Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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

February 1, 2003

We were in a winter heat wave.  With the temperatures pushing toward 60 degrees, I had to go out and do a quick hike.  I had been battling a mile cold all week, but felt good enough to give it a try. 

I again hiked up Lake Mountain, behind our house.  I was determined this time to go all the way to the radio towers at the top.  I started at 5,100 feet elevation.  The road was pretty muddy in spots but there was still slushy snow in Israel Canyon.  Small streams of water was flowing in the road and occasionally could be heard down in the bottom of the stream bed.  With the mild temperatures, this was a T-shirt, shorts hike, until the top which was very windy.  The occasional muddy footing slowed the pace down, but it was still a good workout to the top.

The top was incredible.  Paul, Ed, and I came near the top a month earlier and should have taken the extra fifteen minutes to go to the top for the view.  I could see all of Utah County from up there.  It was an incredible view, with a totally different perspective looking down from the west.  I was amazed how large the Alpine/Cedar Hill/Highland are looked…packed with houses.  The top was at 7,700 feet elevation, so the hike was a 2,600 foot climb, pretty steep.  The run down was fast, and the eight-mile adventure took about two hours.

Oquirrh Moutains

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January 25, 2003

Saturday morning a group of us participated in a strenuous ten-mile hike in Ophir Canyon, in the Oquirrh Mountains.  This was a repeat of my Monday trip, with a goal to go all the way to the top.  Victims included myself, Ed Johnson, Pablo Riboldi, and David Hansen.  We hit the trail at 7:30 a.m. with snow flurries for the first hour.  I was concerned about slick trails and my worry was confirmed as David Hansen fell down right after getting out of the car.  The starting temperature was about 30 degrees. Two inches of additional snow had fallen since Monday.

We started out tentatively, going up the South Fork 4WD road.  David hiked in boots, and never broke into a run during the hike, but traveled fast.  Ed and I got the pace going, but would stop to wait for the others.  I had bought another pair of “feet snow chains” for Ed to use and he offered them to Pablo, which greatly helped.  Pablo was then able to join in the runs.  We cruised through aspen groves and desert landscapes, waiting a couple times for David to catch up.  The road became steeper so I hung back with David. Ed and Pablo kept the pace up.  We covered the three miles to Halls Basin in about one hour and fifteen minutes, climbing 2000 vertical feet.

We then discussed how to reach a nearby summit. David Hansen, of course, helped us understand that the only correct strategy was to head straight up. David pulled us to the top, a 9830-foot unnamed summit on the Tooele/Utah counties border, about a mile northwest of Flat Top Mountain, and south of Dead Ox Pass.  This climb was tough.  I felt the elevation and became fatigued.  We had to dodge scrub brush, and find footing in snow.
 
The clouds blew out and we had beautiful sunshine, with views into Salt Lake County to the northeast (Herriman), Utah County to the east (top of Timp poking through the clouds), and Tooele County to the west.  We decided to take another route down from the summit and ended up plowing through some challenging stretches of knee-deep and waist-deep snow to Halls Basin.  We found another cabin, a bigger one which was unlocked and very nice.  We recovered from the snow hike, changed socks and prepared for the run down.

The rest of the way was a quick three-mile run.  We finishing at 11 a.m, David arriving about 15 minutes later.  The vertical feet up for this event was 3,100.  We all survived well, stayed warm, and had a great time.

January 18, 2003

On Saturday I did a solo 13-mile out-and-back hike/run through Broad Canyon in the Tintic Mountains.  This mountain range is 22 miles to the southeast from my home. The run in was via a full moon, pretty cool.  I reached the pass at 7,000 feet near sunrise (very nice) with a great view of Timp off in the distance.  I hit packed snow and ice on the way up, but I stopped to put on “foot snow chains” (cool cables from REI that wrap onto the bottoms of your shows).  I was amazed at the excellent footing, even on slick ice.  Near the top I took a mile side trip to Hot Stuff Mine, trudging through unpacked foot-deep snow.  It was sometimes packed down by lots of game (deer, elk, etc).  The mine was blasted closed, just a hole.  The run down was quick, and I reached the car at 9:30 a.m.  Luckily, it wasn’t stolen.  Not a human to be seen the whole time.  Temperatures were nippy, in the mid-20s.

January 4, 2003

This hike was costly.  While scouting out this hike earlier in the week, I punctured my oil filter, lost all my oil and seized the engine on the Stratus…a total loss.  Luckily the car insurance covered the loss, minus $1,000 deductible.

Paul Hansen, Ed Johnson, and I participated on this run.  We did a 12-mile route up and over Lake Mountain, which is the mountain on the west side of Utah Lake near my home.  The elevation climb was about 2500 feet over a seven-mile stretch.  The trail was a 4WD road, about 8 miles of which was packed, dry snow.  Footing was excellent, the packed snow felt great to run on.  Temperatures were 25-30…still pretty pleasant. We all stayed very warm.  We completed the run in 2.5 hours.  We had to shuttle a car, but arrived home by 10:30 a.m.  It was a good work out.  Afterwards we hit the pool.

 December 28, 2002 – 15  miles

Three weeks went by and I felt ready for another hike.  We had a great 15-mile hike/run. Participants were: myself, Ed Johnson, Pablo Riboldi, and Paul Hansen.  We hiked in the far southwest corner of Zion National Park, through Huber Wash, petrified forest, and Coalpits Wash. 

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December 7, 2002

I had a fun 23-mile adventure Saturday morning.  It wasn’t supposed to be that long.  I did a solo return trip to Muley Twist, with the intent to hike it in the opposite direction.  I hit the trail at 7 a.m., weather perfect again, warm enough for shorts.  Only four other people had signed the register since David, Brad, and I were there a couple weeks earlier. The southern hike through Hall’s creek canyon was a great view as the sun was rising, more beautiful heading south, than north.

At 8 a.m. I turned west into what I thought was Muley Twist Canyon. (I think you see where this is heading!) The cutoff to it seemed rather short and the canyon seemed different, but I continued on, west and then north. Every 10-15 minutes I would debate with myself if I was in the right canyon. It was stunning, but seemed different.  I also saw only one set of footprints, odd that I couldn’t see our prints from two weeks ago. But I kept running up the creek bed.  Finally, I was dumped out into an open valley, running up a creek bed that started winding back and forth. I knew I was in trouble. Things looked oddly familiar. Then I noticed two sets of very familiar prints heading up the creek bed. “Hold it, those prints belong to David and Brad!”  I popped up out the creek, headed west, and found a trail. Sure enough, I was in Halls Creek, only about one mile from my car and the trailhead!  I had been in Halls Creek the whole time, the lower part had carved through the Waterpocket Fold.  2.5 hours of running, only to end me up almost where I started! Got to get that GPS for Christmas!

Feeling very stupid, I was determined not to let the Waterpocket Fold get the best of me.  I again headed south on the trail.  I passed the canyon entrance where I made my mistake and pressed on down the trail. After awhile I saw a sign coming up…I thought, “great the sign to the Canyon.” To my horror, the sign said, “Muley Tanks.”  I again missed the
canyon, had overshot by a mile. I checked out the tanks that I couldn’t find a couple weeks earlier.  They were large pools, or tanks in the slick-rock, full of frozen water.  Still determined, I headed north, bushwhacked, searching for the right canyon…found a very cool slot canyon on the way.

At 10:30, I located the right stream bed, found the trail marker for the cutoff, and finally knew I was in the right place.  After 3.5 hours of solid running, covering about 13 miles, I was ready to go.  I didn’t feel too dumb when I saw how absolutely hidden the canyon entrance looked.

At the 15-mile mark, my sore knees kicked in, but the hike up Muley Twist was stunning…wow.  Our tracks from two weeks ago were still very fresh…no rain or wind disturbed them. The up-stream prospective gave it a totally new look.  Covering the eight miles in just over two hours, I found the cut-off to “The Post.”  The steep hike down the Waterpocket Fold was an agonizing crawl because of my very sore knees, including my knee caps.  I reached the car a little after 2 p.m.  A seven-hour hike, like two weeks ago, but this time adding about eight miles.

Despite the challenges, it was a great hike.  I have to list Lower Muley Twist up near the top of my favorite hikes.

Price River – UT

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November 30, 2002

This week’s adventure was with Pablo Riboldi along Price River in a deep canyon through the Book Cliffs as the river heads toward Green River. It was interesting.  The landscape was desolate, it reminded me somewhat of Grand Canyon or lower Paria. We did see a couple mountain goats very close, cruising down and up the canyon. 

We ran/hiked 13 miles in 2 1/2 hours and hiked half-way up toward the plateau above, to get a nice view at sunrise. We had planned on going further, but the trail turned into either rock-hopping on one side of the river or crossing the icy river, hopping icy rocks. We chose the whimpy approach and headed back. It was a nice hike, temperature in
upper-20s/low 30s.. We still shed our outer layers and were quite warm.  We arrived home at 11:30 a.m.

November 23, 2002

David Hansen, Brad Clements and I traveled to the southern end of Capital Reef National Park and hiked Lower Muley Twist.  This canyon was given that name by the pioneers because it twists so much that even a mule would be twisted.  We left Utah County at 5 a.m. and reached the trailhead at about 9 a.m.  The weather was perfect – sunny and in the 30’s and 40’s.   David and Brad were skeptical about power hiking, I convinced them to give it a try.  David had just moved to Utah from Washington D.C. and was thrilled to see the stunning scenery.   It was stunning!

We first hiked up the Water Pocket Fold, and then down into the twisting canyon.  It was just as stunning as Paria, but the walls not as high.  The colors were fantastic and the alcoves were amazing.

I didn’t run much, wanting to stay with them and help them to have a good experience with long-distance power hiking.  We traveled eight miles down the canyon and then I split up from them to go check out the Muley Tanks, which I didn’t find.  We had walky-talkies, so we were able to keep in contact.  I ended up beating them back to the car by a half hour.  Our total distance was about 15 miles.  This was my favorite hike so far.

David wrote about this hike:

> I’d like to tell you that we had a lousy time, that the weather
> was bad, and that there was nothing to see, but I’d be a liar.
> Perfect weather, perfect temperature, incredible scenery, and DaveC
> even took it easy on us and let us keep a +/- 4 mi/hr pace that was
> fast but still doable and enjoyable.  (Granted, at the end DaveC did
> take off running and ended not only going further down the canyon, but
> he also beat us back to the SUV by about a half hour.  However, that
> is mitigated somewhat by the route Brad and I chose to use to return
> to the SUV – for a while we followed Halls Creek which was meandering
> ALL OVER the valley until we finally struck out across on our own.).
> We also saw some fantastic scenery on both the drive down and the
> drive back (the Burr trail (?) route back was incredible – switchbacks
> up an almost sheer face followed by one of the most scenic canyons
> I’ve driven through in years, capped by the drive from Boulder to
> Torrey over the high plateau – beautiful!!!).  It helped that Brad
> drove us down and back in his very nice and comfortable SUV.
>
> Any downsides?  Well, 4 hours driving down and 4 hours driving back is
> a lot when they come before and after a 15+ mile jaunt in the desert
> no matter what you’re driving.  I’m still not sure tennis shoes are
> the best option even though I did enjoy their light weight – my toes
> were tender the next morning – and it might have been fun to have
> spent a little more time exploring secondary finds along the route.
> Also, I need to continue building my physical conditioning.  While I
> didn’t have any specific soreness the following day, I was internally
> pretty tired – for lack of a better explanation – My batteries were
> definitely still undercharged the day after.
>
> So, would I do it again?  You bet!  Although I think it will be hard
> to beat the combination of perfect conditions we had for this hike.  I
> also think that for treks that are far down south I would now be more
> interested in considering driving down the evening before and spending
> the night in a motel, but that’s still a flexible issue.