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 28, 2009

Uintah Fastpacking Loop (anyone interested?)

So my yearly fastpacking trip is coming up and I've talked to several people who are interested in coming along so I thought I would throw out the invitation to anyone who is in shape and up for a challenge.
The trip this year is a unique loop composed of some of the highest sections of the Uintah Mountains in Northeast Utah. The trip will be from August 11th-17th and will total 65-70 miles. We will start at the East Fork Black Fork trailhead and proceed south on trail 103. Up and over Squaw pass then taking a left turn onto the Highline Trail 025 over Porcupine Pass, Tungsten Pass, and finally Anderson Pass. From here we will head along the Kings-Emmons Ridge bagging Kings Peak, South Kings Peak, Painters Peak, and Trail Rider Peak. All 13,000 ft peaks, before traversing south into Timothy Basin. From Timothy Basin we will head west along trail 055 over Bluebell Pass to Milk Lake and then bushwhack north to the rarely visited Kings Lake. Continuing the journey we will reconnect to the Highline Trail before quickly heading north on trail 054 over Smiths Fork Pass. The final stretch will consist of trail 111 over Bald Mountain to the starting point of East Fork Blackfork Trailhead. Catch all that? Check out the map below:

Right now the crew looks like it will be myself, Golden Harper, Shane Martin and possibly 1 or 2 more. The goal is to move fast and light while catching as many fish as possible! If you are dying for an adventure, are an experienced backpacker, and are in trail marathon+ shape, give me a call or email me at runfishyrun at hotmail dot com. Yes I'm aware I've limited who is invited by a drastic margin but this is my vacation. I know it's last minute and getting work off is near impossible but this route has to be one of the coolest routes I've ever seen and I'm quite proud to claim it as uniquely my own. Let me know asap if interested. It will be great high altitude training for that fall 100 miler or marathon you're training for. Life is it up!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ben Lomond Peak

After a very stressful week at the Outdoor Retailer (more on the highlights later), I decided it was time for a nice long run. I had yet to summit the looming Ben Lomond Peak, located above North Ogden, and I decided today would be the day. My running has been casual this past month. Consistent 25-30 mile weeks but I hadn't done any long runs. This would be a bit of a test.
Minutes out of the trailhead I saw a sign that distressed me. As of July 15th motorbikes would be allowed on the trail. Moments later the deafening roar of motorized bikes and the ensuing dust cloud surrounded me. I know I've offended people on my blog, which I have never intended, but understand this perspective and do not take it personally. It is a horrible shame that a pristine wilderness setting such as the trail to Ben Lomond is marred by loud trail damaging vehicles. Maybe it was my experience at Wasatch 100 when at mile 92 as I was descending into Pot Bottom I almost got ran over by a couple of motorcyclists who could care less that I had been running for 26 hours. Anyway I was appalled that motorbikes are allowed on such pristine high use trail trail.

Aside from almost being run over a couple times by motorbikes I had an amazing time on the beautiful single track trail. Views of Ogden, Eden, Logan, and the Great Salt Lake complemented the array of wildflowers and distant peaks. I felt great the whole way up and even better on the way down. Means I need to get my butt out of bed in the mornings and do some more long runs. My new goal is to run this peak once a week! The ascent took me 1 hr 48 minutes and the descent took me 1 hr and 7 minutes for a perfect 3 hour 16 mile run. Something special occurs on such a trail run which you can't fully explain. If you've had it, you understand. If you haven't, no words can describe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hayden Peak Backpacking Trip

The Uintah mountains are home for me. I have such fond memories of the Uintahs. In fact some of the earliest and most distinct memories of my life occurred when I was 5 years old while my family was horse camping/backpacking at Mohican Lake in the Grandaddy basin. I carried my first backpack (clothes, sleeping bag, and foam pad) when I was 8 years old on a 7 mile trip into Duck Lake. Although more exotic trips have taken precedence over the last few years (LDS mission, Alaska, study abroad in the British Isles, Hawaii, a NOLS course, backpacking Europe, John Muir Trail, southern Utah, etc), I find peace and solice in the feeling of being completely at home in the Uintahs.

This past weekend was no different. Golden Harper and I set about for a quick trip to Ryder Lake and McPheter Lake with the goal to bag Hayden Peak from the backside. The trip was almost flawless. The 9+ miles in were banged out in less than 4 hours and we found a perfect campsite on a grassy ledge between the two lakes. Mosquito's were a bit voracious but the views were perfect. We fished Ryder lake that night which produced plenty of small Brook trout and an occasional Cutthroat.

The following morning we were all about business and off we went despite a few scattered showers. The rule was as soon as we even heard thunder we were to head down for cover. Luckily a mild breeze and a couple spattering drops of rain were all we encountered as we scrambled up the mountain. The way is rocky with no trail but can be accomplished by most strong, stable, and determined hikers. From our campsite we summited in 1 1/2 hours including a couple of picture/breather breaks. Seeing Kings Peak in one direction and Mount Timpanogos in another is pretty awesome! Serenity Now! (with no sarcasm)
The way down was a little more difficult and provided for some careful navigation. Once at the saddle where you can either scramble down to the Mirror Lake Highway or McPheter Lake we found a steep ravine with stable snow. So what would two semi-mature 27 year old men do? Slide down the 50 degree slope and avoid the boulders of course! Unfortunately our camera battery died or else we would have some gnarly pictures of the 30 seconds and 600 feet of blissful descent. A nap, fast afternoon fishing at Ryder, a real thunderstorm, slow but big fish at McPheter Lake, and an eventful day came to a close. Tired but content with life we curled up and slept to the indescribable smell of mountains.
The final day was uneventful compared to the previous. Taking our time in the morning we unsuccessfully went to go and catch the big one at McPheter and then had some fast pond/stream fishing at the outlet of Ryder. The hike out went quickly as we swiftly hiked down the mountain with our lightened packs. Another great trip and the Uintahs continued to impress both the eye and the soul.

Note the slide path below the moon. Yep...that was it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back to the Uintah's and training

I've been in such a slump since Squaw Peak. The weekend of June 28th jumpstarted me as I hit a last minute backpacking trip to the Uintahs which was amazing. I did a round-a-bout loop to the Cuberant Basin off the Mirror Lake Highway. It was only about 7 miles total but was a fantastic rejuvination physically and emotionally. The trail and terrain were wet and sloppy the whole way but it helped me break in my new Zamberlan boots. In fact since starting my new job at Canyon Sports I haven't backpacked much and this solo journey was the perfect situation to test out all my new gear I've acquired over the last few months. I'm now truly confident that the Exos 46 is the greatest backpack ever made! Tried out several other products on the trip but I'll spare the details aside from the boots and pack, which were the highlights.
The trip was needed though. Zanna and I have done a couple of car camping overnighters but there is something special about getting far away from everything. This trip was perfect as the flyfishing was decent, mosquitos weren't too bad yet, views perfect, and the temperature ideal. So great that I'm heading back this weekend!

It also got me training again. After what was almost a 3 week running slump I ran 31 trail miles this week and felt great. It's amazing how much better I feel when I'm running. No goals or races planned for this summer. I might throw a shorter race somewhere along the way but I'm tentatively planning on running the Moab 50 miler in September. I want to revamp my running and I plan on taking my time while having fun with it (more details on that later). Also I'll cram as much backpacking and flyfishing in along the way. Here's to summer mountain adventures!