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Month: May 2015

On Loving Where You Live

On Loving Where You Live

A week from right now I will be somewhere in the middle of my first ultra marathon – the Bryce 50k. Hopefully, I will be well hydrated, feeling strong, and loving the experience. Today, I should be putting in a few easy miles, but I’m not. Old stress fractures in both of my lower legs / ankles, and a possibly bruised foot are flaring up and I desperately want them to be pain free when I race next week.

So instead, I drove my new toy – a 1980 Vespa P200E up the Sq*** Peak road above Rock Canyon, sat down on a rocky outcrop overlooking Rock Canyon, and am doing some writing for a new book project. Well, I was…now I’m blogging, I guess. It is about 60 degrees, the hillsides are unseasonably green due to some record breaking rainfall, birds are chirping, etc…  Heaven.

Above Rock Canyon2

My word – how did I get lucky enough to live somewhere so beautiful. Everyday when I walk out of my house to the view of Mt. Timpanogos, or walk out of my office to the stunning views of the Wasatch Mountains beside campus, or drive 10 minutes up the canyon to idyllic mountain meadows and groves of aspen, I have to pinch myself. This place is ridiculous. The Wasatch isn’t subtle about its beauty. No modesty here. It slaps you in the face with it. And, not only is it stunning, but it is accessible. You aren’t separated by an hour-long drive through foothills to get to the Mountains. The mountains just pop up straight from the valley floor. Magnificent.

Looking down Rock Canyon from my mountain workstation.
Looking down Rock Canyon from my mountain workstation.

I have been lucky to live in some beautiful places. My home town – Bellingham, Washington – is nestled between the Cascade Mountains and the ocean. It’s about as close to perfection as your can get. An outdoors wonderland.

But what about Nebraska? I lived there for 9 years, and looking back, regret not having explored more. While there, my best friend from growing up would regularly post pictures of his adventures in the Cascades and I would be so jealous. Come to think of it, over the past couple years as I have posted my trail-running pics, a number of friends have messaged me saying how jealous they are. Jealous – just like I was while back in Nebraska. Did it have the kind of nature that rubs your face in how beautiful it is? No. It’s more subtle. And, I regret not having taken advantage of that. There were a lot of strikingly beautiful places and things about the Great Plains. Instead of just being jealous of my friend’s adventures, why wasn’t I out making my own?!

This is all easy to say now that I live in Utah. Do I prefer my mountains? Sure. But, I now realize that you can and must learn to love where you live. To this end I always try to find beautiful trails to run when I travel. And, I’ve found them! There are different kinds of natural beauty, but I think that the spirit-recharging power of wilderness and nature can be harnessed anywhere. I am learning that it is as much in your mind as is it in the landscape. Lots of people live here in the beauty of the Wasatch who DON’T climb up mountains to enjoy it. Pity. I guess it goes both ways.

In any case, enough rambling. Back to my writing.

Get outside people.

Find something beautiful.

Let it recharge you.

GroveCreekBattleCreekCurlySpringDryCanyonBattleCreekGroveCreek Half Marathon Loop

GroveCreekBattleCreekCurlySpringDryCanyonBattleCreekGroveCreek Half Marathon Loop

I am running my first ultramarathon in a couple weeks – the Bryce 50k (~31 miles). I have *almost run that far once, and it was slow. I have done a number of runs in the 20-25 mile range, but none have been races. Aside from 2 Ragnar relays, the longest race I have done was a 5 mile Turkey Trot back when I still lived in Nebraska. In any case, I have not trained very well and figured I should put in some longer distance runs in the next couple weeks.

Tempted by continually amazing pictures, I headed back up Grove Creek to the green valleys below the western slope of Timp.

I put out a post for a  group run and one guy, Matt C. came. Great guy – great conversation. We headed up Grove Creek to Indian Springs, where I filled my 2 water bottles. Tasty tasty water.

I also accidentally stepped on this guy. 🙁

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An innocent rubber boa I accidentally squished. I moved him off the trail to recuperate. Sorry buddy!

Then across to Chris Flats, beautiful as ever, and 1/2way down Battle Creek. There, we hit the turnoff to Curly Springs.

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On the trail to Curly Springs. So lush and green!

After climbing up out of Battle Creek canyon, I needed to pick up the pace and Matt and i parted ways – me pushing forward and Matt looking to drop a shortcut down to the BST.

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Hoping to beat the storms.

I ran south to Dry Canyon, took that down to the BST, and followed the BST back to Grove Creek. 13.1 miles! It was fabulous.

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Looking back up into Dry Canyon. I love that notch.
Exploring the Orem Foothills

Exploring the Orem Foothills

2 easy run around the Orem foothills. The Orem Police gun range trailhead is just 2 miles from my new house, so this will likely be my primary set of trails. And, thankfully, there are a million of them. On top of the primary Bonneville Shorelines trail system, Mtn. Bikers have built a network of connecting trails. In any case, very close, very fun.

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Looking up the trail from the BST to the rockpile altar, Little Baldy and Timp in the distance
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Looking down from roughly the same spot.

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Along the BST just north of the road up to Dry Canyon. Our wet spring is making everything so green.

Goodbye Davis County, Hello Utah County

Goodbye Davis County, Hello Utah County

This last week my family moved from our beloved Davis County down to Utah County. I have really come to love the Davis County trails. Exploring them. Trying to promote them as many are sadly under-used. Apparently that will not be a problem down here in Utah County. Everything appears blazed out and well marked…….and spectacularly gorgeous! Here’s my last in Davis and first in Utah County.

For my last run in Davis, I hit Mueller Park. I had never run it before, favoring closer trails and one that weren’t dominated by mtn. bikers. Wow. That was a mistake. Otherwise, this would have been my #1 training trail. Nice slow gradual climb for 5 miles up to the meadow (you can keep going, but I didn’t) and bombing 5 miles back down. It was gorgeous.

Looking up the Canyon
Looking up the Canyon
Mueller Park Run (1)
Now THAT is a buffed out trail!

That was last week. This week, for my first run in Utah County I hit the Grove Creek / Battles Creek Loop. WOWZERS!
My phone died, so it was closer to 8.5 than 5.5 miles.

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Looking up Grove Creek

Truth be told, I felt horrible heading up Grove Creek. A slow 3 mile bonk the whole way up.

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Looking down Grove Creek from the near the waterfall

When you finally climb out of Grove Creek Canyon, you are treated to a full panoramic view of Mt. Timpanogos…well…unless it is shrouded in clouds.

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Grove Creek Spring. The creek starts here.

The valley above Grove and Battle Creeks is breathtaking, . You are at the foot of Timp, and it is a series of open grass and Aspen fields. I ran into some others who said it is nicknamed the “Scottish Highlands.” I was thinking “The Shire.” The traverse over to Battle Creek felt great – some flat! It is part of the Great Western Trail and constitutes the last bit of the Timpooneke-Chris Flat Trail #151.

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Chris Flat

The descent on Battle Creek was steeper than the climb up Grove, and a bit painful on my knee. Then, right as I was  about to take the most gorgeous picture of some sideways sunlight streaking into Battle Creek Canyon and shining off the north-facing cliffs on the South of the Canyon…my phone died.  Boo!

Back at the valley floor (Kiwanis Park), I took the BST back to my car.