Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On 8/21/2010 I ran in the Quest for Kings marathon. This is a race started by my friend Craig lloyd and it would be the second time this summer that I attempted to run to the summit and back (car to car) in one day. Here is my trip report:

I had a really fun day running in the second annual Quest for Kings Marathon. The distance of the race is the same as a typical marathon, but the route to the top isn't even close to typical. The object of the race is basically getting to the summit of Kings Peak (Utah's highest point) and back as fast as you can, regardless of the route taken. There were 4 of us running in this race and I knew there wasn't much of a chance of winning, but my main goal was to get a personal PR for the course, and have a great time in the process.

This would be my eighth time to the summit. The first 4 times I climbed it on multi-day backpacking trips. In 2008 Jun and another friend and I did it for the first time in a day and we thought we were pretty cool, but our time was almost 14 hours. We didn't run at all, but we hiked pretty fast the whole way. In 2009 I did it again and shaved about 30 minutes off of our 2008 time by hiking a little faster. Last month was the first time I have ever tried to run to the top and my time was 10:40. I knew I could run it faster, but I was having some knee pain on the way down so I didn't push it. My goal for the day would be 8 hours. I knew it would be tough, but if things went well I knew it was doable.

I arrived much later than I had planned to the trailhead and I didn't get to sleep until about 2:30 am. With a 6:00 am start time I figured I would get a few hours of sleep. I woke up at 5:30 and I didn't see any signs of life in Jun's camp, so I went over there to make sure they hadn't left. He said they were going to leave a little later, so I went back to my car to get ready. I was listening to some nut job on AM radio while I ate a banana and a boiled egg and then I forced down a Powerbar gel for the 2X caffeine. I finally got ready by 6:30 and went over to see that Jun and Aaron were just waking up. We chatted for a few minutes and then I rang the cowbell and I was off.

I started running right from the start and everything was feeling good. I had plenty of energy and I got into a really good groove. My goal was to beat the other two guys to Elk Horn Crossing (5.3 miles). They looked like they would be about 10 minutes behind me and I knew they would be faster than I was, but it gave me something to push myself. I also wanted to shave time off of my run from last month and I hit Elk Horn at 1:05, which was 15 minutes faster. I was really happy about that and the other guys hadn't caught me yet. Instead of stopping for a break like I usually do at Elk Horn, I got a gel an S-Cap out of my pack while I walked and ate it on the move. I passed a few hikers while I gulped it down, and then started running again as soon as I was finished.

When I came out into the meadow I saw a few moose off of the trail, so I shot some video and took a few pictures and then kept running. I passed 4 hikers that I saw start at 5:30 and they told me nice job. Running through the meadow I kept looking back, but I didn't see Aaron and Jun. I was still feeling really good and I was definitely moving faster than I had been last month. Around Dollar Lake I finally spotted Jun and Aaron and I kept running instead of waiting for them. I finally stopped after the lake to take some pictured and shoot some video, and they finally caught up to me. I noticed that Jun didn't look like his typical happy self, so I knew something wasn't right. Usually you can't wipe the smile off of his face.

I stayed with the guys until just before Gunsight Pass. We passed several groups of hikers from the lake to the pass. Aaron pushed ahead and I stopped to get water at the spring because I wasn't sure what I would find beyond it. Jun kept going and I didn't see them again until just before the summit. Several of the hikers passed me while I was getting water, so I made a goal of passing all of them on the switchbacks and I passed all but one guy that was going pretty fast. The pass was windy, so I didn't stay long. I passed the fast hiker and two other groups on my way over to the plateau, but while I was scrambling through some boulders I slipped and fell and dropped my water bottle, which rolled off of a cliff and kept going for about 100 feet. I wasn't happy and I had to climb down over some loose boulders to retrieve it. I wasn't happy about that, but quickly got back to where I had fallen and made my way up to the plateau. From this point to Anderson Pass I didn't run much because it is really hard on your knees and legs. There are boulders everywhere and the ground is not very level at all and there isn't a trail. I hiked fast across it though.

Just before Anderson Pass I saw a familiar face. Faceless Ghost was coming down from the summit and it was really good to see him. We chatted for a few minutes and then he headed back down. Even though I didn't spend much time on the trail with the other guys, when I saw them it always lifted my spirits.

I made pretty good time from Anderson Pass to the summit. This section is basically a few million + boulders stacked in a huge pile. I know the route well, and I moved fast scrambling up the boulders to the summit. I passed everyone I saw and about 15 minutes from the top I passed Aaron as he was coming down from the summit. He looked really strong and we chatted for a minute and then he headed down. It was just a few minutes and Jun passed me on the way down as well. He still didn't look like he was enjoying himself and I was worried maybe he was sick. I pushed on to the top and made the summit in 3:50, over an hour faster than my time from last month.

It was so windy on top that my hat nearly blew off into Painter Basin. I tried to take some pictures with my timer, but the wind blew my camera over every time, so I finally just snapped a few shots and went down. I made pretty good time on the way down and didn't stop at all until I reached the pass. There I pulled some food out of my pack and snacked all the way across the plateau.

Back at Gunsight Pass I was still feeling really good, but I needed to make some gear adjustments, so I got into my tank top and put on some sunscreen. I was stopped for about 10 minutes (my longest break of the day) and when I finally got going I was feeling really good. There is some nice downhill trail back to Dollar Lake and I seemed to be making pretty good time, but as soon as I hit the lake and the trail leveled off I lost my energy. It seemed like the run back to Elk Horn from there took forever! I just couldn't find the gear I needed to crank it up. I think it would have helped to be chasing someone or have someone on my tail, but since I was by myself it was tough.

When I finally reached Elk Horn I was at 7:00, so I knew that I would have to push pretty hard to come in under 8:00. I had to stop and purify some water, and for the first mile I was trying to push the pace, but the trail was so annoying with all of the boulders and I never could get into a groove. I found myself hiking a lot more than I had been on the way in and it was tough to make myself run and run fast. With about 3 miles to go I knew I wasn't going to hit my goal of 8 hours, so I set a new goal of finishing in less than 8:30. It kept me going and I even pushed really hard the last mile to hit it. I think the last mile was probably my fastest mile of the day. Everything was feeling really good, but I was just tired. When I finally reached the gate I had just barely made it under 8:30 and I was pretty happy that I had a new PR for the course by over 2 hours.
I know that I can do this faster, but I am not going to worry about that until next year. There are several things that I know I can do better. It was still a fun race and I'll be back every year for it. I was really tired and had a tough time staying awake on the drive home, so I stopped in Wanship and took a two hour nap in a church parking lot.

Congrats to Aaron Kennard who took first place. His time really blows me away. Anyone that has run this course knows how insane that time really is.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gannett in a day!

Probably the biggest adventure of the year so far (right up there with Bryce Canyon) was an attempt I made to climb Gannett Peak, wyoming in one day. Gannett is the highest peak in Wyoming and is usually climbed in 4-6 days. A one day attempt is very rare and most would consider it crazy. It would require nearly 24 hours of straight running/hiking and climbing and I think rivals a lot of ultra marathons out there. I was not successful in my attempt to reach the summit, due to energy and altitude issues, but my three friends all made it to the peak and back. I did end up doing 40 miles that day with some serious elevation gain (9K) and most of that at above 10,000 feet. I was awake and on the trail for about 21 out of 26 hours that we were out. Here is my report:

Gannett Peak has always been my favorite mountain, well, at least since I first discovered it around 1997. I first reached the summit in 2001 and I'll never forget the chills that ran down my spine the first time I got a good look at it from Scenic Pass. Intimidated would be an understatement. I have heard of a few people doing Gannett in a day, but I thought they were crazy. The shortest route to the peak is 44 miles round trip and that covers some serious elevation over wicked terrain, and climbing the peak is far from a walk up.

Our group consisted of me, MatthewVH, Joe B. and Jake. All of us have a lot of exeperience in the mountains, and have climbed most of the peaks in the Wasatch. Joe had also climbed Gannett before, but did it in 3 days a few years back. It was a really good group and we all had a lot of fun.

We got a hotel in Pinedale on Friday around 6:00 PM. We hoped to get a few hours of sleep before we left for the trail around midnight. A few of us took some sleep aids to try and catch some Z's, but it was tough. It seemed like someone was constantly getting up to use the bathroom or making some other odd noise, but I did get to share a bed with Matt (a highlight :) ). I finally dozed for what seemed like less than an hour when Matt's alarm went off at 11:20. We all got ready and were at the trailhead at 12:30 AM Saturday morning. It was cold, but I didn't put on a jacket because I knew I would heat up quickly. We signed in and headed up the trail. After a few minutes of hiking Matt started to run and the next 11 miles we ran where we could and hiked pretty fast where it was steep. The conversation was good and there were a lot of laughs.

The trail was pretty wet and there were puddles all over. It was a pain and we really had to focus on the trail. Running was really hard in places because of all of the mud, puddles and rocks. The stars were brilliant and I would catch a glimpse when I could, but we were moving most of the time. We did take a few breaks, but only for a minute or two.
At Seneca Lake (mile 10) we cached some food and drinks for the return trip and we all re-applied deet. So far the bugs were not bad, but we knew they probably would be in a few hours. I will never forget our approach to Island Lake (about mile 12). It was still dark, but the first rays of the sun along with the moonlight were spectacular. We could see the shadows of the rocky spires in Titcomb basin and the lake was really cool. Along the lake there is a beach with nice white sand and we stopped there to take a break.

When we finally reached the lower Titcomb basin (mile 13, 5.5 hours in) the sun was just starting to come up and the views were so incredible that it is hard to describe. They are as good as anything anywhere in the world. I was in awe. I made a few videos and we all took some pictures. There are two really big lakes and a few smaller lakes in the Titcomb basin and we made our way around the lakes, while taking in the views. We finally stopped to take a break at the upper Titcomb lake (mile 17) to refill our water and replace some of our energy because we would be climbing up to Bonny Pass over the next two miles. So far I had been taking a gel every hour and an S-Cap every other and I was feeling really good.

The climb to Bonny Pass (12,700) is over 2K in elevation and you do it in about two miles from the upper lake. I was feeling really good and strong for the first mile and I was leading the pack. The climb up to the pass was horrendous! It is a huge pile of loose, steep rock with an occasional snowfield mixed in. There were so many places where you would take a step up only to slide two steps back. It was frustrating and it was on the upper half of this climb where I lost my energy. I have suffered from altitude sickness many times and I was worried that I was getting it. The desire to move is gone and it takes everything to you have just to put one foot in front of the other. Everyone passed me and pretty soon they were all out of sight. I lost sight of Matt on the upper 1/4 of the climb and I was moving very slow. I started to think that I may be done for the day because I knew that once on top of the pass, I still had at least 6 hours of serious climbing to summit Gannett and get back to the pass, and then I would have to hike out 20 more miles to the car. I knew if I didn't start to get back my energy I would not risk going further.

I finally made it to the pass (mile 19.25) and I felt like I was going to puke. I had zero energy and the guys had been waiting for me for at least 25 minutes and they were freezing up there. I felt really bad that I had made them wait, but I was moving as fast as I could. I think it was the lack of sleep, some exhaustion, combined with the altitude making a terrible cocktail of 'feeling like crap'. I was shooting some video as I got to the top and the battery on my camera died, and things were just not looking good. I told the guys that unless I felt better in a few minutes I was not going to make it. They were too cold to wait and I can't blame them at all. I told them I would sit down and try and eat something if I could. Having climbed Gannett before I knew what it would take to reach the summit and then get all the way back out and it just isn't something a sane person should attempt without feeling really good and having energy. Matt gave me a two-way radio so we could communicate and they were gone, headed down to the glacier 1300 feet below.

I sat down in a wind break (a stack of rocks) and just stared at Gannett for a few minutes. The views from Titcomb are spectacular, but I think they are even better from Bonny Pass. The pictures do not do it justice. Unreal. I actually felt worse and now I was getting really cold too. I couldn't eat anything. I ended up sitting there for 45 minutes. I didn't feel any better and now I was freezing and my feet were getting numb, so I knew I had to get down. I was disappointed, but knew it was the right decision. No question about it.

I descended back down the pass slowly and I made sure of every step. The rocks are just loose everywhere. It was bad. I went down about 1,300 feet and took a nice rest on a rock. My appetite came back, so I pulled out a burrito and some taco sauce and ate it fast. Still hungry I ate another and then downed a peanut butter cup. I felt so much better, but climbing Gannett was now out of the question, so I found a rock and decided I would take a nap. I feel asleep for a few minutes, but woke up because I was soooo cold. At that point I just wanted to get down, so I slowly made my way back down into the basin.

I spent the next few hours talking to some groups heading up, and also some time under a big boulder during a lighting/hail storm that moved through. I caught a small cat nap under the boulder and it kept me nice and dry. I slowly hiked about about 5 miles, taking a lot of breaks to chat with other climbers and take in the views. I spent about an hour talking to a few guys we had met on the trail earlier in the day, and I finally decided to stop and wait at one of the lower lakes. I didn't see the guys again until about 5:00 PM. I was shocked when they came up the trail. They all looked shattered and we still had to hike out another 14 miles. They all made it to the summit and I was happy for them. We didn't talk much at all. In fact, we would go an hour without saying a word. They were all hiking really slow and getting out of there was going to take forever. I was actually feeling really good and fresh until we reached our cache at Seneca Lake. After that I just felt really fatigued. My entire body was just plain tired. Luckily my legs didn't hurt at all, but my back was killing me.

The last 5 miles were HELL. I'm sure the other guys felt a lot worse, but we had been at it for almost 24 hours and my pack that I thought felt light at the start was actually feeling like a ton of bricks. My shoulders and back were just on fire. I really didn't think it would ever end, but at about 1:45 AM we finally reached the trailhead. It was over 25 hours and for the other 3 it had been continuous running/hiking or climbing with very few breaks. We were all worked. Jake wanted to get home, so he drove all the way back to SLC (I am not sure how) and we arrived back at Joe's just after 7:00 AM. I will never forget this day as long as I live. I am now beating myself up for not continuing on to the summit, but I know I made the right call. I'll be back to Gannett again, but I doubt I will ever try it again in a day. To the other 3 guys, congrats. Well done.

Here is a trip report written by Matt and Joe with some really good pics:

Here are some videos that I made from the trip:




Big Springs 8K

One of the most fun races I have done was the Big Springs 8k on July 31st. Here is a race report I wrote:

I had a really fun time running in the Big Springs 8K (Battle at Big Springs) up Provo Canyon yesterday. I had wanted to run in the Gruesome Grizzly as well, but I was still recovering from Bryce Canyon and couldn't make it, but I am glad I didn't miss this one.
I got up there around 7:30 and spent a few minutes getting ready and getting my race packet and I was happy to see fellow FRBer Lily up there. We talked for a bit and it was nice to hang out with someone I knew. I did recognize a lot of people up there, but didn't know a lot of names.
The race was a little late starting, and other than the fact that I had to pee really bad I was feeling pretty good. The first .3 the faster runners separated themselves and and the trail got really steep. I slowed down a lot on the hill and just tired to keep a good pace without burning out. After the initial hill we came into a beautiful meadow and I passed a few runners here, as I picked up my pace.

As soon as we went through the meadow the trail got really steep again and pretty much climbs for the next two miles. I ran most of the hills and I was actually passing some people, so I felt like I was pretty strong, but it was tough. At about mile 2.5 I was really hoping the downhill would come quick because I was really getting tired. The trail flattened out a bit and then there were a few ups and downs before we crossed the stream. I picked off another runner, but I had a guy right on my heels that passed me when I finally had to stop to pee in the bush :)

The last two miles are down hill and I was feeling really good. I was under or around 7:00 almost the whole way and I actually passed a few more guys. One guy passed me going really fast, but with .5 to go he was doubled over and I passed him again. The finish came a little quicker than expected and I just pushed hard at the end. I was shocked that I came in 2nd place in my age group (30-39) and I feel like I could actually run that course a little faster, so I am excited to go back next year to do it again.

Lily was incredible up there. This was only her second trail run and first trail race and she looked like a pro up there. I only saw her at the start and the finish :) Nice work Lily!
This was a great race and they did an excellent job marking the trail and taking care of the runners. They had a raffle and gave out some of the best gear I have seen for a race. It seemed like about half of the peeps got something. I didn't but that is ok. I had a super-duper time anyway.
Kings Peak Marathon:

In July the most memorable adventure that I had was running to the summit of Kings Peak. I was with craig, while he attempted a speed record for the Triple Crown (highest three peaks in the state), car to car. It was my 7th time to the summit of Kings and I set a personal best time by reaching the top in 4:50, which I was very happy about. My previous PR was 6:30. I did have some minor knee pain, so I did take it easier on the descent, so my total time was 10:40:29, which is good, but I can do better. Here is a trip report that I wrote:

This would be my 7th trip to the summit Kings Peak, which is the highest point in Utah (13,528 feet). It never gets old. I met Jun at his place on Wed at 9:00 PM and after picking up a few snacks from the 7-11 we were off on the close to 3 hour drive to the trailhead. It was fun talking about peaks, runs, and what our strategies would be on our runs in the morning. Jun was going for the Triple Crown (Highest 3 peaks in Utah) and he wanted to set a speed record for getting all three in one day car to car with no camps in between. I really wanted to do the Triple this year, but I knew with my knee issues of late it would not be smart. I also knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with Jun, so even if I wanted to grind through it I wouldn't want him to have to wait several hours for me at the finish.

It was cool at the trailhead, but not as cold as it had been the two previous years. We set up the tent, got our gear ready, and then settled in for a restless 3.5 hours of sleep. I fell asleep pretty fast, but I woke up at about 3:30 to use the bathroom and I never could get back into a good sleep. The alarm went off at 4:30 and I felt pretty good considering the lack of rest.
Jun cooked up some oatmeal that really hit the spot and we got our gear together and we were ready to hit the trail just after 5:00 AM. The temperature was almost perfect. It was cool, but not cold. We settled in to a nice running pace and chatted for the first few miles as we ran. I knew Jun was going for speed, so it wasn't long before he got too far ahead and I wouldn't see him again for about 5 hours.

The run to Elk Horn Crossing was so nice. The temps were good, and I felt great, but my ITB started to get tight between miles 3-4, so I had to take it easy. I would not run any of the steeper sections, so I was alternating between a nice easy running pace and a power hike, depending on the trail. I reached Elk Horn crossing (5.3 miles) in 1:20, which was 35 minutes faster than my previous best time. I took a short break, had a gel and put on my iPod.
The next 3 miles I again alternated from fast hiking to easy running and the views were just impressive. Towering 13, 000 ft. peaks, wild flowers and everything was very green. I really enjoyed this section. I would stop about every half mile to stretch my ITB and take in the views. Once I got to Dollar Lake (about mile 8) I was expecting to start seeing groups of people making their way to the summit because most people that climb Kings use the area for their base camp. I didn't see anyone at all. After about a mile I did see a couple of groups far ahead almost to the Gunsight Pass switchbacks, and my next goal was to pass them. I picked up my pace and ran most of the way to the base of the switchbacks

Just before the switchbacks I stopped to fill up my water bottles in a spring where we normally stop. I used iodine tablets with all of my water to make sure it was purified. After a quick stop I turned my attention to passing the two groups ahead of me. It turns out it was two scout troops, and within 10 minutes I had passed both groups on the switchbacks. They were moving s l o w and they couldn't believe I was running past them. I heard one guy mumble an Oh my Gosh. I am not very fast for a runner, but compared to most arm-chair hikers my pace actually looks quick.

I noticed one solo hiker left to pass, so I pushed to pass him and get up to Gunsight Pass. He kept looking back at me and then started to speed up, so I didn't quite catch him, but we both arrived at Gunsight within seconds of each other. I stopped to take a gel, while he headed down into Painter Basin. It was very windy up there, so I didn't stay long. I started my traverse over to the Gunsight plateau and I noticed that the guy had dropped way down into the basin and now he kept looking back up at me and where I was going. I think he was second guessing his route, because I saw him turn around, but I never did see him again, until I was on my way down from the summit.

The traverse across the plateau is very rocky and lumpy and not easy to run on at all, so I just kept a fast hiking pace. I didn't see anyone in front of me at all. Just before Anderson Pass I did see some hikers that looked totally confused and they came over to talk to me, asking where Kings Peak was. I pointed up to the ridge and the guy just didn't want to believe me. I spent about 5 minutes telling him right where to go and showing him the way, and finally he said "We will just follow you." They had come from the next basin over and had never been in the area before. There was another guy and his 12 year old son that followed us as well.

After about 15 minutes all of the hikers were lagging way behind, but the 12 year old kid stayed with me all the way to the top. I started chatting with him about hiking and mountains and then I asked him how he was in such good shape and he told me he is a runner and runs 5K's. I found out his PR is 20:04 and I told him he was going to be a great runner and to keep it up. It was fun and I shattered my previous PR to the summit, reaching the top in 4:50. I was the first person on the summit for the day, and I had started 8 miles further than all of the Dollar Lake folks. I started to feel fast (I know I am not).

I was seriously debating a trip over to South Kings. I felt really strong, but after hanging out on the summit I started to feel nauseated, which happens every time, so I decided to go back down. On the descent I passed several parties going up and I had a few comments like "You're fast" and "You look like this didn't even faze you." Haha. Again, I know I am not fast. Most of these were scouts and their leaders. I ran into Jun after about 20 minutes and he was kind of in a bad mood. He was tired, but he was making great time. We chatted for a few minutes and then he took off for the top.

I had been feeling really good (other than my knee being tight) the whole day, but the descent from the summit was murder on my knee. It started to hurt. I couldn't push off or land on it hard or it would hurt, so I had to really slow down because going down is just one massive pile of boulders. I was so slow. When I finally got down to the trail I took about a 25 minute break to eat some solid food. So far it had only been gels. I felt really refreshed, but the traverse back over to Gunsight Pass was very slow as I was now being very tentative with my knee and I was much slower than the way up.

I found a spring and filled up my bottles and took another short break, and then I finally saw someone coming up behind me. I couldn't tell if it was Jun, but I figured if it was he was flying. I was really slow coming back, but I was way ahead of him when we passed each other. Once I reached the pass I picked up my pace a lot. It felt so good to be back onto the trail and my knee felt much better. I made pretty good time going down and just before I reached the bottom I saw Jun taking a short cut to avoid the switchbacks. He had passed me and I didn't even know it. He was only about a minute ahead of me, so we both stopped to take a break to put on sunscreen and make some gear adjustments.

We ran together for about 10 minutes, but he passed me and slowly built up a huge lead. After about 10 more minutes I couldn't see him anymore. He still looked pretty fresh and had an excellent pace going. My body felt relatively good, but I was losing steam. The elevation really works you and I was feeling it. Most of the route is above 10,000 feet and you can definitely feel it. It is much harder to get a fast pace going up there. I alternated from running to hiking all the way back to Elk Horn crossing, passing several people that were shocked to see someone running up there. The people I talked to all asked where I came from and what I did and seemed surprised.

At Elk Horn (mile 21) I stopped to fill up my water bottles and have a gel. The bridge that is normally there has been washed out, so you have to cross the river on wet logs. It is easy, but I guarantee a few boy scouts will take a swim crossing it this year. From Elk Horn back to the trailhead always seems really long. I alternated between running and hiking the rest of the way. When the trail was in good shape I ran, if there were a lot of rocks, boulders or hills I hiked. My knee actually started to feel better, but my energy levels were gone. I was hammered.
Jun was waiting for me at the finish and it felt really good to be done. My mileage was exaclty 26.2, which is pretty cool. I finished in 10:40, which is about 3 hours faster than my time from last year. It isn't earth shattering, but I am happy with it. I think I could have easily shaved about an hour off if my knee hadn't been giving me trouble on the descent. It actually took me almost an hour more to come down than it did going up, and believe me it is much easier going down.

The new Brooks Cascadias were soooo good! My feet felt great the whole day and the shoes take a pounding quite well. After all of the rocks, boulders and scree I was expecting them to be more beat up than they were.
We had an amazing time and Jun set a speed record for the Triple Crown. He was fast and strong and it was fun having a front row seat to watch him go. Even though this hike/run/climb has become waaay too crowded I love it. I will be back every year

To see a video of our day go here:

Also, the Deseret News did a story on Craig's Triple Crown and they also talked about my Kings marathon. You can see the story here:


Here are some pics from the Crest. One of my favorite trails to run is the Wasatch Crest Trail, which runs the crest between Salt Lake and Summit counties, going from Big Cottonwood to Millcreek Canyon. Last year we ran it several times. In July I got up there once and I plan on doing it again tomorrow. We took a detour to climb Desolation peak and had such a fun morning. It is 10 miles of some of the best scenery in the Wasatch. We saw a huge buck, and a mama moose with her babes right on the trail.

At the end of June I went with my family to San Diego for the week. We had an amazing time together and saw some incredible things. We went to the San Diego Zoo twice, Sea World and the Wild Animal Park. The kids had a lot of FUN and they were really good for the most part. We also went to the beach twice (Mission Beach) and everyone really enjoyed it. We made sand castles, the kids spent hours gathering shells and chasing sand crabs, and I had each of the kids out on the boogie board for a lesson. While I was out there riding some waves I had a huge smile on my face, thinking about all of the cool experiences that I have been able to have this month. I was thinking that just a few weeks prior I had been climbing up the steep Grunge Couloir, a place that very few people ever get to see, then a few weeks after that I was seeing all of Bryce canyon on foot, and then there I was riding waves in the Pacific Ocean just a few weeks later. What a life! I love it.

On June 23rd I had one of the most epic adventures of the year so far. Craig and I ran from one end of Bryce Canyon National Park to the other, linking up 3 major trails in the park (37.5 total miles). We do not know of anyone else that has done this yet, and it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done physically in my life to that point. Here is a trip report:

I will vividly remember yesterday for the rest of my life. Some of the memories will he horrific, while others will make me smile and laugh. I ran my first ultra distance yesterday with Jun in Bryce Canyon National Park. This was an insane idea that Jun had to link up the 3 main trails in the park, which would basically be running from one end of the park to the other. It sounded like an amazing run, and when he first told me about it I was definitely intrigued, although I didn't think I would want to run the whole thing, but after talking more with him about it I really got excited and decided to go for it. Why not?

We traveled down to Panguitch to stay with some of Jun's firends. They were really nice and we spent a few hours hanging out with them and then getting ready for our run. We got the tour of the town, had a lot of laughs and ended with a huge piece of chocolate cake before bed. We got to bed late and I had a hard time sleeping. I finally nodded off about 12:30, but woke up at 3:30 and couldn't get back to sleep until I heard Jun's alarm at 4:30. We got our stuff ready and then Jun's friend drove us to drop off my car at Fairyland Point where we would finish, and then took us all the way to the other end of the park and dropped us off at Rainbow Point. After a few pictures we were off on the Rigg's Spring Loop.

That first loop was just magical. The air was cool, but not cold and the views entering the canyon were stunning. My body was feeling really good and I was excited for this run. The first 5 miles were just a lot of fun. The sun wasn't on us yet and we were running on a beautiful trail surrounded by pine trees with an occasional glimpse of the red rock canyon above. The views got better and better (with a few exceptions) with each step.

Jun was in the lead and had a little bit quicker pace than I did, but when I reached Yovimpa pass I had to stop to take in the views. Wow! Jun was ahead of me nearly the entire run, and he was nice enough to stop and wait for me to catch up. The first few miles of the loop we descended about 1500 feet into the canyon and then we promptly started to gain all of that elevation back before we hit the under the rim trail. This would be the theme for the rest of the day. Climb a steep hill, descend and then do it all over again. I was expecting some elevation gain and loss, but nothing like what we experienced. It was relentless.

About mile 8 I started to feel some tightness in my right knee (ITB). I was worried, but it wasn't hurting yet, so I was still hoping the pain wouldn't get too bad for a while. I actually pushed the pace on some downhill for about a mile and everything was feeling good, but as soon as we started to ascend again, it was hurting. By mile 10 going up or downhill would make my knee hurt. From this point on I had to hike up all of the uphill sections and running up them was just too painful. This is not the place you want to be with ITB pain. It is just not flat at all.
Around mile 11 we finally stopped for our first real break of the day to refill our water at a spring. We treated all of the water we drank with iodine. We used a neutralizer to take away the gross taste, but by the end of the hike I was actually getting used to it. I added some Nuun to my water bottle and then had a gel. Other than my knee I was feeling really good. Jun got ahead of me again on the next section and I didn't see him again for a few miles. There were a lot of downed trees covering the trail and it was pretty clear this area doesn't see a lot of foot traffic. The views were not as good, but I was thankful for the shade. Jun had been waiting for me and I finally caught up to him, and after stopping and taking another gel, I didn't see him again for a few hours.

The next 4-5 miles were really hard for me. My knee was hurting, and each hill that I had to climb and descend added to my misery. Thoughts of bailing early came into my head, but I quickly dismissed them. As long as the pain stayed the same I could make it. I was hiking all of the uphills, and running with a limp on the downhills. I could still run when it was flat, but it just wasn't all that flat. Compounding the difficulty is the beach sand that seemed to be strategically placed by a sadist on all of the uphill climbs. Tough!

At about mile 17 I really hit a low point. I was hot, tired, my Camelbak was bugging my shoulders, my knee hurt and I was alone. The views were impressive, but I was stopping less and less to enjoy them. I just told myself to keep grinding and it would get better. There was a really big hill before Swamp Canyon and at the top the views were just out of this world cool. I stopped to shoot some video and then I ran into jun at Swamp Canyon, which was around the next switchback. I hadn't seen him for about 5 miles and a few hours. He had been waiting there for a while, and seeing him boosted my spirits a lot. I filled up on water, had a gel and Jun gave me an S-cap. Jun stayed with me for about the next 8-9 miles, although he would get ahead of me and then have to wait for me to catch up. I am glad he did. We only saw a few other people on the entire trail and it is remote, rugged, and your mind starts messing with you when you're by yourself. Having him there with me during those breaks really helped a lot. Hills, hills, and more hills. Talk about demoralizing. If you have any hint of ITB pain this trail is a torture chamber. It also started to get really hot now which made things even tougher.

We stopped at yellow creek to fill up our water and it was like an oasis. I was nearly out of water and I knew I was getting dehydrated. I was carrying 70 ounces of water and this would be the fourth time I was filling up. I couldn't get enough water and that was a problem on this trail. I filled up every place that I could and I was drinking it all. It was now really hot and the sun was just beating me up. I didn't know that this would be my last fill up until Bryce Point or I would have had more to drink. I was drinking twice as much now as I had been earlier because of the heat.

I hit my marathon distance a little less than a mile after Yellow Creek and that was the last I would see of Jun until Bryce Point. The next five miles were tough. It was really hot and there wasn't a lot of shade. It seemed like it was all uphill and my knee was really hurting now. I was now hiking everything. I did run a few flat places, but they were not long because it was mostly not flat. I was worried I was going to run out of water because I was drinking so much. I was already dehydrated and hadn't gone pee in about 4 hours. I was sweating a lot and it was incredibly hot. I was looking for a place to take a break and I found a rock to sit on in the shade. After about a minute I realized I was covered in ants that were now biting me and the flies were also swarming and biting too. I ended up just standing up and taking a gel. Another low moment.
With about a mile to go until Bryce Point I was down to the last of my water. I sat down on a rock in the shade and took another gel and swallowed it down with the last drop of warm water in my bottle. I wasn't sure how much further it was to the top. I knew we had at least 5 miles to go, but I wasn't expecting to come up to the top of the rim with 5 miles remaining. I saw an older guy hiking up and from the looks of him I knew that 'civilization' was close. When I saw the cars up there I was confused. I thought we had 5+ miles to go. Jun saw me coming up and met me and then informed me that we did indeed have at least 5 miles to go (I was at mile30.5). I was ok with that though because now I could get some water and the trail actually would be mostly flat from here. Jun had bummed some water off of one of the tourists, and he shared it with me, and I felt much better.

After about a 20 minute break with Jun, he took off running for the car, and I still wasn't sure what I was going to do yet. I was tempted to catch a ride back to the car and rationalized it by telling myself I had completed an ultra distance, but I soon put those thoughts out of my head. I came here to finish the whole thing, so I started hiking fast. Occasionally I was running, but it was painful and all of the tourists were looking at me like what in the world is this guy doing?
At Sunset Point (mile 33) I stopped to use the bathroom. It was the first facility with running water that we had seen all day, and I couldn't pass up filling my water up and taking a dirtbag shower in the sink. It felt so good to wash all of the salt off of my face. I took a long break in the shade and heard a few people comment about my appearance. I ate a Powerbar and my last gel and drank a lot of water. It felt so good and I was completely refreshed.

The next mile I actually ran a little more and I was feeling good. It was so nice to finally be on a flat trail again. At mile 34 I came to a fork in the trail. There was a sign on the trail going right that said: Fairyland Point 5 miles. My heart sank because I thought I only had about two miles to go. The trail on the left said to Fairyland Lookout, so I was confused, but two girls that were hiking up the trail (on the right) told me to take that trail because it went to Fairyland Point and that the left trail ended, so started down the trail. After about a half a mile I realized that I was just dropping too much and that I was on the wrong trail. Jun had mentioned to me that if I started descending back into the canyon I needed to get back to the rim, and I remembered looking at the map at Sunset Point and I knew I needed to go back. Thank goodness it only cost me a mile total because if I had kept going it would have taken me 4 hilly miles to get back instead of two on the flat rim trail.

The final two miles were hard, but I was feeling better than I had been coming out of the canyon, so I was actually in a good mood. I wasn't hot, I was feeling hydrated and my spirits were high. the only bad thing was I had developed a blister on one of my toes that was now nagging me. Normally I would have stopped to take care of it, but I just wanted to get done, so I didn't stop. I ran about 1/4 of the time, but I was mostly hiking because it hurt less.

When I finally saw my car parked I had an incredible feeling. I had done it. Jun came over to congratulate me and after a few high fives and pictures it was time to sit down. What an experience. It was definitely the most difficult thing I have ever done, a total grind. The only real easy part of the whole day was the first 4 miles running downhill. After that it was brutal. I am sure I would have enjoyed it a lot more without the 27 miles of ITB pain though.

I am disappointed that I didn't get to enjoy this trail more. The views really aren't even explainable. They don't look real, they are that good. It is certainly a good challenge for anyone, and I will never forget this day. There was exhilaration, pain, disappointment, laughs, fresh air, views, blood, a lot of sweat (probably gallons) and almost some tears. When we finished yesterday I told Jun there wasn't even a chance I would ever to that again, but today there is some sick part of me that wants to go back and do it again when my knee is right.

To see a video of our run go here:


Also look for part 2.

Half way there! On On June 19th I finally reached the half way point with my goal to climb 52 peaks this year. I climbed/ran Lake Mountain with fellow FRB bloggers Craig and Lily. It was a fun day with a lot of laughs and some fantastic views. It was the perfect way to reach # 26. Here are some pictures-

So far I am up to 33 peaks for the year. I set a goal to climb 52 peaks in 2010 and I know I will reach it. This is the most important fitness goal I have this year because it is hard and will require sacrificing a lot of my time to get it done, plus I know it will help keep me in really good shape and keep my legs strong for any races or adventures that I want to participate in.

Because I have a full time job and family responsibilities, finding time to climb a peak every week usually requires me to get up early, like 4:00-4:30 AM. I have never once felt bad about sacrificing my sleep to get into the mountains. Ever! It makes my day every time.

I also have a goal to do at least 52 trail runs this year as well. I can usually do the trail runs at the same time I am climbing a peak, but some peaks are just too steep to run.

Probably the most exciting climb I have done this year was climbing North Timpanogos via the Grunge Couloir. The Grunge is a steep chute that goes right up the back side between the two north summits of Timp. If you ever drive the Alpine Loop check it out. It doesn't really look climbable, and just looking at it makes my heart start to beat. What makes the Grunge really sketchy though is the rotten rock and constant rock fall that bombards the route. Rocks shoot down the slope like missiles and taking on one of these pieces of mountain shrapnel would certainly make for a bad day, if not your last.

I did the climb with Matt Van Horn and Dustin Erickson. We had an incredible climb and almost perfect conditions in the couloir. I wrote up a trip report and it made the cover of summitpost for over a week. You can read that here:

Also, to see a video of our climb check out this link:

3 months without a post? Are you kidding me? It has been a really busy summer so far with a lot of adventure and good times with the fam. I have run in a few trail races and also climbed quite a few peaks. I need to do a better job of keeping up with this blog (not that anyone is reading it).

Let's start where I left off in mid May. On the 15th I ran in the Grandeur Peak fun run and had an excellent time. The race starts at the grandeur West Ridge trail, climbs up to the summit, then back down to Church Fork, onto the Pipeline Trail, through Rattle Snake Gulch and then back to the trailhead. It is a total of 10 miles and is a TOUGH course, but a lot of fun. Craig told me about the race and I thought it would be a really good prep for Sapper Joe on the 29th.

There were about 75 people in the race and when I arrived at the start they all looked really hardcore and I was nervous. I chatted with my friend Matt for a while and then the race started. I really pushed hard climbing to the peak and all of my hill training over the last few months seemed to pay off, as I was really making good time and passing a lot of people in the way up. Only a few people passed me and I made it to the summit in 1:06 (shattering my previous best time). I was the 26th person to reach the peak, so I was doing really well.

The rest of the run was a bit of a struggle for me and a lot of the faster trail runners passed me. I also stopped a few times to mess with my gear and to take gels, and I just need to learn to get faster at doing these sorts of things on a race. I got passed a lot and ended up coming in 50th place. Not great, but I learned a lot and this little experience would help me a lot at Sapper Joe.

Sapper Joe 30K May 29th, 2010- This would be my first official trail race and I had been looking forward to it for several months. The race is on the Camp Williams base and goes over some very rugged and steep terrain. I knew it was going to be tough, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I ended up taking 26th place and I felt very good about my race. The way that the course is set up I think about 3/4 of it is up hill and it really is a hard slog, but it was FUN. You can read my race report here: