Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zion National Park - Utah, USA

 Last weekend we explored  Zion National Park in Utah. We flew to Las Vegas, rented a van that held the 6 of us (Craig and Lynette, Dave and Helen, Neil and I) and drove to Cedar City Utah where we started the Zion Traverse at Kolob Canyon the next morning.
Upon arrival in Cedar City we did a quick grocery shop to fill our running packs and stock up to have some post event food and drink. We had dinner at a very popular wood fired pizza restaurant that provided us with the fuel we needed to get us ready for the journey.
We were determined to be on the trail at dawn (just after 6 am). Helen and Lynette drove us to the start of the La Verkin Creek trail. We stopped for a picture as we drove by the Kolob Canyon park sign. It was REALLY cold outside. I was concerned I didn't have adequate layers. There was a strong wind that was piercingly cold.
Dave, Neil, me and Craig at the Kolob Canyon Park sign.

Neil, me, Craig and Dave at the start of the La Verkin Creek Trail (it's cold!!)

Within minutes of the start we come upon this fresh "cat" print. This was just past a sign warning us we were entering "wilderness". Beware the Mountain Lions!

Not long after the start Craig had to stop for his yogurt - we were pleased to see he brought a spoon this year! We tried to keep the group moving with scheduled stops; a lesson learned from last years Grand Canyon trip.

 The sun started to sneak over the rocky horizon. With this, the temperature warmed up and we all took off a layer.
We kept together as a group from the start to the finish.  I kept the guys moving and kept the human train rolling along!

The rock behind in full sun, but still a little cooler on the canyon floor.

Craig had a wee bit of a tumble early on, but it was a soft and sandy landing. I think both Dave and Craig are having a good laugh.

We took a bit of a side trip to see Kolob Arch, one of the largest natural arches. It spans 287.4 feet making it the second longest arch in the world.
The trail we travelled on below.

The sun is highlighting the views!

Pretty purple flowers blooming along the trail - the wild flowers were everywhere.

 There was lots of sand to travel through, it was deep and tough going.

 Not only did we travel through sand, we had to cross many sections of water. I was trusting so much in my new Drymax Maximum Protection socks to take care of my feet. We were exposing our feet to the perfect storm - sand, water, heat and a long outing!

 We were prepared!

Wild Cat Canyon our water stop. The spring was flowing! We had a system: we used a designated spring bottle, a filter, a UV light and chlorine tabs to all do their magic on the water. Dave was my hero here...he gave me all his remaining city water which together with the bottles of gatorade they were packing allowed me to go all the way on city water...they do take care of me out there! Very nice surprise! Often Wendy brings me gifts of city water but she wasn't on this journey - Dave took on the task! 
The Water Spring!

Craig and Dave taking a break and Dave shaking pints of sand out of his shoes.

A nice view of Wild Cat Canyon.

Miles of the journey were like this, looks easy but we were at 7, 500 feet and we had  just arrived from sea level, it was hard going.
Dave having an encounter with a Grouse. It did not give up and chased us all up a hill which just about put us all into cardiac arrest! It's hard to sprint uphill at 7,000 feet.

As the early evening approached we arrived at Zion Canyon. It was so spectacular that any tiredness we were feeling after 12 hours on our feet in heat and altitude disappeared. It was beautiful! Everything we had read about Zion Canyon was before us. There were steep drop offs and to keep us safe we made a Team Dodgy rule to stick to the walls.

Slabs of Rock!
Feeling exhilarated but a bit on the edge!
Somehow we came down this, the trail is cut into the rock.
The sand was so fine and clean...I wore gaiters for the journey which I think helped keep the fine sand out of my shoes. The sand was so fine and clean looking , we all had to touch it. We thought of bringing some home but all our containers either contained left over peanut butter or pizza - it would have been nasty sand once home.
Nice to break out onto the open rock.
The start of Walter's Wiggles! We had been expecting these for hours. It was so good we arrived here just prior to darkness. They were so fun - what an engineering feat!
Walters Wiggles - me, Craig and Dave.
Neil captured this photo well,Craig and I on Walters Wiggles.
Almost there....the Grotto (finish area) is ahead. You can see the trail, darkness is setting in. Once down we managed to catch one of the last shuttle buses to the Visitors Center. We called Helen and Lynette for a pick up as planned. The journey was 41 miles, or 66km in 14 hours. It was slow with the heat, the altitude and stops but a spectacular journey. We all felt great - with no issues along the way.
After a good sleep, Neil and I woke with determination to do another outing. We climbed to the Observation Point which was an 8 mile return trip. The climbing was hard work - but good. The views spectacular!
Neil ready to go!
Climbing to the top!
We had great views across to what we traversed down the day before.
The "geckos" were prevalent. Harmless!
 A view down Zion Canyon with the road below. We all celebrated with dinner at a restaurant where we were able to sit outside and enjoy the mountain views.
Zion adventures complete - on our way back to the airport and home.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Go Baggers! and the Mileage Increases with the Diez Vista.

Last weekend, Easter Monday was the opening day of the 2013 Bagger Challenge for the Howe Sound Islands. Go Baggers!
We decided to celebrate opening day with a trip to Bowen Island to conquer a couple of peaks and to give us a good outing on our bikes. We picked Dave and his bike up in Burnaby in the monster truck and then drove on to North Vancouver to do the same with Craig - bike in the back, Craig in the back seat. We arrived in Horseshoe Bay in plenty of time to catch the 9 am ferry with our bikes to Bowen Island. Funny thing at the ferry terminal, Dave ran into someone he knew and I did too! It all started with a bit of a gong show - we double bought tickets for the ferry, we forgot the key for the bike lock despite bringing the lock and at the last minute Neil remembered he did not purchase a ticket for parking with 5 minutes before the ferry departure - he did an incredible sprint to the ticket machine and made it back on the ferry - the ferry deck hand was impressed!
The plan was to do Collins Peak and Apodaca Peak with a good bike ride in between. We all had evening commitments so chose not to push it and try to do Mt. Gardner too although we could have done it before dark. The ride to Collins was a bit of a rolling one which always provides a great work out for those of us on mountain bikes! Once we found the trail head it was straight going until we hit the bush wack which had no trail so made us rely on following our sense of direction to the peak.
The bush wack out seemed to be a bit of a different route but we did arrive back to our bikes so all was good! The ride to the trail head to Apodaca seemed long and we had to keep pulling off the road for several emergency vehicles heading out to an emergency somewhere on the island - all responders were in action. Hope all ended up well for those involved.  
Waiting to board the ferry. Craig, Neil and myself.
 First peak of the 2013 Bagger Challenge - Collins or maybe it is the second Apodaca - they were both bush wacks with nothing really to differentiate the two.
A skull found on the return journey. Oh my!
 Pushing our mountain bikes when the hills got too much.
Making it a water bag and enjoying the views!  Craig, myself and Dave.
Team Dodgy.
The finish line Diez Vista 50 km. Looks like my feet are still in the air!
Yesterday was the 2013 version of the Diez Vista 50 km trail run. I was happy to be at the start line as daily life has prevented me from participating the last few years. I have done this event several times and it was my very first ultra event in 2004 so it has plenty of memories for me. I am close to completing my 50th Ultra run - stay tuned for the announcement!  The day started out with a bit of a drizzle of rain which turned into a down pour, hail and finished with brilliant sunshine. Wendy, the RD and volunteer team did a fantastic job. It's a challenging event with a combination of tough climbs and flat running. The route was well marked and theaid station were well stocked. The soup at the half way point was just what I needed, a little salt and warm fluid. The mileage is creeping up - with two 50kms and one 25km event under my feet in the last month it feels great be back after the MSc. hiatus. Upcoming training includes some local runs then the Zion Canyon in Utah with Team Dodgy and a 55 mile run, the Cateran Trial Run in Scotland.