Friday, August 15, 2014

Teton Circumnavigation - 8/11/2014

Despite the name, the Fastest Known Time website makes an excellent resource for finding the best recreational trail runs to visit in an unfamiliar area, even when one has no intention of putting down a race-quality effort. For an experienced ultrarunner, it seems that every significant mountain range, canyon, or park has a must-see route to spend a whole day on and it's helpful to have one central site to catalog them all.

I recently found myself in Salt Lake City for work and Grand Teton National Park seemed tantalizing close enough to tack on to the end of the trip. Maybe calling a 5.5 hour drive "close" is a stretch, but it doesn't require getting on a plane and New Hampshire is a whole lot farther from Jackson Hole than Northern Utah is. Close enough. I'd briefly been to the Tetons once with my wife just before the Wasatch 100 back in 2011, but we didn't get to explore much and I knew I wanted to go back for a deeper look.

The Teton Circumnavigation traces a route from the valley on the western side of the range up Cascade Canyon to Hurricane Pass and Alaska Basin in the high country. There, it rolls along snowfields and alpine ridgelines, spending a few miles over 10,000 feet, to the Static Peak Divide where it descends into Death Canyon and back to the valley. By the numbers it's roughly 35 miles with 7,000 feet of gain.

The views are utterly indescribable and I found myself gaping slack-jawed for most of my time there - glaciers, alpine lakes, peaks so craggy that they look like where the Grinch would flee after stealing Christmas. With every new twist and turn in the trail my mind was blown just a little bit more. I did my best to film the experience:

With all of the filming and gawking I still managed to get back to the car in a little over seven hours. There are quite a few things I could do better and I'm left wondering how close a focused effort would get me to Evan Honeyfield's 5:34 record time. I'll be back if I get the chance.

Monday, August 4, 2014


By now it's probably pretty clear, if you've been following along, that my attempt on the 48 did not go as planned. On the first day I ran Carrigain quite well, with a two and a half hour round trip, then three hours on the Willey Range. I was 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Soon after that I began to have stomach problems and I stopped eating. On the first half of the Presi Traverse some cracks began to show and I started to vomit repeatedly after Mount Isolation. My pace got slow... very slow and I began to realize that I was setting myself up for a long, cold and wet night on the northern Presidentials, well behind schedule. Maybe I should have fought through, but the bottom line is that I didn't and I took the Tuckerman Ravine Trail down to Pinkham where I quit.

I spent the next few days just kind of mellowing out with my wife in the hotel room I'd already paid for, watching heavy rain and thunder outside much of the time. I'm not sure I would have succeeded under those conditions anyway, but in hindsight I'm disappointed in myself for not making a better showing. A lot of people took time out of their schedules to help me, and I wish I could have made it more worth their while. There's nothing they could have done better and my failure is entirely on me. I'd been feeling a little off all week but dismissed it as nerves, though I likely had a stomach bug that was aggravated by the exertion. My wife and daughter came down with similar symptoms in the following days. That;s what I keep telling myself anyway.

It's been over a week, time I've spent reflecting, and I'm not sure I want to keep doing this to myself. 100+ mile races take a lot out of not only me, but also my also from my growing responsibilities to those around me. On the other hand, I do have some talent that it would be a shame not to cultivate and leaving the 48 unfinished will chew at me for a long time. Part of the reason I've put off this post for so long that I'm still not sure what I'm going to do next. We shall see...