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Month: October 2014

Stupid Leaves

Stupid Leaves

I ran up the Farmington Creek Trail to the Sunset Campground, planning to take it easy on the way up and then get a PR on the downhill.

In the end, I got a PR on the last climb to the campground, but didn’t get my hoped-for downhill PR. Why? Because the trail was covered in 2 inches of leaves for a lot of it. That makes it hard to run when you can’t tell what the actual terrain is. Boo.

Beautiful as ever though, if a bit drained of the prior fall colors.

3.9 miles in 49:00 @ 12:38 min/mile and with 1,309 ft. elevation gain

One last (blustery) Hurrah on the Great Western Trail (+ bonus Smith Creek Lakes)

One last (blustery) Hurrah on the Great Western Trail (+ bonus Smith Creek Lakes)

Knowing that the high-altitude season is quickly coming to a close (winter is coming!) I decided to do one last run up at the top of the mountains here in Davis County. I did a similar route last year at this time, but by then it had already snowed (and melted some) up at the top. We are still getting up into the 50s-70s this year in late October! So, it has been a nice month and I’m glad that the cold has held off.

In any case, I drove up to the Francis Peak FAA towers parking lot, eyeing the hunters that were out and about like last year, and went on my way. Francis Peak, past Thurston Peak to Chinscraper and back (with a detour to Smith Creek Lakes on the way out)

 

12 miles in 2:40:08 @ 13:21 min/mile and with 1,785 ft. elevation gain

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I followed the dirt road north and then dropped down the east side of the mountains to hit the Smith Creek Lakes (and scope out a possible route down into Morgan County). There were a surprising number of ATVs and Jeeps on the path. It is rough going in a number of places and they were having to go so slow that I passed a number of them. From the northernmost of the Lakes, I took the trail I found earlier this year to traverse over the ridge west to the Great Western Trail. It is a great little traverse and a fun way to connect the 2 sides of the ridge. I followed that around Thurston Peak to the Top of Chinscraper and then took the Great Western all the way back.

In all, it was a great run. The wind almost blew me over a couple times – SO gusty up there on the ridges.

I was also surprised by how, seemingly overnight, the amazing fall colors turned to greys and browns. Still beautiful up there, but drained of color.

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Southernmost Smith Creek Lake. Kind of Blah.
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Sitting at the start of the traverse trail at the NE tip of the northernmost Smith Creek Lake. The trail goes up and to the right and then weaves up through the rocks at the top right to connect with the Great Western Trail on the west side of the Mtns.
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Looking north on the Great Western. Bright colors all drained away.
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Landis Spring, located on the Great Western Trail just below Thurston Peak as you traverse around its western base. Cold. So cold. So delicious. I filled up on my way past going both directions.
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Goodbye Ridgelines. See you in the Spring.

 

Summiting Bountiful Peak via Old North

Summiting Bountiful Peak via Old North

I had a lot of goals for running this season, and among them was to summit the 3 highest peaks in Davis County from the valley floor. I did Thurston and Francis Peaks back in July, so that left Bountiful Peak. I decided to bag it using the Old North Trail in Davis Creek Canyon. It is about 4.5 miles of, and 4,500 ft. elevation gain. Upness.

12.2 mile in 3:02:46 (moving time, a full 5 hours elapsed) @ 15:00 min/mile pace and with 4,570 ft. elevation gain

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The first 2.5 miles up were great. But, about 1/2 between the Old North overlook and Midway Peak, the trail faded and the markings did too. Thus, the bushwhack began. I knew that the trail would fade out around there, but I was hoping that I could find a clear route to the top.

Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (6)
Looking up-canyon from the Old North ridge overlook
Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (9)
Midway Peak was a bit of a scramble. I like how people construct makeshift monuments on these small, seldom-visited peaks.

From there, there are 2-3 connected ridgelines that lead up to Bountiful Peak. Unfortunately, the ridges themselves are heavily covered with oak, scrub oak, aspen, and lots of scratchy thick underbrush. I followed the ridges, hugging the north side of them, but down the hill a bit. There were a surprising number of game trails that were easy to follow. When one faded, there was usually another close by to follow. They were still scratchy, and the route did still require a few short, but hefty, bushwhacks. I made it though.

Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (22)
Bushwhack Blood
Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (11)
Somewhere on the trail above Midway Peak. Looking north across Steed Creek Canyon towards Francis Peak.
Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (12)
Aspens hiding up in the canyon

Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (14)

Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (15)

To descend I ran down Skyline Drive to the Parrish Creek Trail and went down there. I was planning to take the Bonneville Shoreline trail the 3-4 miles back north to the Davis Creek TH where my car was, but I had a few hot spots that were about to go full-on blister. I had called a friend to meet me at the bottom (my phone was about to die and I failed to bring a cable to hook it to my little charger pod). He kindly gave me a ride to my car.

Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (20)
Somewhere on the way down Parrish.
Old North to Bountiful Peak to Parrish (21)
At the bottom. The switchbacks at the end were relentless. Surely painful going up, but also going down! I could feel those blisters forming.
Autumn Aspen Awesomeness on the Wasatch Crest + Mill D MOOSE!

Autumn Aspen Awesomeness on the Wasatch Crest + Mill D MOOSE!

With my family out of town, I took my free evening time to hit up Big Cottonwood Canyon to see some autumn leaves before they were all gone. Some friendly folks from the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers joined in and we had a great run (Thanks Collette, Justin and Tyson!). As it turned out, a lot of the Aspen leaves had already fallen at the higher elevations, but our route eventually took us through a gorgeous band of trees.

We parked at Mill D North and took my car up to Guardsman Pass. The Wasatch Crest Trail goes from there, north, to Desolation Lake. We then turned down Mill D to the cars. about 11 miles total (we took a wrong turn at the beginning and almost dropped down the east side of the Crest, oops!). I would like to think I could have done it faster, but I kept on stopping to take pictures.

So yeah, lots of pictures below. I just couldn’t help myself. The evening sun coming in sideways against the Aspens – wow.

10.9 miles in 2:07:21 @ 11:40 min/mile and with 1,031 ft. elevation gain

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Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (4)
On the Crest between Guardsman Pass and Desolation Lake
Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (7)
Crest south of Deso
Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (8)
Panorama looking down the ridge, Desolation Lake at bottom left

Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (16)

Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (17)
This guy was write against the trail and I literally almost ran into him. He sauntered off, letting out a few grunts. I scrambled to get my camera. Wow.

Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (18)

Guardsman to Desolation Lake to Mill D (13)