Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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

May 2, 2004

On Saturday morning I did a unique 34-miler, a giant loop around Lake Mountain.  Brady Wycherly started out with me at 3 a.m. and together we made it as far south as Pelican Point.  We then parted as Brady needed to be home by 7 a.m.   I continued south, went over a small pass then had a great view of Mount Nebo and Elberta in the distance.  One odd thing was passing a pack of wild dogs, high up on the mountain, barking at me as I traveled.

As the sun started to rise, I continued south and tried a couple times to find a short-cut over foot-hills so avoid traveling so far south.  The short-cuts didn’t help, ended up delaying and saving only a couple miles.  At about 9 a.m., I finally rounded the southern point and had a full view of Cedar Valley.

I discovered that there was no north-south dirt road in the foothills like there was on the lake side, so I traveled north, cutting across fields in the foothills, which made a very enjoyable hike.  There was plenty of wildlife to be seen:  deer bounding across fields and jack rabbits trying to avoid me.  I plowed ahead, steering toward the Eagle Mountain town center, miles to the north.  I passed to the east of the town, ran out of water, but pressed on, finally turning to the east to complete my huge loop and ending up at home at 1:30 p.m.   Quite a workout.

April 10-11, 2004

This weekend I did a solo 48-mile hike/run through Canyonlands National Park (Needles District).   I had never been there before and it was spectacular.  Attached is a map of my wanders.  I think I received my money’s worth from the $10 entrance fee and $15 backcountry pass.

On Friday, I hit the trail at 2 p.m. and made my way to Druid Arch – a large double arch.   There were plenty of day-hikers on the trail.  The weather was fantastic. I then made my way to the Joint Trail, a highlight of the hike.  This is a long, straight fissure between huge blocks, kind of like a shoulder-wide slot canyon. Very cool.  I took a wrong turn coming out of the joint trail, and decided to hike up a trail on the topo map (but not on the park map) leading me toward a spectacular place called Virginia Park. Virginia Park was closed for scientific research. I camped for the night in a beautiful canyon below the park after trekking 15.4 miles for the day.

On Saturday, I arose early and hit the trail at 4:30 a.m.  It was very peaceful running down a washes by the light of the moon. My goal that morning was to reach the Colorado River.  I arrived around 9 a.m.  The lush green near the river was a stark contrast to the desolate landscape I passed through on my way down.  Across the river I could see a group of canoers camped, rising for the day.  After soaking tired feet in the cold river, and eating breakfast, I was on my way again, first climbing 1,000 feet out of the river canyon.

I ran into my first humans for the day at the Confluence Overlook (where the Green River meets the Colorado River). They were mountain bikers. Passing through Devils Kitchen was cool. There is a camp for jeeps, using caves and overhangs in the wild formations of red rocks. The rest of the hike was spent going up and down through the wild canyons and hiking on
tops of slickrock ridges.  Day-hikers greeted me, thinking I was coming back from casual stroll.  I finished the hike at 6 p.m. and later discovered that I traveled 32.6 miles during the day, a record for me in one day.

Canyonlands is a great area to visit.  Plenty of great hikes for the family.  Jeeps, mountain bikes, and hikers are plenty.  Spring and Fall are the times to visit.

Feb 7, 2004

Saturday, Ed Johnson and I hiked Grand Gulch, which is located near the four-corners region, west of Blanding.  It is normally a long three-day backpack. We traveled down there Friday night and started the hike at dawn.   Temperatures were in the 20’s but warmed up into the low 30’s.  The weather was sunny most of the day. There was about 4-6 inches of snow at the trailheads, but we were not deterred.   We dropped off Ed’s bike (our shuttle) at the Grand Gulch trailhead and then drove eight miles to put in at the Bullet Canyon trailhead. 

The hike was amazing, but challenging. The amazing part was the numerous anasazi ruins along the way which were well preserved.   We saw about 8 sets, including some impressive cliff dwellings.   The challenging part was the snow.  About 3/4ths of the trail was covered with 1-4 inches of dry snow.  We obviously kept losing the trail, so it became a fun navigation exercise.  The terrain was cool, plenty of rock formations, cliffs, and even an arch.

We ran about a third of the way, but the hike still took ten hours.  We hiked 26 miles, included an unscheduled 2-mile detour up a wrong canyon.  (The GPS was a must for this hike).  We arrived at the Grand Gulch trailhead at dusk.  Ed rode eight miles on his bike in the dark to retrieve the car.  The journey home took hours because of the snow storm going over Soldier Summit.  We arrived home at 2:30 a.m.

Some URLS:
http://www.desertusa.com/mag99/june/stories/grandgulch.html
http://www.gdargaud.net/Climbing/GrandGulch.html
http://www.utah.com/playgrounds/grand_gulch.htm
http://cloud.prohosting.com/~mtnclmbr/grandgulch1.htm

October 20, 2003 

I ended up the fall season with six Saturdays in a row of climbing Timp (to saddle).  I finished three of those before sunrise!  The snow ended that string.  8 Timp hikes total in 2003.  2 Kings Peaks, 3 other Uinta hikes, and others.  412 trail miles total.   I was put on the sidelines Nov-Dec for over a month with a terrible illness…the infamous “flu-like” disease (despite my flu shot).

September 7, 2003

Well, I think I’ve cured my power-hiking addiction this past weekend.  I don’t feel the itch to get back out there soon.

I attempted an end-to-end two-day highline trail hike.   I started from the Chepeta Lake trailhead, north-east of Roosevelt on Friday morning. The eastern half of the Unitas was cool to see, very remote, not a human to be seen the whole day.  Passed by beautiful lakes.  Only had a couple brief rain showers, which did delay me some.  I reached Andersons Pass at
8 p.m. and gave my wife a call.  The plan was for her to pick me up at Mirror Lake Saturday afternoon.

I was planning on getting a very early start on Saturday, but the battery on my headlamp went out and I couldn’t find the backup I thought I brought.   I attempted to go on a dim light but could only go one mile per hour, so I gave up and slept till dawn at Tungsten Pass, which is across the next valley from Kings Peak. I put in about 30 miles on Friday. I knew that there would be no way to reach Mirror by the time my wife would arrive, so I decided to abort. So I headed back up to
Anderson’s Pass (which is grueling coming from the west), called my wife and told her I would just hike the 25 or so miles back to the car, but I would likely be late.

Well, I should have aborted at Henrys Fork.  The hike down Painters Basin was great, but then it started to rain.  And it rained for four hours!  It made the going slow, but was cool to see all the streams and rivers rise.   At 5 p.m. I reached Fox Lakes and met a couple guys with horses up there for a week.  They had a giant tent with a woodstove going, and I was tempted to ask to spend the night in warmth, but still thought I could make it all the way to the car….nine more miles  The
guys thought I was crazy.

I pushed on, my GPS is broken and I made the mistake of climbing up a wrong pass.  I figured out my mistake, but lost over an hour.  By the time I reached the top of North Pole Pass, I knew I was in trouble.  It was dusk and I still had five miles to go.  Then a bad cold storm blew in.  I was able to get down from the pass, but knew I had to give up, set up the tent and call it quits for the day.  I knew my wife would crazy with worry, but I had warned her that this might happen and that I had
everything I needed.  The wrong choice would have been to try to push on.

The morning was sunny and beautiful.  A neat sunrise to the east without mountains in the way.  The last four miles was so peaceful.   I finally reached the car at 8:30 a.m. and then got within cell coverage at 9:15.

Anyway, here are a couple guys that did do this hike, starting from further east. http://www.users.qwest.net/~cirnielsen/uintah91.html

July 12, 2003

Saturday morning I did a solo 25-mile hike in the Uintas.  I attacked them from the South, starting at the Grandview Trailhead at 5:30 a.m., hiking up to Hades Pass, and then down in the Grandaddy Basin, full of lakes and timber.  I made my way up to the Four Lakes region, still felt great, so went all the way up to Rock Sea pass (11,300).  Wonderful views up there.  I didn’t see a single soul on the way up.  I turned around and went back the same way.  I didn’t push it too hard, went for the distance.  Four hours out and four hours back, made it to the car at 2 p.m.  Plenty of up and down, about 4,000 feet up overall.  The mosquitoes were pretty blood-thirsty…forgot the spray, so had to keep on the move, most of the time.  Great temperatures.
 
It was a great workout and I survived very well, not much soreness anywhere.  The knee was complaining somewhat the last five miles.  The feet came out great, thanks to a new pair of trail running shoes. When I reached the trailhead, a ranger was there.  She could tell that I was beat and asked if I went to Grandaddy lake and turned back (about an eight mile hike).  I informed her that I went all the way to Rock Sea pass.  “As a day hike?!!”  She was shocked and amazed.  Pretty funny.

March 8, 2003

Saturday was very warm, the warmest weekend of the year so far.  At 11:00 a.m., I left home and traveled to the north end of Cedar Valley, trying to find a route up to look over the copper mines.  I found the road to west canyon, but was disappointed to see signs warning of private property.  I parked the car and decided to head up the public road at least until reaching the gate.  It was a pretty valley, very peaceful without ATVer and shooters.  When I reached the gate, I decided to continue up West Canyon.  After awhile the melting snow on the road was deeper and the mud became a definite problem as I was reaching 6,000 feet elevation, forcing me to head back.  The run back to the car was nice, about a total run of six miles.  I didn’t feel very tired at all and wanted to find something else.   I drove further north, but it was evident that I would hit Camp Williams property and I had no desire to run up against Army guys.

I headed toward Cedar Fort and finally found a dirt road with no private signs that appeared to head up Four Mile Canyon.  Off I went.  The first mile or so was barren desert, but the road soon brought me up into the cedars.  The climb became steeper and I soon had a great view of the valley and could even see into Utah County.   But as I reached 6,000 feet elevation, again the mud became too annoying and I felt fatigued anyway, so back I went back with a nice run down, again a six-mile adventure.

February 8, 2003

The weather turned very cold during the week, so early morning runs just didn’t make sense.  Saturday turned out to be a beautiful, cold, sunny day.  In the afternoon, during the BYU-Wyoming basketball game, I decided to do a run through the foothills that separate Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain.  The temperature was great, upper 20’s near 30.  I was surprised how good the legs felt.  I was able to keep a run going almost the whole three hours I was out there.

My run started from home, and took me along the base of Lake Mountain, heading west.  I found a road that headed took me half-way up the western ridge, and then I bushwhacked to the top.  Much of the ridge scrub cedar had been thinned out and taken for firewood.  When I reached the top, I took in a nice view to the east of Utah County.  I next headed over the ridge and dipped down into a valley that I didn’t know existed.  It was a nice open valley with plowed farmland.  The road took me north for a mile or so and then headed me toward a canyon leading out toward Cedar Valley.  When I existed the canyon, I could see the Eagle Mountain city center off to the south-west.  I was amazed how much it has grown in the past couple years, even a chapel.  I headed north on the dirt road that connects Eagle Mountain to the Ranches, but I quickly found that to be dull as a car passed me by.  So I headed up a 4WD road taking up to the top a high knoll, giving me a nice view of Cedar Valley and the Ranches to the north.  

From there I headed north-east going up and down foot-hills, crossing a recently buried massive natural gas pipe line that extends clear into Salt Lake County.  It went up and down the foothills and required raping the ground for about 200 feet across.  They did attempt to help the environment by laying down straw and using burlap to help erosion areas.  Quite a project. 

Feeling great still, I decided to take a longer route and headed down a canyon, leading me to the edge of the Ranches…quite a community, with two chapels and a school.  With no desire to run roads, I ran a trail along the powerlines and then looped around heading southwest to spill out on a dirt road running south along the base of the ridge, giving me a view of Saratoga Springs, the huge Church farmland, and Utah Lake.  I completed the loop and then finished by running 2.5 east, back to home.  There were several groups along that road who were shooting guns which made me nervous going by.  One group was actually shooting toward the road, although a small hill was their backdrop.  I wish they would go further away from the communities.  It was a great run!