Sunday, April 13, 2014

No Tiger Woods with this wedge

Utahs Grand Canyon

My dad's side of the family are pretty big golfers. I got introduced to it fairly young and played quite a bit in my high school years before my recreation desires moved to slightly more adrenaline type sports, though I still enjoy an occasional round. With the Master's going on this weekend without the controversial yet likeable character Tiger Woods involved, the Lindsay and Weiler clan headed to the Swell to pay honor to that great short range, high angle golf club, the sand wedge.

The Wedge Recreation Area of the San Rafael Swell contains a fantastic 21 mile singletrack/dirt road loop through sand, dirt, and slickrock for mountain bikers and runners called the Good Water Trail. It winds its way in and out and around the many tentacles of the Wedge canyon formation. It takes a very inefficient, indirect, but beautiful course of 16 miles around these canyon arms to reach the opposite side, and then a short more direct 5 mile dirt road brings you back to the start. The map below should explain this apparent paradox.
The light red is the trail, a full 16 miles, then the dark red is the 5 mile dirt road return

We camped pretty close to the rim of the Little Grand Canyon overlook Friday night after trying Code Red Mountain Dew for the first time(I'll stick with DP) and enjoyed a night out sans tent, though a critter or two did find their way into Annie's territory.

Steve and I headed out around 7 am the next morning and busted out the 21 miles in around 3:20. The elevation gain and loss on this trail is pretty sad, a whopping 100 feet(not sure on exact numbers, but it felt this way). I get more vertical on my lunch break walk at work.  Its pretty dang flat. Not a good Hardrock training run. We enjoyed the views of  "Utah's Grand Canyon" and made it back to camp where our families were waiting. Overall it was pretty fun, though I do enjoy a bit more variety in the vertical realm.
Steve is a fast flat runner, so I didn't take many pics since I was struggling to keep up on the 8 min/miles

We spent the rest of the day cragging on the Indian-Creek-Wanabie cracks. Fun, but not the Creek. It is nice to climb some splitters though without the 6 hour drive it takes to get to crack paradise.

Annie is 7 months pregnant, but she can still bust out hand crack

The Teeter Totter, 5.10 X. The pillar here creaks and moves a little as you climb it. Its only moderately scary. Annie put on her helmet while she belayed, as if that would help if the 1000 lb pillar collapsed on her. 

You've been warned. Do it anyway

Nice 5.9 crack right off the road. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

From Snow to Desert

Can't beat Canyonlands country. Standard view from Deadhorse Pt. 

I think as much as we all enjoy snow and winter activities, there comes a time when its time to halt the skiing and embrace spring by heading south and forgetting about all that white stuff, though the skiing is still excellent. (near death avalanches help speed this process along)

However, I guess I need to almost kill myself more often as I had a record number of page views on my last post. Normally my five friends, some family, and some random people bored on the interweb view my blog posts, so I get somewhere in the 30-60 page view range on average for every post. I got 512 on the avy post. Watch out Six Sisters, I'm gaining! Sponsors are flocking like seagulls to a garbage dump!

My family had planned a nice weekend in Moab and it was just what I needed after last weeks debacle(despite having visited the desert two weeks prior. You can't get enough desert). The desert is fantastic in April/May, and since Annie and I usually end up sleeping in the dirt illegally or in the back of our Hyundai when we visit Moab, its always nice to have an alternative to that dirtbag lifestyle and have the parents pay for a luxurious rental home where beds, movies, and large quantities of delicious food are available.

My folks and Annie were nice enough to let me go to my own thing in the morning, then join them for some lighter hikes in the afternoon. However, my dad, Caroline, and Annie joined me for an early run Friday. They ran for about an hour up Hidden Valley and back and I did a nice loop by heading up the Hidden Valley Trail, then down the Moab Rim, back on the Kane Creek Rd(crappy, but unavoidable) where I hopped onto the super nice Pipedream trail back to the car. Overall it was a great 14-15 mile outing with around 3k'. I was lucky enough to see only a few folks in the 2:20 it took to run it as all of those trails are fairly popular with mountain bikers and the evil jeeps/dune buggies/OHV unpleasantries.

Hey look! A hidden valley with a buffed out singletrack! 

Fun slickrock running down Moab Rim to the river
Colorado River

That afternoon I took the family on a tour of my favorite mud towers. The Fisher towers are pretty crazy formations, and the 5 mile out and back trail was enjoyed by everyone. The family got to witness some poor climber struggling to mantle the diving board on Ancient Art for about 5 minutes while the usual conga line present on the route waited impatiently.

Ancient Art Headwall. Look at all the Mud! 

The Titan, aka "the big dirty". Inspired me to take up aid climbing, though both major aid lines have now been freed at the relatively pedestrian grades of 5.13 and 5.12c with large portions of  "5.11 sketch" according to Will Stanhope. 
A cool video of Mr Stanhope enjoying some "mud-aneering" and the Smileys doing the standard aid practice

Free the Titan from paul on Vimeo.

Finger of Fate, The Titan from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

More mud. Cottontail and Kingfisher
For once it wasn't me making funny faces

Saturday I embarked on a great run I had mapped out in Canyonlands on my own, thinking I was pretty clever, then discovered many a folk had already done it including Ted and Christy Mahon of  "stuck in the rockies" (they've done everything) so I felt stupid for a sec then got over it. Its a 20 mile loop starting at Alcove Springs TH, down to Taylor Canyon, out to the WRR, over to Upheaval Dome TH, and back up via the south Syncline loop to Island in the Sky. The National Parks do not disappoint. Click on the "bigger map" link below for a more detailed view.

Running down Alcove Springs

Loved running around the corner and spotting these guys

Yee Haw! Solitary singletrack down in remote Canyonlands

Need to get back and climb Zeus, Aphrodite, the other two lines on Moses, Charlie Horse much to do

Don't miss the cutoff from the WRR or you'll be running a lot longer than 6.9 miles back to the rim

Slime Oasis in the wash. I've drunk/drank/drunken from worse

Lots of wash running. Not too sandy but not exactly efficient either

It turned out to be a fantastic run, and I finished in 3:15 with about 3k' again. The family then went and hiked Delicate Arch, which was a bit of a cultural shock going from seeing 5 people all morning during my 3 hour run to seeing the entire population of Rhode Island in the parking lot. We aren't huge fans of crowded places. Speaking of destroying mankind, we rounded out the day with a viewing of the new movie release Noah, which was nothing like the Biblical story whatsoever(Giant rock fallen angel creatures that behave like Lord of the Ring Ents?), but entertaining nevertheless.
License plate shot

Sunday we packed up and headed out to Corona Arch as neither of us had ever been out there. No rope swinging ensued(the sabbath), but we did climb on top to check out the setup.
Corona Arch. 

Can't wait to get back and do some climbing.

Steve and I have plans to run the Zion Traverse at the end of April, so this week was my first real week of serious running. I managed 65 or so miles which I think was pretty good. He's already run a 50 this year so I'm behind in the miles category.