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Month: December 2016

Snow Adventures

Snow Adventures

Snow has arrived (finally!) in Utah. I have only ventured out a few times, but it has been pretty great.

In mid-November my back tweaked again (see my nightmare injury from Summer 2015). I decided to test it out on the Lindon Squiggles and foothills below Dry Canyon. It started beautiful and ended with a whiteout. I knew a system was moving in, but figured I’d be ok not venturing too far from my car. It was fun to get first tracks in the snow and my Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mid Neos worked great!

Snow moving towards me across the valley

A week or so later I ventured up Dry Canyon a bit – mistake. It was too tracked out and complete ice. Not wanting to descend the steep ice I cut up the Curly Springs trail Nr. 051 and came down the Squiggles. Much better on those back trails.

I hosted the 3rd annual Wasatch Mountain Wrangler Secret Wrangler Gift Exchange and someone was kind enough to hide a gift for me too. Like last year’s gifts, it took up new trails. Mill Creek, Pipeline Burch Hollow, towards Church Fork Peak. My childhood best fried was visiting and he joined me. The last pitch to the Church Fork ridge was a bit of a slow – he snowshoed up – but I didn’t put mine on until the ridge. We headed west a while, but didn’t trek all of the way to the peak. We were a bit short on time, and lazy. How beautiful though! AND, my new Christmas present Hillsound Ultra crampons were AMAZING. My Atlas snowshoes performed great too.

Where snow had melted off the rocks they were covered with lichen and plants.


Pleasantly mild day turned cold with a stiff wind on the ridge. Brr!


Looking down Burch Hollow into Mill Creek Canyon


Return to South Mountain

Return to South Mountain

Phoenix’s South Mountain Park/Preserve was the site two years ago of my first time ever running a marathon distance – a 29 slog that hurt more than it should have. I was undertrained and paid for it. Of course, it was simultaneously amazing. Back in AZ for the holidays I set my mind to revisiting those familiar trails and proving that I had improved as a runner. I drew out a altered route that totaled 32 miles (50k). 3 loops from the Kiwanis Trailhead – the National/Gila/Pyramid loop, the Alta/Bajada loops, and a short 3rd one on Crosscut and Ma Ha trails.

I arrived before dawn, geared up, and started up the Kiwanis trail to Telegraph Pass. It is amazing how, in the dark, Saguaro cactus look like people creepily standing in your peripheral vision. It got light as I neared Telegraph Pass and crossed the summit road.

Dawn, from above Telegraph Pass. Mt. Supoa and towers to the left.

From the road I started the first loop. Climbing up the National Trail I turned right at the Pyramid junction and followed its length along the Gila Range down to the intersection with the Gila Trail. It was perfect running weather, nice and cool. However, my stomach was quite sour the whole trail.

Looking West along the National Trail and Gila Range. The Ma Ha Tauk Range (and Alta Trail) off to the right.

I turned left on the Gila and followed it up into the Gila Valley. Last time I had climbed right up the Bursera Ridge, but this time I chose to go straight up the valley, which included a head-wall of sorts that separated the western portion of the valley from the east where the Lost Ranch is. As I went up and over that climb it started to heat up a bit.

Looking West down the Gila Valley.
Looking East down into the Lost Ranch area of the Gila Valley – Pyramid climb in center.

I crossed the broad valley and started my ascent of the Pyramid Trail. It felt hotter than it really was. I could tell that my (again!) lack of training was going to cost me. By the time I reached the National Trail junction and headed down to the Summit Rd. and Kiwanis Trail back to my car/aid station I made the decision to call it a day. Back at the car, I had clocked a 1/2 marathon. With some stretching and refueling I was feeling ok. I could continue but I knew it would hurt and likely dampen the remainder of my week’s holiday plans. I called it, drove to my in-laws, took a shower, ate my weight in (pretty horrible) Boston Market food, and completed some Christmas shopping. Saving my legs even allowed for a hike with the family a couple days later.

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Not a bad way to start Christmas vacation.