Mt Whitney

My road to Mt Whitney started with a sporadic decision and the click of a mouse. I gave birth to my second child in November, and I was dreaming of the magical wildflower-filled Santa Barbara trails I would be running throughout the spring, gradually regaining my former awesome fitness.

It didn’t quite work out that way, though.  As anyone with young children knows, what you do each day (or all night) is not exactly up to you, but is instead dictated by very short people. On top of that, I got caught in a few months of running setbacks (injury, sick, run, repeat). I needed some specific and reachable goals to keep me motivated and have something to look forward to. So on April 30, I logged onto Recreation.gov and scooped up a permit for Mt Whitney’s Mountaineer’s route on August 9.

My family already had plans to spend a good portion of the summer in Colorado, so I knew I would be well acclimated for the altitude. But my fitness and a record snowpack in the Sierras? Those factors were anyone’s guess. The last time I ran up Mt Whitney (on the main trail) was also after a Colorado summer, but I only had one child then (who nicely slept all night long) and I was in peak running shape. Oh, and how would my 9-month-old daughter do without me for 5-6 hours, when prior to our trip we had barely been apart for more than 1-2 hours?

Riding the Durango-silverton train at the start of our trip

As we set off driving for Colorado, my goals for the trip were to do 3 Fourteeners, at least one 12-mile trail run, and to have a LOT of fun running in the mountains. We spent 5 weeks total in Colorado, and got in a ton of mountain miles, far beyond my dreams! And climbing Fourteeners became a bit of a driving force. The kids played at the trailhead or at camp while my husband and I took turns climbing mountains. (We had two days in the beginning where my mom so nicely camped with us so we could go together, which was awesome.) In all, I made it up a surprising 13 of Colorado’s Fourteeners.

Uncompahgre peak

In these efforts, I was reminded of just how well I feel at high altitudes. Around 13,000, I feel my body sink into a rhythm and off I go, feeling better as I get closer to the summit. The thought started to percolate… Should I try and set the female Fastest Known Time (FKT) for Whitney’s Mountaineer’s route? It was low hanging fruit, in a way, since there was no previous female FKT. But I only wanted to try for it if I could give it my best effort. I decided to give it a shot, although there was still the snow factor in the upper part of the route that was a major unknown.

We arrived at Whitney Portal on Tuesday for a relaxing afternoon with my dad, who had agreed to watch the kids so Matt and I could do Whitney together. Dinner was veggie tacos (generally a family hit, and something I’ve made at least 5-6 times during this trip), and we got to share a campsite with my friend Rachel from Santa Barbara who happened to be heading up the trail the next day too. We knew by now that we were definitely going to encounter snow, but it wasn’t clear if that would slow me down or be too steep to ascend without tools like ice axes and crampons (which we did not have).

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I started around 7:40 am, to give the snow a chance to soften up by the time I got to it. (And wouldn’t you know, of course the kids slept in too and I had to wake Sierra up to top her off with milk before I left.) There is nothing quite like a perfect bluebird sky contrasted with crisp white Sierra granite, and I broke into a smile so many times on the way up, I was so grateful to be on the way up to this mountain with Matt. Once we got to the gully, we stayed on the rock as much as possible. It felt great to be scrambling on granite, pulling my body up on those divine Sierra holds. We spent so many years rock climbing together, and that sense of vertical movement is one that comes naturally to me and gives me great joy.

In the chute above Iceberg Lake

The snow section was relatively short but steep and soft, perfect for kicking steps up. Then the best part of the entire climb, the slabs above the notch! A short run to the summit marker, tag 14,505 ft! 3 hours, 10 minutes, 8 seconds. The Dubberleys are king and queen of Whitney Mountaineer’s Route! (Matt got the FKT in August 2015.)

 The snow was too steep to descend safely without tools, so the longer trail down it was, no question. All the switchbacks felt eternal, but I picked up the pace enough to give myself a 15 minute PR on the descent. In all, my time on the mountain was 5 hours, 10 minutes, 51 seconds.

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Mt Whitney Summit

Climbing Mt Whitney was the perfect ending to an incredible summer in the mountains. I far exceeded my goals, and rediscovered some of my own strengths. And in the end, I did get my wildflower-filled runs, just not in quite the way I expected. Which is pretty much a life lesson in general, and one worth embracing.

Mountain miles run/hiked on our trip: 244.1

Total elevation climbed: 76,753 ft

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Coconut Oat Cookies

Date-sweetened oat cookies for a rainy morning mamatoto gathering. #Wholefoodsplantbased

A post shared by Charity Dubberley (@c_dubbs_run) on

Ever come across a cookie recipe that was so easy and so good, that you made it twice in one day? And that also required that you bust out your fancy teacup to go along with the finished product?

This is your ticket. Endless variations, with whole ingredients and no refined sugar. A perfect pre- or post- run snack, and one that you won’t feel guilty bribing your child because its actually pretty healthy.

My mama-baby group was coming over this morning, and I wanted to bake up a treat that was easy on prep but would be filling and tasty for these nursing mamas. I knew I wanted to use dates as the sweetener and also incorporate oats and coconut, so a quick google search of “oat coconut date cookie” got me to this one. A whirl in the food processor and stir in the rest of the ingredients, spoon onto a baking sheet = done.

The mamas ate the first batch, so with my last bit of free time this morning before my 3-year-old came home, I whipped up a second batch. From memory. Which is saying something for a mother of two young children.

Coconut Oat Cookies

  • Servings: ~20 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Korena In The Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs (or to be vegan, use 2 tbsp flaxseed + 1/4 cup water, and omit flaxseed below)
  • 10 pitted dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup nuts or seeds (I used walnut, sunflower, and pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used cherries)
  • 2-3 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 tbsp nut butter

Directions

  1. Combine first five ingredients (eggs through 1/4 cup oats) in a food processor and whirl until smooth.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the puree from the food processor and stir well.
  3. Drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 for 14 minutes, until browned on the edges.

African Peanut Stew

All the rain we’ve had lately means that we are out playing in puddles constantly! Almost every day, Hayden asks me “What time is Sister Rain coming today?” For a kid who loves to play in water, it has been heaven. For me, a rainy cloud days means that I want to turn on the oven to roast vegetables, bake bread, and make soup. (The heat generated by the oven warms up the house nicely, and helps dry soggy rain boots.)

A friend made us an African peanut stew the other week. It was the first time I’d had something like this, despite seeing recipes floating around for years. Once I started looking up recipes (and my friend sent the one she used), I realized just how easy and perfect this stew is for busy families. The peanut butter really is a magical secret ingredient, turning simple food into something savory and creamy. I chose to add red lentils, because they cook quickly and add a nice dose of protein.

The best part about this recipe is that you probably already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen already. Its also quite flexible, as there are a number of optional ingredients that won’t break the recipe if you don’t have them. I have noted them below. Enjoy!

African Peanut Stew

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 28 oz can san marzano tomatoes, squeezed into small pieces (or 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes + 1.5 cup water)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1 cup red lentils (optional – if you omit, then omit 2 cups water or broth)
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley (or 1/3 cup chopped fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chopped leafy greens swiss chard or spinach
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions

  1. Saute onion, garlic, ginger and celery or bell pepper.
  2. After 5 minutes, add mushrooms, saute for another 3 minutes. Then add tomatoes, sweet potato, broth, red lentils, and spices.
  3. Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer for 25 min.
  4. Scoop out 1 cup of broth to combine with peanut butter, then add back in and stir.
  5. Add the greens (including fresh parsley if using), heat until wilted. Salt to taste.

Perfect Oatmeal, 2 ways

My favorite running clothes company rabbit is featuring my recipe for Perfect Oatmeal today, which my family makes almost every day. You can check it out here. (And read a great review of their gear here!)

There’s a second secret way to make perfect oatmeal, too. Have you ever heard of steel cut oats? Same grain as regular oatmeal, but instead of rolling the groat, its chopped into a few pieces. I personally much prefer the texture and stomach-filling properties of steel cut oats, but I don’t love the prep time involved. Who has 60 minutes to make oats in the morning? Exactly.

So here’s the trick. Just before you go to bed, heat up a pot of water. Once its boiling, add the steel cut oats and let cook at a rollin for 2 minutes. Turn it off, go to bed. And in the morning, give the pot a stir, heat up those oats, flavor to your liking, and eat.

Proportions per serving

1/4 cup steel cut oats

slightly less than 1 cup water

 

Raw Peach Tart

 

The good people at rabbit featured me for their FUELED FRIDAY post today! Check out my recipe for an easy, delicious and healthy Raw Peach Tart.

I was lucky enough to be part of their Kickstarter campaign this year, and received a pair of shorts and top just when I found out I was pregnant. I LOVE rabbit shorts. They are by far the most comfortable running shorts I own, and I’m still rocking them at 35 weeks pregnant! I wore them all summer long on our Cascade adventures. No chafing or digging in at weird places, and they are flattering to pretty much everyone.

En route to Cascade pass in the North Cascades. Beyond stunning!

A post shared by Charity Dubberley (@c_dubbs_run) on

Not only do their clothes fit great, but rabbit is doing an amazing job building up the running community. I can’t wait to see what they’re up to next. In the meantime – go make this dessert!