the pulling, but still). We ended up averaging 16.8 MPH for 32 miles. Weeeeeee!!!!! Once again, zip is clearly intact.

Well I guess I can wrap this up. This was kind of a rambling post. Oooh I have pictures! These are of the Sauvie ride.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back with a sweet picture post next week- we are going on an awesome backpacking trip up near Mt. St. Helens this weekend. I am so excited!!! Have a great weekend gang.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Fun

Just a quick update with cell phone pics from all our outs-and-abouts.

I’ve been running quite a bit- nothing of significant speed or distance but keeping up 4 times a week or so with weekly mileage in the mid-20s. A lot of those runs have been on the trails with Zach- more on that below. With my new flexy schedule I’ve had tons of time to do other stuff too!

Biking- just got done with a hilly and awesome 32 mile ride with Zach and Alisa. Here is a pic Zach took of me coming up the last hill:

  terwiliger bike 7 15 2010

Trail running- Zach and I have been out exploring the trails around Portland. We’ve gone 4 times in the last couple of weeks. Twice we ran from Washington Park up to Council Crest, which is a killer climb but what a view. One day we ran up on the Wildwood in Forest Park (pic below) and then yesterday we ran from the Lower Maclay Trail. That is the run that brought me to tears last year but this time it was the least difficult trail run I’ve done in a while! I love running in the woods. It’s super hard, really quiet and really scenic. Perfect.

  trail run 7 11 2010

Mountain biking- Zach and I have logged a bunch of miles up on the Leif Erikson trail in Forest Park. It’s not so hilly really but super shady and cool, a great way to beat the summer heat. I love it!

forest pk bike 7 8 10

In non-athletic happenings, last weekend we attended the Mississippi Street Fair for the second year with Deana, Dana, and our friends Taylor and Josh that live in the neighborhood. We listened to music, shopped at the art booths, and Zach played a game of giant Jenga:

mississippi street fair2 7 11 2010mississippi street fair 7 11 2010

The next day we went over to Amy’s to make mozzarella cheese. She is a domestic goddess, to say the least, and is teaching us all the many things we can make from scratch in our own kitchens. Last time we made jam from local fresh berries and this time we tried our hands at cheese. It was a huge success. She is amazing! Along with Amy and her husband, Deana and Dana were there, and also Alisa and Justin, and our friends Lisa and Andrew. Then we all hung out in the yard with the newlywed neighbors. Lovely group of people!

cheesemaking party2 july 11 2010

cheesemaking party july 11 2010

So those are some of the ways I’ve been passing the hot July days. I am loving the summer. This weekend Zach’s parents are in town from San Diego and that’s going to be great. They are so nice and they are big foodies so we’ll be doing lots of cooking and dining out. Yummo. Next weekend Zach and I are going backpacking up near Mt. St. Helens. Plus lots more yoga, biking, running, etc. Life is good.


Thanks so much to everyone who has donated to the Yogathon! I will be putting a link on the sidebar in case you want to come back and donate later. You guys are awesome.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


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This summer I am participating in Living Yoga’s Yogathon. It is a fundraising drive through the months of July and August where each participant pledges to attend a certain number of classes and raise money from family and friends.

I originally pledged to raise $200, but I already almost reached that goal so now I have increased my goal to $500! This organization is very important and I do hope to raise as much money as possible for them.

You all know how important yoga is in my life, and what a positive impact it has had. Through my yoga practice I have dealt with many tough times and I am so grateful for that. Living Yoga is an organization that brings yoga to those who really need it the most- men and women in rehab centers, prisons, domestic violence shelters, and more.

Emily has been volunteering with Living Yoga for a few months now and was an important part of getting the Yogathon off the ground. She is committed to the group and was the one who let me know about the fundraiser. I am now interested in volunteering too and am excited about this new opportunity! They seem like a great group of people and I know they really appreciate any donations you can contribute.

Please visit my fundraising site below. Donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. I sincerely appreciate anything you can contribute, even a few dollars! I know as runners and triathletes we sometimes have a lot of charity fundraisers going on and I know you can’t contribute to all of them, so no pressure. This is my first time doing this so it’s interesting to see the other side of it.

I will probably post a reminder before the end of August when the Yogathon ends, but if you can donate now, please do! :)

Here are the links:

Donate here: http://www.firstgiving.com/jbarnesyoga

Learn more about Living Yoga here: http://living-yoga.org/content/about-us

Thanks so much for your time!!

Here are a few more of the yoga photos from the coast trip on 4th of July. So fun. Thanks again! :)

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Family Vacation

We spent a wonderful long holiday weekend out on the coast with the whole family. My mom and dad drove down from Montana, and my brother and sister-in-law flew up from California. We were all together for the first time in quite a while and it was great.

I planned this trip a few months ago after my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis when it really hit home how much we all need each other. We all see each other a couple times a year at least, but rarely are we ALL together at once. I know I really needed to see everyone and I believe they all felt the same. My mom is doing really well these days so she was in good shape to make the trip. We are planning on making the Family Vacation an annual tradition and there was lots of talk of where we will go next year!

I could spend hours re-living the whole trip here but I’ll just hit some highlights and then let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Jon and Bri could only stay the first couple of days, but it was very good to see them. They are awesome. They were in Portland a couple of days before we headed out to the coast so they got to walk around and check it out. They rode our mountain bikes with me on an 11 mile run and that was very cool. I hope they can come visit again soon.


My parents are the most adorable couple ever. They are so sweet to each other and still hold hands and all that after 30+ years of marriage. They take good care of each other and have an amazing relationship. They have a great sense of humor and are really fun to be around. They inspire me in so many ways. :)


The coast was SO beautiful. It’s pretty rocky where we were which made for really neat crashing waves and lots of little tidepools. We spent a lot of time down there watching the waves. We even saw some whales!


I did lots of yoga over the vacation- some by myself in the morning, some with my mom (which we do all the time over Skype, but it was cool to do in person), and I even took my dad through a sun salutation! I even did some yoga on the rocks by the shore and Zach took pictures. So cool!


Zach and I ran on the trails and beach two days and it was amazing. The weather was cool but sunny and we loved every minute of it. The second day we even jumped in the freezing cold ocean at the end of our run!

jen run

Zach cooked the whole family a delicious dinner the first night and made several yummy meals over the next couple days. We ate very well thanks to him! We drank good local beer and delicious wine. We mostly cooked at the rental house but we ate out a couple of times and enjoyed amazing fresh seafood.


One of my favorite parts was a hike I took with my mom up to a lighthouse. We drove down there only to discover that to really even see the lighthouse you have to hike about a half-mile up the mountain. It wasn’t a super challenging hike, but I wasn’t sure my mom could swing it. Zach and my dad headed up ahead of us and my mom and I took our time climbing up. I held her hand the whole way and encouraged her along. We rested a couple times, but kept going. I was so proud of her when we reached the top. It was like watching someone finish a race! Zach and Dad were there to snap a picture. It is something I will always remember.


Other than the lighthouse, the other activities we did included watching the Fourth of July parade in the cute little town, driving up to Newport on the last day for lunch and sea-lion watching, whale-watching and hiking along the coast. We spent most of our time hanging out at the rental cottage visiting, playing Pictionary, and relaxing. Zach and I spent one afternoon at the gorgeous spa. So relaxing. In general, this trip made me feel very much at ease. After all the anxiety and worry of the year, these few days with my family really set everything right in my head and heart. We are so lucky to have such a strong and loving family and I’m so very grateful.


Ok, picture time! We took a LOT (um, like over 600) so I have to do some real editing. I ended up putting them in an album since there are over 50 photos. It’s my first time doing that, so I hope it works ok.

Thanks so much for stopping by!