Monday, July 6, 2015

2015 UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge

2015 UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge
art & design by Ras Scott Mosher of Ites Design
Each participant who completed the 2013 UPWC
received this custom designed patch. For the
2015 UPWC there will be a unique finisher's patch
for each route, and a special award for those
rare souls adventurous and badass enough to
complete all three routes, aka the Triple Crown.
     The third annual UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge is a multi-faceted multi-media adventure blogging contest open to Trailrunners, Fastpackers, and Backpackers. This year we are offering three unique routes. Entrants may attempt any or all of these. There are no aid stations, no course markings, no start/finish, no lemming lines, no cut offs, no set date, in fact, it's all up to you.


The UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge is all about shattering paradigms, but as we are only in the third year, it is still very much a work in progress. While simple speed has it's advantages and rewards, one of the main goals of the UPWC is to recognize and celebrate other aspects of adventuring as well. For the first two years we struggled with figuring out how to quantify these other aspects of achievement. We have now come up with a points-based system intended do exactly that: award ALL aspects of adventuring, including, but not limited to, speed. Here is a breakdown of the new points system:

Five (5) Points will be awarded for:

Each Route Completed
Men's Fastest Time
Women's Fastest Time
Firsties (First Person or Team to Complete Each Route)
Lasties (Last Person or Team to Complete Each Route)

Two (2) Points will be awarded for:
Wildlife Sightings/Encounters
Blog Writing Excellence
Photographic Excellence
Good Style/Fair Means
Uniqueness Of Methodology
Overcoming Adversity

Additional categories may be added at any time. All points are awarded at the sole discretion of Ras. There is no system for registering an appeal or requesting any form of arbitration or conflict resolution. But ya never know: call me out in the Facebook Group and if I find your argument creative or convincing or offensive enough, while it won't change my mind, it might earn you some bonus points (see below).


     Previous UPWC Routes may be completed for bonus points. Participants will receive 5 bonus points for each route completed from UPWC #1 and UPWC #2. Completing a route includes producing content in the form of a trip report, photo album, video, audio recording, artistic rendering, or any other form which reflects your experience of the route and can be posted online via your personal blog and/or the UPWC Facebook group page. There is no signup fee for any of these bonus point routes, and, consequently, there are no finisher's patches for these routes. However, to be eligible for bonus points, entrants must have registered and paid their entry fee for at least one route from the current UPWC before completing a bonus route, and must complete at least one route from the current year by the end of the competition in order to receive the bonus points. Bonus point routes and current UPWC routes may be completed in any order.

     Five (5) bonus points will also be awarded for completing the UltraPedestrian Mind/Body Challenge.

     Important Note: Two (2) bonus points may be randomly awarded by Ras at any time for any reason. Capturing a faceplant on video, sharing trail beta in the Facebook group, and displays of creativity are examples of what could earn you bonus points. Two major pointers for racking up random bonus points: be active in the UPWC Facebook group, and let your unique personality shine through in your adventures.

     Route #1, chosen by Rainshadow Running Race Director James Varner, is the Graves Creek/Enchanted Valley Loop. This route is about 55 miles and has three big climbs and about 15,000ft of elevation gain. It is a great mix of everything that makes the Olympics so amazing, big trees, dense forest, steep trails, river valleys, high open ridges, fun single track, and good odds of seeing bear, elk and other animals. This is a remote route with no road crossings and very few people. There are creek and river fords that have possibility of being dangerous at high water, there are a few sections like Graves Creek, Sundown Lake and Six Ridge Trails that get little use and even less maintenance. Excellent navigation skills are essential especially on Six Ridge Trail where the trail itself often disappears in meadows. Expect this route to take a lot longer than a 50 miler would normally take. 

     James advises, "I would recommend doing the loop counter clockwise to get the most difficult navigating done first and before it gets dark."

Here's the route: 

Start/Finish East Fork Quinault River Trailhead
Follow the East Fork Trail for about a 1/4 mile then turn Right onto Graves Creek Trail. Then turn left onto Sundown Lake Trail. Then Left onto Six Ridge Trail, Then Left onto North Fork Skokomish Trail. Left onto Duckabush River Trail towards O'Neil Pass. Trail Becomes O'Neil Pass Trail. Turn Left onto East Fork Quinault Trail and follow all the way back to trailhead.

     Route #2, chosen by Kathy Vaughan, is the Chinook Pass/Ohanepecosh River Loop. This 32 mile long loop begins at Chinook Pass on Highway 410. Choose between heading east towards Dewey Lake and then south to Anderson Lake, turning west on the Three Lakes Trail along Laughingwater Creek and then north near Silver Falls to follow the Ohanepecosh River along the Eastside Trail back to Chinook Pass OR doing the loop in the reverse direction, by following the Chinook Creek south, first. This is in the east side of the Mt. Rainier National Park and follows the Pacific Crest Trail for a stretch. East of the main Wonderland trail that encircles the mountain, this loop isn't as commonly explored. When you look at the Rainier map, though, the loop is obvious and just calls your name. This scenic loop offers a little bit of everything from rocky, high alpine country covered with wildflowers; to soft forested single track, cruisy and easily runnable; to virgin old growth forest along the delightful Ohanepecosh River, with wooden bridges, large boulders and both rapids and gently flowing bends.

     Kathy says, "I did this loop as one of my first unsupported, ultra distance runs with Deby Kumasaka, Adam Gaston and Angel & Tim Mathis, while Ras was running his Double Wonderland in 2012. At the time, I had figured the elevation gain to be about 6,500 feet."

     Route #3 for the 2015 UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge, chosen by Ras, is a fast, fun, competitive, and classic route in the North Cascades: Easy Pass. This 24 mile route runs between the Easy Pass Trailhead and the Colonial Creek Campground on the southeast end of Diablo Lake. Easy Pass is a point to point route which can be completed either direction via the Easy Pass Trail and the Thunder Creek Trail.

In addition to being a favorite test piece for trail runners, the Easy pass route is a part of our personal history. We first hiked it as a double overnight when our daughter was 9 or so. Then it was the first long, unsupported trail run I ever did. Then to round things out, last year Kathy and her adventure bestie Lisa did a badassed out and back on the route. Now it's your turn, whether fast or slow, runner or backpacker, to make your way through the Fischer Basin, where Grizzlies and Wolverines have most recently been spotted in the North Cascades, and along Thunder Creek, retracing the steps of miners from yesteryear.

     All participants must at all times comport themselves in accordance with Federal, State, and Local laws, as well as Leave No Trace backcountry ethics.

     Registration via must be completed before a route is attempted. Entrants may participate solo or as part of a team. Teams can be independent, self-supported athletes than just travel together, or team members can mule for one another. But teams will not be allowed to receive any outside support from non-running personnel. Every member of a team must be a registered entrant in the 2014 UPWC (registration for minors is free). 

          All participants must submit proof of having completed the route via Spot Transponder, GPS/Garmin/Suunto/DeLorne/Other data, photographic evidence, and/or a convincingly detailed trip report/blog. If you are submitting your entry for speed based awards you MUST provide SPOT/GPS/GARMIN/SUUNTO/DELORNE/OTHER data as proof. 

     Each entrant or team must submit a detailed blog, photo blog, video, and/or podcast segment detailing their trip. The more details the better, everything from technical nuts & bolts (gear list, food/fuel list, pacing, strategy), to wildlife spottings & encounters, to personal/phsycological/spiritual experiences, and beyond. There are no limits to what you may include in your trip report. How you experience the trail and how you present that experience are up to you. The goal of this event is for all the participants to share and compare one another's unique experiences and perspectives. You must generate content!

     Everyone who completes a route for the 2015 Ultrapedestrian Wilderness Challenge will be awarded a unique finishers' patch (only available through UPWC participation) for every route they complete. Each route will have a unique patch design, and there will a distinct award for participants who complete all three, the 2015 UPWC Triple Crown. In addition, there will be other prizes and awards based on a variety of criteria, including speed, good style, best photograph, best blog, gnarliest SNAFU, most diverse team, and numerous other aspects of backcountry wilderness adventure. Additional categories may be added based on submissions. All awards will be based on total points accumulated during the contest.

     Sign up will close Tuesday, December 1st, 2015. All trips must be begun no earlier than Thursday, June 4th, 2015, and completed no later than Tuesday, December 1st, 2015. Results will be announced on on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. Prizes and awards will be mailed out (unless we will be seeing you in person soon).

     The entry fee for the 2015 UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge is $20.00 per person per route. All proceeds beyond the cost of prizes, awards, and shipping costs will go to support and the UltraPedestrian Podcast.

How to participate in the 2015 UPWC:

1. Sign up on before Sunday, November 1st, 2015.

2. Between the dates of Thursday, June 4th, 2015 and Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 complete any or all of the routes: the Graves Creek/Enchanted Valley Loop, the Chinook Pass/Ohanepecosh River Loop, and/or Easy Pass. IMPORTANT NOTE: You must complete your signup and pay your entry fee for each route PRIOR to attempting it to be eligible for awards and prizes.

3. Email your proof and documentation to with the subject line, "2015 UPWC PROOF & DOCUMENTATION" no later than Saturday, December 5th, 2015.

4. Visit and on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 for complete results & awards.

5. Watch your mailbox for your UPWC swag envelope.

Complete results will be posted on on Tuesday, December 15, 2015. Prizes and swag will be mailed out soon thereafter.

     We strongly encourage all entrants to join the UPWC Facebook Group to ask questions about the routes, gather and share trail beta, connect with other UPWC participants, scope out the competition, and keep up to date on the most recent news, information, and general goings on. Otherwise, please post any questions below in the 'comments' section.

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