October 31, 2012

East Rim and Clear Creek

Looking down into Zion Canyon from East Rim Overlook
Before driving back to SLC, we decided to spend some time up on the East Rim of the park. We drove up the switchbacks (seen in the photo above) and through the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel, then went for a short but fun hike out to the canyon overlook. We took in the views and then scrambled up the slickrock for a while to get some even better views...

Then we pulled off SR-9 near the "small" tunnel and went for a hike in Clear Creek (which is dry, obviously). The fall colors were out in full force. Its a really cool area...

The East Rim of Zion is full of trails and places to explore. We're already planning some of the things we'd like to do down there next year.

We stopped for lunch near the Checkerboard Mesa viewpoint, then were on our way back to SLC.

October 30, 2012

Hidden Canyon - Zion

The second day of our Zion adventure was hiking Hidden Canyon. It starts out on the same trail as Observation Point but then veers off to the right after about a mile of switchbacks. The views looking out at Angel's Landing from this trail are spectacular in the morning light.

View of Angel's Landing
After the junction is when the fun really begins. There were a few exposed sections to get around the cliffs and into Hidden Canyon.

The canyon was so fun - walking between the high walls, scrambling through rocky sections, and checking out all the scenery. 

Free-standing arch!

We particularly liked that there were only a couple people in the canyon with us, so it was very peaceful. We were able to just take our time and explore the canyon. We finally got to a wall that seemed like a good turnaround spot.

The fall colors were almost in full bloom!

At the junction of the Hidden Canyon Trail and Observation Point Trail. 

October 29, 2012

Angels Landing

Andrea (in the red to the left) snapping some photos from the summit of Angel's Landing
The first hike we did on our weekend trip to Zion was Angels Landing. Its a classic "must do" Zion hike that's been on Andrea's list for a while. I did this hike on my first visit to Zion in 2008. Despite the fact that the trail gets a bit crowded at times, the 360 degree views from the top are well worth it every time.

The dropoffs on the upper section of the route are big and steep (you'd die if you fell), but the park has installed chains and made it pretty difficult to get into trouble. Its a fun little "protected" scramble on the final push to the summit.

Its a great hike in terms of bang for your buck - I can't imagine another trail that would give you these kinds of spectacular views with a round-trip under 5 miles... but if you are afraid of heights - the last section isn't for you!

Angel's Landing from the valley floor
Scout Lookout

The last bit of the trail travels along this ridge
Andrea near the top
Looking south from the top

Andrea looking North towards the Temple of Sinawava


We headed down south for 3 days in Zion National Park over the past weekend. As you might imagine, it was spectacular. The weather was sunny and cool... and the fall colors are starting to really come into form. We did some cool hikes and took tons of pictures, so I guess this will be Zion Week on Wasatch and Beyond. We'll have some new posts every day.

October 19, 2012

Knowing when to pull the plug

Skiing Conundrum Couloir (June 2009)
A few years ago, my friend Ben and I decided to pull the plug on a climb of Castle peak in Colorado. We were trying to ski Conundrum and Castle in the same day (the Trip Report is entertaining to look back on - this was my second day ever of backcountry skiing), and after a successful and very fun ski descent of Conundrum, we were halfway up Castle when we got a bad feeling about the snow conditions and decided to abort our summit push. Chances are we would have been fine, but we didn't feel like it was worth the risk. The following spring we went back and skied Castle on a spectacular day.

Over the next couple years, as I spent more and more time in the mountains (hiking and BC skiing), I felt like I got pretty good at listening to my intuition about when things didn't "feel" right and turning around when I got those apprehensions. Part of it was because Andrea was always my partner in crime, and I was especially unwilling to put her in a potentially dangerous situation. My philosophy on skiing is that if you err on the side of caution (even in situations where its probably OK) to push on, you'll live to ski for a lot longer. Sometimes you have to alter the plan (which still usually ends up being a lot of fun!) and if you're patient... you get the big payoff.

The same thing applies to running and training. I had plans of shifting my focus to two big half-marathon races this fall. But my body is just not cooperating with that plan right now. During the TOU Marathon, I pulled my hamstring 15 miles into the race, which means I ran on an injured hamstring for another 11 miles! This past week, during a tempo workout, the hamstring flared back up, and in turn my back has tightened up. In the past, I probably would have just pushed through and stuck to my original plan. Alter a few workouts, then get back after it. Chances are I'll feel fine in a couple days.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was one of those situations (like in skiing) where it just doesn't "feel" right. How am I going to get to the next level as a runner, and get off this 1:05-1:06/2:21-2:22 plateau? Well, I don't necessarily have the exact answer, but I have some ideas, and I also know I'm unlikely to make another jump by just pushing through all the time. The body needs a break every once in a while, especially after what I've been able to do in the past couple years. I've run 500 miles a month for 2 straight years... the fact that I haven't gotten an injury during that time period is almost a miracle. Thanks to some fantastic support and encouragement from friends (seriously, Fast Running Blog is an incredible community) it became pretty easy to see that the best thing for me right now is a break from hard training and racing.

So I'm going to give myself some downtime, get this hamstring / back issue healed up completely, let the body/mind completely re-charge, and be ready to attack 2013 with a vengeance. I want the major breakthrough, not just the incremental improvements. Sometimes you have to alter the plan to get the big payoff.

October 16, 2012

Utah Fittest State Festival

Before the start of the Utah Marathon and Fittest State Festival
Andrea, Kevin, and Allie finishing the 5K

Over the weekend we ran in the Utah Fittest State Festival. I ran the Half-Marathon / 5K double dipper w/ about a half-hour rest between races (not as fun as it sounds!), while Andrea put on a racing bib for the first time in almost 3 months - pacing a friend (who was also doing the Half/5K double) in the 5K.

Our full race recaps are here:   Jake   -   Andrea

It was a fun morning and a good workout for both of us. I'm slowly but surely getting back to 100%... not quite fully recovered from the TOU Marathon yet (the hammy that I pulled during that race is still a bit of a nuisance). Andrea is starting to build her mileage back up, and is on the upswing from a annoying string of injuries.

For a first year event, the Utah Marathon did a nice job. Tough courses, but that's a nice change of pace from all the downhill events we have in Utah. My race recap above shows the elevation profile of both races.

Early start in the dark