Sunday, July 5, 2015

Post-Race Shenanigans

Hello friends! After Utah Valley, I took some time away from running (gasp! I know. Read on.) to relax and enjoy other pursuits. I have some tales from the road to share, and a look forward to my fall season. First up, the Post-Race Utah Adventure with my St. Louis BRF (best running friend) Rachel. 

Utah has five national parks. FIVE. Two years here, and I hadn't been to any of them. As we plotted our hijinks in the weeks before the race, I couldn't escape the feeling that it was high time I broke the Utah National Park barrier and went barreling in. After a bunch of reading online and talking to friends, I suggested Capitol Reef National Park for a few reasons. First, it's a little closer to home than the bigger parks. Second, its website suggested that it's a little cooler than in the parks farther south. Third, it has various camping options, and I wanted to check out the developed camp ground for possible future camping-with-kids adventures. Rachel thought all this sounded great. It was set.

After our race in Provo, we headed back to Salt Lake to shop and pack for our camping trip and hang out with my family. On Sunday late morning we set off, car full of gear. We arrived at the Fruita Campground about 2pm, in time to snag one of the last few open camp sites* and get set up. Once set up, we headed out for a short hike on the Cohab Trail. So cool!! The trail winds through a narrow little ravine, where your voice echoes off the rock walls at places. We climbed some rocks to a higher point for a panoramic view, just before turning around and heading back to the campsite for the evening.
The view from our camp site
The camp ground had an evening program on the parks predators and prey. Afterwards, I sat outside for a long time looking at the clear, diamond-studded night sky. It had been so long since I'd seen it that I'd almost forgotten how relieving it is.

On Monday morning we wakened with the sun and planned our hikes for the day. First we hiked Chimney Rock. I'm sure I can't do it justice, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

120 million year old petrified wood. NBD.

Me! In nature!
After lunch, we headed out for what would be my favorite hike of the trip: the Grand Wash Trail. I just, I can't even. Just look. That's me standing in the middle--that tiny fleck. 

We were headed to the Cassidy Arch (named for David Cassidy, who used to hide out there), but we missed a turn, and by the time we figured it out, the sun was hot and the extra distance daunting. Regardless, it was incredible. We saw a family of big horned sheep come scampering down a very rocky, very steep hill. Our voices echoed up to the sky in this next picture. Just incredible. 

We camped a second night, then on Tuesday, ripe and ready for showers, we checked out some petroglyphs from the Fremont Culture (read more here) and a nearby coffee shop that was delightful, and headed back to Salt Lake. The drive between is also remarkably beautiful, with about 4000 feet in elevation gain/loss. Back in Salt Lake, we cleaned up, re-packed Rachel's stuff, headed out for the elk burgers that are not to be missed when you visit Salt Lake, and then to the airport. 

Lessons Learned: 
  1. Take a can opener. 
  2. Don't plan canned chili two nights in a row when you're sharing a two-man tent.
  3. I have decent mastery of all my camping equipment, including the camp stove, chairs, and tent. Go me. 
  4. Trail running shoes would be more appropriate than my regular running shoes for this terrain. 
  5. I really do love avocados. 
  6. I can now identify marmots. I think. 
  7. That * above is for this: the Fruita Campground really does fill by about 3pm this time of year. Rachel asked the Camp Hosts (this adorable old couple in a little Pope-mobile) how often the camp ground sold out, and they said since March, it had only not filled on 3 nights. So if you want to camp there, do plan ahead. 
  8. While I was blown away by Capitol Reef, virtually everyone we talked to said they prefer Bryce Canyon or Arches National Parks. I have to assume they are worth the extra distance, if you have time. They are on my list, for sure. 
To wrap it up, our trip was great. The race was an unexpected success. I love having Rachel visit, and can't wait to do it again!! Who knows what adventures await us. 


Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

Looks like a beautiful place to visit and get to hike around in.

Erin P. J. said...

I disagree with the others you've talked to! Bryce and Arches are worth seeing but Capitol Reef is one of my favorites, in part because it doesn't get the big crowds the others do. Capitol Reef also has excellent off-the-beaten-path trails, whereas so much of Arches and Bryce feels confined (and therefore crowded) to me. When you go back with your kids you should check out Sulfur Creek. So much fun to do with kids, especially on a hot day!