Monthly Archives: June 2010
If you could do one thing to make every backcountry trip more enjoyable, would you? If you’re one of the many backpackers who finish every day on the trail sore from neck to toes, the answer may be simpler than you think. Continue reading →
The morning sun wouldn’t make the climb over Mt. Grinnell and find its way into the valley of Swiftcurrent Creek for a couple of hours yet, so we hiked quickly without breaking a sweat in the chilly air. No one else was on the popular Swiftcurrent Pass Trail when we set out shortly after dawn, and this trail was new to us; so it felt like we were the first people to walk into this small but spectacular little crease in the mountains of Glacier National Park. Continue reading →
At the Lee Pass Trailhead in the northwest corner of southern Utah’s Zion National Park, a strong, chilling wind blasts us with air that feels more Canadian Rockies than canyon country. It’s noon on the first day of October, and while the air temperature hovers around 50° F here at just over 6,000 feet, and the sun beams down warmly from a bulletproof blue sky, we’re dressed in pants and fleece jackets.
It’s not quite what I’d expected after tracking Zion’s weather for the past week from home: Up until a few days ago, the highs were hitting the 80s up here and topping 90° F in Zion Canyon, about 2,000 feet lower than this rim. But it’s hard to worry much about wind when you’re staring at an extended forecast for sunshine and the kind of scenery greeting us at the trailhead. Fanned out before us like a royal flush of diamonds is an array of 700-foot, red and orange cliffs forming one end of the finger-like Kolob Canyons. The red hues contrast starkly against the strip of greenery tracing the stream channel in the canyon bottom and the yellow in some leaves still clinging to trees. Continue reading →
“You have to embrace the hills.”
That subtly foreshadowing line from an e-mail my running partner today, Janet Bowman, sent me a few days ago leaps to mind, as we struggle to run up a trail pitched at the angle of an Olympic ski jump. Perspiration streams off my head like a hard rain as, rapid-fire, I gasp for air and release loud bursts of breath—this even though we’re only moving at a pace that might be described as a determined shuffle. Just minutes into a 9.5-mile trail run across the rugged hills of Northern California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA)—one that will carry us up and down 2,300 vertical feet—I’m wondering how many anaerobic-threshold moments lie ahead.
And I’ve only gone less than a mile. Continue reading →
The sound barely registers inside the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag. It’s different—softer—than the anesthetic patter of rain that lulled me to sleep hours ago. Working slowly, like a cranky old PC, my brain powers up to identify the source: snow. In April. Continue reading →