Zion Traverse (East Entrance to Lee Pass) -
As I sat in the shuttle that takes you on the Zion Canyon Scenic drive I was eavesdropping on two women with thick southern accents saying, "God must 'ave been drawering in the sand wit' 'is finger." I totally agree. However, after talking with the women a bit longer they decided to drop the phony accent and admitted to living in Hurricane (just outside of Zion). Now I am not sure if I should believe them. Either way, this is God's country.
Mile 3 (Jolley Gulch)
Joe and Logan were willing and able to join me on one of my bucket list (20 different ways to attempt suicide while having fun) runs. I am not sure how to describe the beauty and ruggedness of ~49 miles of Zion. Amazing. Awe inspiring. Suicidal?
As things tend to do, things were awesome at the start. Cold temps, fresh legs, lots of energy and excitement. It took about 20 miles before that wore off and then things got interesting, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Section 1: East Rim to The Grotto - 12 miles - 1:50
Like I mentioned before, amazing and loads of fun. I love running with these 2 guys. Had the place to ourselves until joining up on the inspiration point trail. I tried to do some advertising for Steve Hooper and the St. George Running Center by telling all the hikers to shop for their next pair of running shoes like ours at the St. George Running Center. The problem was that I mumble a bit and I was jogging down a trail while they were hiking up. At most, they heard "Go to the St. George rumnmnmn cen." Oh well, I gave it a go.
Look at that!
At the Grotto, we had my awesome crew of my wife, my kids, and my parents helping us out. They would be extremely helpful later in the day.
Section 2: The Grotto to West Rim Trailhead - 14.5 miles - 2:58
This section contains the largest and longest climb of the day at 3000' in 8 miles. The climb wasn't really that bad, but it took a lot of our energy and I sure paid for it later. Logan was counting all the 'roadkill' on the trail to Angel's Landing and hit close to 100. That was a fun stretch. We saw more people in 2.5 miles than the rest of the day combined. The top part of that climb rewarded us with numerous spectacular views and was a definite highlight of the run. Here are some pics:
I swear we didn't just stand around on rocks posing....We did some running. Really.
A few miles short of the Aid station at the west rim trailhead, I started feeling pretty lousy. It was about this point (the tree tunnel) that I knew it was going to be a long afternoon. I was really hot and it wasn't even noon yet. I couldn't eat or drink well because my stomach was unhappy and that would affect my energy levels all day. Eventually, we made it to the trailhead and were VERY happy to see the crew ready and waiting for us. I really needed to sit down and take a break. Joe had tweaked an old injury just a quarter mile from the stop and he needed to let it rest to see if it will chill out. We spent a solid 30 mins eating lunch and trying to recover. I went from hot to cold to hot in a matter of minutes. Not good.
My happy crew -
Section 3: West Rim to Hop Valley Trailhead via Wildcat Canyon - 9 miles - 1:48
Within 2 mins from leaving the trailhead, Joe pulled up lame and he quickly decided to call it a day and not mess things up worse. Poor Joe. I know how much he wanted to do this and that must have been a tough decision. Get well buddy!
This section was a great downhill, fun, easy section. At least it should have been had I not already run a marathon. My body was not excited about this and was letting me know. Oh well, I was able to keep a steady trot going and I enjoyed the shade of the ponderosa pine trees. I have got to do more heat training if I am going to run this summer. This heat is killing me.
Section 4: Hop Valley to Kolob - 14 miles - 3:00
The crew once again saved me from heat exhaustion and dehydration. They were amazing. One more section to go. I knew it would be a race to see if I could get it done before my body shut down. I was starting to see the signs of what I experienced at The Bear and wanted to minimize that. I drank as much as I could and tried to cool off. The problem was that the water would evaporate in minutes.
The section in Hop Valley was torture. Sure, the scenery was amazing. I was just too tired to care. The kick in the pants was the sand. Sections of deep loose sand. I was looking around praying for a thunderstorm to both cool me off and knock down the sand. It was not easy to move in it at any pace. Frustrated we moved on. Soon, we were treated to following a wash with a creek. That was nice to have to cool off in, but now we were crossing the creek every 100 yards with sand in-between. It was rough.
Smiling, we carried on.
Check out the Fly!
We eventually dropped down into the La Verkin Creek drainage. I started to feel better and we started to roll. I was enjoying things even as we turned north and headed up the final valley. We were on the homestretch. It was uphill and I was running. It wasn't fast, or pretty, but I was running and over the last 5 miles climbed the final 1000' to the finish. My short lived energy quickly evaporated and over the last mile I suffered. My stomach reached new levels of pain. I visited a bush (which helped) and walked the final uphill. Just get 'er done.
With the offer of a dollar to the first person to spot the runners, all eyes were on the trail.
We finally made it to the finish and I asked, "Am I done?" I don't know who was happier, my crew or me. I then spent the next 15 mins dry heaving in the bushes and shaking while sitting in a chair until I could calm my body down. Things recovered eventually and I was able to eat some pizza, sit in the pool, and take a shower (not in that order).
Mission accomplished. Memory burned into my brain. Yes, I loved it. Yes, it was hard. Harder than Speedgoat. Harder than Pocatello. Yet, still easier than The Bear.
What did you do this weekend?
T-9:38 (12:00) 8000'-10,000' vert