Brown Duck Lake: MMT100 Training?

No, I am not going to run VHRTC’s MMT100 although after the last couple of weekends I might as well consider it training.

Running sensei said, “Time on your feet and up!” I saluted smarted and started looking for something that was going to get me both. After much searching and Google Earth satellite image hunting (looking for snow) I headed out to Ashley National Forest with the intent of making it to Kidney Lake. Kidney Lake is a 18 mile round trip.  No problem, I thought.

IMG_3618Heading up the trail it started off sweet and innocently enough.  Then the rocks started.  Not little rocks, no, no rocks the size of basketballs+.  The picture to the left is one of the better sections of trail.  This is the kind of trail that you wonder if it truly is a trail or was it the bottom of a creek that someone had the “ingenious” idea of making INTO a trail.  7+ soul crushing miles later of doing nothing but picking, plodding and praying that I didn’t fall or sprain something Brown Duck lake came into view. It truly was gorgeous; however, at this point I was fried mentally and physically.  It took 2.5 hours to get 7 miles.  It wasn’t from a lack of trying to go faster it was just the conditions on the trail.  There was no way I was going to make it another 2 miles up, and then 9 miles back down to the car.  Enough was enough.  I spent ~20 minutes at the lake.  I soaked my feet and my knees in the cold water and headed back.   My watch died ~3 miles from the car.

All told (what I had) it was 2640′ of climbing.  With over 5 hours on my feet.  14(ish) miles.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone so stinking slow in my life, but…

I came home with all my teeth and no sprained anything!


Pegged my stupid meter

Running sensei said, “You need to do 15 miles this weekend.  Go find up and do it!” I saluted smarted and attempted to find 15 miles of up.  Unfortunately for me right now all of the snowless miles are in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons which means that they are off limits as they are a no dog zone.  Anything in the High Uintas is also off limits as there is still lots of snow up there.  After much scouring I came up with a Plan A and Plan B. I notified Dad of my plans and off I went.

Plan A was do Notch Mountain to Trail Lake.  As we drove up the Mirror Lake Road the snow line was much higher than it was two weeks ago when I was up that way for work.  I started to get hopeful.  Maybe, just maybe……came around a corner and BAM! Nope.  Can’t even get into the parking lot for the trail head as it’s still under at least 3 feet of snow.  Crap…..We stopped and I let Baby Trail Dog out into the snow.  She dug, frolicked, and played queen of the mountain.


Plan B did not have the distance of Plan A, but it had the up.  Man oh man did it have the up.  Just as much up, but in a shorter number of miles.  Ok, Plan B it is. As we headed up the trail it was rocky. Not the kind of rock that you can get a rhythm on, but the “don’t trip fall and bash your head in” kind of rocky.  When we hit the 3.5 mile mark we ran into a Dad and his son coming down the mountain.  I asked them a couple of questions about the trail.  “There’s a few water crossings coming up and it gets sloppy, but you should be ok.”  Super!

IMG_3552Approaching the water images of last week were flashing through my head.  Don’t tell me I came the way for nothing, I thought.  I let Charlotte off leash to let her suss it out.  She won’t cross anything even remotely dangerous. She found a spot and waded right across.  I followed her path.  This repeated itself four more times.  At this point the trail was more of a unstable boulder field and straight up.  One of the water crossing was actually a waterfall!  I was exceptionally grateful for having had something to eat at this point.  That could have been really bad.  Now, I know that in summer NONE of this water is here, but thanks to the heavy winter snow they got this year and the super hot temperatures it’s water water everywhere.  At this point my feet were soaked and we were approaching 10k feet.  No big deal, we just kept moving, and my Lone Peaks drained beautifully.  Amazing things wool socks and the right shoes.   Right up until the trail disappeared.  Um….

IMG_3549I pulled out my topo map and compass.  I also looked at the gps breadcrumbs I had of the trail.  Theoretically the lake should be just over the ridge line.  I saw how the trail was suppose to stair step and loop around.  There was a big meadow that I started to make my way across.  About half way I stopped.  Warning bells were going off.  This was STUPID.  Not only did I not have any surveyors tape with me to mark my trail, but my feet were wet and I had no idea if the trail even started again. Nopenopenope.  I turned both baby trail dog and I around, found the trail where we left it and headed back down the mountain.

By the time we reached the car I had had time to process.  I’m willing to bet that the “creek bed” wasn’t actually a creek, but was the trail under water.  Well….crap.  Oh well. The bad news is that I pegged my stupid meter.  The good news is that I didn’t let it actually go off.

Total miles: 9.2

Total up: 2327

Best part, I live to run another day.

Unitas: Would you say that to a man?

I am not a city girl I grew up in Adirondacks.  When we moved from the mountains to another rural part of Upstate New York Dad would take us back there as often as he could.  We were raised with a healthy respect for the wilderness.  Up until a couple of years ago part of his Continuing Medical Education every year would be at the Wilderness Medicine Conference in Big Sky and if we didn’t go with him he would bring home the latest information and shared (whether we liked it or not).

Twice this week by two different men here in Utah I’ve been told not to go into the mountains alone.  I was gobsmacked.  I wanted to ask them if they would say the same thing to a man. However, I didn’t.

Anyone who has ever hiked with me knows that I do not mess around when it comes to time in the backcountry.  I always carry a first aid kid that I could practically do field surgery with.  I always, always, always  carry an emergency blanket (there is always one in my trail running pack too, which is probably why I’m still alive).  Water purifier, map, among other items.  It may not be the lightest day pack in the world, but I know that if something happens I’m prepared.

Dad also raised me to provide a plan.  He always gets an email before I go of what my plan is, where I’m going, how long I expect to be gone and what I’m wearing.  In the past couple of years I’ve also invested in a SPOT device.  Not only will this give me an emergency backup plan, but it lets him live vicariously through me as he tracks my dots.

This leads me to Saturday.  After letting these two men climb into my head almost pulling the plug on my day I finally had a moment of clarity.  I’ve gone hiking and camping all over some of the most remote sections of this country.  I’ve been stalked by a mountain lion in Oregon.  I’ve seen more moose, elk, and deer than I can express some of whom were very angry.  Lucky for me I’ve never seen a bear when it wasn’t running away from me.  Why in the hell was I allowing to strangers to climb into my head.  Fuck.  That.  Shit.

I made a plan of where I was going to go and let Dad know.  Charlotte and I drove out to IMG_3441the trailhead and headed up the trail.  The plan was to do 10 miles round trip or snow which ever came first.  When we got to the 2.5 mile mark we got to the creek.  You could see where the bridge used to be.  With the level snow that they got this year all of the water sources are raging right now.  I looked to the other side of the creek and there was a deer.  He looked up and down the creek for a spot to cross just like I was doing.  We looked at each other and both turned around and went back the way we came.  Neither one of us had a death wish.  That water is running too cold and too fast to even attempt a water crossing.  Well, crap.  As I headed down the trail I came across a group of Boy Scouts and a couple of hikers.  I told them about the bridge.  I think the kids were actually relieved.  When we got back to the car we saw a bunch of horsemen loading up to go check the fields for grazing.  I told them about the bridge (and the water level).  They said thank you and then pointed in the direction they were headed.  We chatted for a couple of minutes about other snow free options and they were off.   I made a sign and hung it on the gate that you were required to go through.

I pulled out my map while I munched on a snack and figured out my next move.  This kids is one of the reasons why you always invest in the $10 Forest Service map.  I decided to go up a nearby dirt road to see how far I could get.  As we hit the 8000′ mark I got a brief moment of cell.  I texted Dad and let him know of the new plan.  I still had the SPOT on so he knew I was in the car anyway.  As we climbed we met a ATV rider on the road.  He told me the road was going to get rough, I smiled and told him that’s why I drove what I drove.  He laughed.  I asked him if there was a spot I could pull over a little further up and he explained where the next good spot was.   When we got to the spot we were sitting at 8800′.  When I opened the door the cold air cut through me.   I broke out my hat, vest, and gloves and off we went following the road.

She was having a grand time rolling in the snow, like a dork.   We managed to get 2.5 miles up the road (after the 5 we had already done) before we were both starting to tucker out.  I knew we had to actually get back to the car so I made to decision to turn around.  It was a tough one, but I knew it was for the best.  We were sitting at nearly 10000′ the snow was around, but spotty.  We still hadn’t hit the full snow line, yet.  We completely passed the trailhead I was looking for (it was numbered not labeled), but that’s ok.  We will go back.  By the time we hit the car she curled up into a ball and promptly fell asleep.   We stopped at the ranger station in town and told them about the bridge and all the blow downs that we came across on the road.  I try to tell the rangers what I can about conditions because they can’t be everywhere.  They were shocked about the bridge and said thanks.

Saturday was a good day.  Yet, I almost let two strangers crawl into my head.  I know my limitations.  I’m not going to go up any mountains right now covered in snow.  I don’t have the gear and haven’t been to a self arresting class in a couple of years.  I suck at the glissade unless it’s on my tush.  I have an exceptionally healthy respect for all of the possible ways that I could die in the backcountry.  To be honest, though, I’m more fearful of the two legged creatures than the four legged ones.  All of that being said, what gives any man the right to tell a woman that she shouldn’t go to the back country?


Week 2: Sprint to the Summit 12k

My second week at elevation can pretty much be summarized by this number: 5,062′. That is the amount of up I have climbed in the last seven days.  No wonder why my ass is sore!   I’ve managed to meet this awesome group of runners: the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers. Between the runs during the week and the Sunday runs out of the Park City Running Company I’m starting to meet some really amazing folks.

Earlier this week I went out water testing with Nate one the guys from work.  We went up into the Summit Park neighborhood.  He brought me by the trailhead and said he’d never done it, but had always been curious about it.  Little did I know I’d be running it TWICE this week on Thursday and once on Sunday.

IMG_3420Thursday I met the Wranglers at the same trailhead Nate had pointed out two days earlier.  I have to say this, despite my absolute slowness there is always at least one person waiting at the intersections.  I try to keep one of them in view, but sometimes I just can’t go any faster.  Charlotte on the other hand, I think, would much rather be with the fast kids especially now that I bought her a cooling coat.  However, sometimes letting the fast kids go has its perks. Like when I run up on them and ask them why they are stopped.  They all pointed. “SNAKE!”  Yep, sometimes it pays to be slow.

After being tortured with overhead squats at CrossFit on Friday and going out to the mountains on Saturday (which will be it’s own post), Sunday I was back at the same trail head only this time for a “race”.  It’s more of a potluck fun run, but the course was IMG_3471marked and we get times and bibs so I guess you could call it a race.  Having been out there on Thursday I knew that some of the sections of up were going to be brutal.  I tucked myself and Charlotte into the back and watched the fast kids scamper off.   Man are they fast!  I saw one of their splits just above mine on Strava.  His per mile time? 11 minutes.  Mine?  16:45.  Sigh.  Charlotte and I managed to hang with a couple of the Wranglers until the 12k/5k course split.

I had given a ride over to a bunch of folks from the Running Co. and Linda was one of IMG_3474them.  She is an experienced road runner who has just come over to the dark side to trail running.  This was her 5th trail run.  She and I stuck together for the rest of the course encouraging each other along the way.   Team Caboose!  It was nice having someone to chat with along the way.  She’s a super interesting human with lots of stories to tell.  I hope I get to spend more time with her out on the trails.

We chugged long on the trail going only as fast as the other could go.  We joked that maybe we should have pulled the course markings as we went along to save them a trip.  When we hit the road to the finish line we finished it together.   She even managed to win an award for her age category!  Granted, almost everyone else was gone, but I’m damn proud of that 7 miles.  Probably the hardest 7 miles I’ve ever put in.

Each run is slowly getting better.  I won’t say easier, but better.  My lungs don’t necessarily want to explode any more.  I will take that as progress.





My 1st week at Elevation

I survived my first week at elevation granted with battle wounds, but the same could not necessarily be said for baby trail dog, Charlotte.  She and I rolled into Park City on Tuesday both of us thrilled to be out of the car.  She immediately got dropped off at dog day care for her temperament test.  What better way to see her true colors than after being cooped up in a car for a week?  I had a couple of days before I had to start work which was good.  I think after a week in the car and the constant go just sitting still for a little while was nice.  Oh wait, that’s right I don’t sit still very well.  While I was waiting for the apartment to open up I took the mountain bike off the back of the car and went for a short ride.  I thought my lungs were going to explode out of my chest.  Ah, yes, 6800′ in elevation…

Tuesday after I got everything unpacked and picked her up from doggie daycare I thought it would be good for us to go on a short (flat) walk.  Charlotte had other ideas in mind and shot straight up a trail.  Nearly 500′ in straight up later she had enough.  Note to self don’t let her pick the trails.

Wednesday morning I showed up at CrossFit.  Not only have I not been going to CF at home due to my school schedule, but sure let’s add on the elevation.  Nothing says pain like your first day back in the gym.  Wednesday night at Park City Running Company a running group met.  Charlotte and I showed up knowing full well we were going to struggle.  While the “big kids” threw down a 7+ mile run she and I did the truncated course of 4 miles.  Both of us huffing and puffing on the uphills.

Thursday was CF again.

Friday after work she and I headed out on a trail run.  We wound up missing a trail, had to bushwhack for a while, and then I wound up eating dirt.  My elbow and hand are black and blue while my leg looks like I got into a fight with a cheeseIMG_3361 grater.

Saturday she and I headed up the mountain.  I wanted to hike up until we couldn’t go up any more due to snow.  She had other ideas in mind.  3 miles into the up she laid down in the grass and said “I’m done.”  I’m going to have to get a cooling coat for her.  I wound up carrying her 1/2 mile downhill until she caught sight of a ground squirrel she couldn’t live without and promptly used me as a launching pad.  We found a patch of dirty snow on our way back down the mountain and the promptly threw herself in it.

IMG_3370Sunday we went out with the Sunday Run group from Park City Running.  My plan was to do the 10k route.  We were slow, but there was a sweeper behind us who had to keep her heartrate down so I didn’t feel awful about myself.  (I lie, I felt awful that she had to wait for me.)  When we got to one point in the course there were two chairs and what a view!  Wow.  A bit into that route the woman I was running with realized that she needed to get back so we truncated our course.  On our way down the mountain Charlotte decided to cut a switchback while I went around.  Yep, you guess it, I ate it again.  We wound up doing a little over 5 miles though.

Totals: 6 days

CrossFit: 2

Runs: 5

Total miles 15.2

Total up:  3,596 ft