The beauty of the Methow Trails system is that there is something doable by everyone. I’m personally happy with the green dots telling me the trail is “easy.” Even when little tykes swish by me, I’m content with my stride and that I’m remaining upright. Skate skiers are another breed. As they blaze by, I’m sure they are going to lap me with my slow and steady pace. Like the tortoise, I’ll still get there.
Then I hear the following story and realize that there are those out there who use every meter in the trail system. Sam Naney grew up here in the Methow Valley and is well known for his cross-country ski-racing career where at a young age, he rose in regional and national ranks as a top junior competitor. He continued ski racing at Dartmouth College where he was captain of the ski team his senior year.
After his collegiate racing career, Sam moved back to the Methow Valley where Scott Johnston coached him for six years. During this time, he accumulated several more wins on the domestic circuit and top-10 finishes at U.S. National Championships.
Settled here now with his family, Sam and his wife, Alison, coach adult endurance athletes specializing in running and cross-country skiing. That explains how he accomplished a recent feat of skiing the entire outer trails of the Methow Trails’ system in one day. That’s 85.24 miles and 8,012 feet of vertical gain with a total elapsed time of 10 hours 9 minutes.
Sam started in the dark at Cub Creek, skiing over the Rendezvous to the Mazama Store just in time to savor a freshly baked croissant. Back on the skis to Base Camp, Jack’s Trail, then down valley on the community trail to Power’s Plunge. After the climb up to Chickadee, his pit crew — Alison and two daughters — met to refuel him with a tortilla wrap. Then, more climbing up Thompson Ridge, down Meadowlark to Winthrop Town Trailhead where a shoe exchange was in order; the next leg required running shoes.
With skis strapped on his back and a new partner, Rocket the dog, at his side, Sam headed up and over Rendezvous Pass to his starting point at Cub Creek. Congrats, Sam, for such an accomplishment! You had me at the Mazama Store croissant!
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Sam was prepared. In his pack, he carried: a headlamp, warm clothing layers, spare gloves, hand warmers, a bag of tortilla chips, chocolate-covered pretzels, two Snickers bars, two (emergency) gels, a peanut butter sandwich, iPod, headphones, telephone and a water belt.
Sam’s comment: It is a testament to how amazing our trail system and Methow Trails are that we have an opportunity to ski that much terrain and have it all be really well-groomed on a single day. Absolutely glorious!
On another note, we finally did it. We hit a deer. For all the driving up and down Highway 20 with our sensors always scanning for the pesky cervids, two appeared like apparitions on the dark road and Bam! Lucky for the deer, they gathered themselves and ran off. Not so lucky for the vehicle!