The Ultra Experience
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Although I was merely pacing Wasatch this year, it was great to be part of the experience which is the Wasatch 100. I wasn't able to get to Lamb's Canyon until later than I wanted but I was able to see a great group pass through, most of them friends I've met through Runner's Corner or in the ultra world: Phil Lowry, Shane Martin, Shaun Christian, Greg Norrander, Scott Kunz, Jim Skaggs, and many others. It was fun and exciting being there.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
We arrived at the wilderness permit office in Toulumne Meadows at 4:30 pm to gather updated information on the trail and pick up our wilderness permit. Although the official start of the Muir Trail is at Happy Isles, Toulumne Meadows is the first major junction. It also serves as a great place to grab some warm grub. Anyways, as we arrived so did 3 hikers whom we discovered were also fastpacking the John Muir Trail and had covered the mileage from Happy Isles so far today. They however, were taking 11 days to our 9 days. We wished them well and would expect to see them later on the trail.
Day 1- July 25th, 2008 START YOUR ENGINES!
Woke at 5:30 am happily looking forward to the adventure that lay before us. However getting the car, stashing all smelly items in bear boxes, and finally getting to the start took quite a long time. Heck, it was a hike just to get to the start of the hike but by 7:00am we officially started the John Muir Trail!
Next was the Cathedral's: Cathedral Lake, Cathedral Pass, and Cathedral Peak. Named after the namesake mountain it was a gorgeous area where we decided to stop and soak our feet in the lake while we enjoyed our surroundings. The water felt amazing and as of yet we had progressed quickly with no problems. However our water was gone and we ate the last granola bar at the lake. We did have our emergency filter straws which enabled us to stay relatively hydrated.
Woke again at 5:30am, yet this time we were on the trail at 6:00am. We started in Lyell Canyon which has a beautiful stream running through it and a large deer population. I was surprised at how many tents we passed with people still them. Also I was shocked at how many fish were jumping in the stream. I was dying knowing how easy they looked to catch. This became an ongoing problem as the trip progressed. Lots of fish and no fishing pole.
We soon started climbing to Donahue Pass. The terrain was much different today which makes sense being that we started at 8600 ft instead 4300 ft! Lakes appeared and disappeared throughout this beautiful climb. We felt surprisingly good yet I didn't want to kill myself off today so we set a nice consistent pace up Donahue Pass. We still must have passed 40 people over this heavily used area. Most were just out for the week. Golden thought he saw his future wife on the trail but I had to drag him away claiming that she wouldn't be legal for another couple of years. She was very attractive though!
Donahue Pass was a classic Sierra pass. Blue skies, jagged peaks, hanging glaciers, and magnificent views in every direction. It was somewhat daunting looking into the distance and seeing endless mtns knowing that we had to pick our way through them over the next week at the rate of nearly 30 miles per day. However, with feeling as good as we did and a long downhill ahead, we wasted little time and off we went. The miles went quickly and soon we were at Thousand Island Lake. There was no allegorical explanation in naming this lake. It was absolutely picturesque with the clear blue water and mountains rising up at the far end of the lake. It wasn't time to stop yet but who knew it could get better. However, Garnet Lake somehow manages to trump about any view in the world!
From Gladys Lake we began a slow run but the trail was smooth and a perfect grade to start moving quick which we did. Down into Red's Meadow we ran but like our previous meadow experience, sometimes meadows are big. By the time we reached the bottom I was spent. My feet were starting to hurt and I was really tired. 32 miles will do that. We needed to get to the resort and we had only reached the ranger station. I finally forced down a bar at Golden's suggestion but the next 1 1/2 miles to the resort became known as the Red's Death March. We did however go through Devil's Postpile National Monument which was cool. Very similar to The Giant's Causeway in Ireland although this is a classic example of how Giants are far superior to the devil. It was still geologically fascinating. Soon we could smell food and found ourselves at a road intersection where several people noticed our weary features and when we asked them where the resort was they responded by saying 1/4 mile up the hill and that there was an outdoor BBQ going on. We began sprinting.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It was conquered! The entire length of the John Muir Trail is behind me...and it was amazing! Golden Harper and I completed the official length, Yosemite Happy Isles to the top of Mt Whitney, in 8 days 5 hrs. More details to come.
I think I will give a day by day account in a two part series over the next few days. There will be pleny of pictures and even audio clips. Needless to say, we had a great time. The JMT did not disappoint with it's broad valleys, clear lakes and streams, glacial mountains, and jagged peaks. Constant inspiration and beauty, it provided amazing vistas, tough climbs, and plenty of memories. It was the trip of a lifetime!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
So in final preparation for the John Muir Trail we had a trial run. We wanted to test our gear, our fitness, and our minds. Could we really average 25 miles per day for 9 days on the Muir Trail? We decided to try 60 miles in 2 days along the Wasatch Front. Our course would consist of 27 miles of the Wasatch 100 course and then continue following the Great Western Trail around Mt Timpanogos and home.
Friday July 18th we drove up Mill Creek Canyon, mile 61.7 of the Wasatch course, to start our test. We started hiking around 8:00 am and the first few miles went quickly as we passed Dog and Desolation Lakes. Unfortunately coming down Scott's Tower the balls of my feet started really hurting. Memories of Wasatch 100 when the balls of my feet peeled off began haunting me. Once in Brighton Golden and I swapped shoes to see if that would make a difference, which it did. For some reason the stiff Montrail models (Continental Divides & Hardrocks) give me problems on the balls of my feet. I was planning on taking Hardrocks but I have now opted for the Vasque Velocity VST's which were a bit too heavy for me to run in but are softer and more flexible than it's Montrail counterparts for long distance hiking. Golden is taking the Brooks Cascadia, which worked out very well for us (Golden and I are the same size and plan on swapping shoes regularly).
After a 30 minute stop in Brighton, we filled up our water and continued up and over magnificent Catherines Pass. It was beautiful and we made great time. Our packs were around 24-25lbs which we did on purpose to mimic the maximum weight of our packs. We made it to Rock Springs, Wasatch 100 mile 87.4, around 7:00 pm where we cooked up a large dinner and had a nice long water stop. Once at Point Supreme we branched off and got on the Ridge Trail where 3 miles from Rock Springs we stopped and made camp. Our feet hurt but we had a successful day. We started later than we will on the John Muir Trail, took our time, and finished feeling relatively strong.
The next morning we awoke at 6:00 am and by 6:30 am we were hiking down the trail. A quick breakfast at 7:30 and then down into Timpanoke campground with the always inspiring Mt Timpanogos looming before us. By 9:30 we were filling our water bottles and taking a sponge bath at Timpanoke. With 21 miles to go, we still needed to virtually circumnavigating Timp. Surprisingly though, I felt better on day 2 than day 1! This was a good sign. I taped my feet and was back in the Hardrocks and we cruised! Around Timp we went following the Great Western Trail. By 12:30pm we were already at the top of Grove Canyon and soon we were in the Battle Creek Meadows. We soaked our feet in the last possible creek, which we should have also filtered some water, and headed over the saddle of Baldy. By this time the front side of Timp was hot! Those last 7-8 miles were tough as we were running low on water and the temperature was nearing 100 degrees! But it was all downhill and we walked in Golden's north Orem house at exactly 5:20pm! Aside from some sore feet, which hopefully will be resolved by these Vasques, I felt great! The total mileage from the trip was just under 60 miles.
Now instead of doing 29-30 miles per day, on the Muir Trail we will only need to average 25 miles. The elevation is a bit higher but the temperatures should be lower. There will be plenty of water as well. If my feet hold up I feel confident in our ability to finish without many problems and definitely within the time frame of 9 days. I'm excited and I better be since we leave this weekend!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Over the winter I was approached by a friend to fastpack this amazing trail in a mere 10 days. I jumped at the idea and have been preparing ever since. The original group all bailed out on me but I ended up convincing long time friend and runner Golden Harper to come and do it with me. We are now 10 days away from the trip and locking down our final preparations. We have also decided to attempt it in 9 days. Pack weight is slowly getting whittled down and we are hoping that our packs will weigh between 20-22 lbs for the majority of the trip. We will have only one resupply point at Muir Ranch which is approximately half way.
More information later to come, and no I am not a Karl Meltzer copy-cat. Remember last year I fastpacked the Uintah Highline Trail long before Karl started publicizing his AT journey, and I have been an avid backpacker most of my life. But great minds do think alike! I am hugely excited for this challenge and it should be tons of fun.
Also a huge thanks to our sponsors on this trip: GOLITE and RUNNER'S CORNER
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
One reason I signed up for this event was to visit my cousin's the Mechams. We rarely get up to Logan and this was a good excuse to visit family and take part in a new race. So Friday afternoon my wife and I drove on up to Logan (If you live in Davis County I am sorry because the traffic there truly sucks). Our incredible hosts hooked us up and first thing Saturday morning I was off to the event. The start was uneventful for the most part. Once the race started we all got in line behind Leland. Leland knew everyone was relying on him for pacing and course directions so he dutifully became the rabbit. The climb up Dry Canyon was brutal. My legs were more sluggish than I wanted and so I purposely went up a little slower then everyone else. I talked quite a bit with Jon Allen as we motored up the mountain. The terrain rose quickly and with it the mountain vegetation changed as well. Wildflowers, lush vegetation, aspens, and pines. It was gorgeous. Before I knew it we were at AS#1. The aid station was limited since they have to pack everything up on mules. I was in 7th place and had 4 guys directly in front of me which put me in an awkward position. I wanted to place well in this event and I made a ridiculously stupid move since I was already a ways back. After standing and watching the others fill their bottles, I got impatient waiting and decided to blow through the aid station. IT WAS SO STUPID. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!
The next several miles were amazing! The trail became a rolling singletrack of near perfection. I easily caught up to the front pack which would have happened even if I had taken 30 extra seconds to fill up on water at AS#1 (I'm quite bitter at myself for this if you can't tell). Anyway this section went quickly and was wonderful. The pack was thinning out and the trail runnable. Luckily there was a small water station at mile 10 which enabled me to finally fill my water bottle. By this point the front pack was down to five and nobody wanted to make a significant move past Leland. I was feeling pretty good through this section and then AS#2 crept up on me. I was in fourth place with all three guys right in front of me and I didn't want to get back logged like I did at AS#1. I had most of my bottle still full and without thinking I blew through this station as well!! STUPID! I don't know what I was thinking but next thing I knew I was in the lead and had spiced things up a bit for us frontrunners.
The climb up Logan Peak was relentless, snowy, and/or muddy. Jon Allen and Leland responded quickly to my move and together we climbed up the mountain. Knowing my downhill abilities I let them pass me to the top but caught them on the downhill. I polished off my water and filled up once back at the aid station. However, less than a mile down the road I started cramping! It was bad too. I had felt a few twinges earlier but this hit hard. I quickly took some electrolyte caps and drank a bunch of water as I slowed down moving into 4th place. The next 5-6 miles were pretty bad. The cramps dissipated but I knew they would come back. I drank all my water to fight the onset but there were no stations and the temperature was rising. I did everything I could to stay relaxed and within range of the front runners. The trail was amazing and the views incredible as I struggled on. I passed Greg Norrander who provided all of these fantastic pictures and then stubbled upon a spring at mile 23! I quickly filled up and decided that it was now or never to make my move. Off I went drinking as much water as possible trying to catch the leaders.
Shortly thereafter I reached the final aid station, filled up my bottle, and took off. I soon caught and passed Leland as I speedily made it downhill hearing that the leader was 2 minutes ahead with less then 4 miles left. Sadly the water was too little too late and I cramped again coming to a grinding halt. It was awful. I polished off every drop of liquid and my last electrolyte pill in a desperate attempt to keep running while hobbling down the trail. Leland caught and passed me in the climax of my pain at which point I then decided that I was going to beat that old man if it took everything I had. The next few minutes were painful but that water and pill kicked in just in time. Leland and I ran the next mile together at which point I decided to take a chance and pass him. Yelling and hollering I challenged Leland to catch me and off we went. That old bugger is tough and for the last mile I kept looking over my shoulder yelling at Leland to keep moving. He would holler back that he was cramping bad. We must have been quite the sight running as hard as we could on cramping legs. With 200 yds to go I knew that the worthy running legend wouldn't catch me as I kicked it in yelling and hollering to a second place finish in a time of 4:53:38. I think I might have driven Leland too hard as he crossed the finish line 14 seconds later and colapsed due to his cramping. Check out the results here: http://www.loganpeakrun.com/
To be honest I had so much energy at the end of the race but my poor legs took the brunt of my stupidity with the cramping. Dehydrated with too little sodium I was a mere 2 minutes from the winner Jon Allen. Wade McFarland ran an awesome race and finished 4 minutes back from Leland in fourth place. All-in-all it was a great course and a great day. I needed to get out and push myself again and what a perfect challenge. Plus there was cash prizes! For second place I got $60 cash and a great pair of Smith sunglasses! Note to self- don't blow through 2 of 3 aid stations on a 90 degree day. It's painful. Here's to the next few weeks of early morning high altitude trailrunning. Yahoo!!! Happy trails.