Tuesday, November 3, 2009
sometimes it's not necessarily about how fast you get there. sometimes it's about whether you just get there at all. that's how i felt on my "run" today, which was more like a slog, shuffle, grind. i was coming off of two epic work days, having drunk too little water and too much wine, and staying up much too late the night before. my legs were stiff and tired. but i was grateful just to be moving forward and enjoying the beautiful day and the views around me.
a "meridian" is an imaginary arc on the earth's surface from the north pole to the south pole. Salt Lake City lies on the 111 degree 54' 0" west of Greenwich, England. this information seems kind of random and obscure in some ways, but it also seems somewhat comforting to me in some weird way: that we lie on an absolute point in cartographic space. Meridian Peak is a summit north of the city which lies exactly on this imaginary line. it's not a pretty peak, by any means. it is littered with communications towers atop its summit. it is easily accessible by trail and by road. it's pretty ugly, really.
but i like Meridian Peak. the views from the ridge are incredible, as you can see from the photos i've posted. when you attain the ridge, you can see the entire Salt Lake valley to the south, the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island to the west (as well as the airport and gas refineries), Bountiful to the north, and the Wasatch Range to the east. at one point climbing up to the ridge from the west slope, you can see through a gap in the mountains and pick out Mount Ogden. running down the Shoreline Trail, it's hard not to run all the way to Bountiful.
it's a beautiful 8 mile loop. you should try it sometime. i'm glad i got out today.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
i just can't get over how strong my dogs are. they are always ready for a hike, no matter what the distance. i think today's route was about 6 miles or so, and the dogs acted as though they could have gone twice that far. i also can't get over the fact that when i feel tired, with a little bit of motivation, i can get hiking up a mountain and suddenly have more energy than i ever imagined. the fall storms cleared up this morning and made for some dramatic views. dark skies and lots of clouds, with a few rays of sunshine poking out.
franklin, artemis, and i hiked first to the "living room" a collection of rocks that are piled up in the shape of "sofas" and "armchairs" and positioned in a manner that you can really enjoy the view off to the west. we proceeded up the trail towards "mount wire" where a couple of large radio reflector panels and an old beacon adorn the summit. the top of mount wire always makes for a good photo op. the last time we were up there was this past spring, when i had just started running again after a 5 year hiatus. it still feels really good to be out there.
it was about a two hour round trip. we cruised back to the car, hitting the shoreline trail, and said hi to the other fortunate saturday dogs on hikes with their people. made it home just before the afternoon round of storms hit.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Water--Big Water to Little Water trails, that is. 5 days after the big hike in the "big ditch", i'm walking pretty normally again. thankfully. the dogs were getting restless. we did a couple of short strolls on the Shoreline trail by Red Butte the last couple of days, and today, my legs were still a little stiff, but i thought i'd be up for taking the dogs up one of our favorite trails. i put on the compression socks and laced up the la sportivas. a little snowy up there from the recent storms, but pleasant and about 55 degrees. the dogs thought the water was just fine for a little dip. what an amazing little trail this is, in a corner of my backyard the Wasatch. i never get tired of it. can't get enough water.
Monday, October 12, 2009
about a month or so ago, i threw out an invitation to a few friends to run the Grand Canyon, rim to rim to rim. several folks responded, and we started calling it the R2R2R. The tentative plan was to run the North Kaibab trail, cross the river near Phantom Ranch, and either run the South Kaibab trail or the Bright Angel trail to the south rim and then turn around and come back to the north rim. One friend, Mark, wanted to start at the south rim and run to the north and back. i kind of wanted to run the South Kaibab route, because it is shorter and i've done it before, but the friends who wanted to run with me wanted to do the Bright Angel route.
i gotta tell ya, i was not prepared for this run. but after talking several people into joining me, i started to feel the pressure to get out there and at least try. i could always bail out at the river at mile 14 and turn around and go back, without going up the south side. i haven't been running regularly for the last 5 years, actually since i dropped out of wasatch 100 for the second time at mile 75. i ran the last 25 miles of wasatch 100 this year with a couple of friends and i thought it was going to kill me. that was about a month ago. i managed to put together one 40 mile week in early september, but it was slow and i was just trying to build up some miles again.
yet here i was, at 5:45am on the north rim with a couple of friends, sick to my stomach, cold (it was 25 degrees) and wondering what the hell i'd gotten myself into. i figured on about a 14 hour effort. i would be a little off in my time estimation.
my friends started out fast downhill, and i did not try to keep up with them. i wanted to conserve energy, because i knew it was going to be a long day and i didn't want to burn myself up in the first 4 very steep miles down to the canyon floor. it was dark, and my black diamond prototype headlamp lit up the night like a beacon. i reached cottonwood camp, mile 7, in 1 hr 45 minutes. perfect timing. i reached the river, mile 14, at 3 hours 15 minutes. still right on pace. my stomach was tweaking hard the entire way, and i kept thinking "once the sun comes up, my stomach will turn around". but it never really did until i reached the south rim. more on that later.
i met up with my friend Mark and his group, who were running the opposite direction, just south of the silver bridge across the river. they had started an hour later than us. they said they had seen my friends who were ahead of me and that they were doing well. all smiles. we took some quick pictures, exchanged a couple of introductions and early stories, and then were on our way again. i called this section "the beach" because it was deep, soft sand. then i started to climb.
the climb up the Bright Angel trail is thankfully mostly in the shade. it was only 9:30 in the morning, so it was still quite cool. i reached Indian Gardens, about halfway up, and was feeling pretty good despite my still tweaky stomach. i was able to eat GU and GU chomps, and had nuun in my water bottle for electrolytes. i had a 32 ounce reservoir in the nathan vest pack that i borrowed from my friend Mandy. it was just the perfect amount of water for the day. i love the nathan pack because you can stash your tunes and camera and a fair amount of snacks up front in the little pouches. i was also able to eat a probar on the ascent as (a healthy 380 calories).
i saw my friends coming back down from the south rim. i still had about a mile or so to go until the top. i gotta tell ya, it was so good to see their faces. i had been staying focused on my music and keeping a steady pace uphill, and it was so great to get a little encouragement, especially since i was feeling kinda sick the whole time. it's nothing new--i've been dealing with a tweaky stomach for years, so i pretty much expected it, and deal with it the best i can. i don't let it get me down, but sometimes i just wish it would be normal, my stomach.
i got to the top and took my friends' directions to go to the lodge. i knew what i needed--good old fashioned coca cola. i filled up my nuun waterbottle with coke, and ate a handful of pretzels that i had brought with me. instant relief. i was revived. i used the port-a-potty on the rim (the flush toilet restrooms were being commandeered by a tour bus that had just arrived), shook the sand out of my shoes and socks, and started the run down. my stride was getting to be more of a shuffle at this point, but i was feeling good, and in good spirits. i took my headphones off for a while to listen to what the tourists had to say. "Didn't we just see you coming up?!?" to which i would reply, "i left my car on the north rim this morning!" and also listened to the german teenagers who were worked hard by the conditions. it was about 90 degrees and bluebird skies.
about halfway down the south rim, i was overtaken by a group of four guys, one from iowa, one from arizona, and two from colorado. they were also doing the double cross, and had stopped for lunch on the south rim. they would become my "friendly strangers" on the run. we leap-frog passed each other many times that afternoon, and they always checked in on me. they passed me just before the silver bridge at the bottom of the Bright Angel trail, they said, "see you at phantom!" and yes, indeed i would.
i couldn't believe i was doing this. i reached phantom ranch and my elapsed time was about 11 hours. when was the last time i had been out for more than 11 hours? i couldn't recall... maybe 2004 at wasatch 100? maybe. i filled my handheld waterbottle with lemonade and ice, as recommended by the group of four guys. they had stopped for another snack. i dumped the sand out of my shoes at a nearby picnic table and kept my forward motion going so that my legs would not seize up. a man at the picnic table called me "an amazing woman". i smiled.
my goal was to keep a steady pace. i had about 13 miles to go, and figured i could walk at least 2 miles per hour. at that pace it would take me about 6 hours to get to the top. 6 hours is a long time if you think of it all as one chunk. but i knew that if i broke it down into manageable sections, i could get it done. cottonwood camp was 7 miles (about 3 hours) away. i could do that. that's what i decided to focus on. at this point, i was really unable to run anymore. my run was such a shuffle (i tried a few times) that i think i was hiking faster than i was running.
the group of guys passed me after about 3-4 miles and gave me some more words of encouragement. i was doing it! i had no choice; i had to get out of the canyon.
i saw Mark and his south-bound group a couple of miles from cottonwood camp. they had just seen my friends and said they were looking strong. good. he said they might try to hitch a ride to kanab to get dinner before everything closed. momentary internal panic--what?!? after running all day on my own, i was going to have to drive 2 hours in the dark back to kanab? but i didn't let myself get drawn into any drama. i didn't have the energy to waste on it. i would deal with whatever was in store for me at the rim when i reached the rim.
i ran into the group of four "friendly strangers" again at cottonwood camp--7 miles to go. quick refill on the water bottle and i kept going. "you're not stopping?" they asked. "nope. gotta keep moving," i replied. i really was starting to feel very stiff and i knew that i had to keep moving or it would all be over.
i kept a strong pace out of cottonwood camp. i had 7 miles to go. i knew the next 2 would be fairly easy up to the first bridge. i turned on my headlamp at dusk and pushed the pace up to the bridge. i had about 5.5 miles to go. next landmark, the pumphouse. one member of the group of four caught me, and i asked him to tell my friends i was not far behind if he caught them on the rim. he said he would. i was so encouraged by his positive energy. "you're making great time!" he would say. it really kept me going. we both agreed that if we just could make it to the 'rock tunnel' landmark (2 miles from the top) we would be home free.
i made it to the pumphouse. next, i made it to the roaring springs trail junction (4 miles to go). i crossed the second bridge and gave a hoot, as my new friend had done several minutes before. i couldn't count the switchbacks, but they were endless. each time i came around a left hand turn i was certain the rock tunnel landmark would be there, but it was not. the little bugs on the ground sparkled green in the light of my headlamp. moths flew into my face occasionally, and black beetles and spiders were blinded by my light and shocked by my footsteps. a little desert mouse ran along side me for 10 yards, then dove down off the rocks. i hope he survived. then--the rock tunnel. *hoot!* two miles to the top!
i was able to eat a GU and a honey stinger and even a couple bites of probar. i refilled my handheld waterbottle at the tap. one foot in front of the other. like a treadmill. keep moving. don't stop. okay, just for 10 seconds stop, but just this once. heart-rate down. okay now keep going. pass a couple of hikers. give them words of encouragement. you're doing it! pass three more hikers. great job! we're almost there!
there is a strange metal table on the last right-hand switchback on the north kaibab trail. each right-hand turn i made, i hoped i would see that landmark, but i did not. i didn't let it phase me. i just kept moving up the treadmill. i tried not to look at my watch, but i knew i was well past 14 hours, and moving into the 16th hour. i kept moving, and then, magically, as magical as the day that had just passed, the last landmark--the metal table. a quarter mile to the top. i passed a woman hiking down, whom i'm sure was crewing some of the other hikers and runners that day. she said something to me but i did not hear her. i no longer felt the pain in my feet and the stiffness in my legs. oh, let my friends be there at the top...
i reached the top. *hoot!* 16 hours, 43 mintues. 47.2 miles and 10,500 ft of elevation gain.
i crossed the parking lot to the car. note on the steering wheel, "we're at the lodge--come meet us for dinner!" tears in my eyes. put on my patagonia puffy coat and started the car (the keys were under the rear bumper, and retrieving them was probably the most challenging task of the entire day). i drove straight to the lodge. after wandering around in the dark for 5-10 minutes, i found them. they came across the dining room to greet and hug me. "we did it!!!" sit down, eat some fries with mayo (i still couldn't convince my stomach to cooperate) and recount the tales of the day.
what an amazing day.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
this weekend was the Wasatch 100 ultra marathon. 100 miles of "heaven and hell", a running race mostly on trails through the wasatch mountains near salt lake city, from layton to midway, utah. my friend Cheryl Meltzer was signed up to run the race. i've tried this race twice, and twice dropped out for various reasons at Brighton, utah which is at mile 75. it's a really tough race.
Cheryl did great. i saw her at mile 40 at big mountain, and she looked strong and was in good spirits. this was at about 4pm. (already 11 hours into the race). i went home to feed the dogs, get some rest, and eat some dinner. my plan was to meet Cheryl at mile 63 at the upper big water aid station in millcreek canyon, and take her to the finish line in midway.
i caught a ride with my friend Butch Adams who was crewing for Eve Davies and was also going to run with her from Brighton to the finish. we got to upper millcreek canyon at 10pm. eve arrived just after 11pm and was in rough shape. she laid down on the floor of the eurovan with my sleeping bag for 10-15 minutes. she'd been puking and was really cold and tired. her s.o. Charlie Vincent arrived a few minutes after she got there. Charlie was attempting his 4th 100 mile race of the summer. we got some food into both of them and they both started looking a lot better. both left the aid station looking strong. it was quarter after midnight. Butch left around then and i stayed, wrapped in my sleeping bag, wondering how Cheryl was doing and how long it would be before she arrived.
Cheryl and her pacer, Kristin, got to upper millcreek at around 1:30am. Cheryl looked upset and cold, and i wrapped her in my sleeping bag and got some warm liquids into her. she started feeling better, and i was thinking i could get her into shape to keep her going. it was then that she told me that she had had a really rough time on the millcreek road, feeling sick, coughing, and just being really cold, and had flagged down a car to take her up to the aid station so that she could drop out. her race was over. and so was mine. i would not be running the last 40 miles with her. she had set a personal record of running 61 miles in about 18 hours.
we all drove over to Brighton, mile 75, to try to catch some other friends of ours and see how their races were coming along. Carly Varner, fiancee of Hal Koerner, came through brighton looking fresh and awake. she was running without a pacer, and i considered running with her to the finish, but honestly she was looking way too strong and i was afraid i'd be more of a hindrance to her than a help. i waited. butch texted me, "where r u?" i replied @brighton. he was on his way up the canyon to crew Eve and pace her to the finish. he invited me to join them. how could i say no? it was my opportunity to run with a couple of great people on a tough 25 miler, one of the most beautiful courses in the world. my stomach was tweaking, i was tired from lack of sleep, and i really just wanted to go home and go to bed. but i said yes.
it was an amazing 25 miles. we caught the sunrise from Catherine's Pass. Marty, Eve's pacer from big water to brighton, went to the top with us and then carried our warm layers back to the car. she coaxed Eve into continuing when Eve wanted to stop and puke on the side of the trail (Eve has a notoriously tweaky stomach). Butch and i got Eve through the Ant Knolls aid station, got a pancake into her, and she cruised up the first climb of the Ridge Trail 157. she was on her way.
shortly before Pole Line Pass aid station, Eve slowed down and started to get really weepy, thinking she couldn't continue. she was at mile 83. Butch and i both told her, "what do you mean you can't do it? you ARE doing it. you're doing it right now. let's keep going." and she did. she got some food and her secret weapon skim milk in her water bottle and she motored across Point of Contention and the Forest Lake treadmill to Rock Spring aid station. mile 87. only 13 to go.
the weather got hot and Eve kept motoring. she got nauseated and kept going. she never got weepy again, rather she started chatting and telling stories with me and Butch. i knew she was going to make it. Pot Bottom aid station, at mile 93, she was so fast in and out of there, i never got to take my shoes off to shake the rocks and dirt out of them. we just kept motoring.
quick dip in the creek after Pot Bottom, and Eve was refreshed. we had a hot 2 mile climb and then 5 miles of single and double track through the scrub oak to the finish in Midway. Eve ran so fast on that last 5 miles i thought she was going to drop me. the heat was getting to me and my feet were aching. how could she be running so fast after 95 miles through the heat of the day and the cold night? she was smelling the barn...
we hit the road for the last mile and i hung tough and kept up. Butch ran ahead to snap a photo of us. i could see the finish line and i got tears in my eyes. i put my arm around Eve and said, "look at that. you did it, Eve!" and she got tears in her eyes too. She crossed the finish line with a time of 33 hours 37 minutes. very respectable.
we stayed for the finish ceremonies at the Homestead Resort. ate food and drank beer. got a shower. hung out and recounted our tales. Speedgoat Scott Mason told me i had more issues in my mini-epic of 25 miles than most people had in their whole 100 mile race. i like to think i just like to tell a good story. this story was made possible by the Wasatch 100. what an amazing couple of days.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
went up one of my favorite trails this morning, with my friend Cheryl, whom i will be pacing at Wasatch 100 in a few short weeks. after a minor miscommunication this morning (i was waiting at the wrong park and ride and had also forgotten my phone) we carpooled up the canyon.
Started from the top of Millcreek, and took my favorite fall-back trail, because it was a *bike* day and not a *dog* day in Millcreek today. (for those of you who understand this terminology, skip ahead. for those of you unfamiliar, a short explanation. salt lake city and county have some weird watershed and usage rules once you get up into the nearby canyons and foothills. Millcreek Canyon is popular with locals for hiking, running, mountain and road biking, and picnicing. upper canyon trails are designated *dogs may be off-leash* on odd days [i remember this by all of the words having an "o": dog, off, and odd] and mountain bikes allowed on even days. bikes may not be on the upper trails on odd days [although once in a while you will get a poacher, and if i see you, i will make a point of saying something] and dogs may be present on even days, but must be on a leash.)
so Cheryl, the dogs and i went up a trail that is little used by bikers, and hit it early so that we would not encounter much bike traffic on the descent. we ambled up through one of my favorite meadows, and the dogs concentrated on putting as many burrs and seed pods in their fluffy coats as possible. we popped out on the Crest Trail above Desolation Lake, and after enjoying the view for a few short moments, cruised back down to the trailhead. i love it when a run feels like 1/3 of the distance is uphill and 2/3 of the distance is cruiser singletrack downhill. we ran into a couple of ultra runners on the way down, and socialized for a few minutes. we encountered a few mountain bikers, who were all courteous on the trail (shocker!) and several families with kids and dogs (on leash) en tow.
just another day in the Wasatch.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
last week i went to the wind rivers for a backpacking trip with some really good friends of mine: karl and cheryl meltzer, and their friends (whom i would now consider my friends) eric belz and his girlfriend kristin. of course, the dogs franklin and artemis went along, too. i went to the winds for several reasons. first off: the mountain range is beautiful. some might say unparalleled in beauty. the mountains are big, the vistas are bigger, and the fish can elusive but feisty. second: i hadn't been to the range for a couple of years. the last time i was there was with an ex-boyfriend (who broke my heart) and i was a little leary about going back and stirring up old memories. i didn't go last year, because franklin was still coming off of his femur fracture, and i was not sure he was up for the task yet. third: i love hanging out with karl and cheryl. they are such an awesome couple. physically strong, and really down to earth. eric belz is a crack-up and always entertaining with great stories to tell, and i was looking forward to getting to know his girlfriend, kristin, a little bit better. lastly: boards. no, not two by fours or planks of wood, but final certification exam testing. my boards were to be the following week, and i needed a little "clear the head" time with little time left over to worry. i also wanted to study my material a little bit more, because the fresh air and wide open spaces always help me to retain information a bit better than if i were sitting at home in front of my computer. minimal distraction in the mountains.
so after a 60 hour work week in the emergency department and on 4 hours of sleep, rise and shine, dark and early, for the 4 1/2 hour drive to new fork lakes. the first day consisted of karl beating the rest of us to a pulp with about 12 miles of hiking, 2000+ feet of elevation gain, and rest stops few and far between. i was determined not to cry, or cry out in pain, or crumple into a heap of frustration and exhaustion under the weight of my 40 pound pack, but i have to admit, about 10 miles into the first day i was like, "wtf?!?" the dogs, of course, were having the time of their lives and skipped across wildflower-strewn meadows under the weight of their dog packs.
i didn't eat well that first night, as my stomach was tweaking hard, and didn't sleep well at 11,000 feet. but i never eat or sleep well the first night out, so i wasn't that concerned. the dogs inhaled their kibble and asked for more.
awakening the next morning, i was able to really take in and appreciate the beauty that surrounded us. i was happily anticipating the hike across lozier pass and the high mountain lakes that were interspersed between us and our destination, clark lake.
we set up camp a little ways away from clark lake (minimum 100 ft from trail or watersource) and the boys immediately started talking fishing. all i could think about was a nap. so i set up my tent, got my books out, settled in with the dogs and started reading. i bet i got a good hour in before i dozed off. then the rain hit. then the hail hit. there is nothing more cozy than hanging out in a tent with your two favorite caning companions in a thunderstorm. i'm sorry--nothing.
got up for a pre-dinner walkabout and watched the boys fish a bit, met cheryl at the far side of the lake, made dinner. bed. reading. sleep. nice.
next day, a big hike down clark creek, up to green river pass and summit lake. amazing views. could see the high peaks that surround titcomb basin and imagined myself within them. not this trip. moose at green river pass. up the drainage to no name lakes, with the intention of stopping at lake #2. but when we got there, karl said, "no; i don't think this is it. let's keep going." hmmm. everyone tired after 10 miles already today. okay, then. to cutthroat lake we go. and then the storm hit. just past cutthroat lake, the skies got dark, and the hail started to pelt. we all hunkered down under a tarp on the south side of the pass. crazy. no camping at cutthroat lakes--no level campsites. up and over another pass. franklin giving me a worried look like he's ready to bed down for the night. another wave of hail storm. looking for a campsite. found one, on the far side of a lake just south of cutthroat.
the clouds cleared and the sun came out. it was cold, but tolerable. i took a nap in my tent for a while; actually we all did. then the boys decided to hike back to no names and go fishing. i decided to study a bit and make dinner. hung out with the girls and played yahtzee. had never played before. and actually got "yahtzee"!
woke up next morning to very cold temps and two inches of snow. franklin had been shivering all night, and i had given him my puffy coat to try to keep warm. it helped. had left my shoes out all night, and they were wet and soggy. sun not looking like it wanted to come out. waited around until 9am, and decided, well, the only way to get warm is to start hiking. the skies being so gray, i decided to see how i felt, but was thinking most likely i'd just hike out to the trailhead. long day ahead--about 12 miles i guessed (which, looking back on it i think was closer to 14, but what's a couple of miles here or there?) another wave of snow came through just as i was hiking above palmer lake. head down hiking uphill, and all of a sudden noticed i only had one dog next to me (franklin) and the crazy blond girl (artemis, the huntress) was gone. gone. for 20 minutes. chasing birds across the tundra. came back (thankfully) and did not run all the way to pinedale.
didn't have a map, as karl had the only map, and was paying close attention to the trail turn-offs and intersections, of which there were only a few. hiking past rainbow lake, kept thinking, "did i miss that last right hand turn? no. this is it. there's doubletop mountain. this is right. is this right? this feels wrong. no. it has to be right... " and on and on my thoughts went for a couple of hours. finally got to the doubletop burn area (large forest fire burn area from last summer), and not all the trees and vegetation toasted and ash, but i'm sure any signs that used to be marking the area are long gone. there's hardly a trail in some places. cross countried it for a few miles, in the middle to cut off some distance and then at the end of the burn section when i finally lost the trail for good.
long hike, only 2-3 miles, but felt longer, along the shores of new fork lakes. back at the car. fed the dogs. changed clothes and into flip flops. coffee and onion rings and a 12 pack of fat tire ale at the c-store. gassed up and ready to roll. talked to my brother up in idaho just before kemmerer at the section of highway that passes all of the wind turbines. he was camping too. nice.
now i'm back home and the legs, which were sore for several days, are feeling better. the pictures, downloaded on the computer and posted to the internet, make me long for more. back to reality--is this what i really want? i'd love to stay in those mountains. clear my head. free from distractions. simplicity.
oh yeah; i passed my boards.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I've been studying for boards the last few days; the dogs have been very patient. After studying all day, we went up our classic Millcreek route. Dogs took a swim in Dog Lake. Saw some regulars up there, too: Annette and her pack of dogs. I was listening to Napoleon Dynamite on the headphones and couldn't help but feel like I had "canned heat" in my heels--just like the song that Napoleon dances to in the talent show. Felt good, real good. As it should.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
So much is going on in my life, I feel like it's a roller coaster. I'm stressed about studying for my Nurse Practitioner boards, and although everyone assures me that I will pass, I'm really nervous about taking them. Things at work are stressful, because I'm ready to move on and be in a new environment, but I can't quite move on yet, and sometimes I feel a bit stuck. I've got some prospects on the horizon for moving on, but I'm not ready to share them just yet, because I'm not sure if they will come to fruition or not. For right now, the things that bring me peace are fresh air, mountains, and dogs. Enjoy the slideshow that follows; Franklin, Artemis and I had an uplifting day today.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I was reminded today of John Muir; and in some inexplicable way, I feel a great loss in never having known him. I wish he could have lived forever, this great man and defender of Wilderness.
"In all excursions, when danger is realized, thought is quickened, common care buried, and pictures of wild, immortal beauty are pressed into memory, to dwell forever." --John Muir
May I always remember to take a risk; especially when exploring the mountains. To find new, intriguing places and remember to share them with others.
Here's to our mountains. Explore them, enjoy them, and protect them.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I had to get the dogs out yesterday. I've been working more, and feeling like I needed to get out, and the dogs have been very patient with me. So we headed up Bowman Fork in Millcreek Canyon, with the intent of either going across to Alexander Basin and down the road, or around the south face of Raymond and down Porter fork.
But the snows were looking deep on the north face of Alexander cut-off trail, so I decided to bag that route. I've had bad luck in the past trying to get across the snow fields on the north ridge of Gobbler's. So we pressed on to Butler Pass, on the east ridge of Mt. Raymond.
It is, indeed my favorite peak. It stands so majestic over Big Cottonwood and Millcreek. Equally visible from both canyons, and like a sentry on the west ridge of the Crest. Different from all sides, like the different moods you can go through on a long day on the trail.
So I got to Butler Pass and was looking across Mill A Basin, and it looked like there was still a lot of snow up there. The pitch can be very intimidating at times, I'm sure it's at least 30 degrees in places, but I said, "Aw, screw it..." and we kept going across the basin, around the south side of Raymond, with beautiful views of the Stairs Gulch and the Salt Lake Twins...
Hit the snow field at the top of Porter Fork, and thought, "Hmmm... this might be a little challenging." Would have been nice to have an ice axe and something more than trail running shoes on my feet at that point; but to carry those things for only 10% of the total trail being covered in snow seemed a little silly. Then Franklin took a slide. He had turned around on the snowfield to check on me and slipped. Spun off a rock and started to slide into a log with branches sticking out. Scared the crap out of me. I sent the dogs on ahead of me and encouraged them to keep moving. I was alright. Just cold hands and ankles.
Wow, it's a long way down Porter Fork, is all I could think to myself. Moseyed down the trail for another hour, hit Yellow Jacket Gulch, the short-cut through the woods that links the bottom of Porter and Bowman, and back to the car. Beautiful 4 hour tour.