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Month: July 2016

19.5 Mile Timpanogos Loop for my Birthday

19.5 Mile Timpanogos Loop for my Birthday

I decided to treat myself to a Mt. Timpanogos summit for my birthday this morning. I have done the summit twice from the Timpooneke trailhead but never from Aspen Grove. I decided to make a loop of it.  Up Aspen Grove, down Timpooneke, then loop back to AG on the Salamander Flats, Snow Gauging, and Lame Horse trails. A 19.5 mile loop.

I put out the call and two fellow Wasatch Mountain Wranglers joined – Keith and Tim. We started at 5:00 and caught an amazing sunrise as we climbed the trail out of Aspen Grove.

Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (1)

This side is steeper than Timpooneke, less runnable, but features some  beautiful waterfalls, a few lakes and meadows, an old Forest Service ranger cabin, and views for days.
We spent a lot of time stopping and taking pictures, so I apologize to Tim and Keith for destroying their splits. But it was hard not to stop and gawk.

Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (3)
Just above the headwall up out of Aspen Grove – at about mile 4.5 – you hit a series of meadows. Here, looking back down the trial at Hidden Lakes.
Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (10)
Climbing out of the Hidden Lakes meadow and up to the Emerald Lake basin. Timpanogos Summit in the distance with the shelter just barely visible.
Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (16)
Looking down into the Timp basin I usually climb into from the other side – from Timpooneke.

Once we climbed over to the saddle, it a wind picked up and it got a bit chilly.  In the sun it was alright, but my hands got numb.  At the summit, two other wranglers, Josh and Jade, caught up to us. They had started from the other trailhead and were pushing for a fast round trip. We sat around for a bit up top.  It’s hard to just turn around and bomb back down when the views as so good.
Hat tip to Tim, as well, for picking up a ton of trash along the trail and on the summit.  Littering makes me so mad.

Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (19)
Looking East from the Timpanogos Summit. Wow.
Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (20)
Happy Birthday to me! Some people say this isn’t what they would have given themselves for their birthdays and that I’m crazy, but I think the mountain disagrees. Birthday summits FTW!
Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (22)
The rest of the WMW crew – Keith, Jade, Josh, Tim.

Once we got off the saddle the temps picked up fast. Lots of hikers were moving up their trail a high fiving us as we ran down, thinking we were more hardcore that we are. When we explained the loop we were doing, we did get some raised eyebrows. Maybe we are hardcore.

Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (24)
The Timp basin is at peak wildflower right now. Seriously people. Get up there!

Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (25)

About halfway down I rolled my right ankle hard. I heard an audible crunch. It ran of OK, though tender, until right at the bottom when I rolled it again. Sharp stab of pain. Oh boy…

At the trailhead I used the bathroom, drenched myself in water, refilled, and headed off for the return trails.  Those were a tough 5 miles for me. Very runnable, but not for me. It was also fun to see a few new places.

Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (26)
North Timpanogos viewed from the Snow Gauging Trail
Brenden Birthday Timpanogos Loop (27)
Looking down towards Aspen Grove from the Lame Horse Trail.

The heat, returned GI distress, and the ankle. But, we made it and it was gorgeous. I will definitely make this loop again, but hopefully in better physical conditions. Happy birthday to me!

Capitol Reef Hiking

Capitol Reef Hiking

The reason I had registered for the Capitol Reef Half Marathon rather than the 50k was because I knew my family (and parents) would be with for the trip. So, I wanted to do a quick race and then have time with them. The morning after the race we hiked up to Hickman Bridge. Very cool and my kids and their grandparents were troopers, even as it started to really heat up.

Capitol Reef Trip (27)
My boy and I under Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef Trip (34)
The Mrs., me, our two kids, one niece, and my parents under Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef Trip (37)
View looking SW from just south of Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef Trip (39)
Old Fremont granary upon a cliff-side

That evening the Mrs. and I hiked Cassidy Arch. We were really taken aback. Whereas we assumed the trail would take up to its based, it dumped us out on top of the arch. The views were amazing, the trail was great, the temperatures low, etc. A perfect evening hike.

Capitol Reef Trip (76)
Some trail bacon
Capitol Reef Trip (59)
About 1 mile up the trail, looking south towards the mouth of Grand Wash
Capitol Reef Trip (61)
Cassidy Arch in the distance
Capitol Reef Trip (67)
Cassidy Arch from above
Capitol Reef Trip (74)
Green hills SW of Grand Wash

Capitol Reef Half Marathon

Capitol Reef Half Marathon

     This was the first time I had registered and planned on running a half marathon. I did run one a couple months ago, but that was after dropping down from a 55k at the last minute. This meant that I went into it knowing that 13.1 miles was the target. With my 50k race I have made game plans, but that is a lot of miles to plan out, and I’m still pretty inexperienced so whatever plans I make tend to fall apart as the day wears on. With 13.1 miles, however, I felt I could make a careful plan.

So, here’s what it was: Go out very conservative for the first 4 miles of climbing. Pick a comfortable but challenging pace for the middle 5 miles of downhill. Pick up the pace for the last 4 miles and finish by going out strong and fast.

It almost worked out that way.

The Capitol Reef Half Marathon course is rugged. People had told me this of all the distances there put on by Ultra Adventures, but I brushed it off. I was used to rough trails here in the Wasatch, so how bad could it be. Well, it turns out that running rough trails for fun and running them for a RACE feels very different. In the racing mindset, the rugged and schwacky miles seemed to wear on me more than they do back home when I’m out for fun – both physically and mentally.

The first 2 miles of the course climb up the Great Western Trail for a total of about 1,000 ft. elevation gain. I resisted the adrenaline-induced urge to power ahead with the faster runners, knowing I had to conserve energy for later. This strategy served me well. At 2 miles hit the Government Creek trailhead area and veered east up a “trail” that climbed for another 2 miles and 1,000 feet towards. This part was quite rough and overgrown. Not runnable – at least not for me.

Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (1)
Straight up the “trail”

With the 4 miles of climbing done, I was excited to hit the downhill. Unfortunately, miles 5-6 wound past the Bullberry Lakes and down to Coleman Reservoir through an area that had previously been gutted by a forest fire. Now, however, aspen trees and dense ground cover were aggressively taking over. Though downhill (some quite steep and technical), it wasn’t very runnable. So overgrown.

Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (4)
Charred trees with new undergrowth surging back


Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (5)
“Trail” through the encroaching Aspen jungle


Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (6)

At mile 6 we hit a water drop and a nice dirt road. I topped off my water, got some coke, and charged on. Miles 7-9 followed the road (Bullberry Trail) down to where we had started. It was warming up, but I was feeling ok. I still tried to hold back my pace a little bit in order to have something left in the tank for the finish. Looking back, I definitely could have and should have pushed this a tiny bit harder. These two miles (and the mile after the aid station) took too long.

Once at the aid station where we started, I got a bit more water and coke, some salt tabs, and took off. We ran the Teasdale TV Tower Road for about a mile until the Great Western branches back off. I suddenly felt sluggish and no energy. Once the route branches off onto a double track, my energy returned, though my pace didn’t necessarily pick up. It was a fun curvy up and down trail through some pretty red rock areas, but slower going than the dirt road had been.

Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (7)Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (11)

I should have pushed the dirt road before a LOT harder as I wasn’t going to pick up much time on the double track.

Capitol Reef Half Marathon 2016 (13)
Around mile 12. Some runners who didn’t make it.

Right before the finish, the route crossed highway 24 and I glanced down at my watch to see what my time was. It looked like it was right at 3:00 even. I took off, trying to sprint to the finish to come in under 3 hours. It hurt. Then, as I approached the finish line I saw the clock read 2:57:something. HA! I could have taken it easy.

In the end, I finished in 20th place out of about 50-60 runners. Had I pushed those 3 miles (7-10) on the dirt road a bit harder and shaved 3-5 minutes off my time, I could have picked up 5-6 spots. No worries though – I wasn’t in it to win, just to finish.

My plan to run conservative and save energy for the end mostly finished. I felt strong in my last few miles than I did back at the Zion Half Marathon. In all, a gorgeous, rugged, hot day.

Touring Family in the Mountains

Touring Family in the Mountains

A few short hikes and runs.

I took my 12 year old niece out for a trail run. She is getting into cross country and it was a lot of fun to give her a taste of the Wasatch dirt. We took the Buffalo Peak Trail from the Little Rock Canyon overlook, up to the peak, and then looped down FS 27 back to the car.


Then, I took my sister-in-law (a 50k-er like myself) on the Timpooneke Trail. She has in injured quad so we just went up to the 2 mile meadow.


Then, I took the Mrs. up the same trail as well. She had been up to Scout Falls (about 1.5 miles up) with our kids before. She tested out her new Altra Lone Peaks and loved them. It was so gorgeous up there.