Monday, June 19, 2017

Sawtooth National Forest Drive and Lake Stanley


Introduction 


After running the Sun Valley Half Marathon Shari and I decided to do a bit of exploring.  If you look at a map of Sun Valley, ID, you'll see a huge area of national forest.  I knew I had to explore it.

I had gotten a tiny taste of it when I had run.  The Big Wood River flows to the west of the city and I had run alongside it for a few miles.  The source of the river is definitely from the national park.

We talked to the lady at our hotel and she said it was definitely worth the roughly 60 mile drive to Stanley, ID.  We were in awe of some of the photos of the lobby and they had been taken at Lake Stanley -- so we knew we had to go.

The drive took a while.  The speed limit is generous but there were just way too many spots to stop and take pictures at.  There also were a plethora of places to hike at.  You don't know how badly I wanted to stop and just go for a hike.  I probably could've spent an entire month there and not explored every trail.

The drive is easy and well-traveled.  There aren't any gas stations along the way, so be sure you have supplies.  Stanley does have food, gas and is actually a very small city.  

The first part of the drive was all flat, but you are surrounded by flowing rivers and gorgeous, jaw-dropping scenery.  It was like being in the Swiss Alps -- without being in Switzerland.  Occasionally I'd pull over and take a photo or two.  

After a while, you being the ascent through the actual national forest.  It wasn't terribly long of a drive, but there were several pull outs with stunning vistas to photograph.  In addition, you could always see the mountain range that gives the national park it's name.  The mountain peeks definitely looked like jagged teeth of a saw.

Finding Lake Stanley was pretty easy and it was a stunning lake.  It was mosquito infested though and I found myself slapping at them.  The lake area is also a campground and a jumping off point to dirt bike trails and hiking.  It is also bear country up there.

This drive is a must-do when you are in the area.  Even if you don't do any hiking, I found it to be so pretty and an awesome way to spend the afternoon.

Enjoy the photos:
























Stanley, ID







Lake Stanley








Sunday, June 18, 2017

2017 Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon Race Recap - Lamoille NV






Official Time: 1:48:20
Placement: Soon
Results: Soon
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: Upper 40's at start, mild 10 - 15 mile head wind. upper 50's at finish
Garmin Route: Here

MileTimeComments
18:36First quarter of a mile was tough.... 
28:18Starting the steady descent
37:58
47:38So much fun running down hill
57:40Hard to keep an even pace.  Very nice downhill
68:05
78:42Had to shift gears here. Mostly downhill but some flat
87:47
97:56Back to running downhill
107:58
118:47Have to power myself here. A bit of uphill
128:41
139:05
13.121:04
Total Miles: 13.12 - 1:48:20

Introduction


Last year I ran the Lamoille Canyon Half Marathon for the first time.  And as soon as I finished the race last year, I made a mental note to myself that I wanted to run it again.  So when June rolled around, I started to make plans.

One of my favorite places is Lamoille Canyon and I love to hike there.  It is a gorgeous canyon just about 25 minutes south of Elko.  It is easy to get to, but just not close to much.  From Salt Lake, it is about 3 hours away.

The race is a small affair.  They have a full marathon, which looks like it netted about a dozen people.  The half probably got about 75 -- mostly locals and a few traveling from affair (I guess there was a couple from Scotland).


The Race


I stayed at the Red Lion Hotel, in Elko and I arrived there on Friday night.  I did arrive early enough to pick up my bib and shirt at the local bike store.  It was an easy in and out and I said high to the race director.  

Shari and I wound up carbo loading at Machi's Bar and Grill downtown before heading back to the hotel.  Elko continues to not disappoint with the food and I am glad I avoided the buffet.

I managed to sleep okay.  I knew exactly where to go in the morning and when I needed to be there, so there wasn't much pre-race anxiety.  It wasn't long before my 4:45 alarm went off and I grabbed some food and headed out the door. 

They had a single coach bus that took us the roughly 13.1 miles to the top of the canyon.  I quickly made friends with people on the bus as we ascended to 9000 feet.  

There was a heavy duty breeze coming up the canyon that clearly wasn't in the valley.  It was cooling, but not cold.  I had brought up a sweatshirt and wound up wearing it until the race started.  I managed to cycle through the bathroom and just as I was setting up my Garmin, the race director was assembling everyone to the starting line.  Thank goodness for no long waits.





The race's hardest part is the beginning.  You haven't quite warmed up yet and you have to run uphill for a whole quarter of a mile at 9000 feet elevation before turning around and come screaming down the canyon.  That quarter of a mile is a lung burner as your heart rate gets used to running and your lungs get used to breathing thin air.

Luckily it is short lived and you get to make a speedy descent.

I was eyeballing people in my age group and was running shoulder to shoulder with a guy who I thought might be in my age group (he wasn't).  I could sense he was laboring and while we ran together for at least the first 5 miles, I could sense he was tiring.



I was definitely enjoying the downhills and I was surprised at my splits.  I just didn't want to crash and burn.  I had vague memories about last year being a long shuffle in the final 5K.  I also had memories of the Idaho half marathon I did last week.

At times I felt a little tired but for the most part I powered through any rough spots.  My only gripe was the head wind.  Initially I was trying to draft off of people, but a race this small, it is hard to find someone who was running the same pace as I was.  And within a few miles I was running more or less solo.  The breeze was cooling but it did take away from my pace a bit.

The course had water stations every 2 miles starting at mile 3.  I do believe in the latter miles they were missing a station.  I am SO glad I carried my own.  I wound up going through most of mine and I only missed one aid station (it was on the right hand side of the road, and I was on the left).



Occasionally I'd pull out the camera and take a picture while running.  But on this race I was definitely running for time.  And I didn't want to have that "one" guy in my age group catch me.

The smell of the canyon, despite not having many wildflowers was intoxicating.  The canyon has a smell reminiscent of Juicy Fruit Gum.  And that smell was present.  There also were a bunch of mini water falls and I could hear the river gurgling below me.  Just a perfect day for a run down a fast canyon road.

As I descended the canyon, I was greeted by the occasional hill.  The first one, at about mile 6 or so might have just been a mountain.  My quads were pretty trashed and it was hard to change gears.  There was also a segment of flat here and I began to panic a bit... .was the last half of the race going to be a sufferfest?

Luckily, the downhills continued again and I was able to coast down them, reeling low 8 minute miles.


Also, as I got closer to the end of the canyon, I could see sunlight ahead.  We've had a bit of a hot spell of late and I certainly didn't want to bake.  Luckily, the breeze had kept things cool and while the last 5K was warm, it wasn't stifling.

Into the home stretch
I was working off of some women in the final stretch.  It was good to have company and motivate me to push forward.  I tentatively looked behind me and the fellow that I was worried about was nowhere in sight.  I checked my Garmin and I knew I was on target for a pretty good race.

I was pretty beat up as my quads were shot from the downhill.  But I managed to use my arms and whatever I had left to push the final .5 of a mile along the country road to finish at Lamoille Grove Park.




Conclusion


Upon finishing, I grabbed some water and walked off the wooziness I was feeling.  I had really pushed the last mile or so (as best as I could do) and I needed to cool down.  Luckily, the Lamoille valley was cool and there was some shade as well as sun (when I started to chill).

They had a pancake breakfast as well as some fruit for the finish.  One of the local ice cream stores also had a huge supply of ice cream, which was heavenly after the race.

I wound up talking to a ton of people, sharing training tips and our experiences.  People from Nevada are friendly and they were pretty impressed with my knowledge of the state.

This woman and I were neck and neck at the end
I was pretty ecstatic to place in my age group.  I was hoping for second (like last year) but I was satisfied with third.  There was no way I was going to catch the first place guy (he came in 3rd overall).


Finisher's medal and age group award

After grabbing my age group award I hit the road.  Writing this a day later, I am pretty happy with the results and my effort.  Even though my time was a little slower than last year, I didn't feel like I crashed and burned.  It was also a stunning run.

I look forward to running this one again next year.  It is always worth the trip and I had so much fun.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Horsetail Falls Trail Hike - Alpine Utah



Introduction


The other day I was looking for a new hike.  I was tossing around ideas of various places to go.  Immediately I started to think about my usual haunts.  But I started to poke around and found the Horsetail Falls Trail, located about 30 minutes from my house in sleepy Alpine, UT.

There is plenty written about this hike and the trail head is actually listed as Deer Creek or Dry Creek Trail.  You can find it easily enough via google maps.  There is a fair amount of parking, but get there early.  It would appear the parking lot fills up quickly so please plan accordingly.

The trail head is easy to find and I used my Garmin to measure the distance to the falls.  It was about 2.11 miles.  I was pushing the pace and made it to the falls in under 50 minutes.  In the course of the 2 miles, you will climb just over 1600 feet.

The trail is wide and you'll likely come across horse riders.  Most of the trail is runnable, but there are sections where it gets rocky and footing gets difficult.

The trail is also easy to follow.  There are some offshoots, but it will be obvious what direction the main trail goes.  The few not-obvious turns offs only split the trail a bit before returning back to the main trail.

At about the mile 2 marker you will see a sign directing you to some north creek trails.  The falls, however, will be on your left.  Studying aerial maps, it would appear those trails take you further back into the canyon.

The falls, when I visited in June, were roaring and loud.  One false step and I would've been washed away.  The trail continues above the falls for a tiny bit, but I found it soon petered out and there really wasn't much to see.  I suppose I could've done some bushwhacking but the going got tough.

Also wear old shoes on the trail, particularly in the spring / early summer.  Portions of the trail were flooded or muddy.

I found the hike very enjoyable.  It is ideal for kids too and had no major dropoffs (except at the falls). Also there were some stunning views of Utah Lake at the top.

Parking lot at Horsetail Falls Trail

Parking lot at Horsetail Falls Trail





Typical Stretch of Trail




Be prepared for a few crossings like this

About half a mile from the falls






Tread carefully here. One false step....












This rock formation means you are close