Monday, April 27, 2009
Loop run in the Grand Canyon
Last Wednesday I got back into the Grand Canyon for another run. I started at the parking lot for Bright Angel Trail and ran along the Rim Trail to the S. Kaibab Trail, ran down the S. Kaibab to Phantom Ranch and back up Bright Angel to the car. Amazing as always.
-Lots of support from hikers. Usually I'm not into crowds but I was really working hard coming out because it was blazing hot (90's at the river and high 70's at the rim) and I needed all the moral support I could get.
-I ran 40 minutes faster then last time I did this loop a few weeks back and I felt better this time after the run. I finished in 4 hrs and 20 minutes. The run is 25 miles.
-Dunking my head repeatedly every time I ran past a creek.
In the last week, after the Grand Canyon run, I have been running a lot and feeling good. Last week I ran 70 miles and am going to try to get in a 100 mile week this week or the next.
Hole to Hump
I set a date for running Hole to Hump. The run will take place over the 7th and 8th of June. I chose this date because the moon will be full on the night of the 7th. It will be really cool running by moonlight with no headlamp! Only about a month till the adventure starts.
Climbing at The Pit
Last week, Susan and I got to have a fun session climbing at The Pit (local sport climbing area near Flagstaff). Susan cranked off a nice lead of True Value, a classic 5.11a. It was the first time she had ever led it and she cruised it! Good job Susan!
She got on a route to the left of True Value named Shark Bait, that goes at 5.11+, and worked out the moves...looks like she could climb that without falls with a bit more work. That girl is getting strong!
Running in the mountains of Flagstaff...Finally!!!
It's go time on some of my favorite high elevation trails! I have been running on the Katchina Trail on Humphreys and on the many linkups on the Dry Lake Hills (between Mt. Elden and Humphreys). Today I got to run one of my favorite linkups: the Shultz Creek (creek is running right now), Sunset Trail (finally free of snow!), Brookbank Trail, Rocky Ridge Trial linkup. The link is about 13 miles and I enjoy every bit of it. I can't wait until the Aspens get their leaves and the tall green grass starts growing! Humphreys is loosing snow fast and I am really excited to get up on the Weatherford Trail and Mt. Humphreys Summit Trail and all the linkups they offer.
Kelly Canyon Bouldering
On Sunday, Susan and I got out to Kelly Canyon for some sandstone bouldering. It was a beautiful day and we got to climb some excellent problems with some good friends so it was lots of fun. Afterwards, we went to Charley's and mowed down Nachos and Beer. Great day. Climbing in Flagstaff always kick ass!
I'll try to get more photos on the blog...I've been a slacker!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Wednesday morning I got up at 5 am (way early for me) and got my stuff together. For the run I packed 6 GU Gels, 6 CLIFF Shots, 3 cliff bars, 1 bannana, one small bean and cheese burrito and a little bag of sea salt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of running pants, 3 light weight long sleeve shirts, 1 light weight rain jacket, hat and gloves a little tape, head lamp, water purifying tablets and extra batteries (I think that's everything...).
I left the house at 5:30 am in a light snow storm and strong wind storm (winds were blowing between 25 and 60 miles an hour most of the day). The drive to the canyon was pretty exciting with snow blowing everywhere and TONS of elk roaming the forests and randomly crossing Hwy 180. It has been a long time since I have seen so many elk in one morning! As I got closer to the Grand Canyon the weather improved somewhat. It was bitterly cold but at least it wasn't snowing (for the moment).
Once in the park, I drove along the Grand Canyon Rim Drive to the parking area for the South Kaibab Trail and parked. I opened the door of the car and surveyed the temps and wind and immediately decided to put all my layers on except one long sleeve shirt. It was freekin cold! Not to worry though, the forcast for the canyon bottom was for a high of about 50 degrees (it is 4,500 ft. lower than the rim...). I wouldn't have to wear all of these layers for long.
At 7:15 am I left the car and jogged the short distance over the the rim and stretched a little. At 7:20 am I was off...running down the South Kaibab trail.
I remember it being really exciting finally running down into the canyon. I had been wanting to do the R2R2R for some time and here I was realizing yet another running dream. When I am in these moments, during a long remote run that I know will be very demanding physically and mentally, I try to savor every moment and live fully in it because these moments I live for. Realizing my dreams. Gotta love it!
On the upper part of the S. Kaibab trail I passed a suprising amount of people hiking in. Not suprising because I was passing them but because the weather was total crap. I felt a special bond with these folk. Every single one of us was going to have an adventure that day no matter what the length of the canyon we traveled. We were all in for a bit of suffering.
Lower on the trail I ran into some mule trains that offered a chance for me to strip down some layers to just shorts and 2 layers of long sleeve shirt before getting a chance to pass.
I got down to Phantom Ranch (at the Colorado River) and a got a refill on water about 8:40 am. 7 miles down...36 to go.
The next step of the run was through Phantom Ranch and up the North Kaibab trail (14 miles long one way and 6,000 ft of elevation gain) to the North Rim. The first 9 miles were relatively easy and very, very beautiful. I hadn't been on the N. Kaibab before so every corner was a new adventure and I was glad that it wasn't too desperate to run for the first while. The first 7 miles were along the Bright Angel Creek and I mean right next to it. The trail is built out of stone and gravel on the edge of the creek and located in a tight, deep gorge for many miles. Really cool.
After a while the canyon opened up and I ran past Ribbon Falls and Cottonwood Campground to Roaring Springs and another refill on water. From Roaring Springs the trail got serious! I had no idea that it was so steep to the rim from there and I was in for a ride. It was only 5 more miles or so to the rim but it was a complete ass kicker!!! The whole time up this final section to the north rim I struggled to keep a pace of 2-3 miles an hour...struggled. I felt like complete crap and no matter what I ate or how much water I drank or how much cloths I put on to stay warm (it got really cold on the north rim) I was on the edge of cramping in both legs. I made it to the N. Kaibab trailhead on the rim but I was really questioning how fast I was going to get back down and then back up to my car. My legs were shot and I felt really, really bad a few times. I knew that I was really worked because even though it was extremely beautiful along this last stretch, I didn't really care much for it (except for the rad limestone walls the trails cut through in one section...I love limestone...and the exposure, WOW). I just wanted to start back down and get back to the safety of the South Rim.
I did a bit of stretching on the North Rim, it started to snow and I started back down the trail toward Phantom Ranch. It was 12:40 pm. 21 miles down...21 to go.
On the way back down the N. Rim I began to catch my stride again. The steep part at the top was definitely a bit of a struggle to run down but as I got lower in the canyon my legs came back to me and I was able to run normally again. I got down to Roaring Springs, refilled on water, and began the more gradual and very fun lower part of the N. Bright Angel trail. This section was an extreme pleasure to run after all of the suffering near the north rim. I was finally able to float along, enjoy the views and appreciate where I was at again.
I reached Phantom Ranch with much more energy than I started down the N. Kaibab and was really getting excited, knowing that I only had the final 7 miles of the S. Kaibab separating me from a long time goal achieved. All fears of not succeeding on the R2R2R were washed away at the Colorado. I knew I could make it for sure now. It was 3:40 pm. 35 miles down...7 to go...and 4,500 ft of elevation gain...
I started with power walking and running flats for the first part the the trail but had to settle with slow walking in the middle. I kept pushing forward as hard as I could, hoping to break 11 hours (I originally hoped to break 10 hours for the R2R2R). It was going to be a close one. More than 3 or 5 or 10 times I thought of going as slow as I could out so that I could relax a little but my competitive side wouldn't allow it. I had a goal and had to try to reach it.
Near the rim I ran into a friend from Flagstaff, Pete Walka, and he gave me the little bit of psych I needed to kick my but in gear for one last hard push to the rim. I flailed my way onto the South rim at 6:16 pm, barely breaking 11 hours. 42 miles done...nothing left.
I thought briefly of looking out over the rim to reflect on the adventure but pelting snow, frigid temps, pounding winds and exaustion pushed me toward the car.
I guzzled gatorade and crammed chips and burritos down my throat until I couldn't stand it and made the long drive back to Flagstaff.
A few days later...Feeling good. I thought I was going to be super sore for a few days after the run but I was mostly really fatigued for a day and a 1/2. I was able to start running normal after a few days and that gave me a big boost knowing that my training is starting to pay off. Hopefully Hole to Hump this June will be a better experience than last year and I will be in shape to make it to the summit of Humphreys and maybe even in less than 24 hours.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I am worked.
I will give a more detailed account soon...
Friday, April 3, 2009
First view of the river.
Phantom Ranch and the Colorado River.
Heading up the Bright Angel Trail.
Indian Gardens, part way up Bright Angel Trail. Another stop for water and bathroom.
Day 7: Rest Day in Saint George
We stayed in a hotel were we showered and generally relaxed which is always weird for me to do after camping out in the desert for a week. We woke up and got to work studying and working at the “world’s greatest library” and then hung out for a bit in the park watching MOM T.V. (literally watching moms with their kids). It is one of the better reality shows I have seen and should get better ratings. We may have been the only ones watching the show though. Big cast…I don’t know how they pay them all in these tough times…har har.
Later that day Susan went back to studying and I jumped in the car to go find a trail for a run. My original idea was to escape the heat in St. George and gain some elevation near Pine Valley, a tiny, cute little mountain town about 45 minutes northwest. The trails near Pine Valley were still holding a bit of snow so I opted for a trail I spied closer to St. George, located a little above Snow Canyon State Park. (a really scenic sandstone canyon similar to Red Rocks by Las Vegas).
Here are some photos of Snow Canyon I took during the run.
When I got back to town I met Susan for some Mexican food and some ice cream…oh boy…I ate way to much food and bubble gum ice cream!
We then drove back to the Black and Tan wall to sleep.
Day 8: Black and Tan and Kelly’s Wall
This was a fun day of climbing! We started at Kelly’s Wall and after warming up Susan sent her 5.11b project from a couple days ago! She did it first try of the day and crushed. I was excited for her because this route was one of the hardest she has ever led. Great job!
Later, we went over to the Black and Tan wall to finish the day. I got on a route I had tried briefly many years ago that is 5.13a/b and is on the farthest left side of the cave at Black and Tan. I did much better on it this time and had a really good time on it. Didn’t send it but feel good for maybe ticking it on a future trip.
Susan continued her great day with a second try send of a 5.11 on the right side of the cave. This was her day!
We climbed a few more routes and then called it a day.
That night we drove back up to Lime Kiln Canyon hoping to get one more day of climbing in before going home.
Oh yeah…we ran into an old friend of mine, Bobby Rosatti, at the Black and Tan wall. It was great catching up with him as he lives far away in Montana these days.
Day 9: Zion and Polygamists
The forcast was for high winds and rain and they were correct. There were crazy strong winds all night and into the morning. We didn’t have to weigh the options long before we decided to bail on climbing our last day on the trip and go to Zion to sight see on the way back to Flagstaff.
Here are a few shots we took while visiting Zion.
Zion was spectacular as always with the highlight being some crazy rain and hail and a polygamist family that was hiking at all the same areas as we were.
After just finishing the last tape of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” this was one of the more thought provoking days I have had in a while. Susan and I couldn’t stop staring and commenting on how we saw the family act and dress (we were not the only ones, just about every person they walked past stared at them like they were aliens from Mars). The father and all the boys dressed the same in their nicest blue jeans, country style button up dress shirts and vests and the wives and girls were all dressed in the exact same plain light blue dresses that went to their ankles and had their hair done with braids. They looked like they were going to church back in the late 1800’s.
Observing that family brought up quite a lively and thoughtful discussion that included women’s rights, pedifiles, general human compassion, government, human rights groups, republicans, universal health care and many other topics.
I couldn't help but feel sorry for the women who have probably never had a chance to have the freedom to make their own decisions about their lives. They were going to spend their whole lives doing exactly what their God and their husband told them to do. I felt really confused and didn’t know how I should react to what I had witnessed.
I believe that everyone should be able to do what ever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Someone would have a hard time convincing me with the display I witnessed at Zion and what I learned in “Under the Banner of Heaven” that Morman Polygamists fit that description. I’m just not sure what to do about it though…
After hiking in Zion we went past the north rim of The Grand Canyon in a blizzard (isn’t winter over yet?), past Lee’s Ferry (started by Mormons...I know so much more southwest history now) and back to Flagstaff.