Friday, August 22, 2014

Bryce Caynon

Memorial Day weekend I went down to Bryce Canyon (and big surprise, went running):

After I finished, it started to snow!  At the time, it was my third run in a National Park and the third time it started to snow after I left the trail...

Trip Across Country

It's been hard to process photos.  I really don't want to spend the evening on the computer, when it seems my new job has me in front of one all day.  I took today off to play golf with the Ladies Team at NCR, however mother nature intervened, so I am working on photos.

Trip Across WY:  I already posted some of these when the laptop decided to work, but here area  few more.

From there I stopped by Devil's Tower and did a run on the trails around it:

Stopped by Mt Rushmore:

Finally, I started east...but only after a quick run through the Badlands:

then around the shores of Lake Michigan (no running):

It was a long trip, but I made it enjoyable by stopping and seeing the sights.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Road trip time!

Got off the beaten path today and took the Lexus on a serious off-roading excursion looking for wild ponies.  WY is a pretty state when you get away from I-80.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Zion Traverse

Sorry for the lag in postings.  Last weekend, I repositioned the plane back to OH in preparation for the big move.  Flying 11 hours with only a parrot to talk to gets really boring.  After awaiting the winds to die down, we ultimately got to I68 (Warren County Airport), the new home for 28GM.  Best of all Mark and I got to spend our 18th wedding anniversary together!

Recall, last post, I was unable to make the original Zion Traverse in early April.  Carrie suggested a "re-do".  I took her up on it.  In the end, it was three of us (Carrie, Amy and I), so we made it a Girls Day Out...Luckily, Carrie's wonderful husband, Jim, was able to help us out again.  He brought us food and stashed water in the perfect spot for our use later (and some other friends that were also running the traverse from the opposite direction).

Caveat:  We did not run the full traverse, which technically runs from Lee's Pass to the East Entrance of Zion.  We stopped at the Grotto, for a total of 36 miles.  Enough for me to enjoy the beauty of the park and the experience of running in the UT wilderness.  Here is a link to the map of Zion for reference: Zion National Park Map

Due to the higher predicted temps (high 70's...), we started out before first light on Sat morning.  The plan was to come back on Sun and see the view from Lee's Pass (that was the plan, more on that later).

So down the canyon we ran... to the LaVerkin creek towards Kolob Arch. We crossed the creek a few times, and had one larger river to cross prior to heading toward the Hop Valley.  Luckily none of us got our feet wet, or fell in while crossing (although the tree across was quite narrow)

Climbing out of LaVerkin with sun rising:

Then on to to Hop Valley:

As you can see, we had several water crossings...I don't know about the others, but my feet did not stay dry.  Good thing Jim had dry socks waiting at the end of this!

After meeting Jim, changing socks and eating, we took off on the Connector Trail to Wildcat Canyon Trail.  8 miles of gradual uphill.  It sometimes felt like a slog, as there are very few spectacular views, although there were some:

We continued from here to West Rim Connector:

Amy and Carrie:

While running this, we started to see quite a few more people, to include a group of two ladies that Carrie and Amy knew from Salt Lake that were doing the full traverse (we expected to see them right about when we did).  Then as we came to another group of runners, Amy looks at one of the guys and screams "Tim!".  Turns out it was friend of hers that she hadn't seen in years from Chicago.  He and some others were doing the traverse as well.  What a small world it can be sometimes....

The downhill towards Angel's Landing and finally the Grotto was a tough stretch.  The Jobs Corp of the Depression Era had come in to pave the trail.  It was concrete and broken due to age.  Hard on the legs, with extreme downhills, switchbacks and other hikers given the fact it was a beautiful Saturday in May.

Out finish point is in that green area way down there:

Looking down to the river (and our shuttle)

Almost finished (we were at the top of that mesa in the distance at one point):

So we finished in approximately 10:30...none of us had any issues with food/water, only sore feet and a few bruises from falling (not me).  Jim arrived to pick us up within 20 minutes of arriving and took us to much needed beer and food at Oscar's in Springdale (yum!).  We then went back to St George for the hot tub and wine, and a spectacular lightening show.

A few more photos are located at:  Zion Traverse Photos

On Sunday morning, we looked at the weather and realized that there was no way we'd get to go to Kolob Canyon for a glimpse of the views we missed.  Snow was falling, and falling hard with heavy winds.  Not pretty at all, and made for an extremely slow and tedious drive back to Salt Lake.  Once again, we did the run in perfect weather and had the drive home in white out conditions.  Makes me wonder if I'm bad luck...

I really want to thank Carrie and the group for letting me tag along to both this and R2R2R.  I had a wonderful time and made memories I won't soon forget.  Maybe I'll come back to SLC to join you on another epic run in the future.  Till then, thank you and God Speed!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Grand Canyon R2R2R

Sorry, this post is full of words and pictures...

A few months ago, I was introduced to another ultra runner, Carrie.  Her husband, Jim, works on base and I occasionally interact with him when our programs overlap.  After the intro, I was told that they do a Zion Traverse and were planning a Grand Canyon R2R as well as a R2R2R.  I was intrigued and asked to be kept in the loop.  The Zion was moved to a weekend that Mark was in town, so I decided to pass on that (not a good idea to tell the spouse you haven't seen in two months that you were going to take off and run across a National Park while he was here).  During the planning for Grand Canyon, we found out that the North Rim was still closed for the season.  That left only the double crossing as an option.  What the heck, I may never have the chance again....

The 6 of us (Carrie, Jim (affectionately known as sherpa for this trip), Jim, Nate, Jacob and I)  had a plan, then proceeded to deviate from it.  To avoid the heat on the canyon floor, the plan was to start at night and finish by mid afternoon, so we'd be climbing out of the canyon during the heat.  Well, mother nature decided otherwise.  A spring storm was bearing down on us and threatening with snow, lots of it!  Instead, we got up early in the morning and drove from St George UT down the South Rim.  Luckily we had a a designated driver.  The 5 of us started mid-morning, finishing in the wee hours on Sat.  That meant we hit the heat on the floor, but missed the rain and snow by mere minutes!

This was my longest run ever, both in distance and time.  Also it would be the first time I had really run at night with a headlamp.

The 5 of us, ready to start our adventure:

We started at South Kaibab Trail, ran down to Phantom Ranch across the canyon and up to North Rim, and returned via the Bright Angel Trail for a total of 46 miles.  We completed it in 15:30-15:45, not bad in my opinion.

The trail runs along the ridge at the left then down where you see the switchbacks to the Colorado River.

Mule train coming up the trail

Carrie waiting for the mule train to pass

Sighting of the Colorado River

Nate and Jacob:

Getting closer to the bottom...the bridge in the picture was the one we crossed on the return trip back up Bright Angel Trail.  It was too dark to see when we returned...

Running the canyon floor after leaving Phantom Ranch towards North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail

Roaring Springs:  All the potable drinking water available is pumped from this spring

Getting closer to the top of the North Rim, you can see the trail meandering along canyon here

Almost to the top of the North Rim looking across to South Rim:

 Proof I made it one way...Since North Rim wasn't open from the road, the only way out was the way we came.

From there it got to dark to take pictures due to the canyon shadows.  We had some adventures throughout the trip...Jacob had his rice balls stolen by a crow while trying to shoot video.  The ranger tried to dissuade us from attempting this adventure, until she realized we were well prepared.  There were rattlers, hummers, nightjars (I almost picked one up unexpectedly), king snakes, deer and bats.  The wind blew the dust into everything.  We all had challenges, but we persevered and finished with no injuries, only sore muscles and the pride of completing.  It was really late when we arrived back on the South Rim.  Jim had pizza and beer waiting for us.  We no sooner than drove out of the park toward our hotel and the rain started coming down.  It turned to snow before the sun was up.  Talk about good timing.

It was a great trip, one for the memory books!  Thanks to Carrie, Jim, Nate and Jacob for letting me tag along.  I had a blast!