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, April 20, 2010

Grand Canyon R2R2R 2010

Finally completed the mecca of ultra running. Having run R2R twice, I've never turned around and headed back across the abyss. This past weekend changed that! I went down with Tara Tulley and Jim Skaggs to do a double crossing. It was another epic adventure.
We started at 5am. Dark and cold we headed down into the canyon. It warmed up quickly though and within a few miles was getting light. Looking back on the experience we dilly-dallied around way too much in the cool morning. We should have speed it up and taken advantage of the downhill and moderate temperatures.
In and out of Phantom Ranch we pressed forward. The Box was as spectacular as ever as we headed up the North Kaibab Trail. It was much warmer than I had suspected. As we neared Cottonwood Tara realized that her control valve had fallen off her Camelback. She had taken the last of her water a ways back and it somehow went missing. I volunteered to go back and look for it. Without the valve, it would be nearly impossible to finish, so I told her to keep heading up to Cottonwood while I ran back and looked for it. It was nearly a mile back. So add 2 miles to my crossing
From Cottonwood, things started to heat up. This also meant the snow was melting faster which meant water crossings and eventually run-off waterfalls! It just added to the excitement. Tara started struggling and told us to keep moving forward which Jim and I did. That climb up the North Rim was a beast! The last mile+ was nearly all snow as we post holed to the top! At this point I was ready to cruise back. My plan had been to run across with the group and then see how fast I could get back. With us taking a little longer then I had expected to get to the North Rim I was also running out of food. I also forgot my watch. Note that the Phantom Ranch Shop closed at 4 pm.

It was 1:35 pm when we left the North Rim and I was dead set on getting some more food. It caused a serious crash which is still healing plus all the determination I had. Without a watch I just kept pushing. Flying down those last 6 miles was awesome! The terrain is perfect for such running. As I arrived at Phantom Ranch I let out a hoot! 3:47 pm I had run those 14 snow covered, stream crossing, rocky dusty miles in 2 hrs and 12 minutes. I had also forgotten to drink much of anything and taken almost no salt all day. Needless to say I got all the food I wanted including two glasses of lemonade with ice!...but I was spent. Dehydrated and electrolyte deficit I then ate too much making me even more sick. After an hour I decided I wasn't going anywhere fast, so I hung out for another hour until Jim Skaggs strolled in looking all fresh and perky. He laughed when I told him what happened.
We then hiked it on out. It was great having good conversation those last 9 miles heading up the Bright Angel Trail. We made pretty good time power hiking on up. That morning I thought we would finish before it got dark but not today. As we got to Indian Gardens, it was time to turn the headlamps back on. Those last few miles of switchbacks were painful but just after 10 pm we finished! What an awesome yet tough day. Tara toughed it out to finish just after 2 pm.
With my extra mileage I will call this an even 50 miles. I'm not sure why but it was super tough. I got seriously humbled due to my lack of proper nutrition. Good lesson to learn early in the season and I still managed to have a great time. I was surprised how many runners were out there doing a double. There must have been 25+ runners making the pilgrimage. Now my mecca has been achieved but I am already planning my next journey to The Grandest of Canyons!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

UVU Backpacking Class Spring 2010

I just finished teaching another course for Utah Valley University. It was the basic backpacking course which I never tire of teaching. This class was fantastic and it showed while on the mandatory trip.

I chose an aggressive and rugged loop in the San Rafael Swell. We wanted to see how difficult the pass between upper Virgin Springs Canyon and Upper Canes Wash was. I nearly had a dozen heart attacks while going up and down the pass due to the gnarly conditions. Considering that half the class had never been backpacking before and there we were lowering packs down cliffs with a 1000 foot precipice awaiting a misstep was a wee bit scary. The class seemed unfazed and we finished the 18 mile trip with nothing but smiles.

The exact route lead us from the San Rafael River campground along the south side of the San Rafael River to the mouth of Canes Wash, over the Wedge to a most beautiful pictograph panel, through what is known as the Little Grand Canyon to the mouth of Virgin Springs Canyons, up the left fork of Virgin Springs Canyon, up and over an unnamed pass (very rough you will probably want a 40 ft rope and lots of slickrock backpacking experience), then finally up Upper Cane Wash. We took two cars and did an 8 mile shuttle. Another epic backpacking trip with a great group of students!

This weekend......R2R2R of the real Grand Canyon. 48 day. Should be a great time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Barefoot Run

Went 6 miles Farthest to date. Felt amazing. My feet are a little sore this evening but all-in-all I feel great about the run. Feet and legs are feeling super strong and I'm ready to start cranking out the mileage.

Part of my ability to start cranking out the mileage is that I quit my job this week! I am no longer employed at Canyon Sports. It ended amiably and I will miss the shop but I am working on starting my own company here in the next few months. In the meantime, I am teaching adjunct at Utah Valley University.

March was crazy trying to balance everything but I got through it and I'm feeling great about the future. I did manage to run 220 solid miles of almost entirely trail and barefoot running at an increased intensity during the month. I will be moving back to Utah County here at the end of April and am very excited about this next phase of life!