Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

I like to Run Insanely Long & Crazy Distances                                                                                                             Pony Express Trail 100
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“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.”

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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…

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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…

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Nine years ago, in 2006, I accomplished a quad crossing of the Grand Canyon (R2R2R2R2R).  This has only been accomplished by six runners and no one has accomplished it twice.  I was interested in trying to do it again.  The total distance is about 88 miles and involves about 25,000 feet of climbing along the way.

It had been two years since I had run in the canyon.  I typically enjoy running there on Thanksgiving weekend when temperatures are cool (and some years it is pretty frigid).  But for this long run I decided to go a week earlier when it would be a bit warmer.

After staying overnight in Kanab, I headed to the North Rim.  As I drove through the meadows near the park entrance the temperature dipped to 16 degrees but at the trailhead it was a “warmer” 23 degrees.  I made my preparations, and was on that trail at 6:03 a.m., running down the very familiar trail in the dark. This was my 31st time on the North Kaibab trail (going in either direction) so I knew every section and turn very well.  There was some slick snow/ice for the first mile but nothing dangerous because that section doesn’t have cliffs to the side.  I did trip and fall three times during that first couple miles but the falls were minor.  I was frustrated that as I get older, my balance and skill seems to be decreasing, but as dawn arrived, the increased light helped. continue reading…

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…

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…