Ultrarunning Edge Blog
Shorty's Cutoff Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 15 June 2015 09:08

Shorty's Cutoff is a great section of trail that doesn't get enough use by trail runners. The southern part of Shorty's connects White Pine Creek trail to Steam Mill Hollow, and the northern part extends from Steam Mill Hollow to Steep Hollow. This northern section is also mile 64 to 67 of the Bear 100, but hardly any Bear 100 runners ever see it in daylight.

Yesterday my dog and I started at the Tony Grove backcountry trailhead and ran to White Pine lake, where we picked up the White Pine Creek trail east. About a mile after turning onto White Pine Creek trail, the trail crosses White Pine creek. Below the crossing, the trail continues east about 3/4 mile down a big open meadow. I find the easiest way to get to Shorty's is to bushwack north across the creek at the base of this meadow. You quickly see a trail north of the naomi_high_countryshortys_westcreek, and you can follow this trail west (upstream) for about 1/3 mile to Shorty's Cutoff. This first part of Shorty's is narrow and rocky (needs more use) and climbs fairly steeply to a pass between the White Pine creek and Steam Mill creek drainages. The trail from the pass down to Steam Mill creek is wider and can be a lot of fun for a runner. The trail reaches Steam Mill creek right at the Steam Mill itself.

After crossing Steam Mill creek, Shorty's Cutoff heads north across a meadow. (Do not take the main Steam Mill trail which heads east down the meadow.) Just beyond this meadow, Shorty's climbs through some trees out to a higher meadow. From here the trail continues north for three miles, alternating between dark, fir-lined draws and large meadows with fantastic vistas. You cross Hell's Kitchen canyon drainage and pass above the yurt, eventually arriving at the jeep trail down Steep Hollow. This northernmost three miles of Shorty's is a really enjoyable section of trail, although the trail surface is not as good as it was a few years ago. Also this year there is a portion where an avalanche brought down many fir trees (the first major draw north after the climb out of Steam Mill). The horsemen have done a good job sawing through the downed fir trees, but the trail itself still needs major work there.

After getting to Steep Hollow, we reversed course and returned to the Tony backcountry trailhead. Total distance was around 22 miles.
On the Old Bear 100 Course Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Monday, 30 July 2012 07:17

One of my favorite stretches from the old Bear 100 course is the Highline trail between Danish Pass and Paris Canyon. It's been several years since I last ran this, and lately several of us have been saying how much we wanted to go back and run part(s) of the Old Bear.

So yesterday morning, Milada and I drove up to the base of German Dugway bright and early. Temperatures were fairly cool starting out, but predicted to be in the 90s by mid-day. We climbed the 3 miles up German Dugway to the top of Paris Canyon in early morning light (great vistas). We then headed south on the Highline trail.
Preview of the 2012 Logan Peak Trail Run (Finding Tools with Caballo Blanco) Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Friday, 04 May 2012 18:01

Yesterday morning it was again time for our annual snow trek to Logan Peak. Participants were Scott Datwyler, Ryan Dunkley, Dan Judd, Tyler Shurtleff, and myself. I suggested we run this year in memory of Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco) who passed away while trail running in the Gila Mountain Wilderness a month ago. Many of you will remember Caballo Blanco as the elusive, gringo trail runner of the Mexican Copper Canyon area in Chris McDougall's bestseller "Born to Run".

In past years we've usually started at the top of the Providence quarry. This year because of the washed out upper Providence Canyon road, we had to start on the new Providence Canyon singletrack trail about a mile below the base of the quarry. When we began running at 5:45 AM, temps were in the low 40s with a low cloud ceiling and a pronounced southerly wind. Conditions improved as the morning wore on.

As we climbed up the canyon above the quarry, we eventually hit snow at about the same point we do every year (this year, however, we went as much as a month earlier than usual). In protected areas, there is still quite a bit of snow, but snow levels are low to nonexistent in very open areas or areas with pronounced southern exposure. Once we hit the main peak ridge, there was good packed snow for runnng, and we only occasionally broke through. At Logan Peak, views were spectacular as usual, but there was a VERY bitter wind.

Descending west from Logan Peak along the ridge to Little Baldy and below, the snow was pretty good for running/glissading—though we all had some spectacular falls whenever we hit soft areas. Once we reached the pass between Little Baldy and Temple Baldy, the remainder of the run (South Syncline trail, Welches Flat jeep trail, lower Providence Canyon jeep trail) was mostly free of snow.

Every year we find various tools along the route. This year was no different: Scott quickly picked up a nice multi-purpose tool along the Providence Canyon jeep trail above the quarry, and I soon found a 10 mm box/open end wrench. But in the end, I trumped Scott in the 'found tools' department. Late in the run as we were coming down the Welches Flat jeep trail, Scott, Tyler, and Ryan stopped to get water at Welches spring just below the trail. As we were leaving the area, I stepped over a strange object in the wheel track on the main Welches jeep trail. When I turned back to examine it, I discovered it was a 4 1/4 inch by 1 3/8 inch knapped chert point—most likely an ancient (Fremont ???) Native American knife. Very cool!!! (Reluctant to leave something this important on the jeep trail, I carefully carried it out with me. After shooting a number of good photos, I've turned it over to the Forest Service for further study/analysis.) Scott and I have run this trail dozens of times, and both the Logan Peak Trail Run (120 runners/yr) and the Bear 100 (200 runners/yr) follow this route. So this knapped chert point has to have appeared (frost heaving or spring glacial transport) some time between last fall and now. Maybe this find means Caballo Blanco truly was running with us in spirit.
Autumn in Green Canyon Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 23 October 2011 08:51

Of all the runs and races I didn't get to do this summer, there was none I missed more than the Green Canyon Beirdneau Ridge loop. So with the warm temperatures and very late Fall we are having, Friday seemed like an opportune time to try Green Canyon. The elk hunt had ended on Wednesday, and the regular season deer hunt wouldn't start until Saturday. I didn't think snow would be a problem because I had been up at 9000 feet on the Highline trail the previous weekend and encountered only 6 inches or so of snow in very protected locations.

I arrived at the lower King's Park trailhead with my dog at 10 AM (a later start so that temperatures could warm some). I was able to run almost all the singletrack up to the Green Canyon backcountry trailhead (I must be finally getting my uphill running strength back). Even with our late start, we were able to get on the upper Green Canyon trail well before the hunters packing in early for the deer hunt. At 11 AM, most of the meadow was still heavily frosted, but air temperatures were rising quickly as the sun crested over the ridge. The lighting made the fall colors spectacular, and I stopped to shoot several pictures.
Running the Green Canyon, Mt. Elmer, Beirdneau High Country Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 10:18
green_canyon_westOne of my absolute favorite early summer runs is the roughly 25 mile partial loop route that goes up Green Canyon, over to Mt. Elmer, back along Beirdneau ridge, down the Preston Valley Trail, and back to the mouth of Green Canyon. Now that my duties as co-race director for the Logan Peak Trail Run are largely completed for 2010, yesterday it was time to to go see Elmer.

In the past few years, cyclists, ultrarunners, hikers, YCC members, and forest service trail crews have constructed single-track trail segments that parallel the main forest service road up Green Canyon. It is now possible to travel to the top of Green Canyon almost entirely on single-track trail with only a few hundred yards required on the forest service road. The lower part of Green Canyon is entirely runnable, climbing only 1600 feet in about 5.5 miles to the Wilderness boundary. From there to the top of Green Canyon, the trail becomes much rockier and climbs an additional 2100 feet in a little less than three miles.
Wilderness and Ultrarunning: The Great Divide Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 23 May 2010 12:59

With more and more ultramarathon races filling early and with this year's prominent closure or rerouting of several races held on public land, it is time for us to re-evaluate the relationship between ultrarunning and Wilderness.

Like many ultrarunners I am a strong supporter of wilderness (with a little w). Originally I began running long distances on trails as a grant_swamp_passway to experience spectacular regions of backcountry and wilderness without having to commit large amounts of time and resources (e.g. backpacking). I suspect many other ultrarunners are the same. Over time I discovered that 50 and 100 mile races made this even easier by safely eliminating the need for extensive route logistics and time-consuming caching of food/water/supplies.

There is typically no problem with non-competitive ultrarunning in National Wilderness, and many of us cherish the time we spend running in National Wilderness areas. I will certainly never forget running rim-to-rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon or running to Indian Pass and back in the Wind River Range or even my many trips across the Mount Naomi Wilderness (though I sometimes question the wisdom in creating a "Wilderness area" that can be crossed in 2.5 hours). I'm sure many other ultrarunners have similar cherished memories of Wilderness trips.

There has however always been a shaky relationship between ultrarunning races and Wilderness (big W). There are widespread misconceptions that the Wilderness Act of 1964 explicitly excludes organized competion. In fact such exclusions (where they formally exist) are contained in federal agency management plans—NOT in the Wilderness Act itself. The Wilderness Act does explicitly exclude commercial enterprise, but allows commercial services "performed for activities which are proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the areas". Under this latter aegis, commercial fishing and hunting guides and outfitters providing pack animals are routinely permitted. Mining and grazing of livestock is also explicitly allowed in the Wilderness Act. Arguably therefore, ultramarathon races which are (mostly) not-for-profit events should not be excluded as commercial enterprises.
Last High Country Run of the 2009 Season Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Sunday, 01 November 2009 18:32

Last weekend, I decided it was time to get out for one last, long, high-country run this season. We had already experienced several early snowstorms, but most of the snow had melted below the 8500 - 9000 foot level. With another major snowstorm and cold temperatures predicted for the following Tuesday, it seemed likely that the high country would soon be too inaccessible for distance running. All summer long, I had been wanting to get back to some parts of the old Bear 100 course. This seemed like it might be a good opportunity.

german_dugwayI drove up Cub River canyon to the base of German Dugway. My plan was to run up German Dugway to the top of Paris Canyon and then take the Highline Trail north over into Horseshoe Basin, on to the top of Dry Basin, and then back—about 20 miles round trip, with elevations ranging from 7000 - 8600 feet. By mid-morning it was already a gorgeous day: clear, 28 degrees fahrenheit, and no wind. Climbing up German Dugway, the ground was still nicely frozen, and running conditions were perfect. The vistas to the west were beautiful. I felt strong, and my dog and I made good time. Once we got over onto the Highline Trail, we began encountering mud in places where there had been a lot of recent ATV traffic. I wondered how bad this might get in another two hours.

The portion of Highline Trail that descends from the ridge into Horseshoe Basin is high and north facing. Here there was about six inches of firm, crusty snow, and the running was fantastic! As we reached Horseshoe Basin proper, we began to again encounter places with lots of sloppy, freeze-thaw mud. This continued all the way to the top of Dry Basin, except for about half a mile where the trail winds through a heavily protected forest of pines and firs.

On the return trip the mud was definitely getting worse in places, but overall not too bad. The views were still spectacular, and we flew down German Dugway to the car. The run took just over four hours—not bad considering the mud. It was a great way to end the main running season!

Annual Snow Trek to Logan Peak—Preview of Logan Peak Trail Run Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Saturday, 30 May 2009 22:25

This morning it was time for the annual snow trek to Logan Peak. The run begins and ends at the old quarry half way up Providence Canyon. Participants this year were Ron Stagg, Leland Barker, Scott Datwyler, and myself.

As we headed east up Providence Canyon at 6:30 AM, the creek was flowing over the entire jeep road. Clearly the snow is melting fast! About half a mile further up the road, we hit snow, which continued to the top of the canyon. Although temperatures were in the high forties, the snow in the canyon bottom was good and firm. About halfway up the remainder prov_canyonmuddingof the canyon, we encountered a place where an ATV had recently been 'mudding' the side of the canyon. I shot a couple of photos to document this for the Forest Service and the Bear River Watershed Council
Spring Training in Moab Print E-mail
Written by Bruce R. Copeland   
Thursday, 19 March 2009 20:17

With the Buffalo Run 50-mile only two weekends away and most trails in northernmost Utah far too muddy, it seemed like a good time to head to Moab for some heat acclimation training. The plan was to run the Gemini Bridges road, Gold Bar Trail, Golden Spike Trail, and Poison Spider Trail—the same route used for the Red Hot Moab 33k.

We arrived in Moab at 9:00 in the morning. After a fortuitous encounter with Chris Martinez at the start of the Gemini Bridges road, my sled dog Chilli and I set off. I began with a 70 oz water bladder and two full 24 oz water bottles.

It was a pleasant 4 mile climb along the Gemini Bridges road. We then turned onto the Gold Bar Trail, which is reasonably easy to follow all the way out to the east overlook. At that point Gold Bar becomes the Golden Spike Trail heading south. Golden Spike is difficult to follow because in many places the 4x4s have cut several different routes to handle difficult terrain. It is often necessary to pursue these different routes some distance to find the marked route.

Somewhere around mile 11, we got off course and ended up covering an additional 6 miles. This occurred at a four-way trail junction where we took a well-marked trail approximately west for about 3 miles. Several times along this route, I checked map and compass bearings. In each case the trail appeared to follow the course indicated on the map for the Poison Spider Trail. Eventually our trail began to turn north, and it was obvious we were not on the correct route. We turned back. There were some nice climbs and descents on slickrock—this section could have been a lot of fun if we hadn't been off course.

Finally we reached the four-way junction again and eventually found the correct (Golden Spike) trail. It didn't hurt to pick up some extra miles, but in retrospect I should have originally taken the time to check all the trail possibilities at the four-way junction.

We continued along the correct Golden Spike trail for about another 1.5 mile before it turned into what was obviously the Poison Spider Trail. Navigation was straightforward along Poison Spider, and the trail eventually spit us out at the trailhead next to the Colorado river.

Overall it was a good training run. There were lots of great views! Temperatures were in the mid seventies, but there were half a dozen pools in the slickrock where Chilli was able to get water.