Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week of October 7 - Zion Traverse report

Sunday - Went for a short run with Juli Aistars, a friend from Illinos.  She was in town for a nursing conference and came out and ran the 50K.  She stayed at our home Saturday night and I took her on one of our favorite local runs, Rainbow north.  Gorgeous morning and she enjoyed it.  Miles - 6.1

Monday - Did a road run from home.  I've been trying to get a few more road miles in before the Ogden Valley 50 mile.  Not a big fan, but I can run faster on the roads.  Miles - 5.55

Tuesday - Same thing, ran on the road from home to Pilates class.  When ever I do that, the class seems to be just a bit harder.  Probably because I'm tired from the run.  Who knows?  Still, managed a consistent 9 minute pace the entire run.  That's what I'm looking for when I run ogden Valley.  If I can maintain a 9 minute pace for the first half and a 10 minute pace for the sceond half, I'll bee really happy.  Miles - 5.1

Wednesday - Ran at lunch today.  Ended up running to the bank.  Boring, but oh well.  Miles - 4.9

Thursday - Ran again at lunch.  Sigh!  Miles - 4.65

Friday - Drove to Zion National Park with Karen and her sister.  Happy Birthday to me!  Big time run tomorrow.  Miles - 0

Saturday - Zion traverse.  Love this run.  We did it last year and it was incredible.  This year was no different.  Several of us that went last year were up for the adventure again, plus several that hadn't run it before came along.  I think there were ten of us that made the complete trek. 
Friday it rained on us all the way down.  We knew that it would clear out so it wasn't really a worry as far as the run.
Saturday morning dawned at Lee Pass with the skies still somewhat cloudy and the cliffs and peaks wreathed in clouds.  Made for a spectacular sight.

Dawn at the Lee Pass trailhead
We managed to get started by about 7:30.  The trail was quite muddy in spots from the previous night's rain but it wasn't too bad.  The trail descends for about the first 1-2 miles along a small creek.  After that it begins to follow La Verkin creek upstream for the next 4-5 miles.  Once we started up La Verkin Creek, the mud pretty much went away and was replaced by wet sand and even wetter foliage.  The wet plants meant that my legs and shoes were soon soaked from the drips.  The temperature was in the 50's with no breeze, so it made for very pleasant running.
We were having a great time along this section, goofing around, taking pictures, shooting video, and just enjoying the scenery.  Definitely awe inspiring.
After about six miles, we had to cross the creek.  That made for some interesting jumps trying to keep our wet feet dry. 
After the creek crossing we made the climb to the Hop Valley riverbed.  This is a cool part of the run.  With the flat riverbed plus cliffs on either side, it's a total Jurrasic Park moment, especially when the range cattle moo and it echoes off of the canyon walls.  As we went up the riverbed, Aric tried to befriend one of the steers, named it "Dinner" and tried to pet it.  The steer wasn't having any part of that.
Most everyone was trying to avoid getting their feet wet by hoping back and forth across the meandering stream.  I figured that my feet were already wet, so why not take the direct route.  I went straight up the riverbed, in the water.  Since it was only a few inches deep, that wasn't a problem.
Eventually we made it to the Hop Valley Trailhead where Kathleen and Shane were waiting for us with supplies and water.  After about a half hour stop, we took off.  The lead group of Harrison, Jon, and Jared left the rest of us behind.  Meanwhile, Aric, Shawn, Breein,a nd I stuck together for the rest of the journey, while Ryan, Lindsay, and Alicia brought up the rear.
Clouds were still hanging around as we went through the pine forest towards Wildcat Canyon, but we did notice the temperature seemed to be warmer than last year.  We thought we'd be getting into the clouds in Wildcat Canyon, but by the time we got there, they had cleared out and we could see the scenery.
Wildcat Canyon

After Wildcat Canyon, we continued up the trail and reached Horse Pasture Plateau.  This plateau sits at about 7500' and is pretty flat.  By now we were more than halfway done and were making pretty reasonable time.  We took a break at the same place we did last year. 
Enjoying the view

At this point, the rest of the journey is either flat or downhill.  There is a couple of short uphills, but they aren't any big deal.  The first downhill took us into Potato Hollow, while the next uphill took us on to the West Rim Trail.  This trail at times follows right along the edge of the plateau with a cliff just a few feet away.  Makes for an interesting part of the run.  Just before we began the main descent to the valley floor, we were treated to a couple more spectacular views.
The descent itself is pretty interesting.  The trail is cut right into the side of the cliff and has concrete left over from the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930's. 
As you head down, you see towering cliffs, water seeps coming right out of the cliffs, and all sorts of interesting things.
Aric trying for a glamour shot at the bridge
Eventually, we made our way to the trail junciton for Angel's Landing.  Here we got our first look at the valley floor well over a thousand feet below.
Yeah, its' a long ways down
As we made our way down, we get to go through"Walter's Wiggles".  This is a set of small switchbacks, that are cut into the cliffside.  Here's where we started to encounter all of the day tourists that were coming back down from Angel's Landing.  We get some odd looks when we go running by.
Walter's Wiggles
The finish at the bottom of this trail.
We managed to finish the run at around 7pm.  A little bit quicker than last year.  No one was waiting for us, so we hopped on the tram and headed for the park entrance.  As we were waiting, we were questioned by a few people.  They found it amazing that we had run across the park in one day.
It was a great day for an epic run
When we got to the visitor center, Jared was waiting for us.  The first group had finished about an hour earlier.
Now it was time for the festivities.  We all met at Zion Pizza and Noodle for dinner.  Karen had brought birthday cupcakes and I drank too much beer.  We managed to close the place down, having a great time in the process.  Thankfully there are no pictures from this part of the day.
The next day, we all met for breakfast, then most everyone headed for home.  Karen, Kate (her sister), and I stayed for most of the day did a couple of the short hikes.  Since we didn't get to do this last year, it was nice to see some other parts of the park.

So yeah, a good time was had by all and we're talking about a double traverse next year.  I figure that would take about 24 hours.  That would be interesting to say the least.
Here's the GPS track of our route.  http://app.strava.com/runs/25119927


  1. That is a super-sweet way to spend a birthday! Glad you had a good one. Gorgeous shots of the canyons.

  2. Awesome Zion run! I'm headed down there next weekend... love that area.