Sunday, April 20, 2014

Little Cottonwood Trail Hike

After another 7 mile run in the morning, I was eager to do SOMETHING instead of sit around the house all day.

It was another beautiful spring day in Northern Utah and while I knew the upper reaches of the Wasatch Mountains were still pretty much off limits because of the snow, I did decide to try and find a trail that was in the lower reaches but still afford a bit of a challenge.

In my past trips up Little Cottonwood road I've spotted a number of cars parked about 2 miles up the canyon road.  There is a creek that runs from the top of the mountain to this area and it is usually an idyllic spot for people to gaze upon the waterfalls or have a picnic.  I used Google Maps and found a trail on the other side of the creek called the Little Cottonwood Trail.

Upon arriving to where a bunch of cars were parked, I spied the trail on the other side of a roaring creek.  Now the problem: how to get to the other side.  I do know that some people start at the base of the canyon and work their way up.  Others, somehow get across here.

I saw a couple of people cross the creek via a rounded steel pipe, about 18 inches wide.  One false step, however, resulted in a fall of about 6 feet to jagged rocks below.  There were some cables to hang onto, but knowing my balance, I knew I'd be lucky to make it.

I jumped to the creek side and noticed that while the water was moving pretty fast it wasn't dangerous.  I took off my shoes and socks and went in.  It was icy cold, but I think as a runner you get used to a certain pain threshold and I actually found it very comforting.  30 seconds later and water up to my knees (I was in shorts) and I was to the other side where I dried off on a sandy beach.

I headed east on the trail.  It was a gentle climb and highly runnable.  I number of dirt cyclists were on it as well as the occasional runner.  Sadly it wasn't the most serene walk, on account that you could hear the cars on the other side of the roaring creek.  In addition, it looked like a stoner hangout as there was some odd graphitti and just some stoner-looking teens about.  This area is also a high tourist area as well spotted a lot of people with accents or who weren't locals.

Either way, Shari and I walked about a mile up.  Again this was an easy trail and the climb was very gradual.  We did hear a rattlesnake as we passed by, but he quickly quieted down when we stopped and left the area.

The way back down was naturally a lot easier.  We almost decided to cross via the steel pipe, but again, I didn't want to chance it.  I made it across the stream very easily but Shari wiped out (she opted to go in with shoes and it gets deep right away on that side and panicked).  She was able to shake it off, but I wished I was recording it, because she was pretty much sitting in the icy cold water cursing a up a storm...

Pausing for a break.

Cross if you dare

Stoner city

Typical stretch of trail

Mini creek feeding the big one.

Roaring main creek

A little water mill

Another mini creek

Me, enjoying the view.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Running Update Plus First Wasatch Hike of 2014

Well this morning would've been my 12th marathon.  About 3 weeks ago I had signed up for the Salt Lake City Marathon and about 2 - 3 days later I had what I think is a calf strain.  All in all, it was probably a result of the calf pain I was experiencing in March.  Although it is hard to say.  When I registered for the race (at a cost of $120) I was 100% fine -- just fatigued from normal marathon mileage buildup.

Either way, only a few days before the marathon I managed to eek in a few miles.  I added some support to my calf by investing in a roll of KT Tape.  Whether or not this stuff works, I am not sure.  Maybe it is mental but all the pros are using it, particularly in tennis.  I did find a video and followed the instructions on how to apply it to my calf.  Suffice to say that on Friday, when I ran with it, I was able to do 7 miles (at a very slow pace) without too much post discomfort.  I then followed that up with a 9 mile run on Saturday.  (I know, I know -- too much too soon!)

I've lost ALL my speed and endurance.  Granted, I hadn't run in about 2 weeks, but I just felt tired and drained and getting through 9 miles seemed to be a chore (the 7 miler wasn't bad at all).  I suppose I am going to have to build up again but I feel like something is missing.  I shouldn't be too worried, as I am purposely keeping the pace pretty sedate and the calf sprain does make it challenging to really push off.

Either way, I am depressed that I shelled out $120 (that I can't get back) and lost out on nearly 3 months of hard-core training.  I did have a friend pick up my shirt at the expo, so at least I get something for it.

I am not sure what this means for future races.  Depending upon how soon I feel "100%" will determine if there is a late spring marathon in my future.  Right now, I am feeling about 50%, so I may just stay the course and do some halfs or try to ramp up again and try to make the Casper marathon.

Sort of cool on the run though is that I spotted a flock of Pelicans in the Jordan River.  I figured they might be escapees from the Tracy Aviary, but I guess they are making their way north.  Absolutely beautiful birds:

After cleaning up, I decided to go for a hike.  I had heard the trails were somewhat clear of snow, so I ventured out to the Red Pine in the Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Getting there wasn't a problem and there were several cars in the parking lot.  The first mile or so, the trail wasn't bad, although occasionally I did go up to my knees in the snow.  It was just slow going and my normal 20 minute per mile pace was about 30+ minutes.  I also felt extremely winded and had to stop several times.  I think I have to get re-acclimated to being at 7000+ feet again.  While I appreciated having hiking boots on (they kept my feet nice and dry) they are like wearing mini-anchors.

I went up about a mile, came to the fork in the trail for the Red Pine and White Pine.  White Pine looked more used and I went about another .25 mile down the trail before it just starting getting treacherous.  I knew my chances of getting to the lakes were pretty slim even before I left the house, and my calf was getting more and more agitated the further I climbed.  I was happy with the progress I made and met a few people on the trail, so I decided to call it a day (of note, I did meet the 16th overall male in the 2013 California International Marathon on the trail, which was exceptionally cool and I got to bask in his awesomeness -- you don't get to meet a 2:22 marathoner every day).

Enjoy the photos:

About where I called it quits - Yes this is the angle at which I was walking.

Normally a bridge here with a river on it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Monday 4/14 Day 5 of Vegas Trip - Mesquite morning run

After a fairly restful night at the Virgin River Casino, I got up a bit early to go for a run.  Mind you, I've been injured for the past 10+ days and for the past 5 of them, I really hadn't heard a peep from my calf.  I figured it was time to go for a little jog and see what the city of Mesquite had to offer.

My calf was super quiet -- in fact, I didn't hear a peep from it.  I headed west on Pioneer Blvd and what was all casinos, motels and gas stations quickly gave way to a peaceful and very idyllic subdivision.  Many of the houses were upscale and sat on beautifully manicured lawns.  They were mostly gated communities.

With the spring in full bloom, I could definitely smell flowers in the air.  In fact, if it wasn't for the mountains in the background I would've thought I was running in the heart of Orange County, California.  For a while, I was contemplating what life might be like if I retired here.

I ran to the next freeway bridge, snapping pictures as I went.  I kept the pace pretty sedate, always ready to stop if my calf started to bark at me.  I ran on sidewalk past golf courses and even a strip mall.

After reaching the next freeway overpass I headed back.  Disaster struck when I was within eyesight of the casino.  The top of my achilles started to go numb and my calf started to hurt.  Not bad -- but enough to make me realize this was not good.  I was smart and walked the rest of the way back, but none the less, my calf wasn't a happy camper.

After cleaning up I headed over to the casino while Shari finished getting ready.  I dumped $40 into Leonidas before realizing today was NOT my lucky day.  If you want to see the worst Leonidas bonus round ever, check out the video I made:

We ate at the buffet for under $15 before taking off.  The trip went a lot faster with just 4 hours to go versus a little over 5 and we made it back to Salt Lake by 3pm.

Just getting rolling -- about 1/4 mile away from the casino

Typical suburban view on Pioneer

Typical suburban view on Pioneer

Stretch of undeveloped land

Falcon Ridge Golf Course

Overlooking I-15

Running on the overpass over I-15

Freshly Made Omelette for Breakfast

Some dessert!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Valley of Fire State Park - White Domes Trail

At the far north end of the park is probably the prettiest trail and most interesting trail called the White Domes trail.

There you will see how the red and white sands merged and made some beautiful rock designs.  This trail is also slightly technical in the fact that you do have to descend a bit on some crudely made stairs.  However, after the initial descent it is smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Along the trail you will see a ton of beautiful rock formations and even some remnants of the film The Professionals which was filmed there in the 60's.  In addition, you do get the experience of traveling through a narrow "slot canyon".  It isn't terribly long, but it is one of the few shady spots on the trail.

The trail is about a mile long and if you are moving, you can do it in about 15 - 20 minutes.  Well worth the visit.

Slot canyon in the White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail - Like at the Beach!

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail - Looking up at a canyon wall

The descent into the valley

View from a rock outcropping

Left over stage set from the Professionals movie

Entering into the slot canyon

Walking through the slot canyon

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Red and white rocks

This trail is popular -- no shortage of people on it.

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire - White Domes Trail