The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wasatch 60 Fastpack (Muir Prep)

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

John Muir Trail Preparation

Argued as the most beautiful trail in America the John Muir Trail runs from Yosemite National Park, through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and finishes atop the highest mountain on the continental United States, Mount Whitney 14,505 ft. It's length is approximately 225 miles.

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

Summer Kayaking

So one of my many time consuming and expensive hobbies is whitewater kayaking. Although I don't get to go as often as I would like, I am still able to squeeze in a few nice runs now and again. Recently I went up to Sixth Water and finally got some pics! Sixth Water is actually an artificial river which diverts water from Strawberry Reservoir into Diamond Fork. It's pretty fun Kayaking and as Ryan, my buddy who ran it for the first time said, "It takes class V balls but class III skill and consequences!" For the most part it's a straightforward run with a nice causeway and a bunch of 8 to 15 foot waterfalls and absolutely awesome to run. Every time I go up there I have so much fun. What a cool place. Good luck finding it and scout first if no one in your group has run it.