Tag: trails

Vacation- Soldier’s Pass

I love dirt. I really do.

Getting sick in January may have derailed my original vacation plans by a lot, I was still planning on adding getting in some miles on new to me trails. So I headed back to Sedona.

First trail up was Soldier’s Pass.

AllTrails calls Soldier’s Pass a moderate, 4.5 mile out and back trail. There is a small trailhead parking lot but will likely be full. We parked in overflow about a mile down the street at a school/ bike park location. There was a nice trail that ran along the road so it was nice warmup.

I love the color of the rocks and desert in Sedona. I know it gets hyped up a lot but there is a very valid reason for it. That also means be prepared for crowds. Everywhere. From prepared, experienced hikers to people in flip flops.

The beginning of the trail brings you to a cool sinkhole to check out. Then about a mile in (or 2 from overflow) the trail brings you to the Seven Sacred Pools. Maybe I was tired, but this part was a little underwhelming. Were there 7 pools? Maybe. Maybe I was blind. The trail starts to climb a little here but nothing strenuous.

The path was nicely shaded actually as we made our way to a little plateau. From there the real climb begins and things start to get hard. The path narrows and gets steeper as you make the last climb to the rock wall and the caves. The caves are cool. Getting up an into the big one is sketchy but I am proud that my claustrophobic self managed to climb up to the cave level. I spent some time up there for a bit- only almost fell once, ha! It does get crowded up there though and how more people don’t fall, I don’t understand. I did slip on my way back out of the caves and wrenched my shoulders a bit but I didn’t fall, so win!

From there, it was back down to the plateau then on to the Seven Sacred Pools again. Took a few moments here to take a sit and eat a snack or 2. It was a little warmer than I figured for March, even in Arizona.

All in all, round trip from the overflow lot to Soldier’s Pass was 6 miles with around 800 ft of elevation gain. Most of that in the last .25 mile or so. Totally worth it.

Spacerock #2

First up in my race schedule was Spacerock Trail race. Also I didn’t plan on ghosting the blog this long but life or work ran me over. Oops.

I had Friday off work and Spacerock takes place in Agua Dulce which is around 3ish hours away, so I headed down there for packet pickup. I stayed at the same hotel I did in 2019 and it will likely be my last time there, haha.

I love this race so much for the scenery. If you watch a lot of sci-fi, you’ve likely seen Vazquez Rocks in the background of some shot. I also love this race for the course and the swag. I love this course but it does not love me. I knew I was going to be slower than 2019 but I naively thought I was in better trail shape than 2019 even if I am in worse overall shape. Not sure how that works.

The race started at 7:45 so I was in the parking lot around 7. I bypassed the shuttles and used the walk to the start as my warm up. The race started right on time this year.

Miles 1-3 are a nice downhill to uphill and then back. I knew this would be my strongest section and tried to run it smartly. I ran the downhills and power hiked the ups.

We pass under the highway via a tunnel or as the race calls it black hole. Once on the other side, we hit the most single track portion of the 10k course as we climbed a hill only to turn around. There were moments I came to a complete stop on the way up in order to let the runners coming back down have the right of way. There were times the trail was barely wide enough for people to cross paths. Which was more evident on my return down when at one point the crowd went left and I went right to pass and the trail gave way beneath my right foot. I gave a little shriek and the women to my right jumped out to grab me. We laughed about it and then I was off back the way we came.

I felt like I ran this section very smart and felt very flow-like in my downhill running. Race pics show something else, though. 🤣 Miles 1-3: 12:53, 17:59, 16:02

Then around mile 3.7ish, I hit the dreaded middle hill. The same hill that killed me the last time. Sadly, it defeated me again. According to Strava, it’s 400 plus elevation gain at a 7% grade. It kicks my ass. I had to stop and rest a few times on my way up. Even once I finally summited this one, there were hills. Rolling hills which I usually love but at this point I was trash. I was playing leap frog with some other runners and most of us were over the hills. It was a topic that of discussion. Then when I climbed what I thought was the last hill before the finish and saw the real last hill ahead I may have shouted out “for f&$*’s sake”. I can only blame my faulty memory, ha. Miles 4-6: 19:46, 20:36, 20:55

There was a little more than 1/2 mile left but I was toast. What should have been runnable to me was not. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line. Finish 1:48:04.

Can I sit down now?

In all seriousness, I love this race. And will keep running it until I defeat that hill.

Granny’ed

About 7ish years ago, I went out to do one of our local trails. I remember having a pounding migraine and being only a week out from a half marathon but I thought how hard could it be?? It kicked my ass. Hard. I remember stopping at the swing partway up the trail and my legs were shaking, like a constant twitch that wouldn’t stop. And I was in pretty good shape at that point. I was with my mom and S that day and back then I would usually run ahead and then they would meet me at the top. Not that day.

Then I somehow never went back. Time has moved on and I chalked the difficulty up to the migraine. Had to be, right? My brother has become an avid adventurer who summits mountains for breakfast- like really, last weekend he did 5 peaks over 2 days. And I’m talking minimum of 11000 feet here, but he’s crazy. When he’s not off in random parts of the Sierra he has a couple local routes here… one of those involves this trail. Except he’ll do it 3x in a row and then follow it up 2 other mountain trails because these are baby mountains.😂

My memory had to be tainted by the migraine, right?

So Sunday morning saw me up bright and early (for me) and heading to the trail with my mom. We were the first ones at the trailhead but while we were getting ready, another car pulled in. I noticed both because I was glad we weren’t the only ones there and because there was something that reminded me vaguely of my grandmother. Then I put it out of my mind as we headed out.

The initial half mile while way more overgrown than I remember was also easy ish like I remembered. Once we hit the water crossing- which surprisingly was not dry- that’s where things took an uphill turn. Literally and figuratively.

I remember the trail being sketchy but I didn’t remember that many rocks. We took a break at the tree swing (which is also a newer swing) because we were struggling. Mind you, we were barely a mile in.

We were taking another break around 1.5 in and now it was more dying than struggling when the woman from the parking lot and a friend who had joined caught up to. Then passed us and never paused while still climbing up the trail.

Dude, we’d been granny’ed! But also they gave me new life goals. I want to be them!!

My mother and I continued to struggle up to the top. It wasn’t necessarily the steepness of the trail is it was the number of rocks and roots in the path. It looked like someone had decided to do some bushwhacking of their own but they didn’t clean up the cut pieces, just left them there to get slippery. Or I was just looking for reasons why it was so hard. We actually contemplated quitting but couldn’t bring ourselves too.

We finally made it to the top and headed for the old radio tower. This trail is much easier. We finally made it to the tower where the 2 ladies were sitting enjoying a nice snack. We took a few pics as my mom and I both said we were not doing this trail again, ha!

The ladies once again showed us as they headed back out…but not the way we came. Wait, when did this trail beome a loop??? It was only an out and back the last time I was here. I had noticed the new signs along the way but also wasn’t paying as much attention. Yay, maybe a less rocky way down?

And it was – for about 1/4 mile. Then it was rock city. We ended up passing up the older ladies as we made better time going down but it was still a hot mess. I tripped and turned my ankle so many times, I was alternating between shouting out mother bleeper or saying jinkies. Apparently this trail left me with no in between. The new way down was also about a mile shorter and by that time I was so damn thankful. I am so over this trail right now, it made the Grand Canyon seem like a walk in the park. And I fell on my ass twice in the Grand Canyon.

I clearly need to put in more work if I want to be those older ladies.

Yosemite

Heyo! It’s been a bit longer than planned since my last post- oops.

Let’s see, I ran some, I slacked off, ate food, gave myself heat stroke and cut my hair. Great, now that we are caught up, let’s move on to cool part. I went to Yosemite for the first time!

My brother is a crazy person who builds houses during the week and summits mountains on the weekends, car camping and taking amazing pictures along the way. He said he wanted to take my mother and I to Yosemite before things got crazy for the summer. Umm, ok?

Woah, 4 AM came early. And the drive was longer than I thought it would be… with my brother driving my car like it was a NASCAR race. That first view driving down into the park is just great, you get a look of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome all on the drive down.

We let my brother lead the way as he had planned the day… I thought I was prepared. He even told us, he was taking it easy on us… yeah, sure 18ish miles later! But this was “easy” as it only gained 1100 ft in elevation. Thanks, B.

We stuck mostly to the Valley Loop Trail with a few off shoots and add ons. The trail was crowded even on an overcast, slightly chilly day. There were parts where it felt like people were everywhere followed by parts where you felt so alone in the woods you almost forgot where you were. The trail varied from dirt to rocks to paved path.

Mirror Lake was gorgeous- I may have taken too many photos.

Yosemite Falls was awesome- although a massive crowd gatherer.

Half Dome watched over it all. Yet, I now realize I have no pictures??? How did I do that?

El Capitan was impressive.

Although I also hit my breaking point around El Cap. My blood sugar dropped, I was running low on water, may have worked myself into a panic attack and I turned into a major bitch. Climbers halfway up El Cap may have heard me shout “this is bullsh**” as I tripped on rocks trying to get closer. More than once. My bad.

Actually that put me into a dark mental space for the 4-5 miles it took to get back to the car. But let’s be honest- Yosemite is the sights and sounds… words don’t really work. Which is why this post is mostly pictures.

If you have been there, what was your favorite part?

If you haven’t been there-put it on your list!

Whirlwind

I love vacation but the first day back at work is always a whirlwind of catching up. Last week started exactly like that and then just kept spinning. I felt like my old washing machine; spinning and spinning and spinning, shaking away from the wall. Thankfully I replaced that very washer on my vacation and last week finally led to the weekend.

I had big plans of keeping to my training plan but well…

One day I forgot my shoes. One day, I had a horrible day with my stomach- which after a repeat this week could mean an issue with spaghetti for dinner, boo. Then an inspector showed up and the next 2 days at work were long and chaotic. Then my dad fell hiking and the fun just continued. I was so ready for the weekend.

Oh but I did get my stitches out!

I kept Saturday as low key as possible. I ran some errands and kind of chilled before heading out and attempting a run. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to run one of the missed 4 milers or try for my long run. Big long run this week- 6 miles. Dude, TimeHop makes me sad- 3 years ago I was running 18 milers training for Big Sur and now I can barely manage 6 miles. And these 6 miles were a struggle. I finished my run but barely. The last few miles were mostly walked as my stomach rebelled… as my stomach is wont to do. Grrr.

Sunday was an early morning as I was heading for a local hike with my mother. It’s been a few years since I had done Bishop’s Peak and not only did I park at the wrong trail head and short us some miles, it kicked my ass. The last time I did Bishop’s I was in probably my best shape… now I might be in my worst, ha!

I also forgot how technical it was, and how crowded it was. So many people! And you can tell yourself that where you are in fitness is fine for now until you are lapped going up a mountain by a college kid in flip flops. The trail is still gorgeous though.

So yeah a less than ideal week but it had it’s bright spots!