Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Grand Canyon Ultra: Get ready for draw-dropping beauty

Are you ready for this? On May16 & 17 this could be YOU at the Grand Canyon Ultra. I love, love love LOVE the Grand Canyon. I'm a little bit sentimental about this particular ultramarathon (hosted by Ultra Adventures --- the very BEST when it comes to destination trail races in the southern Utah/AZ area). Last year I took first place female in the inaugural running of the race.

Last weekend, I took my hubs and uncle to Monument Point, just one of the spectacular overlooks of the might GC that runners in the 100 mile and 50 mile distances will be treated to.

Check this out:

Yup, pretty amazing

I was feeling a little brave for this shot :) Don't do this on tired legs, runners!

Steve stepping out to get a good view of the largest hole on the planet

Aw man. I just can't. I can't deal with the beauty!

This could be you (jumping for joy because you will complete one of the most scenic ultramarathons in the world!!!)
What are you waiting for? Sign up today! There are 4 distances: 100m, 50m, 50k, 25k. Take a chance on this one. you won't regret it  (unless you get too close to the edge.... ... I kid, I kid) :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

White Pocket of Delight

A happy little boy in a great big sandbox
Ever since the first time I saw THAT WHICH IS CALLED WHITE POCKET, I've been obsessed. White pocket is a mesmerizing, other-worldly, wacky, colorful, alien, mind-bending place located exactly right in the middle of nowhere. To get there takes some doing. You need 1. A (GOOD) 4wd vehicle 2. Good sense of direction 3. Excellent sand-driving experience 4. guts. Or, you could pay a tour company to get you there but EH, what fun is that? My 'rents were in from PA along with my adventurous uncle Brian from NC and I was trying to figure out just how exactly we could get this crew out to the pockets. We decided that since IT WAS IMPERATIVE that we go, the only option was to cram into our trusty Nissan Xterra -- 5 adults and 2 kids (not to be outdone by the time we crammed 4 adults, 4 kids, and 2 large dogs).

Swirly weird bacon-looking mountains

Uncle Brian surfin' the wave

My mom and dad awww

Rock jumpin


My little adventurers

More rock surfin'

Love this one of my fam!
White pocket is a great place to explore. It's a photographer's DREAM. I like it because you don't have to walk 1000000 miles to see something amazing. It's all right there! Just pick up your feet and walk. No huge drop offs (so kids and grandparents are cool for this adventure). Remember to bring a shovel (just in case you get stuck!) Otherwise, have fun!

Life is never boring with this guy xoxo

Grams and JJ -- so glad to give them this adventure of a lifetime!

Harry, dad, Uncle Brian, JJ, Mom (and Christmas Cookie in front)


Two of my favorite people!

stompin' around


South Fork Indian Canyon Pictographs: Rock art near Kanab

Love me some Flava Flav lookin' rock art
I'm obsessed with ancient cave art. I absolutely love hiking to remote places in the Utah wilderness and seeing this stuff. I try to imagine what the artists must have been thinking (note to self -- in my next life I will be an anthropologist). When I posted the above pic on my instagram and facebook, I loved reading other people's descriptions like "The three cups of coffee gods" or "Wilson" and "Bart Simpson". I have always thought the top right dude was a little Flava Flavs-ish.

This pictograph site near Kanab, UT has some amazing drawings. Here are even more!
hide and seek dude

alien guy and struck by lightening person w/ kokopelli man
The hike starts out near the coral pink sand dunes state park. You need 4wd to get to the trail head. It's only about 1.75 miles roundtrip, but you do hike down a nice steep slope (don't worry, my dad could do it and so could my 7 year old). Totally worth the time and effort!

Dad gettin' his hiking on

My pop w/ his bro, uncle Brian. Note the amazing wall of cool shiz behind them.

Scrappy Mack along for the ride
Go see this place! But respect the art, yo!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's harder than running an ultramarathon?

Last weekend, utterly exhausted and running on fumes, on the brink of tears and smelling like a mix of sweat, dirt and campfire... I said to myself ----

THIS. This is THE hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

And that's saying something.

Last weekend was the Zion 100. The Zion 100 is brutal. The Zion 100 is beyond beautiful. The Zion 100 is literally right in my backyard and after running the 100k option last year, I was on track to conquer my first 100 miler at this race. And then I got injured and my first 100 mile conquest was out of the question, at least temporarily.

Instead of running the race, I decided to volunteer to run an aid station. And not just any aid station, but THE mother of ALL aid stations. THE GOOSEBUMP.

From the top of Gooseberry Mesa. Runners started their ascent 1500 ft. below.
Runners from the 100 miler, 100k, and 50k distances would pass through this tiny oasis in the middle of the harsh high desert 2-3 times. The first time would be as they made the ascent to the top of Gooseberry Mesa, a 1500 ft. vertical climb (and most would top off during the 80+ mid-day swelter). Hundred-milers would pass through for their third time anywhere from 5:30 pm - 5:30am. In total we'd have close to 1000 impressions.

Selfies with some bad A$$ runners

I knew this would be a hard job. I just didn't expect it to be so much more than that. It was emotional, exhausting, exhilarating, amazing, rewarding, empowering, happy, sad, scary, emotional (worth saying twice), awesome, beyond tiring. Would I do it again? In a HEARTBEAT.

To the runners of the Zion 100 (or 100k, or 50k) Thank you! Every. Single. Runner.

I saw runners with smiles, runners in tears. I saw blisters the size of Gooseberry Mesa itself. I saw runners who kept going when every fiber of their being was telling them to just STOP. I saw them push through pain, sweat, pukes, shakes, aches, pains, and breakdowns. And then I'd see them again in 20 miles feeling amazing, enlightened, delirious, hungry, and ready to git'r done.

Every single one that I met, fed and watered -- ... you were all so unbelievably inspiring, gracious, kind, and incredible.

I think you are all rock stars!

Here are some other amazing people:

Me and one of my alltime fav runner bff's fast cory

Families, friends, pets, and strangers.. all who camped out and encouraged runners to keep on truckin. This is Mel and she rocked that monkey hat.

This dude was running the 100 miler but had to drop out after the Gooseberry ascent. He had such a wonderful, positive spirit! He is my hero!!!!

My wing-woman, Lisa. She kept me sane overnight :)

Awesome new friends who pitched in to help without even a hesitation.

Two of my favorite people, Jana and Alan, who also helped man this beast of an Aid Station (always with a smile)

Sunset over the mesa
Special thanks to the random people who just stepped in asking how they could help. And, to all of my very very awesome friends who spent hours helping and making sure the runners had everything they needed: Steve, Lisa, Megan, Nancy, Annie, Chris, Jana, Alan, Lorilie, Carrie, Craig, Chris (mama Gunn), Katie, Ben, Abby... can't thank you enough. Truly. xoxo

But seriously -- next time I'm just running the 100 miles. :)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Paiute Cave: 10,000 year old neon rainbows

Paiute Cave -- the most awesome cave art I've ever seen.
A couple days ago I stumbled on a blog (ironically trying to find directions to another set of petroglyphs called The Notch -- which we never found). The writer posted pictures that I couldn't truly believe! Brilliant, neon pictographs -- and close to home! Wha? How hadn't I heard of these?

Of course this got my wheels spinning... but I wasn't sure I could convince the fam to go and find these, especially after the last wild goose chase. But thankfully my hubs loves an adventure.. and we were able to bribe the kids with caves... and treasure... and candy etc etc.

The first few hours we blindly drove down any possible road that "could be" the cave site. We had very spotty directions and new the general vicinity (we thought....) After the first few roads yielded nuthin.. we decided to head towards the Nampaweap petroglyph site (which we had a map for and were pretty confident we could find). The Nampaweap site is one of the largest known rock art sites on the Arizona Strip.

After a short hike (about .75 mile) we found the petroglyphs. They are carved into lava rocks and there are literally hundreds! It was really cool!

Nampaweap petroglyphs

I love rock art. It's one of my favorite things about living here!

JJ and baby creeper try to decipher the rock

Wish I knew what this all means!

Mackie is da BEST boy when hiking (without Gandalf, obvs)

Ok -- so now onto the cave. Would we find it? I was starting to lose hope. And the kids were getting really impatient. We tried another route and it was a bust. We were about to give up. And then...

Steve decided to stop and check out a roadside map/kiosk at Mt. Trumbull Road. And on a whim, we thought we'd try another route that looked promising. 

After about 8 miles we saw our first clue -- a shack. The shack (on rt. 5 heading towards Colorado City) was our identifier. Here we would turn right... and head just over a mile and park. There were no signs. No other signs of anything AMAZING. But, at last... we found our spot. 


Check this OUT! seriously awesome.

The colors are so vibrant because they are protected from the elements (and vandals) in the cave.


Cool panel of glowing people and snakes and things

Mackie is seriously the best hiking friend. He loves to explore as much as I do!

Family snapshot

Owning it

Me and my besties

Seriously analyzing ... like........... what does this all mean?

I love.
The neatest part of this cave is that it is so remote... and you can't "see" it from any road. It's hidden. And it's awesome. It's an ice cave and a lava tube. So it's very cold inside. And filled with lava rocks. I can only wonder what else is out there -- left to be discovered. I can't wait to find out :-)