Solitude of Winter Trails...

Dinosaur National Monument - the Utah side.  Had been skiing in Park City UT and the morning I left I thought I would surely drive out of the heaviest snowstorm in which I have ever been or seen.  I followed a truck's tail lights for an hour to reach Heber City - 18 miles on US 40 - vertigo - the whole world was white - I could hear traffic on the other 2 lanes of 40 coming east maybe 25 yards away - could see nothing!  Stopped in Heber at a convenience station for gas and was informed that roads in all directions were closed. Checked into a motel with all the other snowbound orphans, we organized, and found a bar restaurant owned by some people from Wisconsin and we watched football, drank beer and ate well.  The next day - an endless blue sky and monstrous piles of snow - but the roads had been opened overnight.  Grabbed coffee, exchanged goodbyes to all my one night in our lives friends and  headed east and home to Colorado.  Beautiful drive across north central UT, through Strawberry Park and the low mountains, into the sage country and to the town of Vernal.  I topped off the tank and as I headed east, I wondered why I was in such a hurry.  Saw the sign for Dinosaur National Monument and drove the 7 miles along the Green River to the Visitors Center.  I was the only visitor to the park that day and asked about trails.  They had received 20 inches of snow, rare for that part of Utah, but asked my mode of travel - my Atlas snowshoes.  They directed me to the Sound of Silence Trailhead a short distance on the park road.  Parked, strapped in and followed the arroyo trail to the north.  My only buddies were several desert cottontails who were so mesmerized it seemed by the snow depth I got close enough I probably could have picked them up.  I continued on, came around the corner and there was this image.  I climbed part way up the ridge, took several shots with the Canon and this one turned out the best.  Called it Heart Rock and the Weather Channel uses it on Valentine's Day as one of their favorite shots of hearts in Nature.  Moral of story - get lost in nature whenever and wherever you can.  And when you face the inevitable of returning to civilization - go find a really good beer in which to savor the experience.  Three and half hours later I was sitting at the Aspen Brewery knocking back a few pints of their red ale and talking up the Dinosaur National Monument.  Even mentioned that the skiing wasn't bad in Park City either!  

Trail fuel = Power Pancakes

As an ecologist, I believe in diversity.  The more species in an ecosystem, as managed by Mother Nature, the healthier the ecosystem will be.  Same for food and fuel.  Read the ingredients in Bisquick and it is essentially without nutrients and has chemicals that are harmful to human health.  Not excepting advertising from them so consider this a consumer report.  So, you ask, what should I use for pancakes?  For the stack above, check out the diversity in these beauties - aka my - Power Pancakes - no trademark so feel free to steal recipe and more power to you.

All ingredients organic except water, baking soda, and salt.  

Oatmeal, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, white flour, sugar, nutmeg, ginger, chile powder, salt, baking soda.

juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon, juice of 1 fresh squeezed orange, tart cherry juice, Greek yogurt, honey, egg, water (or favorite microbrew), vanilla, oil  (I use Spectrum high heat sunflower oil), blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries (I do not use bananas as it tends to taint the flavor of the whole pancake when cooked)  I use fresh when I can or Cascadian Farms frozen mixed berry mix.  

I make these so often that I can eyeball everything. Refer to a pancake recipe for amounts.  Add small amounts of the spices so that nothing dominates the flavor but simply add to nutrition - chile powder, nutmeg, and ginger can add anti inflammatory elements as does the tart cherry juice.  Everything else adds micronutrients and the diversity of ingredients adds flavor and nutrition.  Mix wet together, mix dry together, add wet to dry and add water or beer for perfect cooking consistency.  Cook a pile and top with organic maple syrup* - have with scrambled egg and mixed rainbow vegetables (a mix of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet - organic examples - red pepper, carrot and/or orange pepper, yellow pepper, spinach and/or broccoli, red onion, red cabbage (when cooked bleeds blue and indigo and can simmer in red wine for those colors of the spectrum).  Do not forget white - mushrooms and cauliflower.  Eat, digest, and go feel the power!

Take cold pancakes on run, ride or hike, smear with organic peanut butter (my favorite is Santa Cruz Crunchy - Whole Foods and other specialty markets).  

*Don't trash them with Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin fake syrup!

Power pancakes fueled my 10 mile run up Hurrah Pass.  This is a 4 wheel drive jeep road so if mountain biking or running, get up there early while all the fossil fuel freaks are back in Moab over eating a greasy breakfast before they hit the dusty trail.  The dust can get bad when a convoy of vehicles, looking like "Mad Max - The Road Warrior vehicles are heard, seen, and spewing dust a thousand feet below on the road in Kane Springs Canyon.  Plenty of places to get out of their plumes and cover your face when they eventually go by.  Be careful bushwacking off piste as there are some hidden dropoffs. Trust me.  


Chickamauga Battlefield run

Dave Gordon

01/23/2014 Fort Oglethorpe, GA

  • 5.0mi
  • 10:08/mi

    Being on an accidental battlefield where two maneuvering armies ultimately end up in a dreadful fight should make us all stop and think about our military industrial complex mentality that continues.  In our Civil War, between the North and the South, neither side was prepared sometimes for the ground upon which they were about to fight.  Decisions were made, good or bad, and the infantry and cannon batteries line up, the cavalry gets active, officers give orders and the battles take their own course.  The consequences were always horrible no matter the outcome.  Death and horrific injuries were tied closely to glory and honor as the only way to justify the cause for which each man, and each army, fought.  Occasionally I will make posts like this - my gggfather passed by this battlefield in November of 1863 after fighting the two previous days at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge on his way to his regiment's next battle at Ringgold Gap.  In his diary he describes the awful stench from the unburied Union soldiers that were left rotting in the fields. And for the families who farmed that land never to return... What a nasty battle in such a beautiful place.  It was well worth the trot through the January woods to see and read the monuments and memorials.  Please click on map for additional info. and a continuation of words.  

    Rim to Rim - The Grand Canyon


    "We have runners!  Hey everybody, we have runners!"  the woman exclaims to what looks like 2-3 families, a dozen or so people scattered along the switchbacks on the North Kaibab Trail below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  
    She looks back at me and asks, "So are you doing rim to rim to rim or just rim to rim?"   "Just rim to rim," I reply. 
    "Oh, so you're just rim to rimmers."
    That was the extent of our conversation.  Jim and I had been labeled, nothing more than rim to rimmers.   Did we take offense?  Were we defeated by her comments?  Did we feel like out of shape overaged underachievers?  Our questions would be answered several miles down the trail.  A rim to rim to rimmer came running toward us.  We could tell.  He wore a french foreign legion hat and an expressionless, glum face.  We tried to say hello.  He did not acknowledge our existence.  Admittedly, it would be great to do an over and back but not at the expense of either being so fatigued or so into oneself that it would take away the fun and adventure and make it a humorless solo conquest. We laughed it off, decided one way was okay, and we did not want to be like him.  Besides, we would be in Flagstaff drinking good beer at Beaver Street Brewery while he would most likely still be in the canyon. 
    The Grand Canyon views are unceasing, between the light playing upon the walls, rims, and steep rocky spires coupled with the elevation changes, the canyon becomes an ever changing 3D slide show.  Switchbacks, tunnels, precipitous ledges, unique plants and animals, are all part of what seems to be a never ending canyon.  At some distance below we find Roaring Springs gushing out of the canyon wall like an out of control fire hydrant.  The source is the snowmelt and rain that eventually finds its way into the deep layers of canyon rock and a water tower style gravity pressure jets the water out of the canyon wall.  (web search it and find pics!) A wonderful feeling overwhelms - the rest of the world does not exist!  The cool of the 8000 foot rim in late September gives way to the increasing warmth of lower Bright Angel Creek Canyon.  And as we began to bottom out at roughly 2300 feet in elevation close to the river - HOT.
    Fortunately, drinking water stations are spaced nicely. People die in the canyon because of heat exhaustion and dehydration.  Be smart.  Carry lots of water.  I had a 70 ounce camelback and a 32 ounce backup bottle.  I drank 220 ounces of water that day -  basically a quart short of two gallons.  AND, do not forget electrolytes in the form of fruit, salty gorp, or whatever it takes to restore vital minerals.  The temperature at Phantom Canyon by the Colorado River was over 100 in the shade. We paused for a quick lunch, crossed the river bridge (a tributary, the Little Colorado, had received recent rains and the Colorado River was flowing the color of coffee with cream), followed the river downstream for 2 miles or so and began our ascent up the Bright Angel trail.  We realized then we had started our journey too late in the morning as the afternoon sun was now baking the west facing rock wall of the trail.   Hot?  Could have fried an egg vertically. Temps radiating off the rock I estimated at over 130. I suffered but Jim hit the heat wall and we finally found cool shade.  He needed 25 minutes of cool down recovery.  The trail follows a dry creek bed (Pipe Creek) that can be a flash flood rager in the summer monsoon season as evidenced by the grasses and rocks and obvious water gouging against the trees in the stream bed.  We soon started climbing the first set of steep switchbacks, the Devil's Corkscrew, up toward a plateau.  As the south side of the Grand Canyon is more popular, we began overtaking other hikers.  But soon, two 20 somethings, who were quite fit came by us, a guy and a girl.  They had come from the South Kaibab Trail, were training for an ultramarathon somewhere.  They agreed that it was hot.  Jim and I laughed.  You think?  Here is where the English language has problems.  All four of us were hot but she was HOT.  We surfaced on the Plateau and headed toward Indian Gardens.  The late afternoon sun had dropped over the edge of part of the canyon and shaded our rest stop.  There, we ran into 20 or more people who were on their annual rim to rim.  A pilgrimage of sorts.  Groups from Tucson, Albuquerque, San Francisco, other places.  The discussion came up about the exact distance.  Various maps seemed to have conflicting information.  I guessed around 24 miles.  A woman piped in - "My GPS watch tells me it is 23.871."  I stood corrected. 
    The remaining 2000+ feet of switchbacks are not easy.  We were struggling at that point but we passed people who were not going to be out till well after sunset - Fortunately, a waxing gibbous moon would be shining brightly to guide them out.  The sun was setting and played a beautiful symphony of light looking back toward the north rim.  We found our chaperone, (a borrowed friend's girlfriend) and she laughed as we limped toward the car.  By the time we crossed the parking lot, Jim and I decided that it was easily another .029 so that we had officially made it a 24 mile day.  
    NOTES - Tracy drove and we made a direct beeline for Beaver Street Brewing.  We knocked back a few pints of Lumberjack IPA and ate well.  - they have since changed the name of some of their beers but BSB has excellent beer, food and atmosphere.  BSB is always lively.  Have met people from all over the world as it is a watering hole along Route 66.  Flagstaff now has an Ale Trail. Find them at  Go!   

    Fiery Gizzard Trail

    "One of these days I am going to stop here," means never until... pull off a highway at a brown sign - State Park, National Forest, hiking sign and voila!  Find a magical place to be!  South Cumberland Recreation Area off Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga at Hwy 41 and 4 miles East of Monteagle.  The Cumberland Plateau is part of the southwest end of the Appalachians - beautiful deciduous forest.  Had every reason not to stop, 16 degrees with a cold January wind ripping in from the NW.  Drove toward Tracy City and found the visitors center for the state park.  Consulted with Kevin and we looked on the map and the 3D relief map and discussed the trails.  Closest for me for my planned hour of fun running was the Fiery Gizzard, about two more miles down the road in Tracy City.  I parked and found the trailhead.  The trail dropped off quickly into a heavily wooded terrain.  An inch or two of residual snow had partially melted into ice in spots.  Slightly treacherous - turned on the Garmin and trotted lightly down a new adventure.  The funmeter went on high alert as I dropped into the canyon.  
    The trail - the rootiest, rockiest, gnarliest, narrowest trail I have ever run!  Pranced and danced my way along while enjoying the dazzling light coming through the trees.  Cascades of ice oozed from the hillsides.  Flowing water was a deep turquoise in the plunge pools and gurgled and swirled its way through the icy rocky creek bed.  Lost the trail in a few spots where it is so rocky and rooty it is hard to see.  Easy to find again as the trees are marked.  Only regret - that I did not have more time, yet, a glorious hour well spent.  
    Suggestion - It may not be here but next time passing a brown sign, stop, get out and go.  Even for ten minutes.  Will post a video as soon as I figure out how.  dg

    Sample Platters

    Beer in the San Luis Valley, the largest intermountain valley in the world, is a just reward for being out and about in the most unique place in Colorado.  No where else can be found such deep snows, a dry desert, the highest peaks, the brightest sun, the coldest temps, the biggest pile of sand west of the Sahara, hot springs, alligators, a blend of cultures, ranches, agriculture, a large free standing mountain, earthships, breweries, goat cheese, trails galore, a National Park, gold in them thar hills, pristine streams, mountain biking, technical rock climbing, earthships, adobes, colonials, doublewides, old time railroads, and melodramas.  
    Aliens are known to visit the valley and there are many accounts of animal mutilations and abductions, paranormal graveyard activity, etc.  (google - aliens in the San Luis Valley).  And in the spring - late May to early June, a favorite run of mine is the trail to Kit Carson Peak.  Steep switchbacks will yield to a flat meadow where the stream from above splits and creates a lush place for camping at the base of beautiful aspen and pines.  Further up the trail toward the peak is a frozen waterfall, 120 feet or so, where the ice remains and the water drops behind the veil of ice and exits at the bottom.  Summer temps will melt this beautiful wall of ice but worth the trip while in the SLV.  Go there, the Great Sand Dunes and the San Luis Valley Brewing Company for a lovely day of it!  



    Athlon = Greek for contest. thon = a suffix addition to words for an extended event for
    fundraising or until a sales goal is met. Marathons, decathlons, telethons, Toyotathons, etc.  I have done a few myself, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons, beer kegathons. 
    Winters in the midwest are cold gray and ugly. Most people do not venture outside.  I cannot be one of those.  I have to be outside.  Being deployed on caregiving duty for an aging father in central Illinois during the winter is not easy.  There is a reason I moved to the mountains in 1981.    
    Running here is difficult, mostly flat and every direction seems to be into a stiff cold wind with baby ice daggers that stab exposed flesh.  Country roads substitute for trails and black angus cattle are my audience.  However, I cannot be running all the time so I needed to create another outdoor sport.  Hence, Beercanathon
    Country roads are interesting studies of our present society.  One does not even need to go into town to know what fast food restaurants are within the city limits.  Drive the outskirts on the roads and look at the trash in the ditches.  Garbage from Subway, McDs, Hardees, etc all line the ditches along with the beer cans that are liberally thrown at intervals out the windows.  As detectives study a criminal's behavior, I too, can see patterns.   There is the Bud Light guy who almost daily discards his Bud Light can in roughly the same spot.  He picks up his daily twelver and gets the two miles from the store and his first can is let fly.  Another 3 miles and there is his next one.  Could probably take the cans in to get them fingerprinted.  Same with the Bud Select guy, Miller Light guy, Busch guy, etc.  Can guarantee these are not women. Littering seems to be more of a redneckish testosterone thing.  So every two weeks, I can take my brother's circa 1964 Schwinn with paper delivery baskets from yestercentury  and go hunting for my dad's neighbor who can sell them for gas money.   Courtesy of a consistent participants I can go on a Beercanathon about every two weeks and haul in a full catch.  
    Mostly cans, there are plenty of beer bottles as well but presently no market for brown bottles so there they lay.  I can only do so much!  But if I were to start a national Beercanathon drive...hmmm?  Nahh,  not likely.    

    Table Mountain Run

    How lucky we are to find a professional photographer, the only person we've seen all day, on a run up a little known peak.  Jim Ascher, trail running friend and fellow beer connoisseur, and I are on top of Table Mountain on the back side of the Grand Teton.  We trade photographs with John and discussed the immensity and solitude on the West side of the Tetons.  He was shooting for a magazine.  Nice view from his office.  We are standing at 11,100 feeties. (3385 meters)  A mile across the valley to the East stands the Grand, twenty-six hundred and 70 feet higher!  As intimidating as it was beautiful, and oh what a view into the canyon below!     
     On a Friday morning in late September,  the Tetons being the Tetons, the weather was not cooperating for our Saturday plans.  1-2 feet of snow were predicted.  Time to improvise.  Up and over the 10% grade on Teton Pass from Jackson on Hwy 22 into Idaho, north from Victor to Driggs, east up Teton Canyon on the road to Grand Targhee Ski Resort, hang a right, re-enter Wyoming and voila, the trailhead. 
    Four thousand vertical up in 6 miles.  Into the beautiful Jedediah Smith Wilderness (Caribout-Targhee National Forest) we trotted and always on the lookout for grizzlies and moose.  Along the North Teton Creek Trail and protected from an ominous turbulent atmosphere, we discussed the geology and the ecology of these Wyoming Mountains.  The trail heads northeast, east, south, then back west.  At about the 4 mile mark at the box end of the valley we hit a series of steep switchbacks but we knew we had to earn our vertical somewhere!  The summit of the Grand Teton began rising over the eastern ridge.  Wow!  We hit the top of the switchback ridge and head south as the wind is now ripping into us at 30 mph+ and ushering in smoke from two forest fires we can see burning off to the West.  Smells like we are standing too close to the campfire. Saying 'I hate white rabbits' will not work!   A cold rain turns to baby ice pellets and stings our skin. Fortunately the trail heads east with the wind.  Table Mountain is in our sights. We are above tree line and we both acknowledge that our ability to running this well is an illusion as we both seem to struggle above tree line in Colorado but we are 1500 feet lower.  Or, we admit that we are simply trail running studs.  It is a jaunt across an open barren plain and there is a bit of non technical climbing to the summit.   We can look down 3000 feet into South Cascade Creek Canyon and see where it empties into Cascade Creek Canyon on its way to the popular and beautiful Jenny Lake.  We are standing on the western edge of the National Park but there is no toll booth, so we figured that is worth a few pints.  
    The view in the pic speaks in volumes and by this time Jim and I are getting thirsty.  Of course, our runs are generally not without their adventures so on our way back down we see a trail that the forest service has blocked off.  Not to Jim it isn't, so we take it.  Looks like a shortcut.  We are looking straight down to where the parking lot will be and should save us time and miles, so down we go.  All we can conclude is that after steep and steeper we are saving distance but seem to be walking across the top of our knees.  It may have been 4,000 feet up but it has to be 8,000 feet down!  Many slips and slides later we do pop out near the car.  Back to Victor we go and Teton Brewing!
    We meet the brewers, have a few samples, buy a couple of growlers and a few of their specialty bombers.  By far our favorite for drinking is their Sweetgrass American Pale Ale.  Well balanced between malt and hops it is one of the best bottled beers a hophead can drink - as it is bottle conditioned.  Also lubricated our knees.  
    Back in Jackson, it was time for an early dinner at Snake River Brewing.  What a fun place.  Good to stay within walking distance.  After a great meal we resumed our thirst.  A sample platter of their beers across the board is well worth it.  My favorite seasonal there has always been their Discombobulator Maibock.  A couple of pints of that definitely discombobs a person after a hell of a day on the trail.  Oh yeah, overnight the Tetons received 18 inches of snow.  

    Canyonlands in Winter - Needles Region

    Need to get far from the madding crowds?  The Needles Region of Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah is a good place to get lost, especially in winter.  This photo I took at sunrise while freezing various parts of my anatomy.  Wooden Shoe Arch - could not be named anything else right?  Only person camped in the Park that night - myself and two pesky but fun loving Ravens.  By the time I returned from the outhouse, they had pulled my sleeping back half way out of my tent wondering if I had stored food somewhere within.  Ran a 7.5 mile loop on the Big Spring to Squaw Canyon Loop.  Beautiful, but the sandstone ridges to go into Squaw Canyon were steep and exposed.  A danger that I had never had before confronted me.  Frost on the sandstone made for slippery going and as I neared the steepest spot, had my hands not been warm enough to melt the frost on the rock, I was in danger of falling off the 60 foot drop.  As I found out later, a hiker had died there the week previous.  Highly recommend this area for its intrinsic beauty and long vistas of the La Sals to the east and the seemingly forever canyonland views in all other directions.  No gas or services anywhere close so take all your water, food, and good beer for the nights you are there.   Treated myself to a night at the Moab Brewery - plenty of Scorpion IPAs to remember the 17 degree night and the wonderful run that day.  Plan around as big of a moon as you can. Makes for wonderful night excursions.  

    Mad Creek Valley - Steamboat Springs CO

    Fall in the high country of Colorado along Mad Creek.  Standing on a glacial erratic boulder that came to rest after the last ice age.  This is the southern end of the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area.  Usually run 4-7 miles up these trails but there are hundreds of miles of trail that can be accessed from the Mad Creek trailhead.  Trailhead is about 5 miles North of Steamboat Springs - cross Mad Creek and parking lot is directly on right.  Popular trail for hikers with dogs, horses and hunters during the seasons.  Bears, elk, trout, deer, and a few other species are occasionally seen.  Beautiful valley.  Get up 2-3 miles and crowds if any are gone.  An old dude ranch from the 1920s - the only thing left is the barn a mile and a half up the trail.  
    We paired our morning run with Sweetgrass American Pale Ale later in the day.  Great beer if you can find it.  Teton Brewing in Victor Idaho.  Well balanced body and not as bold of hops - works well for hopheads and nons.  Enjoy!   

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