Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Observation Point, Zion National Park Is Basically Amazing

I mentioned that my friends Catherine and Clair came down to southern Utah for a weekend of running. (You can read the first post with some pictures of remarkable scenery HERE.)

The final stop on our weekend running extravaganza was Observation Point in Zion National Park. A surrounding storm dumped on us every once in a while but made the scenery even cooler:

Observation Point is my favorite trail in Zion. I really love how some sections of the trail are literally cut right into the mountain.

Trust me when I tell you that pictures from the point don't nearly do justice to how beautiful the views are.

Catherine caught this picture of me on our way back down the trail:

Then I caught this one of her later on:

I've run hundreds of miles with these guys. Every time I share the trails with Clair, I am constantly impressed by the fact that this guy is more than two decades older than me....and can still easily smoke past me effortlessly.

After Observation Point we went to Hidden Canyon. It was a tad scary.

I am terrified of heights. I don't want anything to do with any trail that involves holding on to a chain to prevent yourself from falling perilously into a messy splat at the bottom of the canyon. (I've never gone all the way to the end of Angel's Landing in Zion National Park for this very reason.) I gave myself some mid-trail mental health therapy and managed to conquer the trail. Go me.

I pretty much love these guys. The combination of beautiful trails and awesome friends is a perfect mix.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When The Only Thing Your Friends Want To Do Is Run

My friends Clair and Catherine came down from northern Utah a week or so ago. They came down for one reason: to help eat the three loaves of cinnamon bread I bought from Costco. Wait. Come to think of it, there was one other reason: to run.

Catherine and Clair had never enjoyed the awesomeness of southern Utah's trails before. The plan was to show them around my very favorite trails. We just wanted to run and run. Mostly to justify all that Costco cinnamon bread. There was a hefty supply of reminiscing. A hefty supply of laughing. And a hefty supply of jumping.

I got to know Clair and Catherine many years ago through work. We've run countless miles together during many races, including every step of a 100 miler together. I can't tell you how much I love these peeps.

The first destination of the weekend was Gooseberry Mesa. It is a little slice of heaven. These amazing trails are also part of the Zion 100.

I seriously love this jump shot from Catherine:

Clair is kind of a freak of nature. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he is actually a Cyborg. Clair is more than two DECADES older than me and Catherine....and yet we continually found ourselves working hard to keep up with his speedy legs.

In the evening we headed to Sand Mountain with my wife Mel, Catherine's husband Kacey, our friend Tia, and my brother-in-law Matt. The views from the top are unspeakably beautiful. (To get a true appreciation of the scenery, check out THIS video from The Piano Guys which has 49 MILLION (not a typo) views.

There were a few jumping pictures to be had at the edge of the cliff. Here is Matt:

And then I got one in myself:

I caught this shot of Clair running along the ridge:

Watching the sun set along the cliffs of southern Utah was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Monday, May 9, 2016

I've Been Struggling A Lot

I've been struggling a lot with self-control lately. This has resulted in me running more miles to counteract my complete lack of will power. My struggle with self-control stems from two sources:

1) Costo has this cinnamon butter bread that tastes like it was made by angels. A heavenly choir of these bread making angels rejoices with every bite. On a 1-10 scale of amazingness, it ranks 427. And of course you can't buy just one loaf. The package at Costco contains three loaves. I can't help myself.

2) Our neighbor Julie brought over Monkey Bread last night. Basically it is a pan full of cinnamon, sugar, and butter covered carbohydrates. I took a few bites, then blinked, and when I looked down, almost half of it had teleported into my stomach.

To counteract my self-control problems, I've enjoyed a chunk of miles in Warner Valley. The wild flowers are popping around here and they look downright awesome.

That awkward moment when the beam of a UFO grabbed me by the chest and yanked me skyward:

I came across my first snake of the year. There will surely be many more snakes (and many more of my high pitched screams like a little girl when I almost step on them) this coming summer.

I took Mel on her first "run" to Toquerville Falls. In actuality, much of the route isn't a run at all. It's a slog up hills that feel like they are never going to end.

At one point Mel said "How many more miles until we reach the top of the mountain? Basically how many more miles am I going to hate you?"

Eventually we reached Toquerville Falls and Mel stopped hating me.

We ate some Butterfingers that had been stashed in my pack since who knows when. And they were delicious. Because difficult trails always make candy taste better. We enjoyed the waterfall for a while before heading back.

Mel caught this picture on the way down:

I'm not going to buy anymore Costco bread because eating one slice turns into three loaves. I'll eat more broccoli and try to convince myself that it tastes almost as good as Monkey Bread. And when I buy more Butterfingers, instead of eating them on the spot, I'll put them in my pack for the next run.