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Month: August 2014

Alta-Brighton Loop in the Morning

Alta-Brighton Loop in the Morning

One thing that is a bummer about living in Davis County is that getting to the trails in east Salt Lake City is difficult – at least with my schedule. I have toyed with the idea of doing it as an early morning thing before work, but worried it would still put me to work too late. With summer turning to autumn and the specter of snow on the horizon I decided that I had to hit some trails up there this season. I asked the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers group on facebook for their #1 recommendation and a number agreed that the 10 mile loop between Altra and Brighton is the way to go.  Wow. They were right.

I hit the trail at Alta around 5:45 AM and power hiked slowly up Grizzly Gulch for the two miles up to Twin Lakes Pass, over looking Twin Lakes Reservoir. This route takes you from Little to Big Cottonwood Canyon. Once the sun came up, I could see what I was in for.

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Grainy low-light shot looking west down Grizzly Gulch towards the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon

Wow.

The trail heads down past Twin Lakes Reservoir and to Silver Lake at Brighton. From there, the trail loops around Silver Lake and treks up through Brighton to Catherine Pass. Along the way you pass Mary’s Lake and Catherine Lake. From Catherine Pass you drop down into the Albion Basin, into Alta and back to the car.

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Looking down on Twin Lakes Resevoir from Twin Lakes Pass
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Silver Lake, Brighton. Morning Light hitting a Mt. Millicent to the West.
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Catherine Lake… or Lake Mary. I don’t remember.
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Albion Basin, Alta.

Wow. My most beautiful route to date. Unfortunately, a knot in my back that has been there for a long time started hurting more and more as I went – slowing me down quite a bit. Later that day it fully went into spasm mode, debilitating me for a few days.  Ouch.  Totally worth it though!

 10.3 miles in 2:21:50 @ 13:47 min/mile and with 2,950 ft. elevation gain

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The Hills are (not) Alive with the Sound of Music

The Hills are (not) Alive with the Sound of Music

Music is a big part of my life. I did a solo singer-songwriter thing for years (250+ horrible demos recorded), I’ve had radio shows, and I run music blog (http://desertislandmixtapes.com). Fittingly, running has provided a great opportunity to put on new albums and listen to them front-to-back without much distraction. Music makes running a lot of fun.  But, when things started warming up this year, and people began posting pictures of enormous rattlesnakes on the local trails, I rethought this practice. I saw 3 rattlers last year, and all three times they were right under foot. With narrow or overgrown trails, it is a bit unnerving to think that one might be at hand. Earbuds tucked in my ears mean that if one did start giving me a warning rattle, I wouldn’t hear it.

So – I tuned the music off. In fact, I haven’t listened to music while trail-running since May or so.  And you  know what – it hasn’t been all that horrible. I  have actually really enjoyed the silence at times. I can hear the rushing water of a creek I am approaching, the clicking of cicadas, chirping of birds, rustling of wind in the trees, myself breathing heavily. The silence has also given me time to myself and my thoughts. I am a historian and writer by profession and taking regular time to think through complex historical problems I am working on during the day has led to a number of epiphanies and breakthroughs. So, maybe running sans music isn’t all that bad.

Well, until tonight. I ran up the Farmington Creek singletrack, up Farmington Canyon Road a bit, and then turned around to descend.  Knowing that I would be looking at 5+ miles on a wide dirt road (no risk of not seeing a snake lurking about) I brought some tunes with. I put the ear buds in, hit play on Spoon’s new album They Want My Soul (great, by the way!) and headed down the road. It was great. And I immediately realized how much I had missed it.

(by the way – great run. 7 miles in 1:18:44 @ 11:17 min/mile and with 1,514 ft. elevation gain)

So – final verdict? I think I can have enjoyable experiences either way. I used to think that running without music would be horribly boring, and I have discovered that it isn’t. Sometimes, its preferable. However, sometimes nothing beats running with some good beats. Either way, I’m in the mountains running – right? Win win.

And, ironically, my falling and slicing my hand open happened about 50 yards into my run, supposedly when I was bombing down the road, running in the dark, too fast and distracted by the tunes!

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East Mtn. to Fernwood and Back

East Mtn. to Fernwood and Back

I so enjoyed the BST on my way to Adams Canyon and back on Monday that I decided to put in some more miles on it. It is about 3.6 miles from East Mountain Park in Kaysville to Fernwood Recreation Site in Layton. It isn’t the most exciting trail, view-wise,  but it is a great place to clock miles. Lots of gentle ups and downs, and few shorter steep climbs and descents – but nothing too crazy. I have decided that my Altra Olympus shoes are great for this kind of trail – not to technical. I think this route may be a go-to for me when I want to clock some trail miles, rather than bagging peaks, stacking vert, or exploring UP canyons, etc… Close to home, relatively easy miles.

For the first 3 miles I was feeling sluggish – but on the way back felt great. This might be somewhat due to the fact that there is more climbing on the way there, but I think I generally feel best from about miles 4-8 on most runs.  The first few miles are hard, and once my legs loosen up and I get in a rhythm, it feels better. Good splits for me towards the end. I would love to get all of my splits at 10:00 min/mile or lower.  Maybe I’ll add this to regular rotation and try to drop my time each run.

I ran through sunset and flipped on my headlamp for the last 2 miles.

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Goodnight Utah!

7.2 Miles in 1:19:47 @ 11:06 min/mile and with 905 ft. elevation gain

Adams Canyon Snake Scare

Adams Canyon Snake Scare

 Last winter a lot of the local Davis County trail runners were trying to beat each others’ times up and down Adams Canyon. I never made it up there and figured today would be a good day. I unexpectedly found myself at home a bit earlier than usual, and swapped a couple afternoon hours of work for evening hours and went on a run instead.

5.9 miles in 1:15:24 @ 12:47 min/mile and with 1,581 ft. elevation gain

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The Bonneville Shoreline Trail from East Mountain Park in Kaysville north was a lot of fun – there is some fun singletrack that I need to come back and bomb around on my mtn. bike. On my way up, I had sunglasses on, which dulls some of the colors on the trail. As I came up a climb (looking straight down) and opened up my gait to get moving again, I ran right over the biggest snake I have ever seen – I saw it mid-stride and hurdled right over. I circled back around and got this picture.  No rattle – just a Gopher Snake.  Over 3 ft. long!

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 The trail up to the waterfall was a bit more of a scramble towards the top than I thought, I don’t know how some of those guys posted such fast times coming down that thing.

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I asked a family to take my picture with the waterfall. They zoomed in and mostly just got me. Oh well.
Bloomington Lake via accidental Worm Lake Detour

Bloomington Lake via accidental Worm Lake Detour

I joined some boy scouts on a campout up north and west from Bear Lake, at Bloomington Lake, ID. On Friday part of the group drove to the lake, while another group of us was going to do the quick 2 mile trail up to the lake. A couple boys ran way ahead and by the time we caught up to them, they had veered onto the wrong trail, UP UP and UP. By the time we regrouped, we thought we might as well continue and then bushwhack back down farther towards Bloomington Lake. It was gorgeous. This took us up to Worm Lake (not so gorgeous). The bushwhack over a couple ridges and down a steep grade was a bit rough on the boys. It wouldn’t have been bad if we had known it would be 6, rather than 2 miles. We didn’t have a enough water or food. But, we all made it, and Bloomington Lake was gorgeous.  Wow.

5.7 miles in 1:25:46 @ 15:04 min/mile and with 1,808 ft. elevation gain

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Approaching Worm Lake from the south. Less of a lake and more of a cow-refuse cesspool.

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Bloomington Lake