Monday, April 29, 2013

Tanner Trail - Grand Canyon NP

Tanner Trail Hike
Grand Canyon National Park
Kaibab National Forest
Mileage - 17
Time - 8:01
AEG - 5,452ft

I think there's a reason we were the only day hikers on the Tanner Trail... Compared to Bright Angel, North and South Kaibab, Hermit, New Hance and Granview; this one was by far the toughest I have faced in the canyon.  This remote section of the park is typically reserved as an overnight backpacking trip done in stages.  The biggest challenge to overcome is a lack of an available water source, exposure to the sun, and a trail that's incredibly steep with several hazards, including uneven footing over loose rock and scree. Oh, and a 1,200 foot climb in the final mile (right) back to Lipan Point.

Bob and I embarked on our 3rd annual Grand Canyon adventure, after his first visit in 2011, we've made it a tradition to return the last weekend in April every year.  This trip would include camping for two nights above the rim at Mather Campground, a day hike on the Tanner to the river and back, and a short stop to summit Slate Mountain near Flagstaff on Sunday to break up the drive home.

Like I said, the Tanner trail is rough.  It was a gut check for the two of us, and one of those treks you learn a lot from.  Bob suffered in the heat, and my legs felt the fatigue of long hiking mileage up steep terrain.  My aerobic conditioning is in better shape than recent years, though it's been several months since I've put in those kind of "canyon miles."

I don't want you to think we didn't have a good time out there.  I remember telling Bob that "there's no other place I'd rather be right now."  A trek into the depths of the GC seems to have an effect on my psyche, giving me a real sense of being alive.  Most of the time I was in awe of the sheer magnitude of this incredible place, which was a helpful distraction from grueling task at hand.  The sights along the Tanner are quite different than the rest of the corridor trails, a more panoramic view if you will (Unkar Delta - pictured above left).  The color scheme is also unique with more white and purple contrasts near the river than anywhere else I've seen.  An 8-hour hike below the rim will always make you appreciate a cold drink and a shower, and that's exactly what we treated ourselves to at camp.  Overall, this was a great trip, one I will certainly not forget.

Boone at the top of Lipan Point 7,400ft (South Rim behind to the West)

Interesting formations along the Tanner Trail (5 miles below the rim)

Bob eager to reach the river for a cool down


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pat's Run 2013

Pat's Run
Sun Devil Stadium
Tempe, Arizona
Mileage 4.2
Time - 21:40
AEG - 117ft
Pace - 5:17
Place - 5th Overall

Another race is in the books!  It appears as though 2013 is heading in the right direction, and those past 6 weeks of speed and strength work really paid off.  I was able to run strong and put forth a solid effort from start to finish, landing a top 5 spot in a very competitive race with over 23,000 participants.

The gun sounded just after 7:05am on a cool spring morning perfect for running.  As always, the front runners took off fast, leaving me about 40 people deep in the pack.  By the time we made the first turn over the Mill Avenue bridge I was in 7th.  My good friend Nick Coury of Aravaipa Running had caught up and passed me as we neared the second turn and biggest hill of the 4.2-mile loop course.  I tucked in behind a taller runner to block the headwind going up Curry Rd, which turned out to be a mistake as the slower pace cost me more than sparing a little wind resistance.  At the crest of the hill I made my first surge and gained a little ground putting me shoulder to shoulder with Nick as we made the turn onto College Ave.  We passed the 2-mile mark in 10 minutes and 30 seconds and continued to push each other onward. 

Now Nick and I were in 4th and 5th place respectively.  I kept encouraging him to run faster and we even tried to catch the two guys in front of us (2nd & 3rd place) over the Rural bridge, though it didn't quite work out that way.  It felt like we were flying through the final staging area and into the stadium.  The two of us made our final kick to the finish and came in about a minute faster than anticipated.  What a run!

This is such an awesome event, I'm so glad I could be a part of it.  The Pat Tillman Foundation is a great organization and really doing good for the community, and I was really impressed how they managed 35,000 people in such a small space.

See you next year at Pat's Run


4:15am - 15oz Water

4:30am - 2/3 Cup Granola w/Chia Seeds (300 Cal)

6:00am - 10oz Water

6:45am - 1 GU Vanilla Bean (100 Cal)

7:05am - Race Start

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pine Mountain - Verde Rim

Pine Mountain Hike
Pine Mountain Wilderness Area
Prescott National Forest
Dugas, Arizona
Mileage - 9.98
Time -3:42
AEG - 1958ft

Expectations were low on our way up to Pine Mountain, mainly because trip reports of the area described it as high desert grazing lands that eventually turned into a hilltop with a few sections of trees.  Really captivating, right? Instead, we found ourselves walking through a dense microclimate of healthy old growth pines and junipers along a spring-fed stream filled with trout!  Those write-ups couldn't have been more wrong.  The summit view was impressive, though not a big surprise given that Pine Mountain is the highest point along the Verde Rim and the 63rd most prominent peak in the state at 6,801 feet above sea level.  

Matt, Ryan and I began hiking around 9:15am Sunday morning on one of those perfect spring days with plenty of shade and a nice breeze.  The moderate grade and well signed trails made this one seem effortless after all the off-trail hiking we've been doing over the past couple months.  This area sees little visitation leaving the trails all to us.  Well, except for the deer, squirrels and birds.  There's a primitive campground at the trailhead that would provide a nice oasis from the summer heat resting at 5,000ft and completely shaded.  I have a feeling I'll be back here soon enough.