Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quest for Kings Marathon

August 21st, 2010 was the 2nd annual running of the Quest for Kings Marathon. Last year the race (or I should say 'fun run' as holding an official race is a no-no up there) consisted of just myself and two other friends. This year I had planned for a few more, upwards of possibly 15. A week ago I went out and bought the starting cow bell, which is also the 1st place finishing award. I even had a metal plate engraved with the run name, date, and "1st Place" on it and I placed it on the cow bell. As the day approached I got word that people who had previously committed were now unsure and some even dropped out. By Thusday night all but three of us remained. I was a little disappointed, but at the same time I didn't really mind because I would still be with good friends, in a beautiful place, running a mountain I love. Also, my parents and sister planned to join us at camp for Friday night. They would hang out on Saturday, do a little fishing, and hopefully stick around long enough to watch a couple of us finish.

On Friday I met Aaron Kennard, a friend of mine from CO in Sugarhouse at 2pm and after a quick stop back at my house to pick up my pillow we were off to the trail head at Henry's Fork on the north side of the Uinta mountains. We arrived right around 5pm, quickly set up camp, and then decided to go stretch our legs up the trail for a very easy run. We targeted the turn-off to Alligator Lake, only 2.3 miles away. It would make for a very easy 4.6 mile run. When took off at a super easy pace and once we got to the turn-off we decided to just head up to the lake as it was only another half mile or so away. The lake is gorgeous. In the 8 times I've been on that trail I've never gone up to see the lake. It was totally worth it. We took it just as easy back to camp and upon our return I felt like I had just gone for a short walk. We then made dinner (pasta), organized our gear for the race, and planned a solid race strategy. Our goals were as follow:
Run the first 10 miles up to Gunsight Pass in 1:40:00 (super optimistic).
Hit the summit by 3 hours.
Down in 2 hours.
Finish in 5 - 5:15:00

Then we just sat around the fire and waited for family and Scott Wesemann to arrive. My parents were scheduled to arrive at about 9pm and Scott would get there around 11:30pm. As the night wore on Aaron and I decided that something was amiss and by 11pm we just decided to call it a night and go to bed. It was difficult to sleep and at midnight I was still awake as a car pulled up and a light shone into our tent. My parents had finally arrived. As it turns out they had missed a few turn-offs and spent the last three hours driving around the backroads of Wyoming and northern Utah. And still no Scott. Aaron and I decided that since no one else was coming up there was no point in starting at 6am and just decided to sleep in a little and start around 7am. But when 5:40am struck Scott was there trying to wake us up. He had rolled in at 2am. We told him about our delay and he went back to rest in his car. We all then got up around 6:30am.

Scott was already awake and ready to go. He decided to leave a bit before us and I think got out on the trail at around 6:45am while Aaron and I made breakfast, warmed by the fire, and got ready to go. At about 7:15am we each took turns ringing the cow bell and then walked over to the trailhead. The rules of the run  are simple; start your timer at the fence near the trailhead, get to the summit using whichever route you feel is best, and get back without getting lost, hurt, or dehydrated. The fastest time back to the fence wins, regardless of the route taken. Aaron and started our watches at exactly 7:20am. The run was officially ON.
Ringing the cow bell before the official start

I don't know what happened, but from my first step I just wasn't feeling it. My body did not want to run. Each step felt heavy and I didn't have the energy I was expecting from my 400+ calorie breakfast. Normally I am giddy and chatty as I run, especially early on in a race. Instead, that day I was solemn and reserved and just fighting to maintain a steady pace. Within the first mile I also started to develop a cramp in my diaphragm, something I'm used to happening. It was very aggravating though and I spent the next three miles trying to get it to go away. Aaron was content to hang with me and we still made good time getting to the first check point - Elkhorn Crossing, mile 5.3.

Start to Elkhorn Crossing - 5.3 miles, 58:45
Approaching the new bridge at Elkhorn Crossing

Just past Dollar Lake

After Elkhorn Crossing the trail is very easy for another mile, then a steep climb up into Henry's Fork basin, and then a very casual uphill all the way to Gunsight Pass. I was feeling a little better and we finally caught sight of Scott. We had expected to catch him by Elkhorn, but he had obviously been pushing the pace and was doing really well. We didn't catch him until after Dollar Lake, mile 8. The three of us ran together for about a mile. When the trail steepened we dropped Scott and then Aaron took off up the trail when it got a little steeper as I needed to walk. He didn't get too far ahead though and as we approached the base of the switchbacks up to Gunsight Pass I yelled for him to stop and refill on water and caught up to him. Unfortunately, there was only a trickle and not enough to refill with. We decided to push to the pass and try and get water from the remaining snow field at the cut-off up to Anderson Plateau. We passed four hikers who were very impressed with what we were doing. We made it to the pass a little behind schedule, but probably in a more realistic time.

Elkhorn Crossing to Gunsight Pass - 4.7 miles (10 miles total), 1:07:06 (2:05:52 total)
Approaching Gunsight Pass

We started up towards the cut-off to Anderson Plateau, stopping to try and pull water from the snow pack, but like below there just wasn't enough running off to refill our bottles. We both felt like we had enough to make it to Anderson Pass so we pushed on. We probably wasted close to 8 minutes between the two stops. Moving up towards the plateau we passed another half dozen hikers, all with their large day packs, jackets, boots, and hiking poles. We were in short running shorts, t-shirts, and hydration packs. We must have looked like a real sight. Again Aaron got ahead of me through the cliff section and hit the plateau before me. He appeared to be following the correct path around the hill, but when I got around to the other side he was nowhere in sight. As I made my way out onto the plateau I looked around, but couldn't see him. Finally, looking north towards West Gunsight Peak I finally saw him on top of the hill he was supposed to go around. He had made a wrong turn and headed up the hill. I was now ahead of him. He caught up quickly however and we both made our way over to the main trail. Just as we got to the trail we found a nice running stream and were able to refill. No, we didn't purify. I generally don't purify water above treeline if it if free flowing. He took a little longer filling up and I was able to get ahead a bit. Once again though he caught back up by the time we hit Anderson Pass, mile 12.2. Aaron is in great shape for running mountains and was on his "A" game, for certain.

Gunsight Pass to Anderson Pass - 2.2 miles (12.5 miles total), 42:50 (2:48:50 total)

I had been fueling great throughout the whole run, but like I said, my body just didn't want to go. I tried to stay positive, but was also fighting a deep mental battle and not winning. I told Aaron to push to the summit and I would try and keep up as best I could. I usually love climbing the technical rocky climb up to the summit. I know the route well and am fast at making my way through the large talus. Not that day though. I've spent a lot of time recently at altitude, but I was still feeling dizzy and slow. I didn't ever feel sick, I just didn't have the legs for it. I kept Aaron in my sights though and even caught up at point. And then something amazing happened, coming towards us was Eric Jeppson, another friend who I had hoped was going to come but I figured couldn't make it. Apparently, he had decided to come the night before, but was unable to let us know. Because he didn't know about the late start he hit the trail at 6:30am. He had reached the summit in about 2:55:00 after making a few wrong turns. He is wicked-fast and after chatting for a minute Aaron and I resolved to take 2nd and 3rd knowing that he would smoke the trail on the way down and maybe even go under 5 hours. Eric mentioned that he would probably take the longer trail to the bottom, thinking that he could do more running and less scrambling, even though it was further. I didn't think it would matter which way he went, he'd still beat us. We said goodbye and kept pushing for the summit. Aaron got there about 5 minutes before me and we chatted for 2 seconds as he passed on the way down. I stopped only long enough on top to take a picture and then head back down.

Anderson Pass to Kings Peak Summit - 1 mile (13.1 total), 30:31 (3:19:13 total)

Aaron coming down as I near the top
On the summit

As soon as I left the summit I felt better and was able to fly down the ridge. To my surprise Scott was about half way up and looking strong. This would be his fastest trip to the summit by over an hour. We said a quick hello and I was off. I was moving so well I even caught up to Aaron before hitting Anderson Pass again. And I was finally in a good mood. FINALLY.

Summit to Anderson Pass - 1 mile (14.1 total), 19:37 (3:38:50 total
Scott on his way to the top

Aaron and I together pushed the technical trail back down onto the plateau and made another quick stop to top off on water and were off again towards the cut-off to Gunsight. Aaron opened up a lead on me, but I was able to catch up just before the drop down the cut-off because he had stopped to talk to two guys coming up. One was a friend of his, Andy, and the other was the 2009 NCAA National Champ in the steeple chase. Holy Crap these guys were fast. They were at the top of the cut-off in 1:50:00, 20+ min faster than us. The NCAA champ, Kyle Perry, looked tired though. He commented that this was further than he had ever run and he was on mile 11. Ha. Aaron and I took off again and hit the pass together. We then dropped straight down the pass, avoiding the long switchback.

Anderson Pass to Gunsight Pass - 2.2 miles (16.3 total), 30:36 (4:09:27 total)

At the bottom of the pass I told Aaron I needed to top off again, but I would have to deter to the spring since the trickle wasn't good enough. This allowed Aaron to open up a big lead, one that I would be unable to overcome. After my refill I bushwacked back to the trail, getting very wet in the swampy brush. Back on the trail I was again depleted of anything in my legs. To make matters worse my left foot was really hurting and my right ankle tendonitis was acting up. I was still fueling great and felt like I had energy to run, but there were a few times when it was just too painful. I was back to my mental war and not winning. I didn't bring my iPod with me and that didn't help. Normally I like running without it, but that day it would have been helpful because it would have allowed me to get out of my own head. I tried to run as much as possible and managed to keep the walking down to only one or two minutes total over the next 5 miles. I got back to Elkhorn Crossing, took more fuel, allowed myself to walk again, and continued the battle in my head.

Gunsight Pass to Elkhorn Crossing - 4 miles (20.3 miles total), 47:24 (4:56:51 total)

My goal of doing the whole run in 5 hours was officially out. Now I just wanted to finish close to 5:45:00, but even that would be tough with 5.3 miles to go, painful feet, and doubt filling my head. But I found that even with wanting to walk, when I did so I didn't like it and would just start running again. The turn-off to Alligator Lake couldn't come soon enough, but when it did I knew I only had 2.3 miles left and started to pick things up again. I passed another trail runner returning from the summit and he commented on how fresh I looked. I definitely didn't agree, but it did pick up my spirits a bit and I pushed even harder. Then a couple of hikers on their way out had some nice things to say also and that allowed me to continue on even faster. I zoomed back to the trailhead at exactly 5:57:00. Wow, what a trip.

Elkhorn Crossing to Finish - 5.3 miles (25.6 miles total), 1:00:08 (5:57:00 total)

I signed the trail register and then walked back to camp. Aaron was there greet me with a high five. I was pleased to find out that he had only beat me by 12 minutes and was feeling great. I was super happy for him. Unfortunately, my family had already left so I was unable to chat with them. Aaron mentioned that he had talked with a couple of hikers who saw Eric coming out and they said he wasn't looking good at all. So that made us think that maybe Aaron had a chance to win it all. We then went on a short recovery run to finish off a full marathon and came back to sit in the river. We then took down camp and headed out, meeting his wife Nan in Mountain View at a burger joint. He then left with her and I headed home. I found out later that night that Eric finished in around 6:01:00, with 27.5 or so miles. In this race though miles aren't the most important part, just hitting the summit and getting back. So Aaron won and I took 2nd. Wahoo!!!! I found out also that Scott finished in 8:28:20, smashing his PR by more than two hours. Way to go Scott.

Even with the tough day I had a great time. I was there with good friends and running an awesomely tough trail. I wish I could have run more with Scott and Eric, but I'm glad I at least got to see them. It would have been fun if they could have gotten there early enough the night before that we all could have hung out around the fire. Thanks for coming along guys. Next year I'll be even more organized and we'll hopefully have even more people come along. What a great trip!

Congrats Aaron - 1st Place Overall

Friday, August 13, 2010

Katcina Mosa Video

Here is a video I made of my race last Saturday.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Katcina Mosa 100k

Saturday, August 7th was the 9th annual running of the Katcina Mosa 100k; a race consisting 62 of the toughest ultra miles in the country. This race has over 34,000 vertical feet of elevation gain and loss, with nearly 75% of the elevation gain taking place in the first half of the race. One of the other things that makes this race so tough is that it is held on what is often the hottest day of the year. Combine heat, hills, and dusty trails and you have a recipe for 'misery'. It sounded like the perfect combination for me to graduate into this distance of ultra running.

The evening previous to the race we all gathered for a pre-race meal and instructions at the Hampton Inn in Orem, UT. It was great to see some good friends and meet others. One couple that stood out was Ross and Catherine who were visiting from England. They have been on a year long vacation around the world, culminating with an extended stay in Utah to run the Wasatch 100. They had run the Speedgoat 50k last weekend, the countries hardest 50k and were now running Katcina Mosa, a contender for the toughest 100k. They were very nice and would be fun to see out on the trails the next day. After a few other hellos Emily and I headed back to my parents for her to pick up the kids and go home and for me to gather my things and head back to the starting line to camp out and get up at 2am to prepare for the 3am start.
I pulled into the parking area and laid out my bouldering pads to sleep on, then my bag and pillow. I went back to the car to organize a few things and when I came back there were several spiders crawling on my sleeping bag. No way was I going to spend the next four hours trying to sleep with spiders crawling all over my face. I gathered up my things, put away my pads, and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible in the front passenger seat. It never went well. I was up three or four times to use the bathroom, could never get comfortable, and was still looking at the clock at 12:30am. I was now only looking at 1.5 hours of sleep, at best. I'm not sure I even got that, but waking up at 2am I felt strong and ready to go. I got everything ready to go and was up at the starting line with about 20 minutes to go before the race. A few solemn hellos and we all made our way up to the starting line, which was nothing more than all of us just standing at the fork in the road as the race director gave us a few last words of advice and then a loud 'GO'. We were off.

The first section of the race is 2 miles up the paved road then a left turn onto a dirt road that we will follow for another 5.5 miles up to the first aid station at Camel Pass. We would gain 2500 vertical in 8.5 miles. It was a very gradual uphill run with only a few sections that required walking. I ran with Mark Ellison from Saratoga Springs for the first few miles then broke away going up one of the steeper hills. I passed a few people on the road and then caught up to two other guys; Danny and Chris. We ran the rest of the way to Camel Pass together, having a great chat and enjoying the beautiful night. Both had run a few 50 milers previous to this and were looking strong on the long climb. I thought for sure I was going to have friends to run with for most of the race.
Leg 1 (start to Camel Pass): 8.49 miles. Goal - 1:45:00, Actual - 1:44:20

We were in and out of Camel Pass in just over two minutes. As we were leaving Mark was rolling in and quickly caught up to us. The four of us ran up the road together enjoying being able to share this with each other. We could see all of Utah Valley and the lights were beautiful. We had another 1000 ft of climbing to the top of Horse Mountain and then another mile downhill to aid station 2 at Slate Canyon. A few miles into the 2nd leg Chris and I dropped Mark and Danny and came into Slate Canyon just the two of us. Another quick stop and we were back off down the road for the long downhill descent to Rock Canyon.
Leg 2 (Camel Pass to Slate Canyon): 4.7 miles. Goal - 1:00:00, Actual - 54:27

It was only 3.3 miles of downhill dirt road so I picked up the pace and enjoyed letting my legs stretch out. With about a mile left Chris said he needed to slow down so I pressed on ahead. I really enjoyed this downhill section. Back at the aid station I was told the road was rocking and difficult, but I found it to be very pleasant and smooth. I strolled into aid station three at Rock Canyon feeling great and looking forward to the big climb up to Lightening Ridge ahead.
Leg 3 (Slate Canyon to Rock Canyon) 3.3 miles. Goal 30:00, Actual - 30:24
Just before heading up to Lightening Ridge

I was now alone, but I didn't care. I started up the very overgrown trail towards Lightening Ridge, 2500 ft above in about 5 miles. The first couple of miles were very steep in a narrow canyon. I passed two early starters and gave them words of encouragement as I moved on ahead. As I came into the cirque I could see a runner up ahead and a couple more higher up on the trail. I made an effort to catch the one not far ahead and was able to pass him before hitting the first major switchback. He graciously let me pass and after that I began to push the pace even harder. Over the next mile I opened up quite a lead on him and was quickly coming closer to passing the next runner in front of me. I tried to catch him before cresting the ridge, but was unable to do so. 
Looking up at Lightening Ridge

Timpanogos Peak way off in the distances looking very small

The trail down the other side of Lightening Ridge was very steep and technical. I passed the person in front of me quickly as he was taking it very easy down the trail. I pushed past very fast and cruised the extremely technical trail for the next few miles down to Big Springs aid station. I probably passed six or seven runners, most of whom I assume were early starters. I flew by all of them and they were very nice by stepping aside. Each had words of encouragement and I responded likewise. It was fun to see other people on the trail enjoying it as much as myself. I rolled into the aid station and began to devour everything in sight. I also switched to my waist pack so that I could carry more water on the very long, hot trail up to Windy Pass.
Leg 4 (Rock Canyon to Big Springs), 7.07 miles. Goal - 1:40:00, Actual - 1:44:24

Heading out of Big Springs I actually got to run on some trail I was familiar with. This one mile section is part of a short race I did last year as part of the Cascadia Trail Series. It's a nice rolling section through trees and long green grass. I passed three runners on this section and then two more as I started the climb up to Windy Pass on the Great Western Trail. I was told that this part of the race would be one of the most difficult. They said it was a long march up a steep trail directly into the sun, gaining nearly 3000 vertical feet. Yet, I found it to be absolutely beautiful. The two canyons I hiked up and through were gorgeous, there was a ton of shade in the towering trees, and while the sun was higher in the sky it wasn't particularly hot. I got tired nearing the top as I passed another early starter, but made it to the top of Windy Pass, the 2nd highest point on the course, feeling pretty good. I was within 3 miles of being half way done with the race. 
Leg 5 (Big Springs to Windy Pass), 6.1 miles. Goal - 2:00:00, Actual - 1:45:41

Heading out of Windy Pass up towards the ridge I looked back and instead of seeing the early starter I passed I saw Ross, the Englishman from the night before. I had dropped him early on in the race, but he was obviously a very strong climber and had caught up without much effort. I also started into a low point as I was cramping in my right diaphragm which was impacting my breathing. I was walking more than I wanted to and wasn't feeling very optimistic. Ross caught me quickly and I offered to let him by. Instead, he said he would hang with me for a while. It was great having him around. I hadn't talked to anyone in a few hours and could use the motivation of having someone around. We ran the next 9 miles together talking and sharing experiences. There was some wonderful single track trail that I had to walk a lot of, but he still stuck around and it really helped push me to the next aid station. Little Valley aid station couldn't come soon enough. My feet hurt, I had a blister under my left foot, and I was just generally worked. But it finally came and I had the respite I so needed. At this aid station we were required to do a very short out and back up an ATV trail to a couple of marked trees and back. Ross and another guy from Alaska headed out before me while I lingered at the aid station, but I soon followed. I walked all the way up to the trees, but was able to run all the way back down. Back at the aid station for the 2nd time I bid Ross goodbye as headed out. It would be the last time I would see him until the finish line. Alaska guy left seconds after him. At the aid station was Heath Thurston, brother to Jarom Thurston who has run Badwater a couple of times. Heath was not looking good and I would find out later DNF'd at that spot. I felt bad for him. 
Leg 6 (Windy Pass to Little Valley): 9.1 miles. Goal - 2:20:00, Actual - 1:53:00
Little Valley aid station

So I headed out from Little Valley alone, again. From here on out I didn't know what to expect as far as the trail was concerned. I thought it kind of rolled up and down to the next aid station. What was thrown at me was drastically different than what I was hoping for. Within a mile I was climbing up a steep dirt road that never seemed to end. I wasn't managing my energy very well, I still had some residual cramping in my diaphragm (which salt was not helping, but I think actually hurting), and the weather was starting to get nasty. I liked the cloud cover, but it was getting windy and there was a lot of thunder. If the trail was flat or downhill I would run, but otherwise I was walking everything. I thought for sure I would fall off of my pace during this section, even with the 20 cushion I build coming into Little Valley. I was feeling really low coming into Bath Tub and just hoping that I could push on from there and keep a relatively good pace.
Leg 7 (Little Valley to Bath Tub): 7.0 miles. Goal - 2:00:00, Actual - 1:56:00

As I walked into Bath Tub I was greeted with smiles, regardless of the loud thunder and strong winds. They grabbed my water bottles and began to fill them. Then one of them turned to me and said, "aren't you Craig Lloyd?" - HUH? - "Didn't you just run the Triple Crown?" - What the.... -. I said yes, but how did he know me and what I had done. He said that they read my blog a lot. He then said that "Smooth says hi". I didn't know anyone read this blog, but hearing that they knew who I was and that there were other friends out there looking out for me seemed to flip a switch in me. All three of them were so wonderful and happy it just changed my whole attitude. And with the looming storm they offered one of their only large garbage sacks in case of rain. These guys saved my whole race. With a new attitude I left Bath Tub feeling great and looking forward to the last 16 miles, even with a climb up a dirt road ahead of me. Thank you folks at Bath Tub. 
I ran down the road then made the hard left turn that would lead up the hill. Just as I made the turn it started to sprinkle. A quarter mile up the wonderfully pleasant hill it started to rain harder and then really came down. By the time I pulled out the garbage bag and ripped a hole for my head I was completely soaked. Even still, it was good I put on because no sooner did I have it over my head the hail started. I was pounded with heavy rain and hail for about 8 minutes and then it stopped. I was having a ton of fun playing in the rain and running through the now river filled dirt road. As I crested the hill I ran into Jarom who had not heard about his brother and was heading back to look for him. We exchanged remarks and I was off again, running down some technical ATV trail all the way to Dry Canyon. I stopped to eat a gel and as soon as I did I noticed the obvious bear tracks in the mud. Cool. I took a quick photo and pressed on the last mile to the aid station.
Leg 8 (Bath Tub to Dry Canyon): 6.7 miles, Goal - 1:30:00, Actual - 1:23:00
Looking back at the day I spent running

Bear Tracks

My original goal was to finish the race in 14:30:00, however, I found myself at Dry Canyon with a new option. I was only at the 12 hour mark and could possible finish in under 14 hours if I could press the last 10 miles in under two hours. I made my stop at Dry Canyon short and headed out on overgrown single-track. There was about 100m that were ridiculously muddy steep downhill. From there it enters Dry Canyon proper and the next couple of miles were just awesome single-track in and out of the small stream running in the bottom. I was actually feeling really good and pushing the pace towards the mouth of the canyon at Corral Canyon aid station. At one point I passed a full cow skeleton in the middle of the stream. I flew into Corral Canyon with someone welcoming me by name (how did they know who I was, they couldn't see my number yet?).
Leg 9 (Dry Canyon to Corral Canyon): 3.77 miles. Goal - 30:00, Actual - 42:43

From Dry Canyon to the finish was gradual downhill on paved road. My feet were hurting and the pavement was just no fun. I told myself that if I could run 10 minute miles I could be there in an hour. After the first 10 minutes I needed to walk so I changed my strategy to running for 10 minutes and walking for three. I figured after doing this six times I would be to the finish. I must have been running faster than I thought, however, because after only the fourth time I found myself turning the corner into the finish line. I finished with a total time of 13:38:34, 9th best overall.
Leg 10 (Corral Canyon to Finish): 5.95 miles. Goal - 1:00:00, Actual - 1:02:49

What an amazing race. I haven't run more than 37 on any given run since last October. While I have been doing a lot of hill and heat training I just didn't know how the long miles would wear on me. I faired much better than expected. On an easier course I could have run much further. I'm sure the good weather helped. I stuck around at the finish for a couple of hours to chat and cheer people in. Ross finished a couple spots ahead of me and his wife eventually took first out of all the women, amazing. I didn't stay long enough to watch Mark, Danny, and Chris come in. I heard later Mark bettered his last year's time by 20 minutes. I hope Danny and Chris faired ok.

This was a benchmark experience for me. I now know what I am capable of and look forward to pushing the longer distances. Thanks to all of the people who helped me train, to the gang at Bath Tub, and to the friends I met along the way. It was an awesome experience.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aspen Ridge Boy Scout Camp Run 7/29/10

This last week I went up with the boy scouts to attend Aspen Ridge scout camp in Idaho. It was a great week with the boys and I even got to go running a couple of times.

On Tuesday I ran the dirt road 3 miles up to an ATV trail turn-off which I followed another near 3 miles to a pass. I turned around at that point and headed back to camp for a great 11 mile run with over 5,000 ft elevation gain and loss. I checked a map at the scout office in the lodge and I knew  that had I kept running another half mile or so on that ATV road I was on I would hit a trail that would run along the ridgeline running north to south on the east side of Aspen Ridge Scout Camp. There would be a cut-off trail down to a spring that would make it so the run would only be about 15 miles. If I missed that turn-off I could take the trail all the way to Willow Flat campground and then just run the main road back to camp for a total of about 20ish miles. As much as I wanted to do it on Tuesday I knew I didn't have time so I went after it on Thursday.

The run up to the powerline saddle was a little slower than Tuesday. I wanted to focus on moving slower and staying fresh for the ridgeline run and the drop back down. I had a 20oz handheld and two power gels. I ate the first gel and took my only salt pill at the saddle and 1:15:00 into the run. The trail turnoff was a little further than I thought, but it was clearly marked and a two track ATV trail leading southwest back towards the ridge, exactly where I needed to be going.

I wound through trees and thoroughly enjoyed the solitude and shade of the forest. I knew there would be no one around for miles. The trail turned south after another mile or so and even though it never crested along the ridgeline I did hike up and was able to look over once, exactly opposite of camp. I was now 10 miles into the run and laughing out loud at being able to run in such a cool place. I ate my final gel and drank a little more, being careful to conserve water . . . just in case. After another mile a single-track trail tapered off to my right staying along the ridge as my main trail headed downhill. Since the trail I was on was marked with a forest service sign I assumed the turn-off would also be marked since it was marked on the map. And while there were mountain bike tracks going along that trail I just didn't have the confidence to turn off yet. So I kept following the main trail I was on. I knew the worst thing that would happen was that I'd end up at Willow Flat. Little did I know.

After another two miles or so the trail flattened out and came out into a very large meadow and was now heading east, not the direction I was supposed to be going. I was paying very close attention and there was no turn-off besides the single-track one I had seen earlier. After almost another mile through the meadow and looking at the range to the south I couldn't see an exit back to where I needed to go. I knew something was wrong. I turned around and headed back towards the peak behind me. I left the trail and went straight up the mountain to get a better viewpoint. I had to climb about 500+ ft to the summit, but once on top I could see that I was well too far south. Looking back north along the ridge I could see the mountain bike trail, but no turn-off and no feasible way for any trail to get back down to Willow Flat. I was in a trouble. I was now 13.5 miles in, had about 2 0z of water left, eaten both gels, and was going on around 3 hours and had consumed only 300 calories. Oddly enough, I still felt good and was actually in pretty good spirits. The downside was that I needed to go about a half mile back north along the ridge and then take a very steep, rocky, cliffy, miserable ridge down to the campground.

Making my way down was rough. I had to descend 3 cliffs, all about 6 - 8 ft tall. I also had to boulder hop down a steep slope for about 100 ft (I thought I was done with that when I left the Uintas). Within a quarter mile of the campground the clear ridgeline turned into the worst bushwack I've ever had to do. My legs are wickedly scratched now. I was cursing outloud and mad at myself for getting into this position and being gone from my boys for so long. But I finally made it to the campground with one swallow of drink left. I filled at a spicket and then sat in the river for a couple of minutes before pressing on. I had just under 5 miles to go to get back to camp. Along the way I saw the two trails heading off into the trees that I was supposed to come out on, but no way for them to wind up the mountain, 3500 ft above. I don't know what went wrong, but either the map was wrong or I missed a serious turn-off.

After getting back to camp I went and sat in the polar bear tub, soaking my legs for a few minutes. It felt so good. Another crazy adventure.