Monday, November 8, 2010

Runnin' in the Desert

I'm not sure what it was. The heavy work weeks I've been putting in, the turmoil of my personal life, the impending winter, or just the fact that it's been too long since I've dedicated a weekend to running, but I had felt a strong urge last Monday morning to just jump in my truck and drive away and run for a few days. Unfortunately, I had to wait all week, but come 5:00 pm on Friday evening I was headed to Fruita and Moab for a weekend of fun.

I decided to drive to Fruita on Friday night. The drive down was pretty uneventful. Like any good mother, my mom met me on my way out of town to drop of a loaf of pumpkin bread and a 6-pack of beer. After 4 hours of driving and some serious dashboard drumming I stopped of at Highline State Park for the night. I made my bed in the back of the truck, had a beer and called it a night.

One of my favorite things about road-trip adventures like these is driving into a place in the dead of night and waking up and checking out the crazy surroundings.

The View greeting me Saturday Morning

I stopped off for a cup of coffee in Loma before heading to the Kokopelli/Mary's Loop Trail system along the Colorado River. I sat around in the truck duding to CCR, and holding and smelling my coffee for a while before heading off. It was a chilly morning but it quickly heated up as I meandered along along the river. This trail system is quite popular with the MTB crowd, but luckily I only really ran into a handful all day. I basically worked my way around the canyons, climbing higher and higher. The picture below shows the majority of the trials that made up my morning.

Overlooking the Colorado River. Contemplating the day ahead.

Fall in Fruita

The trails that occupied my morning

I arrived back at the trailhead after about 4 hours of running. I'm guessing I ran about 20 Miles, not setting any records, but I stopped several times along the way to enjoy the scenery. I was surprised to see upwards of 40 cars at the TH (opposed to 3 when I left). I have no idea where all of those people could have been, but I'll consider myself lucky to have avoided the crowd.

After a drinking beer, red bull, coke, and a protein shake, I jumped in the car and headed to Moab. I decided to take the scenic route, as I was in no real hurry. I'm glad I did. The leaves are still changing down there. It made for some pretty stellar views and photo ops.
The View from the canyon driving into Moab

I drove straight to the Dead Horse Point State Park; a small extension of the Canyonlands National park to the north. I threw a stove, a beer, a pot and some food into my pack and headed off on a sunset/dinner run. I'll let the pictures do the talking, but it's a must visit if you go to the Moab area.
Quite a view for a picnic dinner

A runner's sunset

More Dead Horse Point

I got back to the truck just before dark, drove into Moab, and stopped off at the brewery for a beer (or two) and some cheese fries before driving down into the Kane Springs Canyon for the night. The scene when I woke up was again pretty amazing.
Kane Creek Camping

When I got to the trailhead a biker was just returning fro an early morning ride. He warned be of a 'cat' sighting, but seeing as I'd put on a good 10 lbs since Leadville, I figured I was big enough to scare any predators off.

I was going to try to run up the Gatherer canyon, into the Hunter canyon and the crossover into the Pritchett Canyon, stop by the Pritchett Arch, and then follow the infamous Pritchett Canyon 4X4 road back to the TH. Started down the Kane Creek road looking for the unmarked turnoff to Gatherer Canyon. I saw some dudes parachuting off the canyon walls, pretty crazy stuff. I'm guessing it's illegal stuff as well, since they had their parachutes packed up in a matter of seconds after landing.

I saw a decently weathered turnoff and decided that it was my spot. Up a canyon I went. 45 minutes later I found myself high up a canyon wall with no real foreseeable way down. This would be a trend for the day. I backtracked a bit and tried a different route. I repeated that about 3 times until I finally found a reasonable route down the canyon (still not one that my mother would have approved of...). When I got to the bottom, I found myself on a 4X4 road. After looking at a map for too long, I decided I must have turned off too soon, and traversed some unnamed canyon and was now sitting somewhere on the Pritchett Canyon Road. I decided to reverse the intended direction of my run and headed south towards the arch and Hunter Canyon. That 4X4 road is insane. There were spots that were mind boggling. I'm talking 4-5 foot rock walls. I stole a picture from the webernet showing one of the spots. There were a good 5-6 sections of this road where you could just smell the grease, rubber, and oil carnage from past 4X4 excursions.

Whoopsie Daisie

I ran along this road for a good 6-7 miles until I again found myself somewhat lost. In reality I was being exceptionally stupid, but in the end I probably ran a good 2-3 miles back and forth on some trails and road until I convinced myself I knew where I was. Then in true Ryan fashion I managed to drop my map somewhere along the way. Eventually I made my way to the Pritchett Arch. Its a pretty cool, exposed Arch in the middle of nowhere. I was tempted to scramble up and over onto the top of the arch, but chickened out halfway up, while imagining myself with a broken leg in the middle of nowhere.

Pritchett Arch

After the arch visit, I made my way to the Hunter Canyon turnoff, where I finally ran out of water. It was hot, I'm guessing 85 deg. From memory, I figured I had about 5 miles to go, so I wasn't too worried, but was a bit concerned about my ability to stay on course an not get lost once again. Turns out everything was just fine. An hour later I could see the Kane Creek road again. The only problem was it was a good 1000 ft below the trial I was on. I kinda wished I had one of those parachutes. I was on a pretty well marked section of single track, so I just went along with it assuming it would lead me to salvation. After a good mile or so of running along the cliff edge, the trial spiraled down into a canyon (the real Gatherer Canyon) and dumped me out onto the road for another mile of uphill road running to my truck. I have no clue how far I ended up running with all of the backtracking and stupidity. I'm gonna throw out 16-17 miles. I was out for 4.5 hours.

The Nauseating view from the Gatherer Canyon Wall. The road is down there somewhere, I was too afraid to get any closer.

I stopped by Milt's Stop and Eat for a burger before heading home. Those burgers are top 5 anywhere, and I've eaten a lot of burgers in my time.

The drive back was long, and I was tired. It did give me a good chance to put a lot of things in perspective, which was one of the main goals of the trip. I won't go into too much detail but:

- I really like running adventures. I look back at the past year and almost all of my happiest memories are from out on the trail. Even a shitty (pun intended) day out on a long run is better than pretty much anything else in the world. If I could do this stuff all of the time, I would.

-My life is a frickin' mess right now, but that's okay; messes can be cleaned up and usually things are even tidier when you are done.

-Life is much more enjoyable when it's simple.

-I need a goal. A dumb big one. One that will push the limits. More on this later, but I have several things in the works. Alaska, 14ers, & briar bushes may or may not be involved.

1 comment:

  1. Hope things work out for you man. We should grab a beer sometime.