Sunday, July 27, 2014

Butler's Fork Trail with Moose Sighting

Well today I decided to revisit the Butler's Fork Trail and head back on up to Gobbler's Knob.  I've done this hike before and you can see a lot more pictures in my previous blog post.  I did it last year in October so I got more of the fall color.  This time, I hit it when there was a spectacular bouquet of wildflowers in bloom. There were plenty to see: primarily yellows, but there was a smattering of purples, reds and even oranges.

The hike started off auspiciously enough.  Within a half mile I was warned there were moose ahead.  The people that had warned me had turned around and were going to try another hike.  I proceeded and spotted one of the two moose: a giant male about 50 yards off the trail.  He eyeballed me and kept a close eye on me while I proceeded up the trail.  It was sort of upsetting to me, because this trail isn't widely used and from that point on I was ultra-paranoid about running into another one.

First moose spotted

Luckily, after passing through that glen, I didn't see another one.  I made it to the top of Gobbler's Knob in about 1 hour 45 minutes.  The first 3 miles of the hike isn't bad.  It is the final ascent to the top that is absolutely brutal.  I would figure you are climbing up a 20 - 30% grade and at 10000 feet, it is a crusher.  That last half mile probably took me a good 30 minutes.  I was sort of embarrassed when a trail runner eased by me, but he was hurting too.

Big cottonwood road from the top

Selfie at the top

Mount Raymond

Mount Raymond. I love those red flowers

View of Salt Lake from Gobbler's Knob

I wound up hanging out up there for about 20 minutes snapping pictures and relaxing before heading back down.  I hardly saw anyone on the way back (where as I had run in about 10 people on the way up).  When I reached the glen where I had seen the moose before I ran into some people and they said the moose were up ahead to be careful.

I was like great... As I went through the glen I didn't see the old moose and as I proceeded I figured I was in the clear.  Then I saw two women ahead peering into the grass.  Just beyond the grass was a small ravine.  I
figured the moose was there.  As I got closer, I realized the moose was camouflaged right into the grass less than 10 yards off the trail.  I would've walked right past him.  He seemed content to just lay there as the 3 of us took pictures of him.

Look closely, you'll see the moose's head

It was way too close for me and I took off along with the women and I looked to my left and there was another HUGE moose about 30 yards off the trail on the other side.  He seemed content to just eat whatever he was eating, but it wasn't a good scene.  I snapped a few pictures and wrapped up the 8 mile hike.

Later I was told that there has been a black bear sighting on the Lake Blanche trail as well as the trail I was on in recent weeks.  So it is probably time to invest in bear spray.  My trusty walking stick isn't going to be a match for a bear.

Elevation profile from my Garmin

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This week in Running 7/20 - 7/26

Day Mileage / Workout Comments
Sunday 6.75 miles trail run Met my boss and did a run in Bountiful, Utah up to Elephant Rock
Monday 9 miles Medium pace throughout. Solid run
Tuesday Off
Wednesday 6 5 miles at roughly half marathon pace. Solid run on the bike trail
Thursday 7 miles Decent run despite eating WAY too much during the day
Friday 4 miles Nothing but easy
Saturday 15 miles Slow run at roughly 9:22 pace for the first half and then died from the heat / tiredness in the final 3 - 4 miles. Not bad having done a long run in a while.
Total miles for the week: 47.75 - YTD: 1039.25

Well this week I opted out of all races.  The Morgan Valley Half Marathon was calling my name but I couldn't justify the $80 (plus service fees) entry fee.  None of the other local races appealed to me (many were labeled as fun runs or had taken place on Pioneer Day) so I boosted the mileage up for the week and focused on mileage; the fall marathon season is rapidly approaching and I am anticipating a 2 week lull in training in mid-August due to vacation plans.

One of the highlights of the week was running up to Elephant Rock in Bountiful.  This is a well kept trail with about 1200 feet of elevation climb in just over 3 miles.  The first mile is tough but after that it just turned into a mild ascension.  I wish I had brought my camera on the trail as there were some really nice views of Bountiful once you made it to the top.  But it was threatening rain (it was thundering) so I opted to leave the phone in the car.  I am not super big on trail runs -- I am a klutz and I always wind up eating it... but I successfully managed this one (although almost face planted a few times).

I also did a long run on Saturday of 15 miles.  My legs were pretty beat up from the week's training, it felt extremely warm, and it had been a while since I've done more than 13 miles.  I saw / met a bunch of people on the bike trail on my run which helped lift my spirits.  Amazing how many people I talk to on any given long run.

Also I cracked 1000 miles for the year.  I've always wanted to crack 2000 for the entire year, but I don't think it is going to happen.  April's calf strain and some easy weeks will make doing that feat a bit challenging in 2014.

Upcoming Races

Next weekend I am doing a 7K race up where I used to live in Cottonwood Heights.  It starts and ends at a fancy / nice restaurant called La Caille.  It will be pricey but I am hoping to try out some of the food.  On the plus side, I'll have an instant PR for a 7K.  I can't remember ever running a 7K before.

In about 2 weeks, I spotted the Sandy Moonlight Classic 5K coming up.  I ran it last year (My Review Here) and it should be a fun, low key race -- plus it is cheap -- under $20.

Running Photos:

The trail to Elephant Rock starts near the LDS Temple in Bountiful.  I managed to snap a few pictures of this beautiful and very large building (which can be seen from the interstate several miles away - the pictures really don't do it justice).  

One thing to note is that if you are on the east side of Bountiful, you'll encounter a TON of deer.  They are literally everywhere.  On the drive around the area I spotted at least a dozen. They were in people's back yards, on the golf course and in open fields.  

LDS Temple in Bountiful

LDS Temple in Bountiful

LDS Temple in Bountiful

One of many deer in Bountiful

Elephant Rock Trail Map from my Garmin

Thursday, July 24, 2014

West Wendover Trip for 7/23 - 7/24 Pioneer Day Vacation

Enjoying the glow of a buffet!


Each year, on July 24, the state of Utah pretty much has a state holiday -- called Pioneer Day which celebrates the first settlers arrival to the state of Utah in the mid 1800's.  Most of the public services are closed and even some businesses.  For me, it is an optional / floating holiday.

Having a free room, free play and free food burning a hole in my pocket I decided to head out to Wendover again.  After work, we jumped into the car and headed west for a pretty much non-eventful drive to the border.  I was surprised at how hot it was -- my car's temperature gauge showed it was 105 degrees.

We arrived at the Montego Bay casino and jumped into the 2 for one buffet.  I ate pretty well.  After about an hour, we grabbed a room and Shari headed up to watch her tv shows while I goofed around in the casino. I jumped on the Fu Dao Le games and dumped a $20 in, only to hit a bonus round in short order and double my money.  I pulled it out and swiped my card and the kiosk to earn my spin and win award (you basically gamble a small amount of money and you get either some tier points or free play).  I won $10 in free play and along with my $5 just for showing up, I had $15 in free play.

I walked over to the other side of the casino and put my $15 in free play in another Fu Dao Le game and turned it into $75 after a solid bonus run.  I played a few more times in hopes of getting the Red Envelope Bonus, but cashed out after making a total profit of about $75.

I went back up to the room and waited for Shari's show to end.  They put us in the north wing of the hotel -- and I thought I'd seen it all, but this is a different wing that you have to sort of jump through a few hoops to get to.  It was certainly quieter but you are closer to the casino.  I'd definitely stay on this side again, especially on the weekends when you have more noisy people in the hallways.

I gathered Shari and we headed back down to the casino.  I wound up gambling some more and my profit disappeared.  We did head over to the Peppermill where I dumped another $25 into the machines before getting discouraged.  There weren't any good comps going on so I wasn't earning anything.  It was approaching 10pm at this point and I hadn't slept well the night before, so we called it a night.

Sweet win

Nice bonus round

View from the room and Highway 80 in the distance


I thought about going for a run, but I woke up late and feeling incredibly lazy.  I wound up lounging in bed and catching up on my sleep.  Around 9am I got up and headed down to the pool where I swam for a bit and sat in the jacuzzi.  What a way to start the day.

Montego Bay Pool

Montego Bay Jacuzzi
Montego Bay View of Northern Wendover

After that I headed back up to the room, showered, and grabbed our stuff and headed to the buffet.  I was totally expecting to use our comps to pay for most of our meal, but as we were standing in line, a guy came up and handed us his 2-for-1 coupon.  Sweet!  

I inhaled a huge amount of food.  They had the spicy shrimp that I just love and wound up eating WAY too much.  I may lose in the casino, but I always win in the buffet.

Buffet plate #1 - I love that shrimp stuff

Buffet Plate #2




After eating, we headed on over to the Rainbow to try our luck there (and to take advantage of the 3x comps).  I jumped on another Fu Dao Le machine and hit the minor jackpot for $130.  This was a stunner but a welcome surprise.  I got it by hitting a wild row, which turned into a mini-bonus round.  You basically pick a series of bubbles until you match a series and you get whatever the jackpot is.  This includes winning up to $9000.  Granted, I wasn't playing at that level, but was shocked to get the mini jackpot.

Mini Jackpot win of $137

Mini Jackpot win of $137

Mini Jackpot win of $137

After the Rainbow we went to the Peppermill.  I wound up doing all right there on the Red Phoenix game.  The Red Envelope bonus was sitting at over $190 and I was itching to win that.  I had seen lots of people win it and figured it was due.  I was playing with house money at this point and I wound up playing at least a solid hour.  I netted an awesome $100 bonus round, but never did get what I was looking for.

Very nice bonus win

Awesome win on Red Phoenix

All told, I left Wendover with about $200 and I came home with a hair over $300.  I paid with cash for breakfast this morning, plus tips and I gave Shari money periodically.  I want to say that I wound up with a gaming win of $150 - $200. 

Shari didn't have any luck whatsoever.  She brought about $50 and blew through that in about 30 minutes.  She also took a lot from me... She was betting heavy on the games that we were playing and at $2.00 a spin, $50 goes very fast.  I was playing everything from 40 cents to 2.00 a spin, so my money wound up lasting a lot longer.

Either way this was a good trip.  We didn't have to use any of our comps either, so we still have about 2 meals coming our way.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

This week in running 7/13-7/19

Day Mileage / Workout Comments
Sunday 6 miles easy Ran the northern section of the Jordan River bike trail. See the run here
Monday 7 miles Medium with solid pace increase at end
Tuesday Off About 5 miles of easy, hilly hiking
Wednesday Off Just exhausted today
Thursday 5 miles Medium paced run with 7 strides at the end
Friday 6 miles Glow 10K in South Jordan
Saturday 5 miles Easy. Felt pretty tired / sore. Whether it was from the race or something else, I am not sure
Total miles for the week: 29 - YTD: 991.5

Well another mild week in terms of total volume.  The Legacy Half Marathon last Friday night pretty much wiped me out and I wasn't feeling "good" until Monday.  These half marathons take more recovery time  these days.

On Wednesday I thought about running, but I just felt absolutely drained.  Whether it was from Tuesday's hike, stress from work, or a mysterious health reason I am not sure.  Some days, I just come home and physically feel wiped out.  I've had it on my "intentions list" to make a doctors appointment but I get distracted from making the actual call (actually I did call but they were already closed).  To be honest, I am also less than thrilled with going to the doctors.  I really want to be running more and harder but physically of late, I am tired.  Granted it could also be the heat -- as it has been in the mid to upper 90's all week. I just want to rule out anything medically at this point.

Women and Racing

I have noticed and it was clearly evident in this weekend's Glow 10K that more and more women are now racing.  I don't have a problem with it at all.  When I first started racing in 2004, generally it was 60% men, 40% women.  Now it has completely flipped and in some cases the women outnumber men 2 to 1.  It was blatantly evident at the Glow 10K when I saw that there were about a dozen male finishers compared to about 50+ women finishers.  

I have no problems with this trend and just find it interesting.  I think running appeals to people on so many levels and it is great to see more and more people racing and trying to improve themselves.  I just hate getting "chicked" though.

Racing plans

The selection of races for this coming weekend look a bit ho-hum.  I think part of it, is that many races are being held on Pioneer Day which is a state holiday of sorts in Utah.  There are a couple of halves as well as a full on Thursday.  I would love to run the Farmington Handcart Half again, but I'll be in Wendover that morning.

Right now, I need to study the running site again, but I am leaning towards doing the Morgan Valley Half Marathon in Morgan, Utah.  Morgan has been on my list for a while to visit, as it is all by itself in the north eastern section of the state and I am told it is pretty.  Sadly, they want $80 for the race, which is just pricey in my opinion.  I know the popularity of half marathons is soaring, but for me, it takes a hit when I have to cough up a serious chunk of change to get into it.

Photo of the week:

About a mile from my house, here is a lengthy stretch of the bike trail that goes under the 215 Belt way.  I know I am on the homestretch when I hit this.  However, if you walk under the bridge while gabbing on a cell phone, you will disconnect.

Midnight Glow 10K in South Jordan Utah Race Review / Recap

Official Time: 45:21
Placement: 4th place in men's, 5th overall, 2nd in Men 40-44
Results: Click Here
Race Website:
Weather: low 80's, no wind.

Mile Time Comments
1 7:43
27:44I honestly thought I was running 8:30's. Now that I see it, not bad
57:57Had to go to the bathroom - bad
Total Miles: 5.82

On Friday night I opted to run the Midnight Glow 10K in South Jordan.  I really didn't feel like pushing yet another half marathon this weekend, so I went with a low key 10K.  The last 10K I ran was my last day in Illinois where I ran a 45-something at the Harvard 10K.

My goal was to hit about 50-something.  I honestly think I beat it by a bit.  While the course was short, I've punched in my time looking for a race equivalent and it puts me at roughly 48-something.

This race was the first annual so the crowd was pretty thin -- I would estimate about 75 runners.  Most of them female.  I picked up my t-shirt and swag at about 10:45, hung around until the start at 11:30.  I started out the race in 4th place, but two guys my age passed me after a third of a mile, but I overtook two females who took off a bit too fast.

I wound up holding that position (except for a women who passed me after about two miles into the race (who would eventually win)).  I tried like heck to catch the guy's my age and kept them in my sights the entire race.  At one point, I calculated I was 20 seconds behind them.

The course was held on the Jordan River Bike Trail.  It wasn't particularly well lit and the moon wasn't bright but I carried a head lamp, which I used sparingly.  I've run the course many times in the past, particularly when I worked at my last job where I'd go to the trail and run south.  So I remembered just about every zig and zag in the course.

Sadly though this course was well short.  Most people's GPS measured it at around 5.80 something -- well short of the 6.2 miles required for a 10K.  The course is supposed to go to a park where from the course map it looks like you run a loop and then head back.  Upon arriving at the park the people manning the water station told us to turn around and head back.  I took one look at my GPS, which read 2.90 miles and I knew the course was going to come up short.

I really worked on stretching my hamstring out and it didn't give me too many fits until about mile 4.  It felt tight but it wasn't as bad as it was in the past.  I was really hoping to catch up with the two guys my age, but unfortunately I had to hit the bathroom -- bad.  It just prevented me from running as fast as I had wanted to.  I did catch a bit of a break when I saw #3 guy make a pit stop in the bushes about a third of a mile from the finish line.  I thought I'd catch a break and be able to hunt him down, but he saw me and pushed hard to the finish, so I had to settle with 4th overall.

I was totally expecting an age group award but sadly they only gave awards to the top 3 finishers.  So I was short of winning a gift certificate by about 15 -  20 seconds.  I was upset, but still I was happy because I had exceeded my goals.

They had a drawing after the race and I won some spices from Red Robin Restaurant as well as some cool coupons which I hope to use.  Actually my swag bag was pretty good.  Also, each finisher received a finisher's medal.

I had a lot of fun at this race and despite the course being short, everyone ran the same race.  I think there are so many races going on now, that it is hard to generate a large crowd and I suspect in the future there will be some race consolidation.

Me posing after the race

Glow in the dark t-shirt.

Parking lot of Mulligan's Golf Course in South Jordan

Official Runner Card

Finisher's Medal

Finisher's Line

Post race swag and such

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Albion Meadows / Cecret Lake / Moose Sighting in Little Cottonwood Canyon

At this time of year, the upper reaches of Little Cottonwood Canyon are just ripe with flowers.  It just doesn't get any prettier walking through Albion Meadows during the middle of July.

After work on Tuesday I decided to pay a visit to Cecret Lake.  Normally after work, I go home, eat, watch a little bit of Emergency! on the Me TV Network and sometimes even fall asleep.  Then I kill some time before heading out to my run.  So I asked myself, why not do something fun and a little different? Why not go for a quick hike?

It was in the mid to low 90's in they valley, but by the time I made it to the top of Alta it was in the low 80's, sunny and with a mild breeze.  It was also pretty much a ghost town up there.  Instead of the throngs of people that you normally find on the weekends, there was just a handful of cars and people on the trail.  I figured that I was for sure going to run into wildlife on my hike.

I wound up making a loop.  I took the normal, short route to Cecret Lake and then went above the lake to where the trail to Germania Pass is and headed back into Alta.

On the way to the lake, as I was walking, I spied what appeared to be a blackened stump in the middle of a stretch of grass.  I wondered if it was a moose and as I got closer and realized it was!  She was just sitting passively in the meadow sunning herself.  As I was snapping pictures I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, only to see another female about 20 - 30 yards away eyeballing me.  I didn't quite get the camera up in time before she went and hid in the trees.  I scoured the area looking for a baby moose (in which case I'd be in serious trouble) before moving on.

I wound up seeing a group of either beavers (or the largest squirrels ever) as well as a shy deer.

The full flower effect isn't out yet but I definitely liked the bouquets of pinks and reds.  Just stunning colors.

Enjoy the photos:

Zoomed view of the moose

Stretch of flowers

Flowers with Devil's Castle in the background

Moose in the background

Moose in the background

Moose in the background

Moose in the background

Flowers with Devil's Castle in the background

Cecret Lake - Still snow in the area

Flowers overlooking the meadow

Flowers overlooking the meadow

Some cool blues