Sunday, July 28, 2013

Running on Toothpaste

Short week of running this week due to fun week in Colorado climbing.

East ridge of Pfief

Friday: Pfieferhorn via Red Pine. 9 miles, 3700'. ~2:30
No matter how you do this peak, its a stellar outing in the Wasatch. Despite its popularity, I have never encountered anyone on the summit when I've been there. Might be due to the fact that I seem to usually be up there after 7 pm. Lost my watch in Rifle somewhere so my time is an unofficial car clock time.

Saturday: Crest/Midmountain Linkup. 30 miles, 4700'. 5:58
The best trail for running/mtn biking west of Park City is the Crest trail, and I personally enjoy their toothpaste flavors the best. I don't think anyone would disagree. I've run its 13 mile length from Guardsmen to Millcreek plenty of times, but have never explored the linkup into Park City. The Midmountain trail in PC seems to be of similar quality and classic status. So it was time. With Steve firing off the Speedgoat, I decided I needed to prove to myself I could run 30 miles in less than the disgusting 9 hours like I did last week.

Map of route

Weird Pinecones

the Spine on the Crest Trail

Boring vista into PC

The run went well, with cloud cover and light rain I was able to stay cool and no headaches ensued. It was an odd day so few bikers were out on the Millcreek side limiting the dodging of bikes, but the throngs of dogs certainly made up for it. The Midmountain access from the south end of the Crest trail is obvious, right above Puke Hill on a trail called Pinecone Ridge. The access from Midmountain back up to the crest trail on the North is via the Ridge Connector trail. Very enjoyable loop that is mostly runnable despite the vert not being quite what it should be for an adequate Wasatch training run, but still a good workout.

awesome climbing crack vid

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Bells are giving me a Headache

Running the Maroon Bells
The Maroon Bells, and some kid taking a photo

Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop: 28 miles, 7500', high point 12,460 ft.

“Ain’t life funny. Last night I was swearing I’d never do again what I did yesterday. Now today I can’t wait to do it again.” -- Lance Armstrong (a day after completing the Four Passes Loop)

Ever since reading about the Maroon Bells 4 Pass Loop last year I couldn't get it out of my brain, so I stuck it on the "must do" list for the summer along with many other goals that surprisingly seem to be getting ticked off. The Maroon Bells are a set of dual 14,000' summits outside Aspen Colorado. Not confusingly, the route tackles 4 independent passes that allows a circumnavigation of the peaks. The 4 passes are, in counterclockwise order, Buckskin, Trailrider, Frigid Air, and West Maroon.  Annie and I set out to meet good old Nater at the trailhead last Friday night in hopes for a solid run Saturday.

The route

We found ourselves sleeping in the Hyundai in the "day use only" parking lot starting about 12:30 am as the "overnight use" parking was full and we refused to pay $10 to enter during normal hours. This is of course chancing a $100 ticket for illegal camping, but such is our principles.

Annie had sprained her ankle the previous week doing a loop in the Tetons, and despite us hoping it would be good to go it wasn't, so Nater and I went at it as a duo.( Luckily Annie made it up to Buckskin pass alone so her trip was not in vain).  Nate is always in good shape, despite living at sea level and not getting out as much as he'd like. But he did bag Longs last week so he was ready. We took off and it took 1.5 hours to get to pass 1, Buckskin. Nate would like me to point out that he beat me up every pass on the loop, to which my reply is, " i was taking pictures for my wife who couldn't be there".  The previous TR's weren't kidding, this area is like Disneyland. Hoards of backpackers out doing the loop over a week or so, with quite a few IADers as well. I am not used to seeing so many other stupid people attempting the same things we do, so I felt comforted despite my self esteem dwindling as most of them went zinging past me as I huffed up the passes.We descended off the pass and enjoyed helping two lost girls reunite with one another in a joyful reunion akin to the return of the prodigal son. Frankly we were heroes.

Team green shoes. Nate took off his blue jacket so he wasn't entirely dressed in one color. 

 Pass 2 came and went as we discussed religion and the gorgeous view over Snowmass Lake.
Worthy of our attention

Nate running off Trailrider

Descending into Fravert Basin

 Pass 3 was the hardest of the day, as we could see it from a long ways away and it never seemed to get closer. We both failed to successfully jump a stream(see video) so we got our feet wet, and I started developing a massive headache, to which I attribute to altitude, the previous 30 miles I ran that week, and sheer lack of fitness. We slumped it up to the top of 3 and took a break. We asked a woman to take our picture and she said no. Luckily her husband obliged.

Conga line of backpackers coming down off Frigid Air

Enjoying ourselves. You can see my stream wound on my right leg. Gushing. Life threatening

Pass 4 had reasonable access to the throngs of dayhikers so it was jammed packed up there and I felt like a pansy as I could barely crawl my butt up to the top. By now the headache was overcoming my sense of balance and will power. I let Nate bomb ahead back down the 6 miles to the trailhead without me as I was forced to walk to prevent my head from exploding. Nate finished in 8:15 and me 8:45 or so. Not my best running day, but magnificent views and by far the best scenery you could ask for in a run.

Down off Frigid Air.

Nate managed to capture my delirium on top of pass 4
Sunday we took a break and went to church at the Aspen branch consisting of 8 locals and 20 visitors, and then did a 7 mile hike up to Cathedral lake.

Monday we did some fun climbing up at Independence Pass at the Lower Grotto Wall  near where we were camping. Highlights were Cryogenics, One for the Road, and Twin Cracks, along with an awesome finger crack I found at our campground which I have no idea anything about other than I did it. Likely 11a.

Cool finger crack

Lower Grotto Wall

Tues/Wednesday we gathered up our duct tape and volleyball kneepads to get our kneebars on at Rifle. We decided Rifle is like the Maple Canyon of Colorado, as it is a very narrow canyon with walls on both sides with easy access, tons of fixed draws, and shloads of hardmen and women rallying 13a's off as warmups. We did some 5.10's and 5.11's, and got shut down on some 5.12's. Overall really fun place, but most of the stuff in our grade range was as polished as Wayne Newtons botox stricken face since the easy stuff gets lapped like a hundred times a day as warm ups and cool downs. (think Illusions at Fucoidal, only worse) So I might not be back until I can hike 13a. (the next life) The climbing there is very blocky, with lots of slanting ledges and sidepulls. Pumpy. Not a pocket in sight.

Feline, 4 star 11b. Can you tell where the route is?

Classic Rifle approach. A nearby sign says, "no belaying from road". 
Another great trip visiting cool Colorado. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Lonely Box without Timp

Big Willow Cirque, with mutated summits
Hardest week so far, which is good. 52 miles, 16k'

 Monday: Desolation 13. 13 miles, 2k', 1:56
This is the fun 13 mile loop that starts either up Big water in Millcreek or Mill D in BCC. Chose to do it from Millcreek. Up to Dog Lake, over to Desolation Lake, up to ridge, down Crest trail to Red pine road junction, then back to trailhead via the old Red Pine road(singletrack) which I had never done. Some new engagee was taking her bridal photos right off the trail as I came barreling through trying to beat 2 hours. Almost took out the photographer and mom.

Tuesday: Did "Hell Raiser" variation of "Till Hell Freezes Over" up at the main hellgate. 5 pitch 11b.
More chossy limestone as I didn't get enough on Notch Peak. Landon took 11b crux pitch which was pretty small edges over a bulge. Worth doing once like all the stuff on chossy limestone.

Landon on Pitch 2 of Hell Raiser

Landon on Pitch 4

Wednesday: Ben Lomond from N. Ogden Divide. 15.6 miles, 3500', 2:31(new strava 3rd place record. Wahoo).
I am the most stoked  GPS-lacking-device person on the new Strava ap. Being pretty competitive I enjoy destroying others' trail times in a friendly fashion. Unfortunately I am too cheap to buy a smart phone or GPS watch. So I just try to beat the best times anonymously. Steve went up the day before and took 40 min off his previous winter time and got a new 3rd place record on Strava at 2:49 or something. The current record is 2:22 by Bob G or some dude. I went as fast as I could but only pulled off 2:31, good enough for 3rd place as 2nd is 2:29. 2 minutes! Lazy sack. Shouldn't have stopped to pet the mountain goats on the summit.

Friday: More climbing at Hellgate with Steve and Landon. Got worked on 12a Pandora. Long moves on sandy jugs. Horrible rope drag.

Saturday: Failed attempt at linking Lone Peak, Box Elder, and Timpanogos. 22 miles, 11k' , 11:29

With Hardrock going on fri/sat, Steve and I decided to attempt our own Hardrock training adventure by linking 3 11,000' peaks in a day. Our hero, Jared Campbell, who ended up taking 7th in Hardrock, linked Lone, Timp, and Nebo in a day, but that was too much driving and too hardcore for us. As it turns out, we are not Hardrock material.

We stashed water and shuttled my car along our trek after stuffing Arby's down our faces after climbing, which took way longer than we expected, and got back to my house at 1:30 am Saturday morning. Not a great start to a big day. We got to the trailhead at 8 am the next morning after checking the Hardrock winners.

Lone peak: 10 miles, 6k'
We started up Big Willow to do Lone peak, but were not confident we were on the right trail as it was labeled "Sawmill". Turns out that's correct but we were nervous as it took us over to Little Willow. We encountered severe "trail schwaking" up high which is defined as heavily invasive brush covering the small, narrow, largely unused trail. Hard to follow. We made it to the cirque, and ascended the notch that leads to the Lone Peak north ridge. I almost killed Steve twice with huge boulders I dislodged down the chuting gallery. Topped out at the 3 hour mark. We both felt good. We did a "choose your own adventure" down the south face as we could not locate the Hamangog trail. Upon reaching the upper Hamangog, we located the trail and descended towards Alpine and the Box Elder trailhead. Unfortunately, we got lost on the endless dirt roads that wind all over that mountain. We were heading west when we wanted to head east. Every road we took heading east just deadended. So we decided to just bushwack towards the trailhead.

Then disaster struck.

We found ourselves a short hop away from the trailhead, but a tall barbed wire fence and private property sign blocked our path. Not to be deterred by such obstacles, I hopped it easily with my agile skills, but Steve botched it badly and gashed his knee open pretty deep. Blood was gushing. Now we are on private property, and Steve is mortally wounded. My initial thought was that I didn't want Steve to bleed out on private property because I didn't want another ticket, but his needs come first. I ran to get some first aid supplies but managed to only scrap together some paper towels from a trucker. Luckily Steve's wound coagulated and he was able to escape to public roads and to the nearby homes. A nice mother and son graciously gave Steve some supplies and we debated whether to continue on the journey. It was now 1 pm, as we had used a bunch of time getting lost and treating deep wounds. Steve decided to press on as the blood seemed contained with his gauze and heavily medical taped knee.

Steve is on a trail, but you can't tell. 

The Notch, a portal to another world, er, cirque

Steve is now safe as I am am no longer unintentionally trundling rocks

On Lone Peak summit

Where or where has the Hamangog trail gone? 

Finally, the Hamangog trail

The actual event was too traumatizing so no pics were taken of the gore, so here is this one post bandaging

Box Elder: 12 miles, 5k'
The floods last week created a massive mudslide and washed out the Box Elder trailhead parking area. Giant mudpit. Phelps canyon, which we wanted to use, was largely untouched but still had many sections that were washed out. The forest service had signed it as "unusable". Not one to be deterred by such recommendations from the Forest Service, we hauled our butts up Box Elder in the heat via Phelps canyon, summiting in about 3 hours again. At this point we knew we had to bail on Timp because Steve's knee was bad(ie needed stitches 4 hours ago) and it was 4 pm. We still had a 5 mile descent, 10 mile run over to the Timp trailhead, then 14 miles up and down Timp. We wouldn't finish till like 3 am. I was craving Panda Express and they aren't open at 3 am, so we made the easy decision to bail. We hobbled down to Tibble Fork and managed to get back to our car at Aspen Grove via 4 different hitchiking shenangians, 2 trucks, a group of rowdy teens, and a nice old couple planning an excursion on the Great Western trail. Steve of course told all of them everything about his life while I sat quietly.

Mudslide carnage

Steve assessing knee carnage on summit of Box Elder

Running down to Tibble Fork off Box Elder

Timpanogos: 14 miles, 5k. Didn't attempt this time.

Steve headed to get his knee sorted out(7 stitches), and I ate Panda express(kung pao and orange chicken). All in all a crazy adventure. The failure was largely due to poor planning, poor execution, poor navigation skills, poor fitness, poor mental fortitude, and poor barbed wire fence jumping.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Gimp Games

Being injured sucks. Luckily its not me! Court recently had surgery for his Taylors Bunnion and wanted to get out and enjoy some kind of physical activity while he was down for 6 long weeks of nonweightbearing. So the natural thing to do when you only have one good foot is to time trial the mile on crutches, aptly and creatively named, "the crutch mile".

TMNT Rafael with his twin sai and one Hoka getting ready to set off on the crutch mile

Somewhere on lap 1, 2,3 or 4

When Steve broke his leg in college, he set the standard among the throngs of folk(maybe 2 others) who had ever tried this feat with a staggering 12 and change mile on an "unofficial" course in the Aggies football stadium parking lot he had mapped with his car odometer. This was documented. Court wanted to break the record(naturally) so me, steve, izzy, and court met at the brighton high school track to see what Court could do. Rumor had it that he had been training for this event by crutching up Olympus, sandpapering his armpits, and cranking out sets of pullups while hanging from his crutches, a significant and hardcore regiment no doubt.

Watching someone crutch around a track for 4 laps is pretty boring. So we sat on the grass cheering our friend on as he was obviously struggling with armpit chaffage and single leg fatigue, not to mention blindness via bandana sweat. The pee wee football team practicing on the grass also showed their support on the last lap with a semi audible cheer. He made it and set a new crutch mile record of less than 12 and change! I am not sure what his official time was. Edit: video says 11:35

Steve, izzy and I set off to see how fast we each could also run the mile. Being used to solid 20 minute mountain miles I was anxious to see if I could go sub 5:30, which my sister Caroline informed me would qualify me for the Utah high school girls 2A state track meet, a prestigous club to belong to, akin to Boston. Steve being the road runner he is beat me by 4 seconds at 5:14, and izzy almost cracked the 7 min barrier. I remember now why I run on trail.