Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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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. In 2015 I traversed the southern portion of this mountain range and had a great adventure. I decided to repeat it this year. (The Northern section includes no trespassing private property sections and is barren of snow this time of year.)

Timing for this adventure is 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 around the first day of summer when all the snow hasn’t quite melted off. On the north side of each peak snow fields could still be found. continue reading…

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For years as I would drive to and from Captitol Reef National Park to run, I would gaze up at a particular mountain range after passing the small town of Scipio, Utah.  This range presents a peculiar flat horizon on top and I would wonder and dream of running along the top of that mountain range end to end, from Scipio to Richfield.  Only recently did I learn that the name of this range is the Pahvant Mountains, named after the Pahvant tribe, a branch of the Ute Indians. The Pahvant Range merges into the Tushar Mountains on the south.

The Pahvants are rarely visited, mostly by hunters, ATV riders, and horseback riders.  A section of The Pauite ATV trail runs along the southern portion of the range, connecting with the Tushar Mountains.  The range is about 44 miles long and 10 miles across. There are a number of peaks along the range over 10,000 feet high. continue reading…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…