Posts filed under ‘Running’

April Biking in Grand Teton National Park

Every April the Grand Teton National Park interior road gets plowed from the Bradley/Taggart Lake trail head to Signal Mountain Lodge. The road is then open to the public to use on foot or by bike or roller blades. The time where you can use the interior road without motor vehicles is very short – this year it is three weeks long, with it opening yesterday (April 8th) and closing to foot traffic (bike paths will be open instead) and opening to motor vehicle traffic on May 1.

IBike Grand Teton National Park Springf it’s a beautiful sunny weekend expect to see lots of people out using the road. One of my favorite things to do is to pack a picnic lunch or pick up a sandwich from Creekside Deli on theĀ  way out of town and bike up to Jenny Lake or if you are motivated – up to String Lake. There is still plenty of snow on the ground off of the road, but you can still trudge to the edge of the lake for a little picnic. If you are a serious road biker, biking the interior road is really fun and you can make it a nice day ride. I would suggest doing an out and back on the interior road since the snowbanks are still quite high on the highway (which normally provides a nice loop option) and the shoulder is rather sandy, which don’t provide for ideal riding conditions.

If you are looking for a hill climb, bike up to the top of Signal Mountain. The narrow windy road to the top is also closed to motorized vehicles and the view of Jackson Lake and the Tetons from the top of the mountain is well worth the effort!

Road running is also really fun on the interior road. I guarantee that it will be one of the most scenic runs that you have ever had. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks though, because none of the visitor buildings are open. Same goes for the toilets – though you will be able to find outhouses at the Bradley/Taggart Lake trail head and at String Lake.

Just because the interior road isn’t open to motor vehicles doesn’t mean that you don’t have to purchase a park pass. It’s Spring Tetonspossible that they may be manning the gate sporadically, but if there is someone at the gate you do need to pay the entry, which is $25 for a 7 day pass to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. I highly recommend taking a walk, run or bike ride on the Grand Teton National Park road before they open it to motorized vehicles on May 1. It is a unique experience that is so amazing you can’t pass it up!


April 9, 2014 at 1:46 pm 2 comments

Running Paintbrush to Cascade Canyon

Jackson Hole is an amazing place filled with incredible people who push you to see your potential and encourage your toImage test your limits. If you had told me 4 years ago when I moved to Jackson that I would climb the Grand Teton in a day or run the 20.1 mile loop from Paintbrush to Cascade Canyon I would have told you that you must have me mistaken for some crazy superhuman, which I am not. However, the longer I stayed in Jackson the more I began to believe in my abilities and the resilience of my body. I found out that it takes a lot to bring my body to its breaking point. While I don’t plan on becoming one of those ultrarunners who compete in 50 mile trail races, I did decide that I wanted to see how a “little run” in my backyard would go.

The night before the run I laid in bed thinking about it. I have never run more than 13.1 miles before. I have run 3 half marathons in the past year and a half, but going from 13.1 miles to 20.1 miles is quite the stretch. Also, I would like to note that I do not consider myself a runner. I enjoy biking, hiking, mountaineering and the occasional trail run during the summer. After my last half marathon I decided that road running wasn’t for me. I enjoyed it but it definitely wasn’t my favorite thing to do. I felt more nervous about my trail run than I did about climbing the Grand in a day. Maybe because I was planning on doing the run by myself and 20.1 miles would be the longest hike I’ve ever done in a day, let alone run.

Morning came way too soon and I was in the car headed for the String Lake parking lot. As I entered Grand Teton National Park it started to rain. Drats. I pulled up the radar on my phone (thank god for smart phones!) and saw that if I waited 20 minutes the showers would pass. There wasn’t a forecast for clear blue skies but at least I wouldn’t have to start my run in the rain.

After a brief “nap” in my car I laced up, shrugged on my small Camelback loaded with Gu, Cliff bars, a PB and banana sandwich, a cookie, water and bear spray and walked towards the trail head. This is it, I thought. There is no turning back now. I started with a slow jog around String Lake. The pitch of the trail was mellow, uphill, but a gentle incline. I ran the first 4 miles with my mind playing tricks on me. I decided against wearing headphones for fear that I wouldn’t hear wildlife until it was too late. As I ran I made a “whooo” sound every so often to alert wildlife of my presence.

At mile 4 the trail increased in pitch. All of a sudden I couldn’t just cruise along, I was panting and out of breath. I decided to fast walk the section of the trail between Holly Lake and the Paintbrush Divide. At this point I had also entered the clouds. There had been some low lying clouds that enveloped the top half of the canyon and I had hiked right into them. Being alone in a canyon in the fog was an eery feeling. You know that there are other people on the trail but there is not a person in sight. The fog was dark and thick and ominous. I just kept reminding myself that I was bound to break through the cloud eventually so I had to keep pushing on.

The fog finally broke at the foot of the Paintbrush Divide. I could see another group of 5 people ahead of me. I relaxed, realizing that I was not alone and that I was near my halfway point (elevation-wise). As I marched up the divide my mind started taunting me “Maybe you should just go down Paintbrush Canyon. ImageWhat were you thinking? You can’t run another 12 miles after this.” My body was low on fuel and fighting my every step until I reached the top of the divide. After a few quick photos I sat down and tore into my sandwich. I was so hungry that in my haste I think that I may have even eaten some of the tin foil wrapper. After that I downed a protein bar without a second thought.

With my belly satisfied I was able to deal with my mind. I am accustomed to battling with my mind. Ever since I was a child it always encouraged me to give up and walk instead of toughen it out and work through physical challenges. Blame your asthma, shin splints, or sprained ankle, it told me. Since I have moved to Jackson my mental game has become much tougher. I have a better understanding of what my body can handle so I know when my mind is being irrational. I knew that my legs and body would be able to carry me the necessary 12 miles down Cascade Canyon back to my car, but my mind wanted me to take the easy way out. Without much hesitation I repacked my pack and headed down the switchbacks into Cascade Canyon at a brisk clip. I drowned out the negative voices in my head with the crunching of rock and dirt beneath my running shoes. This is why I wanted to do the run – to prove to myself that I could. To know that I am stronger than my mind.

Downhill was a breeze, aside from a few missteps that sent me jolting forward arms flailing and feet struggling to catch up. I Imagenever said that I was a graceful runner. I arrived at Lake Solitude and it was perfect and peaceful. It was the only time that I had been by myself at that lake and it was really nice. I wanted to keep my momentum going so I started running down the canyon. While the weather was still overcast I welcomed the coolness. There were few people on the trail in the North Fork so I got into a good rhythm and the miles were passing by effortlessly.

Then I reached the junction. Cascade Canyon itself is relatively flat and sees a ton of foot traffic. Most people visit InspirationImage Point and then continue up the canyon in hopes of spotting wildlife. I spent the next 4 miles dodging people as well as some wildlife (deer). Every time I passed a group of hikers I got re-energized. By the time I reached Jenny Lake at mile 18 I thought that I was going going to have to walk. Instead I looked at my watch and saw I had been on trail for 4 hours and 35 minutes. I wanted to finish strong and at 5 hours. I dug deep and just put one foot in front of the other. Hikers on the Jenny Lake trail were extremely supportive (for the most part). Stepping out of the way and shouting words of encouragement – “You go girl!”

At 5 hours and 4 minutes from when I started my run I crossed my imaginary finish line. I didn’t even have the energy to realize what I had just accomplished. I walked around the parking lot drinking water and thinking about my run. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be! I didn’t really know what to expect but I was prepared for a mental breakdown. It’s the little victories in life, the challenges you set for yourself that matter the most to me. If someone had told me to go run that loop in 5 hours I most likely would have had a breakdown on the trail, stressing that I wasn’t going to make it in time. Instead I went into the run knowing that I would have to walk some of it and that was okay.

I encourage you to go outside and set a goal for yourself – something that may make you uncomfortable and nervous but you know deep down it’s attainable. You learn a lot about yourself when you get out of your comfort zone and you realize that you are stronger than you think.

September 17, 2013 at 6:12 pm 1 comment

Trail Running in Jackson Hole

There are so many great trails in the Jackson Hole area. There are plenty of loop and out and back run options. O36931_536986308125_4908341_nne of my favorite places to go trail running is the Cache Creek area. Located on the eastern edge of Jackson, there are plenty of steep and mellow trail running options. They all gain some vertical and some have multiple rises and descents. Hagen trail is one of my favorite running trails because it sees little bike traffic. You can run out on the Hagen trail and then back on the dirt road or if you want to run from town to the trail head you can make this run a longer loop by running Hagen Highway to Sink or Swim back into town. The best map for the Cache Creek trail system can be found here on the Friends of Pathways website.

Another favorite trail run of mine in the Cache Creek area is to run the dirt road and then jump onto the Putt-Putt Trail. This trail has many small hills and short descents. It is very popular with bikers, so if you do decide to run with music on this trail make sure that you keep the volume low and be aware of other trail users. Also, I have run into moose occasionally on the Putt-Putt trail so be aware of your surroundings. The great thing about Putt-Putt and Hagen is there there are a lot of spur trails that connect to the main dirt road every mile or so. This allows you to make your run as long or as short as you’d like. Also, the area is pet friendly so you can bring your dog along for your run.

If you are up for a challenge one of my favorite loops is running from town to Josie’s Ridge trail and then up the ridge to Snow King and then down the face of Snow King. This run is not for the faint of heart. With 1,200 feet of elevation gain it will get your heart pumping. There is no shame in walking up some of the Josie’s Ridge trail. I definitely recommend that you bring water on this run as there are no streams and the ridge doesn’t have much shade. The views on this run are stunning.

Another favorite place for trail runners is Teton Pass. Running Old Pass Road is quite the challenge. The old dirt road ascends steadily to the top of Teton Pass. Many people walk old pass road as well as bike it so be aware of your surroundings. Also, wildlife, including bears have been seen on Teton Pass so pay attention and try to make noise to alert animals of your presence.

Lastly, the Elk Refuge Road, located in the North East corner of the town of Jackson is a nice dirt road with endless mileage. 26000_533326053305_1460686_nIt is an out and back run and has some elevation gain, but not much. It’s great for someone who is looking to avoid pavement but doesn’t want to look out for rocks and roots. The road starts at the end of East Broadway and then continues until there is a split (around mile 4). Go right to Curtis Canyon (and a hill climb) go left to continue to Flat Creek Road. This run provides views of the refuge and the Tetons as well as the Town of Jackson and Snow King ResortĀ . Depending on the season you will see elk in the refuge (they are there in the early Spring or late Fall). Also, big horn sheep frequent the area as well as coyotes and other small animals. Just be courteous to the wildlife and give them their space. You do not want to be charged by a big horn sheep, trust me.

Another great place to run is on the Snake River Levee. The maximum mileage on the east side of the dike is around 4.5 miles and on the west side of the dike is 3 miles. The east side is an out and back with a small loop at the far end. It is a flat dirt road that is popular with walkers and anglers. It borders the Snake River so I would suggest that you run on the east side for breathtaking views of the river and Teton Range.

There are plenty of trails in the greater Jackson Hole area to run on. Just keep in mind, if you do decide to run by yourself make sure that you make lots of noise when you are on Teton Pass or other remote areas further away from town. Also, carry bear spray with you if you want to go for a longer run, or if you are going deeper into the wilderness. Also, be sure to carry some water and snacks if you aren’t familiar with the terrain. Lastly, be sure to enjoy the scenery! Not every run has to be a race to the finish.

May 28, 2013 at 8:34 pm 1 comment

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