Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I got in the Grand Canyon last night to run the S. Kaibab Trail. It was a great night for it as the moon was full and the night time temps at Phantom Ranch were as low as 70 degrees (day time temps at Phantom Ranch are well over 100 degrees right now).
I felt pretty good on the run considering that I did some elevation the day before on Kendrick Mountain. Starting at about 10 pm, I got down to the river/boat launch in 53 minutes and got back to the rim with a finishing time of 2 hrs 48 min 38 seconds, just before 1 am. Going down I felt really good and felt fresh for the uphill return to the rim of 4,500 ft of elevation gain. Usually, I get in a run/walk combination right away going up but last night I had strength I've never experienced before in the canyon and ran all the way up to the limestone switchbacks below Skeleton Point. I actually felt really good to this point and really enjoyed the running. On the limestone switchbacks I started the standard run/walk still feeling good. Above Skeleton Point, there is a long flat section and I took advantage, running as fast as I could. It all went to crap after that... not epic crap by any means, I just lost my steam. I still made it to Cedar Ridge in 2 hrs 20 minutes but from there to the top I walked all but the last flat sections to the exit switchbacks. It took me almost 30 minutes to do the last 1.5 miles from Cedar Ridge to the rim! I just couldn't get the legs going.
Excellent run, even with the tough finish (I don't know why I expect anything different/the last part has never felt good...so much work and it seems to go on forever), coming in with my best time so far. It made me think I could possibly go under 2 hrs 30 minutes on the S. Kaibab someday. I really liked the taste of being able to run uphill for so much of the trail, it's very satisfying. Hopefully I can continue this improvement. It just seems so much more pure to be able to run the whole thing. I know some people can and it inspires me to keep trying.
Side note: On the way home at 2 am I was treated to seeing some BIG male elk on the side of the road with big antlers. I got to see some coyote and deer too. Made for a fun end to the night.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
(Nice view of prairies and building storm clouds from low on the trail)
(A pleasant section of trail part way up)
(First rain of the summer!)
(The cabin is open for camping. This would be a great place to spend a night!)
(Views south toward Sedona from the Fire Tower and summit)
Note: I got to drive around to the east side of town today to see the damage of the Schultz Fire. It wasn't as bad as I envisioned it to be. Of course it is a huge area that was burned but I was relieved to see that many of the highest elevation Aspen stands survived and in the lower areas the fire didn't totally destroy the forest like it did high up on the side of Doyle Peak. What a crazy week it has been for our mountain! It looks like it could have been way, way worse though.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Note: If you open the link you may need to zoom in pretty close to see trail and fire details and you may need to refresh your page a few times before the information shows on the map (I had to refresh my page...). A pretty cool link...
For all us hikers, runner, mountain bikers and climbers this is a big sigh of relief. Trails that have been burned badly are the Waterline Road, Deer Hill, Little Bear and Little Elden. Somehow the Sunset Trail and the Weatherford Trail seem to be unaffected or have less than 1/2 mile burned near Shultz Tank. We will have to keep our fingers crossed that the fire doesn't creep further up these trails.
I've got to give a BIG thanks to the fire crews working this fire so far with how they have saved houses from burning (the people evacuated from their homes on the east side are now returning to their homes) and somehow kept the majority of the scenic parts of the peaks from burning.
THANK YOU FIRE CREWS!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I came across this excellent blog post of someone hiking Humphreys when the fire started through Jeff's blog today. Check out the photos in the blog!!! Wow!
More amazing photos of the fire.
Below are a couple photos of one of the most beautiful high elevation trails in Arizona and one of my favorite places to run, the Waterline Road. I'm posting these photos in memory of this trail because the Shultz Fire has completely destroyed (burned to a crisp) all 9 miles of it from Shultz Pass to the Inner Basin, along with most of that side of the Peaks. Seeing these photos again and realizing that I will never see the amazingly beautiful, inspiring and peaceful HUGE Aspen groves, fir forests and big views that it has to offer makes me want to cry. I feel great loss right now. Some of those groves and sections of trail feel like family to me. Now they are all gone because someone couldn't put out a camp fire. It just doesn't seem fair to the forests and animals of the Peaks or the Flagstaff residents who go there to recreate, recharge and find peace to be that lazy and stupid. Horrible...how someone can be that careless.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I am so sad. I felt like vomiting earlier watching the fire. I have a front row seat, watching it from the climbing gym today. It looks like a nuclear bomb went off over Mt. Elden! Our poor Aspen groves and alpine forests are getting destroyed up there and people are having to leave their homes. Devastating!
Human caused of course, just like the fire yesterday that is finally under control. What is wrong with people? Why can't they put out their camp fires or better yet...not have camp fires!!! Just stupid. I wouldn't be suprised if they closed the forests in a few days (this has been done in Flagstaff many times before because of dry conditions).
Up to date reports and photos here on the Shultz Pass fire.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
(1977 Mt. Elden Fire. SCARY!)
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The run went great except for getting slightly off trail for a 100 yards on the upper ridge coming down and as a result getting a bunch of gravel in my shoe and then having to stop to dump it out. There was a bit of snow up high in the trees that slowed me down a bit, not a big deal but still made for slower travel and right near the end of the run I took a digger landing on my hand, hip and side of my foot. Full on swan dive into the dirt. Ouch!
Despite the slowdowns, I still put in a good time for me of 2hrs 3 min 03 seconds (car to car). Not bad for the first run up the mountain this year.
I have had a goal since last season to go under 2 hours, car to car, on Humphrey's and I almost snagged it on my first run this year (last year I was close running it in 2 hours 2 minutes flat). Maybe with a bit more luck, less snow and no nose dives I will get it in the next few weeks.
What will get me under 2 hours: The area I need to improve on is going up hill... I got up to the summit in 1 hr 21 minutes which is still slow as I am still walking a fair bit. I am pretty consistent with getting down the mountain in 40 minutes without hurting myself on the extremely rocky trail so if I could get up to the summit in a faster time of 1 hr 10 min or less I should be good to go even with some trip ups on the way down. We will have to see... I need to get stronger on hills! It would be cool to be able to get up to the summit in less than an hour.
I can taste sub 2 hours now so I think it will go down... only a matter of time. Spray, spray, spray, spray...
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Below, in red, is the path I took to R and R auto.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
It was time. I might have been sick but why does that have to stop an adventure like this.
Susan, Jess, Matt and I drove there Sunday night and found a sweet little camp spot right by a creek, hidden from the freeway, near
That evening I had the cough and felt a bit sick (I had been sick for at least a week already) but didn’t feel so crappy that I shouldn’t do the traverse. You don’t get this kind of opportunity every day. I wanted to do the traverse even if I was a complete wreck. Besides, I figured that the run would burn the sick right out of me. Hopefully, I was right.
Besides the sickness, everything that evening went well. Dinner by the creek and then hanging out checking out the stars before finally crashing was very pleasant.
As a bonus, I slept great. Usually, before something big like this I wake up a lot but not that night. Maybe it was being sick but I slept like a baby until my alarm went off at 3:45 am (AZ time).
After stumbling around a bit and tossing all our gear in the car we were off and at the trail head a little before 5 am. Dawn was just beginning. I still felt a bit sick but adrenaline and psych got me up and ready to go. I was ready to run. I live for this!
We had to do some serious mosquito evading while organizing stuff for run. The mosquitoes were in full effect and being a
After getting our stuff organized we stripped off our mosquito protective layers, took photos at trailhead and Matt and I said our goodbyes to Susan and Jess.
Matt and I were off at about 5:15 am (AZ time), heading down the trail.
We enjoyed the first section along the pretty Timber Creek, crossing the creek a few times without much trouble. It was a lot like running in Sedona, reminding me of many, many miles of trails I ran this last winter. It felt very comfortable.
We had a nice fast pace going even though I was coughing up flem and didn’t feel all that great. I was excited to be running so I tried to suck it up and the pace felt fine so I just went with it.
After the initial few miles the trail started following the enjoyable La Verkin Creek This is where we hit our first sand (little did we know that we were in for many, many miles of deep sand). We changed our pace to fit this new surface and added a bit of walking.
After almost 7 miles we reached the collection of sweet camp spots near Beatty Spring and Kolob Arch. This was one of my favorite spots on the whole run and I think it would be an amazing place to camp and explore for a few days. Maybe some day…
Beatty Spring is where I made my one big mistake of the run. I didn’t bring water with me to start the run to save on weight. I figured that because of the reports of Beatty Spring being the best spring on the whole traverse and it being along the trail at around 6.8 miles that it would be obvious from all the people using it. Wrongggg… Some both Matt and I completely missed it. I don’t know how… But, not finding water at Beatty Spring was not good as the next spring wasn’t until about 20 miles into the traverse.
Luckily, I felt so crappy from being sick that I wasn’t thirsty and felt like I would be able to make it to next spring with out water.
I did have the luxury of there being some creeks along the next section to drink from but they were known to be bad because of all the cattle grazing in the area. I didn’t want to drink from them but I would if I absolutely had to.
Matt was very nice and offered me some water (he, of course, had a full bladder) but I was feeling stubborn and didn’t want a hand out after feeling stupid for missing Beatty Spring. I was ready to pay for my mistake.
The next section was though the beautiful
The trail was hard to follow but the way was easy to find. We just had to keep going up stream. We literally ran upstream wherever we felt it was easiest. Usually, running through the beautiful grass fields along the creek banks was the best option with a few creek crossing thrown in for fun.
Near the end of
The sand continued along
Once we left
By the time we crossed the
I felt pretty good running most if not all of the sections to this point but being sick and not having water the pace was really nice. I could wallow in my sickness and enjoy the views. Good times.
Probably the most boring section of the traverse was following the connector trail between
Near the end of the connector trail, about 16 or 17 miles in, I found a pretty clear flowing stream and drank a bit from it to take the edge off. I was starting to get thirsty and this was one of the first sources of water that seemed like I might be able to get away with drinking from with out getting sick. While I drank from it I cared less about how sick I could be in a couple days if it turned out to be a bad source. Man, that water tasted good.
When we finally got to Wildcat Canyon Trail I downed a second Gu. With the Ciff Bar, two Gus, a few gulps of water and almost 20 miles, this is by FAR the least amount of energy and water I have consumed on a run of this length. Being sick and missing springs makes for some serious accidental minimalist travel!
A few miles into
While resting, I ate a Gu and some cliff bloks. We hung out at the spring for about 10 minutes and then were off again. After leaving the spring I started feeling much better. Surprise…
Soon we reached the West Rim Trail (my favorite trail of the traverse) which followed the top of a ridge for about 10 miles with big drop offs on each side the whole way. It was very spectacular. I think that I enjoyed this section a bit extra because of the amazing feeling I had after guzzling a bunch of water and getting a bunch of sugar and electrolytes in my system. I had a lot more energy, didn’t feel as sick anymore and was enjoying all the sights and experiences along every turn of the trail.
I started consuming energy (Gu and Cliff Bloks) and drinking water like normal from this point out.
It seemed that the farther we went along this trail the better the views got. Spectacular canyons seemed to spread out below us at every vista. Adding to the bliss was that it wasn’t that hot out because we were at a really high elevation above the canyons.
I really tried to enjoy it because I couldn’t escape the fact that with every step we were getting closer and closer to the extreme heat of the valley floor in
When we reached the descent into
After a few minutes of socializing, the dirt settled, Matt got some water and we were off to do the spectacular 4.7 mile descent into
On the way down we got some fantastic views of the endless sandstone walls of
When we made it to Angels Landing, our remote, adventure experience immediately turned into a tourism circus with the typical hordes were making their way up and down the final ridge of Angel’s Landing. With so many remote miles to disconnect from society it is always a shock to be thrown right back into the thick of it with fragrant, clean hikers full of energy and with…you guessed it trekking poles. I am not sure why so many people need trekking poles when they are hiking a paved, couple mile trail.
It made for some fun conversation for Matt and I though and I’m sure we felt a bit of silly superiority to them knowing what we had just done that morning with just a small Nathan pack for water, nuun, a few
Near the Virgin River everything got real with the daunting east side of the Zion Canyon (which we still needed to ascend) towering over us like a big tidal wave ready to crush what energy we had left.
We were getting tired (surprise), it was hot and we had at least 3,000 ft of elevation gain too do in a few minutes in the direct sun (I think it was pushing 90 degrees when we reached the valley).
At this point, Matt confided that he wasn’t sure he could make it up the east side and it might be a better idea if he stayed in the valley floor and we would pick him up later that night.
I understood exactly what he was feeling- the extreme exhaustion that only comes after traveling over 35 miles, loosing over 9,000 ft and gaining 6,000-7000 ft of elevation, trudging through miles of sand and dealing with high temperatures. We were beat. It messes with your head and strips everything down to its’ most basic element…survival. Emotionally, this is usually a crossing point. When this exhausted, the mind is trying to find every excuse and reason to stop. It is trying to help the body survive. What I have learned though is that our mind tries to get us to stop way before our body needs to. Matt and I, without a doubt, had the ability to climb the thousands of feet out the east side of that canyon and then get to the end. We just had to make the choice to continue. Matt is a strong willed person and after only minor discussion he was committed to finishing. I was really psyched for him as I know the feeling of not finishing when in this. It is something you always regret.
After some more gawking at the crazy tourist show, joking about riding the shuttle bus from The Grotto to Weeping Rock (…we were joking right!?) and filling up with water at The Grotto we walked the ½ or so blazing hot mile of asphalt to Weeping Rock so that we could start ascending the East Rim Trail. We had only 10 miles to go.
Once we started ascending the East Rim Trail things got slow. It was really hot and there was little shade to speak of although there was a really nice section of trail that went through a slot canyon that offered some shade and gave us renewed psyche.
Our psych didn’t last long though. For some reason we thought the next section (the last couple miles to the rim) would be easier but oh were we wrong. The trail got super steep and sandy. Slow moving for sure.
Between the cursing every time we turned a corner to see the trail climb steeply into the sky I slid in comments about how much better this traverse would be east to west. Getting all this elevation change out of the way early and then doing the big sandy sections on the west side as a long gradual down hill sounded like heaven compared to all the uphill sand we had done and to finish with this climb! Geeze.
When we finally reached the east rim we were psyched, knowing it was all gravy from here on out. It was going to be all flat to downhill for 5 miles to the finish. Gravy…
We reached Stave Spring, filled up again and went on to finish the final few miles of sandy “longer than you want it to be” trail.
When we reached the girls it was almost dark. We had been continuously traveling from sun up to sun down. Now that’s a day.
It was nice to see the ladies at the trailhead to pick us up. We exchanged stories about the day, I spaced out a lot and then we were off, heading back to
Looking back, it was a great day of adventure, seeing so much of the backcountry of
Big thank you to Matt for wanting to do the traverse and to Jess and Susan for shuttling. Love you guys!!! Let’s do it again sometime!
(More Kachina Trail)
(Yes, there is still snow on the Weatherford Trail)
(Doyle Saddle-man do I look sunburned!)
(Can you believe it-a old wrecked car near Doyle Saddle. I never noticed that car before...)
(Good looking feet after a long run)
Darn it...still not finished with Zion post...almost there though.