The 19th running of the June Lake Camp lived up to its reputation once again as a four day whirlwind of fun in the sun in the beautiful Eastern Sierra. Nordic athletes from Tahoe, Truckee, Incline Village, Mammoth, San Jose, and the Bay Area convened at the Oh Ridge campground July 21-24 for a dryland training camp that made better skiers out of each and every participant. Coaches for the camp were Ben Grasseschi, Kara LaPoint, and Nancy Fiddler, with help from collegiate skiers Alex Hamilton (Bates) and Caitlin Curran (UVM).
Day One saw a van and several other vehicles streaming south from Truckee, loaded with kids, rollerskis, and camping gear. Meanwhile, the Mammoth crew headed north likewise loaded, and proceeded to get all the best campsites before the others arrived. Once camp was set up and introductions were made, it was time for a workout. Coach Nancy caved when the athletes begged her not to lead them on the Death Run from last year, compromising for a different Death Run that went straight uphill to a scenic lookout, then straight downhill through and over logs and sagebrush to finish on some tame terrain. The swim afterwards made it all worthwhile. Dinner was pulled pork and pollo sandwiches, followed by many rounds of Apples to Apples and Uno.
A few campers started their training early on Day Two with some push-ups at breakfast. It was an inspiration to all who watched. The morning workout focused on classic ski imitation exercises and some two minute moose hoofing intervals up the June Mountain access road. The intervals were chased with some 30 second hillbounds. There was impressive improvement made by every athlete, and as usual, swimming in June Lake never felt so good. Then there was lunch and rest until the group loaded up to go rollerskiing on the Crowley Lake Drive. Once the usual gear glitches were sorted out (a game of musical poles that ended with Ben being the one without poles), campers were split into three groups to tackle a double pole workout. Specific strength was addressed, which just about finished off most of the group for the day. Back to camp for a late swim and a pasta dinner put together by Mike McElravey.
Camp was quiet on Friday night at 10 PM, just how the coaches like it. It proved to be too good to be true for the tired coaches, who were camped next to a couple of nice families with one extremely Bad Baby. Bad Baby howled most of the night, proving to have quite a good set of lungs. The coaches were all for making him do push-ups in the morning, but were too busy setting up the breakfast and picnic lunch food that there was no time. Nevertheless, everyone piled into the vans, cars, and trucks to head south to Rock Creek Canyon for some peak-bagging. The group split into two, with one group heading up to Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat to climb Mt. Starr. The others hiked from the Tamarack Flat trailhead to Frances Lake and then on to Mt. Morgan (just shy of 14,000 ft). The route to Mt. Morgan was strewn with tremendous displays of Alpine Hulsea and Sky Pilot blooms. After a 3 hour uphill push, the summit of Mt. Morgan was owned by the whole group. Alex Philly Hamilton earned rock star status when he pulled out a whole watermelon from his pack at the top of the peak. Every last bite was devoured by the hungry Mountain Men and Women. Over on Mt. Starr was another happy Far West group enjoying expansive views of the Sierra. Other than Mike McElravey almost getting a hair cut by a flying rock on the descent of Starr, the day was a grand success. Except for the van thing.
Upon their return to the Auburn Ski Club van, which patiently sat at the Mosquito Flat parking area during the hike, the Mt. Starr group discovered that the van (Bad Van) was having some health issues. Bad Van was not going to be driving anywhere soon, so the Mt. Starr group ran to the Rock Creek Resort, where Coach Ben arranged for a tow and the hikers indulged in large amounts of ice cream. With a little help from parents and the day’s cyclists (Joe and Caitlin were recruited to get more vehicles to Rock Creek after riding Tioga Pass), everyone was delivered safely back to camp for burritos and s’mores.
Saturday night passed uneventfully and the coaches and athletes awoke to tackle one last morning of training. After some serious vertical work the day before, it was a relief to skate rollerski on the flat, fast pavement of Benton Crossing Road. The groups went off with their coaches to tackle skate drills and some V2 and V2 alternate work. Surprisingly, the fatigued athletes still had more in their tanks, making the morning’s work a rewarding experience for all. Whatever was left was quickly depleted with the camp’s final workout: a strength and agility session with Coach Ben at the helm. A drained group of Far West athletes and coaches went back to camp for lunch and to break down camp. There was a final swim in the refreshing waters of June Lake and then a tearful good-bye as some cars headed north and some south.
Sore muscles, mosquito bites, sunburns, blisters, a few cuts and scrapes, and some good memories are all that are left of June Lake Camp 2011. See you next year!
Thanks to all the coaches and Mike for a successful camp. Thanks to Marie and Robin who volunteered their time for a day each. And thanks to the athletes who worked hard and make it all worthwhile.