2 runs, only 3 days apart. The first, up the Farmington Canyon singletrack to Sunset Campground and then down the road on Monday. A recovery run of sorts and it felt great. I PRd on the loop and a 5k PR on the way down! It was only in the 70s but it felt so hot. I was SWEATING!
3 days later, on Thursday, I headed up the Fruit Heights upper terrace from Shepherd Creek to Baer Canyon and back (about a mile north from Monday’s run). Note in the pictures…it was not hot and sweat in the 70s. A bit colder.
22 Miles Under the Wedge: San Rafael River, Virgin Spring, Cane Wash Loop
Overall it was a fairly “flat” route. 22+ miles, but only about 1,850 ft. elevation gain. That didn’t mean it was easy though. Those 1,800+ ft. were concentrated in a medium, small, and BIG traverse over ridges and cliffs between drainages. Check out the velo map below:
I was joined by 3 other brave souls – Dee, Ryan and Tyler. I had met Dee and Ryan briefly on other occasions, but not Tyler. They were all awesome, total troopers, and it was great to get to know them all better. Plus, they kept their cursing of me for dragging them on the trip to a minimum.
We hit the trail around 8:30-9:00. As usual, I felt sluggish. The first few miles are always the worst for me.
At about mile 3.5 we hit our first climb. It is right at the intersection of Cane Wash (coming from the south) and the San Rafael River. We would loop by here later, so we made a water drop. The river bends south and I think it gets too close to the cliffs on our north side for there to be a trail. So, the trail climbs over a nice sized knife-edge ridge.
From there, we continued along the river…missing the turn off for Virgin Spring Canyon. We doubled back a 1/2 mile and found it. This was the 2nd climb, and a minor one. The trail traversed along the east wall of the canyon – a ways up from the floor. This is probably because it hits a dead end that you’d need gear to climb. Once we passed that dead drop, the trail descended down to the canyon floor.
We misjudged where we needed to exit the canyon, and wasted a few minutes going up a side canyon BEFORE the one we needed.
After returning back to the canyon, conferring with map and continuing on, we saw the exit ramp we needed. A large boulder slide. If not for the cairns that led us up the south side of the canyon and gave us confidence that it was the right canyon – we wouldn’t have taken it. From the bottom (or the middle, or even almost to the top) it was hard to see how we would get out. Up south canyon wall, across to the boulder slide ramp, and finally a ledge near the top where we found another large cairn. Hallelujah. We followed that ledge around to the right (south) and eventually found more cairns leading us up to the top. From there, we could look down (east) into Cane Wash.
Again, it was 100% unclear how in the world we would descend the cliffs. Thankfully, my cell coverage returned at the top of the cliff and I could check the strava route I had drawn previously. Following that, we worked our way south, down a few drops and switchbacks (occasionally seeing cairns) and eventually to the canyon floor. Looking back up, it was hard to believe we had navigated our way down.
At this point, we descended Cane Wash back to the San Rafael River. Tyler wanted to move a bit faster and took off back to the car. Unbeknownst to us – he was also out of water, and eager to get back to his car and the waters and beer he had on ice. Good call Tyler.
Dee, Ryan and I made our way down Cane Wash and the deep sand was neverending. Oh man. I hated that sand. Dee ran out of water on our descent so I shared what was left in my bladder. Ryan caught up with Dee and I at the water drop where we were guzzling in the shade. Then, we took off for the last 3.5 miles to the car. It was only in the mid-70s, but felt so much hotter in the sun. I made it to the cars first, with Dee not far behind (fighting leg cramps, ouch!), and then Ryan.
In all, it was a really fun time. Doing it again would be so much easier, knowing exactly where to go. As a bonus, check out some of the stuff along Buckhorn Wash Rd. on your way down: