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The opening of the high country in the Wasatch!!

July 6, 2011

July 2nd and for many this was the first time venturing out on the upper trails in the Wasatch. Now don’t get me wrong there is still plenty of snow and hazards up there, but when you are running a snow covered ridge and 20 to 30 of the same liked minded trail runners are over looking Park City on the Crest trail, you know you aren’t the only one with issues.

Thanks to a trail report by the MRC guys,  several of us decided this Saturday to get some fresh air and stretch our legs at higher elevations.The trail head of choice was Mill D in Big Cottonwood Canyon. At 6:00 am, the parking lot was still relatively quiet. This would not be for long. We did a clockwise route from Mill D to Dog Lake. While ascending we got reports that Deso Lake was runnable and were excited to commit to the entire loop, which entailed descending into Millcreek via Big Water, running up Little Water and returning via the Desolation Lake Trail. We did try to go up further along the Crest Trail, but this was still very snow covered. Although runnable, we decided to loop back to the car.

A couple of the guys were not interested in doing a longer run, so I left them on the return to Mill D, I was feeling especially strong, confident, hydrated and ready to get 30 miles in. I guess that is where I went wrong.
I ended up returning to Dog lake quickly, saw karl Meltzer and started along the Desolation Trail, which I might say was very patchy with huge drifts of snow on the portion I ran.
My first mistake was that I turned to quickly off the Deso Trail and began descending into Butler Fork. Thinking that this would be fine, I descended to the junction with the Raymound Trail and returned up to the originally intended route. Although it added some climbing and a mile or two, I was feeling could enough to press on. However, my lack of knowledge of the Mill A route, the immensity of the snow feilds in the area and my general frustration, made it very difficult to route find. I lost the trail and attempted to find the Mill A trail with no luck. Which left me with the choice of risking a unknown route or returning to the Butler fork area. After an hour of bush wacking and climbing up and down deer trails, I conceded to return to the known. This left me with less energy, water and motivation for continuing, but I had no choice. So I bush whacked again to the ridge  and felt extremely releaved to be back on trail and to get going (mile 20). When in the midst of my celebration, I was struck again with the sense of my humanity. I fell sharply to the ground and writhed in pain. I am still not certain what precepitated this ankle sprain, but it was sharp and humbling. After about 5 minutes lying on the ground, I relented. I jogged back down and hitched a ride back. I was dissappointed with myself and the numbers, but happy to have returned home to a happy wife and the ice pack kindly waiting for me. In summery 22.8 miles 7,100 feet of climbing and an ankle that hated me.

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