Trail Mix
Your place to stay connected with the Hillsound community. Follow our most recent news and latest adventures here!
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Jess
May 24, 2016

Hillsound ambassador, trail running pro, and multi-championship winner Stevie Kremer will be flying across the Pacific Ocean to challenge herself in a 6,100m high, 20km long round-trip mountain race in China. She shares her thoughts and goals as she prepares to fly over and attempt to leave yet another mark in the ultra running world.

 

H: Hi Stevie! It’s been a while since our last interview. How has 2016 been so far for you?

S: So far so good! I spent the majority of the winter ski mountaineer racing and have recently competed in two trail running races in Colorado, which have been a positive welcome back to trail running, getting me excited for the season to come.

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Stevie Kremer (May 2016)

H: Some local races to warm up for the season! You’ll be running in China for this upcoming race – that’s exciting! Have you ever been to China?

S: Yes, I will be and yes I have run in China two other times, both in Hong Kong.  Those were great experiences and who knew that there were such amazing mountains in Hong Kong.  But this race will be completely different.  We will be summiting a 20,000 foot mountain-something I’ve never come close to doing.

H: Tell us a bit more about the Red Bull Summit Quest.

S: This is a 20km round-trip race which will start at around 4800 meters and will top out at a little over 6100 meters (yikes!), then we will be coming right back down.  This race will include a bit of running (if that’s possible) and transition to mountaineering with ropes as we reach the summit.

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Stevie Kremer (April 2016)

H: 20,000ft sounds absolutely daunting. How have you been preparing for this, mentally and physically?

S: Well I really don’t know how I’ve been preparing.  There isn’t much I can do with the altitude because I don’t have mountains that go that high, so I’ve been trying to stay calm and just run up and down as best I can.  The physical part is going decently, while the mental part isn’t going so well.

H: We are rooting for you! Even after so many great successes, how do you stay motivated to keep challenging yourself for more and to achieve harder goals?

S: I think races like the Red Bull Summit Quest are completely new experiences for me and therefore keep me excited about running on new mountains and have new challenges to work towards.

H: Tell us one ‘crazy’ dream, if you have one, related to your running career.

S: Winning the Red Bull Summit Quest!

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Stevie Kremer (March 2016)

H: Lastly, what is your ultimate goal for this race ahead?

S: To stay alive…at such a high altitude, I’m scared!

H: Thanks for your time Stevie! Everyone at Hillsound is rooting for you! Good luck and safe travels!  

S: Thanks for everything Hillsound has done for me, especially keeping me running on ice and snow throughout the winter!!

 

Stevie has been training with the Trail Crampon Ultras in the colder seasons. She will be bringing along the Trail Crampon Pros for the Red Bull Summit Quest this summer. You can follow her adventures via her Instagram @StevieKremer and her Facebook.

Jess
April 19, 2016

Hillsound brand ambassador, Brooke Froelich, shares her experience of traveling to Alaska for a ski tour with one-year-old son, Huck, along for the ride. 

When my boyfriend, Patton, gave me a ticket to Alaska for Christmas, I was ecstatic! I have always dreamed of visiting and skiing Alaska. I also noticed the back of my throat tightening from stress. The thought of traveling long distance with my 1-year-old son, Huck, was something I have had actual nightmares about. But if there is one thing I have learned this past year, it’s that adventure doesn’t end once you become a mother— it increases.

A few weeks before our trip, Patton and I spent time researching, planning, and preparing to travel with Huck. We read articles, talked to friends and family members that have traveled with children, and tried to set realistic expectations for ourselves. Traveling with children takes more preparation and thought- but it pays off in a huge way.
Traveling Alaska with Young Children

Flying with a Toddler

A week before our flight with Huck, the anxiety of a long flight hit me. This could really suck. Huck has been on a few short flights, but never anything longer than two hours. I spent days reading blog posts about flying with kids. I kept hearing that it would be doable, but I felt doubtful. I kept reading that effective packing was a huge factor in successful air travel. As Patton and I loaded the car, I realized how many essential, LARGE, BULKY, and HEAVY items we were bringing (touring skis, touring ski boots, alpine ski boots, poles, backcountry ski touring safety gear/pack, baby hiking backpack, hiking gear, winter outerwear, car seat, baby items and clothing, clothing for different activities, clothing for evening events, cameras, computers, etc. etc. etc. ETC!). Full disclosure, Patton carried the bulk of our items. Having a supportive partner makes a WORLD of difference when traveling with a toddler.


Traveling Alaska with Young ChildrenTraveling Alaska with Young Children

We decided to forego a stroller, and instead carry Huck around the airport in his hiking backpack, which we could gate check. My carry on bag was an arsenal of baby distractions/ snacks and, of course, Huck’s blankie. At home Huck doesn’t play with the iPad, but for our trip I downloaded interactive books, games, and several episodes of sesame street- I pulled out all the big guns. And didn’t feel an ounce of guilt about it. The SMARTEST move we made, was letting Huck toddle around the gate before our flight, charming the pants off of all of the other passengers. He had about a dozen friends before our flight even left. During the flight, other passengers were pulling silly faces at him, playing peek-a-boo with him, giving him treats and high fives, and made Huck feel right at home. By some miracle, Huck fell asleep on both flights.

Childcare

Most of the activities that Patton and I planned in Alaska were things we could do with Huck. There is NOTHING more rewarding than adventuring with your children. That being said, we were travelling to Alaska- the home of the mountains you DREAM of skiing and exploring. A few days of childcare were going to be necessary. We began searching for good child care options by calling the concierge at the Resort Alyeska (where we were staying). We also asked friends/ colleagues for trusted child care options. Luckily, there are some amazing people that have moved to Alaska to ski who are happy to support their ski addictions by doing some child care work. Huck had a BLAST spending the day with Gabby at Alyeska! Gabby sent us photos throughout the day of Huck playing, napping, and exploring. The next day when Gabby came, Huck was excited to see her! To me, that is one of the best indications.

 

Traveling Alaska with Young Children

Safety while exploring new terrain

I NEVER want to get in over my head when I have Huck along with me on an adventure. At home, this is relatively easy to control. However, Alaska is a VAST WILDERNESS of terrain that I can’t wait to explore. So many different mountain ranges, rivers, coastal areas, and wild spaces! Before we left, we spent a lot of time researching areas we wanted to visit, weather systems, and avalanche conditions.

I started by searching Pinterest and different blogs to get an idea of places that would be interesting and safe with Huck. I found new accounts on Instagram with inspiring photos from Alaska, and asked for beta about the trails, wildlife, and locals. Brooke Edwards is somebody I have followed and admired for a long time on Instagram. She helped me IMMENSELY with my trip planning (mountain ranges, sightseeing, and FOOD), gave me contact info for several of her friends, and even let me borrow her skis. Brooke introduced me to her friend, Leighan Falley, a climber, pilot, artist, and MOTHER. Leighan drew me a map of her favorite trails to take her daughter on, and helped me look at weather patterns to make sure we were optimizing our trip. Meeting locals made our trip so much more meaningful and fun!

Traveling Alaska with Young Children

When we landed back in Salt Lake City all three of us were EXHAUSTED. Travelling with little ones is a lot more work than I expected— and I expected that it would be a lot of work. Next time you see some especially frazzled parents rushing through the airport, towing bulky gear, snacks, and a few kids, give them a kind smile. Their epic adventure is epic in a whole different way.

 

You can follow along with Brooke’s adventures on Instagram: @brooke.froelich

Huck also has his own Instagram:  @huckgaynes

Jess
March 24, 2016

Hillsound ambassador, Pat Malaviarchchi, completed an ascent of the highest peak in Hawaii via cycle and foot earlier this year. Mauna Kea is a volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island and is the highest point in the state. Here, Hillsound catches up with Pat to find out more about the trip.

Running in Hawaii

The plan was to start in Hilo (sea-level), ride to the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (9200 ft), then hike to the summit (13,800 ft).

Hillsound: Where did you hear about this trail and what inspired you to attempt it?
Pat: The idea began after some friends and I were chatting about the biggest cycling climbs in the world. Mauna Kea has the second largest elevation gain that can be tackled as a single continuous climb (13,800 ft gain). It’s also the world’s tallest mountain as measured from the ocean floor and has more topographic prominence than K2. It was an audacious goal and I was inspired to try it in a single push from sea-level.

Hillsound:  Was this a solo trip?
Pat: It was a solo climb but part of a bigger family vacation to the Big Island.

Running Hawaii

Cinder cones at 13,000 ft.

Hillsound: Why did you decide to ride and hike instead of riding the whole way?
Pat: It’s possible to ride the whole way but to be honest, I didn’t think I had the bike fitness to haul myself to 13,800 ft! Also, the final 10km of road switches from pavement to gravel, which would’ve been tricky on a skinny-tired road bike, particularly with SUVs and Jeeps going by. Instead I followed a fantastic single-track hiking trail that starts near the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (MKVIS) at 9,200 ft, a perfect spot to transition from riding to hiking.

Running in Hawaii

A clearer shot showing the white domes of the Mauna Kea astronomical observatories on the summit.

Hillsound: Can you describe the change in landscape from sea level as you ascend to the summit?
Pat: The landscape changes were definitely dramatic. I started from a beach in Hilo, a lush coastal town that’s one of the wettest cities in the world. The road snaked through a forest reserve before arriving at a large saddle between Mauna Kea and its neighbouring volcano, Mauna Loa. Vegetation became progressively sparser until it disappeared completely around 10,000 ft. From there to the top was an amazing moonscape, made even more dramatic by magic hour lighting before sunset. The trail passed several impressive cinder cones before arriving at the summit area.
The entire climb was punctuated by change: light conditions (pre-dawn darkness to start, finished at dusk), temperature swing (20oC at sea-level, 5oC at the summit), wind (calm at sea-level, howling at the summit), and oxygen levels (plenty at the beach, sufferfest at the top!). All that plus switching from road bike to running shoes made the 13 hour effort seem much shorter than it was.

Running in Hawaii

Observatories from left to right: Subaru, Keck I, Keck II, NASA Infrared.

Hillsound: Are the observatories at the top open to the public?
Pat: Finally spotting the summit observatories was amazing. They gave the impression of being in a science-fiction film, a feeling exacerbated by the thin air and exhaustion! The telescopes are among the world’s largest and take advantage of the summit’s cloud-free nights and lack of light pollution. They’re closed to the public but MKVIS further down the mountain provides information about astronomy and offers free stargazing programs after dark. The night sky was packed!

Running in Hawaii

The original plan was to run back down but I timed out when I lost the sun. I bummed a ride down with a nice couple in a Jeep.

Hillsound: This is your second Hawaiian volcano that you’ve summited – are there any other trips in Hawaii that you have your sights on and what keeps you coming back to this beautiful State?

Pat: Hawaii is so much more than sun, sand, and surf. I’m drawn to dense bamboo forests, gnarly technical trails, and giant banyan trees. My first Hawaii volcano experience was running up Haleakala on Maui, also from sea-level. These long trips provide a great time to contemplate the fascinating geology of the islands. A future trip will include checking out the Kalalau Trail on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. I’d also like to return to Mauna Kea one day and, with some luck, find snow near the summit and use my trail crampons in Hawaii!

 

Running in Hawaii

Finally done! 13,800 ft gain over 65 km in 13.5 hrs. This photo doesn’t capture the psychotic wind.