I say that because I'm always so far behind on updating this. So much happens, so little talked about, so much missed. Or is it? You tell me. Did you miss me? Didn't think so. Funny thing is, I started this website and wrote in it for months and months and never even told people I had it. It was an outlet of sorts, a place to consolidate my thoughts, my aspirations, my frustrations and a place to dream. It still is but as life piles it on more and more with each passing week I feel more burdened by the internet and all it encapsulates. Good and bad.
So for the sake of my dozen loyal readers...ok, just my Mom. Here is an update on the Arizona trail scene, my unrelenting mission to run myself into the ground, and why Monsters are better in the form of mystical beasts than in aluminum cans.
This is going to be very random. Probably weird. I can't guarantee you'll enjoy any of it. But you clearly have nothing else going on right now or you wouldn't be reading this. Buckle up. I just slammed a Mountain Dew.
Running Circles Around Monotony
After running Cascade Crest in late August I didn't make it to another race after that. I missed Man Against Horse, skipped Cave Creek Thriller, passed on Pass Mountain and bailed on McDowell Mountain. All races I planned on running going into the very week of the race but never actually signed up. Why? No idea. One is definitely spending the money on a race I wasn't totally thrilled about. Sure, the guys always have great shirts but I have dozens of race shirts. Running 31 miles just didn't appeal to me all that much and I was becoming more and more interested in the 25-30K distance. So with each passing day I'd gain more confidence and yet never actually test it. All the while I was training for the Mogollon Monster 100 test run on December 10th. After that was snowed out and postponed until May I was really bummed. So how do you go from running a mountain 100 to two weeks later signing up for a 24 hour race on a flat, 1 mile loop? Again, I'm compulsive...and I like to try new things.
Across the Years is a classic of classics. Lots of history, lots of extremely talented runners. A totally different breed of runners than what I've come to know as "ultrarunners" but no less talented or unique. So how was running around in circles for 24 hours? No idea. I made it 7 miles before I knew I had doomed myself into a full day of boredom. I hit 22 and thought maybe I'll just jump into the little trail side lake and drown myself. Mile 34 came around and I started walking just to talk to someone new that I was coming around the circle and hadn't yet met. By the time I reached the 45 mile mark I had lost every ounce of motivation to continue. I'd walk it in with my good friend Honey and I called it a night. 50 Miles. 10 hours. That's enough for me.
Physically I felt great and actually felt even better as I reached the 50 mile mark. I simply did not have the heart to continue, I had no goals, signed up for the race that morning. It was fun, I met some great people and would certainly recommend the race to someone else that likes the flatter courses or loves timed courses. Me? Probably won't do it again for some time. Like next year.
Castle Hot Springs 22 Miler- Jan 7th
Paulette cruising down the road
Another race in the series that Arizona Road Racers puts on along with the Mazatzal 18 Miler. This one is 22, all roads and circles through a remote area of central Arizona and one I'd not visited yet. It was a small group but not unsurprisingly the same 40 people I see at every trail race or ultra. I was excited to see how I would handle actually "running" 22 miles straight and with the 2500 feet of climbing it did add another element of difficult to it. I finished it in 3:16 or so with Paulette which was good for 7th or 8th. It's a pretty low key, non-competitive type race so not sure anyone was racing, I know Paulette and I weren't. Just a nice day out in the desert. A classic Arizona race, I'll be sure to make it next year as well.
Superstition Wilderness 50K - January 14th, 2012
Weaver's Needle coming up to Parker Pass
I love the Superstition Wilderness. Just on the eastern edge of the Phoenix metro area its so accessible and visable for many residents but nearly everyone is clueless in what is held behind the mountains hovering over the city. Behind that wall of rock is a 180 mile network of wilderness, completely replete of people, as inhospitable an area as you can find in this country and as unforgiving as it comes. Yet with that comes a beauty that isn't matched by many places either. The rock formations, the varied vegetation, the sunlit canyon walls as the sun rises over the mesa. The desert is a beautiful place if one just gives it a chance, opens their eyes and welcomes the experience.
This year we had a group of nine taking the loop around the western and most frequented (see: Runnable trails) trail systems. The course climbs a total of 4,500 feet in exactly 31.1 Garmin miles while passing several ridges, steep descents, big climbs and fast, winding, single track.
We had the National Trail Champion David James, Angeles Crest 100 winner Paulette Zillmer, stud thru hiker/ultrarunner Anthony Culpepper, fresh off his 5,000 mile/9 month loop from Arizona to Montana and back. My friend Michael Duer from Tucson, who I ran with in our friends 50 miler up Mt. Lemmon last year made the trip with his friend Sarah, both great, fast ultrarunners. Jon Roig returned again, always up for anything unreasonably difficult, with so little apparent effort it makes me want to double my monthly mileage after every trip with him. Jeffrey Bryant, the "old guy" of the group who claimed he would be falling behind but was always right on our tail. Then my brother Noah who put in 5.5 miles of running since August came out and ran the 25K first half. Pretty standard for him, knocked it out and kept up with us the entire time. Always impressive no matter how many "off the couch" adventures he does with me.
We all finished in about 30 minutes faster than last years time, all smiles and only 9 of us were bloody when we finished. The rocks are unavoidable, catclaw your worst nightmare and you can't get away from any of it. This year felt a little less overgrown, maybe less rocky? I could be delusional though as I run on rocks every day and I'm more used to them than most. Usually when I take people to the Superstitions they love the utter beauty of it but can't wait to get done because the area is so technical. It's Arizona. What's NOT technical here?
Old Dudes Rule
Like how I snuck Scarlett into this post? She's always relevant...
STEFAN BEHR 71
RICHARD BUSA 73
ROBERT CALABRIA 70
JEAN-JAQUES D'AQUIN 71
EDWIN DEMONEY 73
JOHN DEWALT 73
EDWIN FISHMAN 71
WOLFGANG GEISTANGER 72
AARON GOLDMAN 74
RALPH HIRT 71
SHERMAN HODGES 70
GRANT HOLDAWAY 75
BILL HOLLIHAN 73
DON JANS 71
LOU JOLINE 71
BUDDY JONES 72
DICK KAMINSKI 70
RICHARD LAINE 70
LEO LIGHTNER 70
LINK LINDQUIST 70
CHRISTOPH LUX 78
ROBERT LYNES 72
JERRY McGRATH 70
FRED NAGELSCHMIDT 70
STUART NELSON 70
DAN PIERONI 70
RAY PIVA 74
JOHN PRICE 71
EPHRAIM ROMESBERG 75
SAM SOCCOLI 70
KARSTEN SOLHEIM 73
BERND SPRING 70
WALT STACK 70
OJARS STIKIS 72
BEECHAM TOLER 70
MIKE TSELENTIS 71
DIETER WALZ 72
ROSS WALZER 71
JONATHAN WILLIAMS 86
EDWIN WILLIAMS 70
TOM WOLTER-ROESSLER 78
CARL YATES 70
IRIS LEISTNER 78
HELEN KLEIN 75
BARBARA MACKLOW 74
ELDRITH GOSNEY 70
Know what this list is? This is a list of everyone over the age of 70 years old that has completed a 100 mile race. It's an unofficial list compiled by ultrarunner Dan Baglione whom I met and ran with (walked...) at the Across the Years race. One of the many interesting guys and girls out there with a massive running resume that makes you want to quit your career, and become a running vagabond to try your best to catch up to his accolades by the time your his age. He's one of the many guys like Karsten Solheim, and others that are over 60 and still rocking it hardcore. The beauty of Across the Years is the depth of dedication these people have. I met a guy from Washington, Fred Willet, who has the body of a 57 year old (his age) as you would expect. A nice round belly he's worked hard in earning yet he was pounding out the miles with a consistency anyone would be excited about. After a while of running laps I saw Fred, shirtless, in the mid afternoon of his SECOND day and sparked up a conversation with him. He's 57 and he plans to run a sub 3 hour marathon when he turns 60. Amazed and honestly a bit surprised based on his outwardly non-in shape appearance I asked what his current marathon time is.
"4:20 but I walked a bit so I could practice for this."
Somehow after a few more minutes of running and talking with Fred I no longer had a shred of doubt that he would accomplish this. One story after another I hear from one person after another about determining something they want in life, setting that goal and by God, sticking to it until they reach it. I know Fred will do it, he's just that kind of guy. Later that afternoon, several hours later I was running past Fred and as I passed him I said as I tired, "Fred! I'm fading here!"
Fred's reply? "The HELL YOU ARE!" A command with such a definitive tone you can't deny it. You're right Fred. I'm not tired. To hell with fatigue. I'm going to go faster.
It was worth another five laps of effortless running.
Many people I work with or I know use age as an excuse or reason for being as out of shape, unhealthy or incapable of certain things. They can't do this or they can't do that because they are "old." Which often or not is late forty's or fifty's. Hardly old.
"Oh to be young again."
"I remember when I was young and could do that."
All of it.
I do half my training with a 52 year old mother of 3 that has run Hardrock and races ultras all the time. Dave Mackey is the 2011 Ultrarunner of the Year. Older than almost every other Top 5 runner out there by a decade. Karsten Solheim (on this list) is still hammering out 100's and he was born a year or two after Moses. My point is, I'm not skinny because I run and my coworkers aren't fat because they are old. I'm fit because I train not because I'm skinny and my coworkers can be every bit as in shape as they want to be. Nothing is stopping them but themselves. Age is irrelevant. This list proves it. These people aren't "crazy," these people are living their lives as they want to, as they should and as they deserve to. Good for them, I hope to be in their shoes later in my life.
The Mogollon Monster 100
Kind of nuts that the trail is kind of like this...
I'm going to go out on a limb and make the statement that directing a 100 mile race is harder than RUNNING a hundred mile race. It's a lot of logistics, planning, organizing, budgeting and bureaucratic nonsense.
And I love it.
As much as it takes, the hours of planning, I know this race is going to be something special. The trails are amazing, views incredible and I'm confident the pieces are going to fall into place. I was disappointed after we had to postpone our trial run in December but now look forward to the May 5th running in weather a good bit more similar to the September date. Prior to that I plan to make several trips getting video of trail sections, additional photography, marking and planning for the coming race. With each big 100 selling out, going to a lottery, I think it's going to help the Monster fill to it's 100-125 capacity the first year and give everyone a good sized competitive field. There is a lot of interest, my email inbox remains filled and the offers to volunteer keep coming in. Check out the race website www.mogollonmonster100.com for more info. I'm the proud owner of a GoPro Here 2 so look out! Video's coming soon!
So What's Next???
Training buddy Matt dominated with a 4:24...he's a road runner my ass.
I ran this race last year with a wicked cold, 103 degree temperature and bailed after the 25K mark. My only DNF. Ever. Kills me to this day. I have to return. I'm going back. http://www.getoutgetlost.com/1/post/2011/2/san-tan-scramble-race-report.html
Next after that the following weekend is the 12 hours of Camelback, a maniacal redundancy up and down Echo Canyon for 12 hours or until you fully tear each ACL. So I'll try to make it to that...
Following weekend is the Grandpa Jim's 50K. Up Cholla, down Echo. Over the roads to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, up Squaw Peak, around Circumference Trail and across the Trail #100 to the North Mountain Visitor Center. My home ground. My trails. My Mountains. If I don't win I'm going to become a professional badminton player. Ok, I won't do that but I train on these mountains, can hammer the super, super technical descents and hope to do really well at this event.
Two weeks later I'm running a 55 mile backcountry Superstitions run with Jeff Jones and a few other brave souls. Repeat of last years run plus a few miles to retain the original route. I have my reservations about a few of those sections and repeating them again but ultimately I just love the Superstitions too much and have a hard time saying no. It's my heroin.
The following weekend (I can see my overall times plummetting about now..) is the Mesquite Canyon 50K. This hopefully will be my third straight year running it, lots of climbing, great collection of runners. Competitive, hilly, technical, hot, snakes, boulders. Should be just as exhausted at the start as last year following a Superstitions run but I don't want to miss it so I'm already signed up.
After that? Who knows? A beer under the sun at a Spring Training game?
Let's hope so.
Keeping up with this website is as hard as some of the runs I do. So here's to catching up.
Iron90 Fitness Challenge
My work signed up for a fitness challenge a couple months ago called Iron90 (www.iron90.com) and about twenty people signed up. We all purchased a heart rate monitor, started tracking our calorie intake, exercising regularly and every month we have a fitness challenge between companies in this challenge. Each company has to select a representative to face off and then they cannot go again in another company vs company event. The first event was a 1 mile run holding your average heart rate in Zone 3. Which for me was averaging 153 or under. I ran a 7:19 minute mile averaging 153 to win the competition. Yeah me.
Everyone at work thought it was incredible. A major victory. A turn of the tides. I guess. Seems a little unfair though really when the people I went against were not regular runners and I barely beat another person by only 8 seconds. PLUS, the next challenge is a 1 mile hill climb up North Mountain. Fastest time to the top wins. I'm now unable to compete in it since I did the 1 mile run.
Yet, it's still fun to go try. I ran over to North Mountain and met some of my coworkers (they met at 8am and people didn't show up because it was "too early." That's the spirit...)
I ran down North Mountain at a 4:18 pace the entire way. I think had I finished the full 1.0 mile I could have kept it. I made it to .71 miles where I saw my coworkers and it was 3:48 on my watch. Whoa. I almost went over the edge three times on corners, nearly killed a Hispanic grandmother coming around the corner who yelled something at me and in general was basically morphing down the mountain. Usain Bolt can eat it. White Man Run Fast.
Yes, I know Bolt isn't a Native American so the stereotype doesn't work. We're moving on. I should double check my Garmin and make sure I'm not crazy. But pretty sure that's a legit time. Don't believe me? Race me down North Mountain. Or I'll challenge on on the Matanuska Peak Challenge course in Alaska. 14 miles. 18,000 feet of up and down. It's brutal. Those crazy bastards run straight down this scree field. Full speed. Reckless abandon. Let it happen.
Registration opened for the inaugural Mogollon Monster 100 on ultrasignup.com. We had 9 people sign up the first day, four from Washington D.C. It was a great start and since we've had a few more sign up. Being right before Christmas I'm not sure everyone's stoked to drop a few hundred extra on running and once everyone figures out their race schedule I'm sure we'll have a lot more entrants and am confident we'll fill all 100 slots. The last few times I've been out running the trails someone has stopped me and asked me if I was the race director for the Mogollon Monster 100. Bizarre. Actually, beyond bizarre. Once I was wearing the shirt so that makes sense but not sure how it happened aside from that. I'm sure TMZ has been scoping out my coffee shop. That would explain everything.
Anyway, it's nice to see that the race is drawing interest and people are talking about it. Some people I think are hesitant with it being a first year race and I can understand that. Given the amount of time and energy I'm putting into it I don't know if it's going to run as a first year ultra though. Hopefully it runs like it's been done several times with the experienced crew we have and the knowledge of the area from past Zane Grey races and the numerous times we've all run up there. We'll see, there is plenty of time for planning and I have a lot of great ideas, new ideas for a lot of areas that should make the event a great success. If not, well, at least we know where the thing lives now with this picture of it's cave. Thank goodness we figured that out...
Superstition Wilderness 50K/25K
The Superstition Wilderness is just that: A Wilderness. It's wild, it's rugged and it's incredible. I spent a lot of time out there this year and it started with the Superstition Wilderness 50K which brought out a good group of about 10 for a very challenging 50K route that took several almost 8 hours to complete. The footing it always in question, trail can be difficult to follow but it is relentlessly breathtaking in scenery as the course completely encircles the Weaver's Needle before returning to the First Water Trailhead. My wonderful wife will once again take anyone back from the Peralta Trailhead back to their vehicle if they choose to put in 18 miles versus heading back up the ridge for the final return. The course is amazing, weather is perfect in January and if not, who cares? I'm going regardless. January 7th, 7am Start time from First Water Trail Head. firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to join us. We run as a group, or at least with a partner. Everyone carries a map. Only aid is at Peralta Trail head. Mile 18. Be prepared to get scratched up, probably fall, and fall in love with the area.
Weavers Needle and the Superstition Wilderness
The Superstition Wilderness is an incredible place. It's as wild and as rugged as anything you will ever find. Anywhere. The trails closest to the city are worn a few miles from each parking lot and then quickly become over grown, faint, rocky, and at times, flat out dangerous. You can't see the prickly pear under the creosote bush or cedar branches, the cholla drives deep into your thighs as you try to sneak past the agave daggers and full grown men yell out whimpering cries as they try to pull out each spike driven into their flesh. It's heaven. In that insane kind of way like, "Look how deep this gash is!!"
Yet despite this, despite enduring this over and over again, these brutal stretches of beatdown that the Superstitions provide free of cost, I keep coming back. I started in the Superstitions when I first moved here hiking the Siphon Draw trail straight up the mountain to the Flatiron, the imposing spire of rock that juts out of the mountain range, overlooking all of the glory that is Apache Junction. It's a steep, rugged and imposing hike, short enough yet so much upper body needed it's not for the wary. It was my introduction into Arizona hiking that quickly led to one after another adventures that took me farther into the area. At one point I would literally drive out on the Apache Trail which borders the northern side of the Wilderness area and pull off along a slot canyon area and park. Then I'd hop the guardrail and either alone or with my brother, we'd work our way up a river bed, side canyon or random cattle trail in the search of who knows what. We'd find crazy rock formations, tiny slot canyons, rattlesnakes, random backpacker gear, and a lot of times, some incredible watering holes hidden deep in the impenetrable forest that is catclaw hell.
So when I began to form a mindset that I could cover more ground if I just ran some of the trail instead of walking I started to see more, experience more and learn a lot more. That led me to the interior of the Superstitions where I quickly found there to be an vast, expansive network of over 180 miles of linked trails. You can literally get lost out there, just up and disappear. Frontier men & women worked hard to eek out a living out there, some old houses still leaving their mark on the interior of the park, the upper elevations but generally, it's desolate, and incredibly beautiful. It's the kind of place you can't help but think to yourself, "You know...I wonder what's on the other side of this valley" and then work your way back up the steep incline to see one more time, just what is beyond that last ridge. Breaching the saddle and laying eyes on an entirely new valley, new canyons, new rivers that seem to stretch on forever is something a lot of people don't understand having never really seen something like that. Or maybe they just don't care. Maybe some people don't ever wonder what's beyond that mountain range, what's around that last bend that you should have turned around at. I do.
So many people have taken off to search for old gold mines in the Superstitions, old miners have died trying for that last big score, treasure seekers still to this day are dying out in the desert looking for the famed, Lost Dutchman. They never find it, hell, it could have been found 100 years ago and we wouldn't know. Yet there is something about the Superstitions that has that affect on people. The Search & Rescue team we came across in March in our 50 mile adventure out there was looking for three young guys from out of state that went missing the previous fall. They found one guy, dead, at the base of a palo verde tree on the top of Black Mesa. Not but 3 miles from a main parking lot and less than 1/4 mile from the Black Mesa trail. There are still a half dozen bodies that were never recovered out there, hikers, gold seekers, tourists. It's a tough place, it will beat you up but with every trip I come out I feel that much stronger. Short or long those Supes are a beat down but with that beatdown comes some of the most incredible trails (used loosely), and some of the most scenic miles in the entire state. I've said it before, and I'll repeat it here, it's the most beautiful place in Arizona outside of the Grand Canyon. And it's less than an hour from Phoenix.
With all the trips I've had in the Superstitions I've had my share of challenges, many more trips without issue but some that bear repeating.
I once took a girl on our 2nd date up the Siphon Draw trail who then blew out her knee on the way down. It was a long walk back to the car. Why would I take someone to Siphon Draw on a date? Dumb. Go do the hike and you'll understand. http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=686
I went for a run out there in September with one water bottle (dumb) and on the way back it was so hot I was rolling a pebble around in my mouth to keep my mouth salivating. It was 109 degrees. No water the last 4+ miles which you can't run because you'll die it's so hard, rocky and bloody. I finished and my core temperature was close to 200 degrees. I say "200" because it's the only way to explain how my contacts felt like they had melted to my eyes.
I hiked a slot canyon near Reavis Ranch with my three dogs years ago, it's an unnamed canyon, very difficult to access and long story short my lab fell from a rock about 5 feet, couldnt' walk so I carried him (96 lbs) in my arms over the boulders upstream to the exit. This took two hours to cover 200 meters and it started to get hot (It was naturally August...). So when I was supposed to be back in my Jeep on my way home I now had less than a mile to go but all vertical, off trail and with a lame dog. I had to leave my lab Monty in a sandy cave while I searched upstream for any source of water. Found a green pool of water that my dog jumped into immediately. Suddenly the water started to move and I quickly realized it was full of snakes, dozens of snakes and all over my dog Watson. Watson jumped out quickly and shook off on as I started to panic that I'd just killed one dog due to heat stroke and a second due to multiple snake bites. Watson ended up being ok, but I had to leave my three dogs in the cave, crawl out of the canyon with no water in 113 degree heat where I literally prayed to Jesus while leaning AGAINST a Saguaro for the only 3" slice of shade before making the last push of 200 feet to get to my Jeep. I then had to drive 22 miles of winding road to the first gas station that would let me call someone and my brother came out with his wife to help me. I drove back, went down expecting to see my lab Monty dead and while he was close he was still alive. My brother arrived and we carried them out, taking over an hour to complete a half mile. Monty would go on to have a weeks worth of emergency care. He was given a 3% chance of survival and to proceed with medical attention the hospital needed 50% deposit on what was at least $5000. He survived, and he's alive and well today although I'll probably never be free of the guilt of that day. It was a valuable life lesson but almost at the cost of my best friend.
Oh, and Paul almost died in this years 50 mile adventure out on the JT trail. Forgot about that one.
So it's no surprise that in less than two miles of running the Lost Dutchman trail this Saturday that my friend Jay Danek, in the midst of a 580+ day, 4 mile a day, running streak falls twice on the rocks. The second a bad one cutting us his knee and bruising him up more ways than one. Being the tough guy Jay is he made it through the day but barely as the trail is so rough it made it even harder on him with his hip not allowing him to lift his legs as he would normally. Hopefully his streak lives on a little longer but it seems the Superstitions almost claimed another victim. Our mutual friend Michael Carson, a Superstition veteran, made it out unscathed minus his choice in shorts. Which were barely long enough to cover a penis slip. Yes, that was a penis reference. You're welcome.
Check out Jay's account of the run on his website. It's easy to find the one about the Superstitions. Just look for "I hate Jeremy Dougherty-Death Run" Yes, I'm famous. www.mcdowellmountainman.com
I think for this years Superstition Wilderness 50K I might need a waiver.
That might be the first waiver required race for a fat ass run ever...
I swear it's really beautiful out there. January 7th. You'll regret not going. Maybe.
There is quite a bit to catch up on here. First I'll start with the Aspen trip with the guys to circumnavigate the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Area. Three days, 30 miles, 7 guys, 4 passes through the Rockies getting up to 12,400+ four seperate times. Simply incredible country. Too many people for me as you never really felt "alone" out there despite the massiveness and openess of the wilderness. Very little wildlife. Little even in the way of birds which we all throught was strange. First day was really rough with my head being affected by the 10,000+ in altitude that I'm not used to. We kicked up one long climb to the first pass and then camped that night in a bowl on the other side. Hit 19 degrees that night and we all froze. Second day was a two pass day with the first pass being fairly easy. Dropped down into another valley and had some great single track through some pine forest as we decended back below tree line. That was followed by an EPIC climb up the third pass. This took us from under 10,000 feet to up over 12,500 ft in about 4 miles. The climb continued on and on relentlessly it seemed with one false summit after another. Noah, Clint and I made it all the way up first in the group to get the view of Snowmass Lake in the "new" valley below. Views in all directions were simply incredible. Decended down to Snowmass for a much warmer night at camp (30 degrees) before hiking back out the last pass and down the long decent to the first lakes and our cars. All in all...amazing.
The following Saturday I took a solo trip out to First Water Trailhead in the Supersition Wilderness. EARLY. Wanted to test out a 15-20 mile route along the Dutchman Trail. Right away this trail was verging on magazine worthy with the bedrock trail lined with massive rocks, rock walls, and canyon walls. Following along rivers as it climbs one small hill after another revealing one canyon or valley after another. Weever's Needle was in plain view the first few miles before breaking off to a secondary trail. Down Bull Run and along the Dutchman Trail again where it was clear nobody had been in several months. No trails, no footprints, no sign of humans in some time. The trail was overgrown with catclaw and cactus which was a non stop battle as I crashed through along the trail. I turned around about 8 miles into the morning knowing I was going back a slightly longer way. The trail was amazing minus the overgrowth but that overgrowth is expected after a long hot summer keeping the hikers away. Coming back to the truck I counted a total of 24 river beds I crossed with all 24 being bone dry. This would be an interesting run in the winter with flowing rivers for sure. I saw one person about 4 miles away from the parking lot hiking but otherwise nobody until I was in the parking lot itself. Really, really hot and exposed on the last few miles as I as out there past 9am and into the upper 90's. Back at the truck my legs, chest and arms were a bloody mess and had the look of a horror flick there was so much blood and cuts in so many directions. The shower wasn't pretty but they were all just scratches. I took some amazing photos (posted under Superstition Wilderness) of the trail itself. Better weather (reoccuring sentiment) and I'm going back for the full loop to Peralta and back.
Finally, this morning i did a 17 mile run through the McDowell Mountain Regional Park with Honey, Paulette, and Paul. Had a great time talking to everyone and hitting some great single track. Lot's of climbing (3,700+ ft total up, same down) up Bell Pass and Tom's Thumb and just as much running down. My La Sportiva Crosslites are completely whipped and caused my legs to be gassed about 13 miles in. There is just no supportive traction on the bottoms anymore and I can easily feel every rock and every step feels like a jarring sensation through my legs. Then the heat came in and the 90+ degrees started sapping my energy even more. Luckily the heat was killing everyone else and we walked in the last full mile. I was ok with it as we were out there for 4.5 hours. I tried out my new 100oz Nathan's running pack for the first time with the dual hydration bladders to drink water or pedialyte along the course. Awesome. I could have played basketball in that pack it was so comfortable. We also saw a desert tortoise on the top of the ridge by Toms Thumb. Pretty cool.
I've been spending some time looking over the maps of the Superstition Wilderness Area in eastern Phoenix area and have been working on finding a runable route through some of the most beautiful mountains, canyons and desert in Arizona. Originally I was looking for a route similar to a Siphon Draw>Ridgeline>Peralta back to the car route but that is likely to be more route finding than running. This may be fun at its 22-23 miles and 4,800 feet in elevation gain, especially starting out with the big, rugged climb up the Flatiron. But as it will likely lead to more route finding and overgrown trail a more used trail is more in tune with an actual run.
Which brings me to option #2. Starting at the First Water Trailhead jump on the 17 mile Dutchman Trail, follow to 103 (1.5 miles), 3.4 miles along the 239 taking you back to the Dutchman Trail. Follow the Dutchman back down the ridgeline to the Peralta Trailhead where it climbs back up the mountain and meets with the Dutchman and Black Mesa Trails. Take the Black Mesa trail back down to the Second Water Trail, hand a left back the last mile or so to a return to the First Water Trail trailhead. It's probably between 4,000-6,000 ft in elevation gain and it's 31 miles give or take. I have to verify it on the maps again when I break out the paper maps. It keeps the run from being a shuttle and remains on the more popular trails so hopefully it is not too reliant on trail finding and more on trail running. Either way I'm ready to give it a shot. Need to verify any potential water options along the way if any, maybe even a refill at the Peralta Traihead which would be IDEAL. I've never been to that lot so not sure if they have a fountain or anything. Considering its a top hike in all of AZ I'm imagining some kind of facilities. Maybe September we can get out there and try it?? More to come later.
Going out for a 20 miler tomorrow in PMP. Hoping to get that many in at least. 3-4 hours is my range. We'll see how it goes.