Monday, July 24, 2017

Farmington Canyon / Creek Trail Hike - Farmington Utah




Introduction


The other day I was looking for a new hike.  During last week's hike, I had gotten turned on to some of the trails in Farmington.  So I sort of went back to the well and decided to see what else was out there.  It was then I stumbled upon Farmington Canyon (or Creek) Trail.  

This trail is located on the east side of Farmington, about 30 minutes north of my house.  It is also a mere 5 minutes off the freeway, so it was a pretty easy decision.  You can get directions to the trailhead by using this Google Map location.

The initial ascent looks daunting but it is short lived


There was a good amount of parking here and the trail did have people on it but it wasn't super busy.  The trail head is on the north side of the parking lot and involves a steep 15 yard or so climb before leveling out.

The trail is a steady climb but not overwhelming.  It was a good workout but it wasn't a quad burner by any means.  The trail was actually easy to follow and well traveled.  In fact, this would be one trail that I would certainly consider running on.  

Heading eastwards (you can follow along on my Garmin route), you are in partial shade most of the way.  You'll also hear the babbling of Farmington Creek, often times well below you.  Skyline Drive -- a dirt road that wends its way up to Frances Peak is above you.

After about .9 of a mile you'll come to the first set of falls.  It is a bit of a grotto and when I visited there was a good amount  of water coming down.  It wasn't anything like Adams Canyon, but a place to easily relax after a fairly easy hike.

Crossing the stream you head further in and you come to Corduroy Creek after about 1.75.  This is another very small waterfall and a more secluded place.  Along the way you'll be treated to views of the Great Salt Lake, the Farmington valley and some decaying cars that went off the cliff above you.  

At Corduroy Creek the trail splits.  I presumed the north fork would go to the campground, so I opted to go south and east and continue to hug the Farmington Creek.  After a very short distance, you come across the Farmington Falls.  They are spectacle to see.  Someone had attached a rope to a very steep decline to get to the base of the falls, but I wasn't feeling particularly brave, so I passed.

The trail also forks here, continuing to hug the river.  Taking the main attribute takes you to Sunset Campground.  There you will find a very stinky bathroom and likely campers.  This is about 2 miles from the start of the trail and according to my Garmin, about 1000 feet of climbing.

At this point, I opted to turn around and come back.  All told, the trip took about 2 hours, including breaks and picture taking.  One can certainly do this trail a lot quicker though.

I didn't see any wildlife other than an occasionally snake or lizard.  One should be careful on this one for rattlesnakes, as I suspect it would be prime territory for them.

The trail is mostly shaded but is probably best attempted during cooler temperatures.

This was a very enjoyable and surprisingly pleasant hike.  I would definitely do this one again.

Enjoy the photos:



















Saturday, July 22, 2017

2017 Handcart Days Half Marathon Race Recap - Bountiful Utah







Official Time: 2:06:03
Placement: 7th in age group, 99th overall, 57th male
Results: Here
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 73F at start, upper 70's at finish. No wind
Garmin Route: Here

MileTimeComments
18:54About where I wanted to start. 
28:45
38:52
49:50Went under a tunnel here. I suspect the GPS loses contact for a while
59:10Just following the 2:00 hour pacer
69:14
79:18
810:43Climbing over a freeway overpass and then another hill.
99:45
109:44Rolling hills
1110:05
1210:35Gradual uphill to the finish. In the sun
1311:02
13.010:03
Total Miles: 13:01 - 2:06:05


Introduction


In Utah, we have a July tradition called Pioneer Day -- it basically commemorates when the first settlers came into the Salt Lake Valley some 175 years ago.  On that day, state offices are closed and generally there are parades, rodeos and such.  Most regular folks work, but for much of the state, they are off.

To celebrate the historical event, the South Davis Recreation Center holds the Handcart Half Marathon.  The handcart is what settlers used to transport their worldly belongings across the country, hence the name.

The South Davis folks always do a good job -- especially for the price.  Their races are always a bargain and are well supported, chip timed, and I always feel like I get way more for my money.  So anytime I am able to, I do their races.



Being that this race is held in July, when daytime temperatures usually eclipse 95F this race mercifully starts at 6 AM.  This means that I had to wake up super early, eat a bit of food and then make the 20-some-odd-minute drive to Bountiful.

I rolled in around 5 AM (runners are punctual folks) and was one of the first ones there.  It was an easy packet pick up and I grabbed my shirt and whatever giveaways they had:



The race lets you use the recreation center, so I had clean, flush toilets and a place to relax and kill the roughly 45 minutes to the start.  Time went by quickly and I wound up connecting with a friend or two I haven't seen in a while.

The Race


For once, their race started on time.  Normally their races start 5 - 10 minutes late.  As far as I could tell, this one started at 6 AM and we were off.

The first mile or so is a gradual downhill.  I made a mental note not to go out too quickly.  I had very distinct memories of my last few half marathons being sufferfests because of the heat.  At times the pace felt ridiculously easy and other times I felt like my legs had 5 pound weights on them.

I wound up settling behind the 2:00 hour pacer.  I figured I'd run with him until the half way point and then make a decision as to whether I felt like I could push the pace any faster.

As I crossed the railroad tracks, I remembered last year that a whole slew of runners got stuck waiting for a train.  They had volunteers at the intersection with a chart in case the train came again, but it didn't.

Around mile 2.25 or so, you jump on the Legacy Bike Trail system and head north.  I've run a TON of races on this trail and to be honest, I am pretty bored of it now.  I knew around mile 7 or so we'd be off the trail and onto more interesting parts but I just told myself that at least it was flat.

I continued to hang on with the 2 hour pacer.  I would be happy with a 2-hour finish given the weather.  Around mile 7 I was starting to feel it.  The easy pace that the pacer was running at suddenly felt a lot harder.  I also knew that once I exited the bike trail that I had the overpass to climb as well as a yucky hill.

The pacer was suddenly a distant speck on the horizon as my pace took a huge hit.  I definitely wasn't going to finish in 2 hours.  I had been drinking at each water stop plus sipping at my own Tailwind but I felt so incredibly warm.  I haven't been running much on account of some runner's knee so I was woefully undertrained for this race.

The final 5 miles is a series of rolling hills culminating with a gradual climb to the finish line.  To my right you have some nice houses lining the main drag back into Bountiful and on the other side you have the Bountiful mountains blocking the sun.  I really like this section of the course despite some passing traffic.

However, sooner or later the sun was going to come up and by the time it did, I was hurting / doing the marathon shuffle.  Having run the course many times and the final 1.5 miles follows the same route as their Thanksgiving Day races, I knew exactly where I was and how much longer I had to run.

Every now and then I'd get passed but I sensed a lot of people were in a similar state: warm.

I was so happy to finish the line, grab my medal and just stop running.


Conclusion


I wound up socializing a while, waiting for the wooziness to stop.  I grabbed some water and walked it off.  I also met some new runners as well and shared race stories with them.  

I really like the medal.  It is huge and heavy duty.  These folks always go all out with their medals.



For $35 (I think that is what I paid, maybe $30) this race is a total bargain!  I got a fully supported race with at least 6 water stops (there were probably more), a cool shirt, swag, and a pancake breakfast.  So cool!

My one complaint about the race is that the mile markers were a mess.  They were completely off, oftentimes by a lot.  I do wear a Garmin and having run the course before I knew it was pretty accurate.  But for those without that tool, their paces would've been totally off.



However, it wasn't my day to race.  Looking at last year, I had a pretty decent race.  This year, not so much.  Once again, I haven't been training much and with my bum knee, I was half wondering if I would be turning around after a few miles (I did wear a knee wrap) 

I did however finish and the first 7 miles or so, I was roughly on target with what I wanted to do.  I wasn't expecting much on this race in terms of my performance, so I pretty much got what I expected.  Definitely a character builder on this one and I know I can do better in the future.





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Steed Creek, Triumph and Davis Creek Trail Hike - Farmington, Utah



Introduction


Last Saturday I was looking for a new trail to do.  A friend of mine had done the Davis Creek Trail located about 30 minutes from my house in Farmington, UT and said it was a good hike.  

So my curiosity was definitely set off in motion as I started to research where the trail head was and how to get there.

First off, the parking lot / trail heads for 3 hikes can be found off of Little Valley Road.  It is less than 10 minutes from the I-15 and easy to find.  There was ample parking here and only about 5 other cars in the lot.  You can also view my progress on my Garmin capture.

From the parking lot, a little to the north is a gate.  A trail heads north from there and picks up almost immediately with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I had been hoping to find the Davis Creek trail but after a brief conversation with some other hikers, I realized I was on my way to the Steed Creek Trail.  The hikers said it was a fairly short and manageable hike and I figured why not.

I traveled about 1/2 mile north on the shoreline trail until I found Steed Creek.  I poked around on the south side of the trail hoping to find the trail head.  There were a few false starts and I quickly realized that the trail was NOT there.

I crossed the stream, getting wet in the process and was delighted to see the Steed Creek trail, which headed east into the canyon.

Almost immediately the trail grew thing and overgrown.  Luckily someone had taken a weed-whacker and had cleared the trail. Without it, the trail would've been hard to manage.

I was surprised to run into a few people on the trail and was happy that I wasn't alone.  The trail was just so overgrown and heavily shaded.  There was a bit of scrambling and some mini edges I had to work across (the fall would've been pretty minimal) but none the less it wasn't a fast hike.

I was a little bored with the hike.  There wasn't much to look at except overgrown trees.  I did check with a passing family and they did say the payoff was worth it.  Luckily, the hike was only about a mile or so (each way) from the trail head.  

The payoff is a grotto with a tiny trickle of a waterfall.  This waterfall fed the Steed Creek, which you follow throughout your hike.  The hike is reminiscent of Adam's Canyon, but definitely not as trafficked and not as pretty.

I got the impression that the trail continued past the grotto but to be honest I was happy to be done.  Some other hikers said the trail was really overgrown so I decided to turn around.

I had only hiked about an hour and my supplies were still good.  So I opted to find Davis Creek.  From the parking lot I hugged the east side of the road and a very short time later I came across the Triumph Trail head.  There was a sign as well.

The Triumph trail hugs the north side of Davis Creek.  It is also entirely exposed.  Meaning in the 94F degree weather I was roasting.  The trail is also a massive ascent.  

The trail does fork off -- I think it does join periodically with the Bonneville shoreline but for the most part it was fairly obvious to me to keep climbing up.  After about .6 of a mile, I came across a bench with a view of the Davis Creek Falls.  It was really pretty.

I could've taken the trail down to the base of the river and connected up with the Davis Creek Trail (which hugs the south side of the river) but I foolishly opted to continue on the north side.  And again, I roasted.

After about another half mile, I realized that I wasn't feeling well and I had gone through a lot of my water.  Also the trail seemed to continue to go further into the canyon and I didn't see much of a payoff ahead.

I wound up cutting back down to the creek, crossing over on a bridge, and then making my way back to the main road to my car.  I definitely want to do this hike again when it is cooler.

Enjoy the photos:

Steed Creek Pictures
















Triumph / Davis Creek Trail