Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100
                                                                                                                                                                            www.ponyexpress100.org

20150829_075204 (640x459)I made a return trip to the Uinta Mountains for another very long Saturday run.  Dry August weather makes it an ideal time to experience the high mountains away from the valley heat.  I hoped for to do a long loop of about 50-miles and decided to start very early in order to give myself plenty of time on the rugged slow trails.

I arrived at Moon Lake on Friday evening and decided to just rest at the trailhead in my car for a few hours.  At 11:53 p.m. I was away on my nocturnal adventure.  A nearly full moon was out to cast light on the hills around me.  For the first 16 miles, I would be running in forest up Lake Fork, starting at 8,000 feet.  Getting off trail in the dark was not a real worry because the horse-worn trail was very distinct and easy to follow. I had run 16 miles last week in Lake Fork and knew what to expect on this mostly boulder-free trail. continue reading…

 

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The Uinta Mountain range is the highest in Utah. Much of it is protected by Wilderness area. I enjoy running up in the high Uintas because of its remoteness and rugged beauty.  Most hikers and runners who go to the Uintas, only go to the heavily traffic areas, Mirror Lake area on the far west, or Henry Fork in order to summit Kings Peak, the highest peak in Utah.  However, they are missing much more beautiful sections, better trails, and more interesting peaks that are usually only seen by backpackers or horseback riders.

Weather is always a challenge. The Uintas are usually subject to significant afternoon and evening thunderstorms that can be very scary if you are high up.  Finding key times when the weather is calm allows for much safer and more enjoyable periods to explore the high mountain region. This past week was such a time so I made plans for a new long run.

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When you consider the Uintas trails, think boulders. Most of the trails run north/south up and down the drainages and the trails consist of imbedded boulders, obstacles for running, that have been exposed by runoff and years of horse traffic.  In contrast, the Highline Trail runs east/west near the center spine of the range and crosses over many high passes along the way. I’ve run the Highline Trail end-to-end two times (once solo) but it requires convincing someone to help you shuttle a car or drop you off at the far end, a service that takes about eight hours.  My family is now smart and declines when I ask for that shuttle help. continue reading…

I enjoy running on high ridges.  As I drive places in my car, my eyes are always drawn up to the tops of high flat ridges and I wonder if they can be run.  When you drive through the Wasatch Back, there are many such ridges that indeed can be run and usually only get attention by hunters, ATVers, and snowmobilers.  One such area had been on my list to explore — the ridges between Soldier Summit (Spanish Fork Canyon) and Strawberry Reservoir.  Years ago I had run Strawberry Ridge but I knew there were many others to explore.

Early Saturday morning, I drove up Spanish Fork Canyon and parked just east of Soldier Summit at the first road on the north side.  There is a Forest Service kiosk there but only a general map for information.  I began my run at about 3:45 a.m., running up the road that follows the Left Fork of the White River, starting a clockwise loop, hoping for about a 50-mile run. continue reading…

Tushars 93K

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The Tushar Mountains is the third highest mountain range in Utah behind the Uintas and the La Sals.  These mountains are mostly unknown to the running world because of their remote location.  I had never visited them and looked forward to running the new race, Tushar 93K (57.8 miles).  Because it was also my 57th birthday, I thought it would be appropriate to run 57 miles on my elderly birth anniversary to fool me into thinking that I’m still young. The Tushars are about 30 miles long and 20 miles wide in the Fishlake National Forest.  Its highest mountain is Delano Peak, rising to 12,173 feet which would be the first of three peaks we would summit. Most visitors to the area are ATVers, who ride along the Paiute ATV trail, one of the longest in the country.  We would run several miles on that route. continue reading…

The journey to becoming an ultrarunner has many varied paths. I personally never dreamed to be a runner of any kind and in fact most of my life, pretty much despised running. But along these unexpected paths, running somehow evolved. This story is mostly for me, to look back and understand where I came from, but it also may be of interest to others as they too become an ultrarunner.  Perhaps this is my runner memoirs.  It is a attempt to bring together many of my experiences and lessons learned over the years. Recently updated, a downloadable PDF version to read off-line. 77,000 words and 181 pages to snooze by, 24 meg. Nearly 5,000 downloads to date.

To be continued…

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I ran the very challenging Capitol Reef 100.  This 100-mile course runs on the Aquarius Plateau which rises about 6,000 feet above Capitol Reef National Park which is off to the east. The Aquarius Plateau is the highest plateau in North America and covers more than 900 square miles.  Little did I know how tough this race would be for me.  I had hoped for a 27-hour finish, but I tossed away that hope about 25 miles into the race.  What makes this race so tough is the altitude (all but 12 miles above 9,000 feet), boulder-ridden trails, and constant route-finding (even with good markings).

I’ve run many adventures in nearby Capitol Reef National Park so I have a great fondness for the region.  I have driven the highway below the Aquarius Plateau, have seen the trailhead signs for the Great Western Trail, and have always wanted to experience the trail in this section of Utah.This was my chance. My experience was unforgettable. continue reading…

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Early on during my running career (12 years as of 2015), the activity of “Peak Bagging” got my attention.  Usually that involves attempting to summit a large set of peaks over time, months or years. But my approach somehow evolved into something different – trying to bag a set of peaks in one day or close to one day, in one stretch. continue reading…

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The Ruby Mountains are a range 80 miles long in Nevada above the small cities of Wells and Elko.  They can be seen prominently from I-80 and usually are snow-covered late into the summer.  As I’ve driven by, I’ve wondered about this range rising above the desert floor and whether or not there were any good trails up there.  The range was named after garnets found by explorers. Some of the valleys were formed by glaciers.

When a Facebook friend recently went to run the mountains I discovered the existence of the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail, most of which runs through the Ruby Mountains Wilderness area between 8,000 and 11,000 feet elevation.  Much of the trail was constructed by the CCC, probably in the 1950s. Recorded distances for the trail vary.  A sign at the northern Lamoille trailhead states that the trail is 43 miles long, but according to my GPS watches, and considering not cutting switchbacks, trailhead to trailhead is about 33.7 miles. If you use the shorter pack trail alternative on the north end, the distance is about 33.3 miles. continue reading…