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Author: professorontherun

Murdock Mountain, Nevada, Elko County

Murdock Mountain, Nevada, Elko County

For work I did a writing retreat to a friend’s off-grid remote cabin in the Murdock Mountain region of Nevada, Elko County. Not only did I get an incredible amount of work done revising my book manuscript, but I took a few hours to tag the local peak. I approached from southwest, up a jeep road. I hit the saddle west of the false west summit and the wind was just ripping over it. It was gorgeous though. Along the ridgeline up to the west summit, then down and up to the main summit – views for days. From there, I continued east for the descent and looped some other jeep roads back down. It was possibly the most remote adventure run I have done. I was the first person to sign the summit registry since 2015! Ha! I’ll go back and do the full ridgeline someday.

Looking up the jeep road to the summit ridgeline

 

Just east and above the saddle that sits at the top of the jeep road, down and west of the false west summit

 

The entire summit ridge was covered with bright orange lichen – so pretty

 

Murdock Mountain summit looking north towards Idaho

 

Murdock Mountain summit looking east towards Utah

 

Murdock Mountain summit looking south towards the Toana and Pequop Ranges
Full Mt. Mahogany Ridgeline Traverse

Full Mt. Mahogany Ridgeline Traverse

I have been eyeing Mt. Mahogany for a while – from the freeway, while climbing up Grove Creek, from Timpooneke Rd., etc. I decided I needed to do a full traverse of the ridgeline – in preparation (hopefully!) for a full Timp ridgeline traverse later this year. MVH came with, and it was a great day on the mountain!

We started at the Grove Creek Trailhead. To climb this south end of Mahogany, most take the Grove Creek Trail up to the bridge, then go straight up the scree north of that. That leads to the southernmost end of the Mahogany massif. For a cleaner “ridge” approach, we went straight up the SW ridge that begins at the Grove Creek trailhead.

It was steep, but fairly straight forward. There were a number of “trails,” and game trails. At the occasional cliff-band, stay left (north) and they are easy to skirt around. Steep though. 3,000 ft. climbing in 2 miles.

 

Looking SW down the ridge as we climbed
Climbing up the SW ridge, p/c MVH
At the top, near the south end of the massif, looking east towards the Timpanogos massif. WOW!

Once at the top, you are met with a beautiful set of verdant meadows – amazing spots for camping,  though it would be a haul with lots of gear!

MVH coming up the ridgeline towards the summit (quite a few false-summit bumps along the way). Down and to the left you can see the area around Grove Creek Springs and the aspen climb up to Chris Fisher Flats. Sagebrush Flats – just out of frame to the bottom left – looked amazing.

The summit was great, but I’m always amazed at how ridgelines that seem to only have one main pitch, always have multiple climbs. They are always steeper and longer than they look from the valley floor.

So THAT’S how he flies up the mountains so fast – he’s got wings!
Mahogany summit, looking west

Coming down off the summit, continuing north, there was some fun snow to glissade down.

Father along the ridgeline, looking back south and up towards the main summit

 

Slip sliding away

We made our way to the northern edge of the ridge where it drops down into American Fork Canyon. I jogged up and to the right to bag the north summit. Views for days. The descent down the NW ridge was steep – my knees didn’t like that.

Along the far north end of the ridge, looking northwest down into American Fork Canyon. there were some scary huge cornices up there!
At what people call the “North Mahogany” summit (the terminus of the trail that goes up from Cedar Hills golf course on the NW ridge), looking towards North Timp

 

Me up on the North summit, p/c MVH
Exploring the Little Baldy Foothills

Exploring the Little Baldy Foothills

Above the Orem Gun Range there is a great set of squiggle trails that lead up to Trail Nr. 051. Between there and Little Baldy I have noticed a series of green meadows that lead up in between the trees and have long wanted to explore them. So, I did. I did the climb out of the gun range a couple times, and messed around in those little meadows a bit. So quiet – I didn’t once see a single person up in them.

I found a Horned Lizard (2, actually)
I shwhacked over to the Little Baldy Ridgeline to look down into Dry Canyon – found some cool cliffs
Nice little glen

 

 

Touring a new friend around the foothills

Touring a new friend around the foothills

I have been doing my best to seduce a new neighbor (kind of old family friend) to the trails. So far, pretty good. I have taken him up the Lindon Squiggles, around the BST, the Dry Canyon – Altar/Rock Pile loop, the Johnsons Hole / Taj Mahal / GW loop, etc. Good times. I still struggle to believe all of these great trails are just a 5 minute drive away.

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The Racetrack

The Racetrack

Above Timpanogos Park there is a great set of squiggly trails (obviously built by mountain bikers) that some call the racetrack. If you loop a specific route, it is exactly 2 miles around. Super fun. I have done it a few times now in the snow, mud, and dirt.

Go put it on your phone or watch and try to follow it! Great route.
Racetrack Clockwise
Racetrack Counterclockwise

The views ain’t shabby

Even after a few times, I have to follow it on my watch or I get lost. Its just a maze.

The Wedge, WEST!

The Wedge, WEST!

Work took me down to Emery County for a couple days of digging in the archives. On my way out of Castledale on the last day, I realize I was only a few miles from the Wedge. I figured it was my moral duty to go for a quick run before driving home. For something new, I started at the Wedge Overlook and ran WEST along the dirt road, and then a bit along the rim, then to the overlook that is directly across (south) from Virgin Spring Canyon. It was overcast and the canyon colors were a bit washed out, but still gorgeous.

 

Looking north, across the San Rafael River, and up Virgin Spring Canyon towards the Sid’s Mountain mesa area.

Skiing?!

Skiing?!

I grew up snowboarding in NW Washington and had never skied. However, lots of my trailrunning friends have been posting pictures of backcountry ski-touring. I couldn’t let them have all the fun so I hunted on the used classifieds and put together a pretty good set-up. Some Surface Sherpa skis with dynafit speed turn tech bindings, some La Sportiva sparkle tech boots, and some G3 skins.

 

So, before I knew it, I was skinning up Sq Peak road and then realizing I didn’t know how to ski down. Thankfully the road isn’t too steep, so my rudimentary pizza wedge worked fine. The boots KILLED though.

 

After getting the boots adjusted I return to the same road, went up higher and felt great. The new snow, however, made the way back down very slow – lots of pushing and having to stay in my tracks. So, not much practice getting turns on the downhill.

Fresh first tracks on Sq Peak road

 

3rd attempt I skinned up from the Lindon equestrian parking lot up to make-out point just north of Dry Canyon. The way up was great. Downhill was a disaster. I picked a broad treeless open slope because it would give me the space to do long wide turns. There was a lot of deep snow, which made turning hard and who would have guessed that not know how to ski at all would make going down difficult. It was embarrassing.

De-skinning

 

4 attempt I went with a friend from Tibble Fork Resevoir in AF Canyon up to Silver Lake Flat via the road and trail, and then took the road down. It was great. Steep enough on the way down that I didn’t have to push a lot but not too steep. I got some turns in and started to figure out the mechanics of it.

Looking back up Silver Lake Flat rd.

 

Finally, on an afternoon after work I ponied up some dollars and got an evening lift ticket at Sundance. It was great! After a few runs I figured out how to distirbute my weight from one foot to the other, carve back and forth, slow down, dodge trees, etc. There was a good 18 inches of fresh snow, which didn’t make for the best learning conditions,  but it went very well. By the end of the day I could swish down greens and blues without much trouble. Huzzah!

Accidental Half Marathon

Accidental Half Marathon

Every winter I start pounding out more pavement miles because I’m too lazy to run the snowy or muddy trails and every winter I get overuse injuries. So far so good this winter! I have mixed in some treadmill with some street runs, culminating with an accidental 1/2 marathon. I have only done a 1/2 on pavement once before. This time, I was planning to run from the mouth of Provo Canyon up to Nunn’s Park and back – about 6 miles. When I got to Nunn’s I was feeling good and figured I should head another 1/2 mile up to Bridal Veil Falls to see it. It had been warm, the Provo River was surging so high, and I thought it might be fun to see. Once I got there, I figured I should probably just go all the way to Vivian Park so I could say I had done the full canyon trail up and down. When I got back to my car I was at 11.75 miles, so I figured I was ethically and morally obligated to run another 1.5 to make it a full 13.1 miles. I was a bit stiff by the end. A couple days later I did a 4 mile “recovery” run that started sore and ended great. The next morning all soreness was gone, so I am again converted to the recovery run idea for shaking out sore tight muscles.

Winter rockslide damage between Bridal Veil Falls and Vivian Park
Phragmites along Utah Lake shore

 

Snow Adventures

Snow Adventures

Snow has arrived (finally!) in Utah. I have only ventured out a few times, but it has been pretty great.

In mid-November my back tweaked again (see my nightmare injury from Summer 2015). I decided to test it out on the Lindon Squiggles and foothills below Dry Canyon. It started beautiful and ended with a whiteout. I knew a system was moving in, but figured I’d be ok not venturing too far from my car. It was fun to get first tracks in the snow and my Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neos worked great!

Snow moving towards me across the valley

A week or so later I ventured up Dry Canyon a bit – mistake. It was too tracked out and complete ice. Not wanting to descend the steep ice I cut up the Curly Springs trail Nr. 051 and came down the Squiggles. Much better on those back trails.

I hosted the 3rd annual Wasatch Mountain Wrangler Secret Wrangler Gift Exchange and someone was kind enough to hide a gift for me too. Like last year’s gifts, it took up new trails. Mill Creek, Pipeline Burch Hollow, towards Church Fork Peak. My childhood best fried was visiting and he joined me. The last pitch to the Church Fork ridge was a bit of a slow – he snowshoed up – but I didn’t put mine on until the ridge. We headed west a while, but didn’t trek all of the way to the peak. We were a bit short on time, and lazy. How beautiful though! AND, my new Christmas present Hillsound Ultra crampons were AMAZING. My Atlas snowshoes performed great too.

Where snow had melted off the rocks they were covered with lichen and plants.

 

Pleasantly mild day turned cold with a stiff wind on the ridge. Brr!

 

Looking down Burch Hollow into Mill Creek Canyon