Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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

Browsing Posts in Adventure Runs

horses

The Simpson Mountains are a mountain range in the remote west desert of Utah that rise nearly 4,000 feet above the desert floor.  They are about 13 miles long and ten miles across. These distinctive mountains have been viewed by travelers on the Pony Express and Overland trails since the 1860s. Native American Goshutes inhabited their canyons for centuries.  They have a long history and some of it is disturbing.

Captain Simpson

Captain James H. Simpson

The mountains are named for explorer Captain James H Simpson, topographical engineer, who was stationed at the army camp, Camp Floyd, in today’s Fairfield, Utah.  In 1858 he explored around the mountain range, and in 1859 returned in his work to lay out an overland mail route between Salt Lake City and California. For years I have wanted to explore these mountains more closely and I finally mapped out a course to run completely around them.

On Friday evening, I arrived at the northeast corner of my circuitous route, establishing my starting location at a corral above dry Government Creek. The corral was at a location once called Government Spring and had been visited by Simpson in 1858.

Porter Rockwell

Porter Rockwell

This place was also once the cattle ranch of Orrin Porter Rockwell, famed mountain man, lawman, and pioneer. He had chosen this open location in the 1850s  for a ranch because as he said, “For a cattle ranch you want a place where you can track’em out.” continue reading…

range

The Sanpitch Mountain Range is just south of the Wasatch Mountains.  Perhaps you have looked over to these mountains as your drive south on I-15 between Nephi and Scipio.  I’ve looked up there wondering if you could run along the top of them. The Sanpitch Range is about 40 miles long and its highest point is Salt Creek Peak (9,997 feet).  The range was named after an Indian leader, who was the leader of the Sanpits that resided in Sanpete Valley during the mid-1800s.

After an adventure exploring the Sanpitch three weeks earlier, I became determined to attempt to run the mountain range end to end, a run of more than 50 miles.  There wasn’t much information online about the mountain range top, which is mostly just visited by hunters and ATVers. I planned out my route using topographic maps and hoped that the trails and roads still existed. continue reading…

Squaw-Peak

Somehow years ago I got into my head that it was cool to run repeats of high peaks.  I do recall probably in 2004, seeing a guy run up and down Mount Timpanogos twice in a day. I was very impressed.  But he only went up to the saddle and back twice, not the summit. I convinced myself that this was not quite right, that you needed to go from trailhead to summit and back, then repeat.

My crazy repeats started on Timpanogos, first two, then three, then four, and finally five summits on August 18-19, 2006.  I’m still waiting for someone to break that record, or even tie it, but it still stands nearly ten years later.  It seems like every month I meet someone and the conversation starts, “Are you the guy who…”  I think, “oh no, here it comes again.”   I get embarrassed and reply, “Yes, I’m that guy.”

I like repeats because they are on a consistent trail. You return to your car every few hours to resupply and continue on.  It also is a tough mental exercise that seems to help develop mental strength to continue on in races when I face trials. continue reading…

quarter

The first transcontinental railroad was completed near the Great Salt Lake in Utah, at Promontory Summit, on May 10, 1869. It was the main line railroad across the country until around 1904 when a new line was cut across the Great Salt Lake and bypassed Promontory.  The original historic route continued to be used for passenger traffic for many more years.  In 1942 the tracks were abandoned as the rails were needed to support the war effort during World War II.  Today in this remote area, the railway grade is still clearly visible and runnable.  I had always wanted to run on this historic railroad bed.  I finally made the trip and ended up running about 32 miles on it. continue reading…

IMG_0238 (817x651) (640x510)

The San Rafael Swell is about 2,000 square miles of public land in Central Utah that is known for its scenic sandstone formations, deep canyons, and expansive panoramas.  The entire area has been lifted up and turned, leaving an angled reef displaying amazing rock formations, domes of sandstone, and rugged ridgelines. The area is harsh in the summer and is often overlooked to visit except for off-road vehicle enthusiasts and horseback riders.

A Wilderness Study Area has been established in the Swell and this has been somewhat successful in keeping the ATVs out of pristine canyon areas and high plateaus, leaving areas of solitude.   I was interested in exploring the Sids Mountain Wilderness Study area, a very remote area in what is known as the Little Grand Canyon of Utah.  Late winter is an ideal time to run in the area because of the spring-like temperatures, some flowing water and lingering snow patches. continue reading…

1 (768x528)

Cathedral Valley is one of the great remote areas of Utah that receives very few visitors.  In 1945 the first superintendent of what was then Capitol Reef National Monument, christened this area of fantastically eroded cliffs, sandstone monoliths and panoramic views, as Cathedral Valley. To him, the scene seemed downright Gothic. Compared to the more popular Waterpocket Fold area to the south in Capitol Reef National Park, not many people choose to make this trip.  It usually requires a high-clearance vehicle and at times a 4WD vehicle.

During most of the year, a 64-mile loop (including a paved-highway connector) can be driven to view this spectacular area.  Last year (2015) I made a brief visit to Cathedral Valley and recorded this video.  This year, I decided that I would try to run the entire loop.  Instead of running the highway to connect the ends of the road, I would use a remote 4WD road (0146) to complete the loop.  This would make a loop of about 43 miles, most of it on fast maintained dirt road.  Surely no one had ever attempted this before and I would discover another epic long run.  With some sight-seeing detours along the way, my run would be 47.2 miles. continue reading…

“Why drive if you can run?”

I am currently training for Across the Years, a fixed-time race on Dec 28th where you try to run as many miles as you can during a fixed period of time.  I entered the 48-hour race again this year.  For me, effective training leading into the race involves high mileage on mostly flat terrain.  Treadmill miles also helps, increasing foot speed.

So, my challenge is to keep motivation up and boredom down doing this training. I recently bought a good incline treadmill which is more convenient that using our neighborhood rec center with poor treadmills that seem to always break down often.  I’ve also grown weary of reactions as people come in, seeing me on “their treadmill.”

oval (640x474)

As weather gets poor another option I’ve used recently is to run at the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah.  That is the site of the 2002 Olympics speed skating events. There is a 442 meter running track around it. One day recently I ran 140 laps for nearly 39 miles in about seven hours. It was cool watching the USA teams train, including speed skating (with gold medalist Shani Davis) and short track teams. Some China team members also were training there. I mostly had the entire track to myself during that time.

This weekend, we had our annual extended family Christmas Party at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in Midway, Utah (near Park City).   Wanting to still have a long run to finish off the week, my son-in-law joked that I should just run to the party.  To me, it wasn’t a crazy suggestion.  I looked at the route options and discovered it would be about 41 miles along familiar roads and trails.  It didn’t take long for me to decide I would do it. continue reading…

lake

Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Utah.  Many rivers, streams, and creeks flow into it and there is only one outlet near my home, the Jordan River.   It is 12 miles across at its widest point and about 21 miles long, with an additional seven miles of soggy farm land near its inlet.  Archaeology finds indicate that there have been settlements near the lake and river as far back as 3,000 years.  Mormon settlers established the first modern settlement in 1849. In the 1800s the fish in the lake was overharvested and restocked with non-native species.  Pollution has been a problem over the years as raw sewage was dumped into the lake as late as 1967.  Some pollution problems still remain.  The lake is very shallow with the maximum depth about 14 feet with the average about 10 feet deep.

Each year hundreds of cyclists ride all the way around Utah Lake using a 100-mile route for a “century” ride.  There is no established trail that runs near the shores of the lake, so roads are used.  Most of the route around the lake is rural farm land with the exception of about ten miles on the east side through the Provo-Orem metropolitan area.

In 2013 I got the idea of running all the way around Utah Lake in a day and was the first to accomplish that on November 15, 2013, using a route of about 82 miles. See video of that adventure.

This year I was anxious to repeat the long adventure.  I had recently signed up for Across the Years 48-hour run (Dec 28th) and needed some good, long, flat training.  I chose December 5th to run around the lake again.  I knew it would be colder.  In 2013 I cut out a couple miles by running on railroad tracks in certain sections, but I knew I shouldn’t do that, so this time I chose a route that would be about 84 miles.  The west side of the lake is pretty straight-forward with only one road to take you south, but on the east side with all the roads and towns, you can choose various routes.  This time I let Google Maps decide much of it but still included a mile of trail that hugs the lake at its widest point to avoid a bunch of urban roads and stay on the lake side of I-15. continue reading…