Bryce Canyon Half Marathon

After picking up our race packets for the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon, we checked into our lodge (Ruby’s Inn!), we drove into the park to watch the sunset in the canyon. On our way in we saw some Prong Horn Antelope grazing by the road.

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We walked to Sunset Point. Fitting!

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The Famous Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon

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Bryce Canyon was part of a previous family trip in 2004-but we didn’t ever go down into the Canyon. That was on my to-do list for the this trip!

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The next morning, it was time to run the half marathon! It was Jordan’s very first half marathon, so he was nervous/excited about running. I had signed up for this race a few months back when I saw there was going to be a half marathon in Bryce the same time we were going to be there on vacation. I had to run it! Jordan signed up a few days before determined to run his first half marathon while on our epic trip. The race began at 6:00AM to avoid the high temps (it gets up into the 90s-100s in Utah in the summer) and began right at our lodge. How convenient.

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It was chilly enough to even wear my light running jacket! It was perfect running weather. After about a mile, I stowed it away in my pack. I wore the Gregory Pace 5 Hydration Pack during the race because I like having water and a place to store gear.

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The race is point-to-point, beginning in Bryce Canyon right outside of the National Park through Tropic to Cannonville.

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It was such a cool experience to race in Utah!

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It was such a beautiful race! Because I didn’t particularly train for this race, I knew I’d be on the slower side. I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. I think the elevation got to me after a while, though. The race began at 7,640 feet of elevation! There weren’t many hills, though, just a descent that flattens out near the end.

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Jordan did awesome! He ran his first half in about 2:10, which is impressive considering he didn’t train. ūüėČ Unfortunately since I was still running, I didn’t get to see him finish-but he saw me.

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This race was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, and it gets better!

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Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park

After leaving California, we drove the few hours, through the Mojave Desert, to Las Vegas. Our plan was to stay here one night on our way to Utah. I went to Vegas on a previous family vacation in 2004 but it was so different than I remember. It seemed smaller, somehow, and kind of depressing. Funny how 12 years can really change a person’s perspective. I decided while we were there I didn’t like it. It served its purpose though. We had a night at the Flamingo and Jordan and I had dinner at The Yard House, which was delicious. I played one penny slot and then we went to bed. It sounds lame, but after being in Yosemite and Sequoia, I wasn’t ready for such intense civilization.

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The next morning we got up early and hit the road. It was time to enter the second part of our awesome trip: Utah’s Might Five! Our original plan was to just hit four. But with our close proximity to Zion National Park, we had to do all five.

UtahNP-map

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The Kolob Canyon entrance to Zion was basically on the way to Bryce Canyon.

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We stopped for a short hike in Kolob Canyon called the Timber Creek Overlook Trail. The trail was about one mile RT to a nice overlook of Timber Creek, Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains.

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Utah was hot and dry. It was so different from the climate in California! I loved it. We only spent about an hour and half in Zion. We hopped back in the car and drove to Bryce Canyon, our next destination. Jordan and I were running the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon the next day so we wanted to pick up our packets. To get to the pick up location, we drove part of the course. It was incredible.

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I was ready to represent the ARE in the my first Utah race. So exciting!

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Crescent Meadow and the High Sierra Trail, Sequoia National Park

After we saw General Sherman and hiked Moro Rock, we drove to the Crescent Meadow trailhead to do some more hiking. On our way, this guy ran in front of our vehicle.

 

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Black bears are extremely active here in Sequoia National Park! There are warning signs everywhere. They also suggest NOT leaving food visible inside vehicles because the bears will try to get in to get it. They are smart and resourceful. Not to mention, cute!

Anyway, we parked at Crescent Meadow and Jordan and I decided to do a short hike on the High Sierra Trail. This is a 60 mile trail that goes all the way to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48. Sounds like an epic backpacking trip, no? We met a man on the trail doing just that and I was pretty jealous.

 

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We decided to wander. We hiked the Crescent Meadow loop to Log Meadow and then to Eagle View. I had no idea what awaited at Eagle View, but it sounded like a good idea.

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This had to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

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John Muir called Crescent Meadow “the gem of the Sierras”-he was right

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It was so peaceful. And we had just seen the bear so we were on high alert!

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Log Meadow

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Once we got to the High Sierra Trail, we headed toward Eagle View.

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And BAM.

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Spending quality time with Jordan and my parents to share my love of hiking and the outdoors with them was pretty incredible.

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my happy place

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Spending time in the Sierras was life-changing. It opened up a whole new world of hiking. ¬†I love the Adirondacks;¬†the high peaks feel like¬†home. But there is just something different about hiking in the Sierras. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

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The hike we did was short. I’m not sure how far we actually walked because my watch died. We met my parents back at the car and it was time to say goodbye to the Sequoias, the Sierras, and California. It was time to begin part two of our adventure.

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A great view of Moro Rock as we left the Park

 

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Hiking the Seward Range

I’m interrupting my trip recap to bring you a new Adirondack Trip Report!

Catching up? Check out my last few posts:

So, anyway, last weekend I went backpacking in the Adirondacks to snag three more high peaks in the Seward Range, Donaldson, Emmons and Seward Mountains.

Jenna, Brendan, Margaret and I drove up to Saranac Lake (The Sewards are the furthest away out of the high peaks, with a 3hr drive from Albany!) to the trailhead at Corey’s Road. We hiked in with our gear to a tent site along the Caulkins Brook, off the horse trail. Jona had mentioned this site to me and it sounded like a good idea! After a short 1.4 mile hike, we found our site and set up camp. Unfortunately, it started to rain during the night…complete with a thunder storm. Thankfully, it wasn’t severe and we were all dry in our tents! But the wet made for a gloomy hike the next day.

Saturday morning we took a left out of our camp site at about 6:30am, and met the herd path to the Sewards at around 7:10. Instead of taking the Blueberry Trail and the steep route up Ward Brook, we opted for the gentler Caulkins Brook Herd Path.

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Take a left at the bucket

The herd path follows Caulkins Brook for some time. It’s a gradual incline and is quite pleasant! Before we knew it, we were approaching the summit of Donaldson Mountain! It was 9:50AM, a little over three hours after starting.

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Number 38, it’s gettin’ real!

Still socked in, we had no view.

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We decided it would be¬†wise to head over to Emmons first. I didn’t do my homework on this hike and assumed the peaks were close together. Ha. So Wrong. It took us about an hour to get to Emmons (11:00am). I was having flashbacks of the dismal¬†Couchsachraga from last summer in the Santanonis. The hike to Emmons¬†wasn’t particularly fun. It was wet, muddy and dark. I hated Couch, but I liked the Santanonis better overall.

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Thankfully on the hike back, the skies cleared and allowed us some views.

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Looking over to Seward from Emmons

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Grey skies

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On the way back we decided to hit up Donaldson again because it was right there and we wanted to see if there was a good view–there was!

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But, we couldn’t linger. Time to make the trek over to Seward. I don’t remember much, just that I wanted the day to be over. It was 2:00 by the time we reached the summit.

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The best hiking gang–40 peaks done!!!!!

If I had one word to describe this range, it would be blah. But, I did it! The trek out was long. We stopped at Caulkins Brook to refill our water using Jenna’s gravity filter (Jenna is the Water Queen), and hiked the remaining few miles back to the camp site.

My original plan was to camp a second night and hike Seymour the next day, another peak in the Seward Range that is just a bit further out (see my amazing map skillz below). Jenna and Margaret¬†estimated it would be about a 10 hour day. Since we both had to work Monday, and we were tired, Brendan and I were just not feeling it. We orphaned Seymour and packed up our gear and walked the 1.4 miles back to our car to make the three¬†hour drive home. It was nice to sleep in my own bed after such a draining¬†day! Jenna and Margaret stayed and hiked Seymour the next morning–such troopers!

The decision was tough. I debated it in my head over and over almost the entire day. Hiking Seymour would get me one peak closer to goal, but I’d be miserable.¬†Physically I could have done it, but I was mentally done. I hike because I enjoy it and I love the Adirondack Mountains. Yes, I have a goal, but is it worth it to suffer just¬†to bag a peak when I’m not having fun anymore? No. Seymour isn’t going anywhere!

Overall, we hiked about 14 miles on Saturday, including the hike out to the car.

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40 down, 6 to go. I can see the finish.

We got back to the site at about 7 and were at the car by sundown. It was a long day.

The Seward Range
Donaldson, Emmons, and Seward Mountains
~16 mi RT via Caulkins Brook herd path
12.5 hrs to and from tent site

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General Sherman & Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park

The next day, we got up early, checked out of the lodge (we stayed right in the park!) and headed to see General Sherman, the largest tree (by volume) in the world. It stands 274.9 feet high. Holy crap.

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It was a beautiful morning when we hiked down to the tree. The trail down was about a half mile downhill on a paved path.

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And there it was!

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Protip: get there EARLY to avoid the crowds! We had most of the grove to ourselves and it was quite peaceful.

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Sherman was magnificent. We didn’t linger long, but my mom and I explored the trail a bit more while Jordan went to get the car, since it was parked pretty far away.

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Next we drove over to Moro Rock, a trail of rock steps leading to a large dome with amazing views.

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The High Sierras

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My parents made it about halfway up-they still got some great views!

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The view on top of Moro Rock was phenomenal. You can see the high sierras and the Great Western Divide. I’d highly recommend this hike if you are in Sequoia NP. It may be challenging for some, since the stairs are narrow and there are many of them, but there are guard rails all way up, and I never felt unsafe. It’s only a quarter¬†of a mile up and totally worth it!

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