Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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

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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…

peaks

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…

Flat Top mountain and the Oquirrh mountains

The Oquirrh Mountains is a mountain range that runs north-south for 30 miles on the west side of Salt Lake Valley and Utah County. The mountains have been mined in gold, silver, lead and copper including one of the largest open pit copper mines, Bingham Canyon (Kenicott) mine. I’ve climbed up to the ridge top in three spots and have always wondered if it was possible to traverse the entire southern portion of the range along the ridge top, starting from the desert floor at Fairfield to Butterfield Canyon.  I knew it would be pretty rugged and slow at times, but for several years I had wanted to attempt it.

Timing for this adventure was critical because water needs.  I had no desire to haul large quantities of water along the way and there are no convenient access points along the way to drop off supplies.  The solution is to use snow fields, but the fields shouldn’t be deep enough to obscure the trails along the way. Thus the right time to try this would be late spring or late fall. continue reading…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Squaw Peak 50 is a classic and tough 50-mile race held in the mountains above Provo, UT.  During the early miles, the course climbs the slopes of Squaw Mountain (aka Squaw Peak) a prominent peak that rises above Rock Canyon, frequented by day hikers and rock climbers.  It received its name back in the 1800s for “Big Elk’s squaw” who died in the canyon following a battle with pioneer settlers.

This year was the 19th running of Squaw Peak 50, one of the longest running ultras in the country.  Before this year, I had run it seven times, and my personal best time is 10:56. It is a tough 50-miler because of the climbs, about 11,000 feet (according to Garmin).  The most difficult climb starts at mile 39.5 on a rough trail and climbs about 1,400 feet to the high point of the course in just 1.6 miles without the aid of helpful switchbacks.

Over the past several years I had wondered if running a double Squaw Peak 50 would be possible and how tough that might be.  I put it on my “bucket list” to try some day.   I knew it would be rough, requiring 50-miles of solo running and about 22,000 feet of climbing along the way. continue reading…

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Periodically I like to insert “repeats” into my training.  I will select a difficult day hike and see how many times in a row I can do it in, at a much faster pace than hikers.  Not only is this a good physical challenge, but it is a significant mental challenge.  My theory is that if I can toughen up myself mentally too, when times get tough during a long race, I will be less likely to quit.  Instead of quitting, you figure out how to continue on with a memory and assurance that with adjustments things will improve.  With “repeats” it is easy to quit because you come back to your starting point, which is a way out toward rest and comfort.

For me, the rules for summit repeats include starting at an established trailhead, climb to the summit and then return to the trailhead.  Then do it again, and again. Past repeats I’ve accomplished have included my repeats on Mount Timpanogos, the most consisting of five consecutive summits (24,000 feet of climbing in 70 miles).  I’ve also accomplished Kings Peak (highest peak in Utah) repeats, accomplishing two consecutive summits, which I have done on three different occasions (9,000 feet in 52 miles).  All three times I hoped to do three summits, but just didn’t have the mental push to run it one more time.  Behind my house, I did four consecutive summits of Lake Mountain (12,000 feet of climbing in 36 miles).  Others have tried to match or beat some of these accomplishments, but so far the records are safe.

As the snow melts from the tops of the mountain and late spring arrives, I shift my training from long runs on lowland terrain to climbs into the mountains.  This Saturday I was interested to start doing some serious vertical training and I selected Y Mountain above Provo, Utah, as my destination for doing repeats.  See good article on the Y mountain trail. continue reading…

logoThe Grand Canyon certainly needs no introduction. It is one of my favorite places to run.  I’ve run more than 1,000 miles in and along the canyon and I jumped at the chance to run an official 100-mile race along the North Rim.  As tourists visit the North Rim, it is common to feel some disappointment at the views as compared to the South Rim.  From the South Rim you can view the canyon from many points but from the North Rim, in the National Park, you really just have one view from paved roads.  But the Grand Canyon 100 took us to spectacular viewpoints outside the park, that tourists miss and opened my eyes to a section of the canyon I had never seen before. continue reading…

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Lake Mountain rises 3,200 feet behind my home.  Much of my training takes place in its foothills.  A week ago I finished Salt Flats 100 which was a good race for me. I recovered very fast and by Thursday was itching to run again.  On Friday I tested things out and did a tough run from the Utah Lake shoreline to the top of Lake Mountain, a 12-mile round trip that climbs 3,200 feet.  I felt recovered and again ready for a long run this weekend.

I decided to do some unfinished business.  I wanted to run the entire Lake Mountain ridge line all the way from Eagle Mountain Ranches to the Soldier Pass road, about 16 miles.  I once did this, but not quite right, I skipped the last two miles of ridges and descended into a valley and didn’t run all the way back around to my starting point.  I wanted to go the entire distance without using any valleys to go up or down, something I’m sure no one has accomplished before.  Yes, it would be pretty crazy and required some careful study and planning, but it would be possible. continue reading…