Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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

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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…



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.


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…


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…

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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…

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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…