Monday, December 15, 2008

Chalk One Up For the Weatherman

On Saturday I joined Peter and Greg to run the 2nd loop of the BSTM, just a 16 mile figure-eight loop between City Creek Canyon and Red Butte. We all knew about the predicted storm front that was supposed to hit at around 8am, but we'd never think of canceling a run because of a little weather. Once we got started and got up to the shoreline the route took us in a southerly direction with the wind in our faces, but after about an hour (around 8am) the wind changed direction in a dramatic manner and snowflakes started drifting around us.
I'm always amazed with the force of a big storm front. At one point as we contoured around a ridge a gust of wind pushed us from behind with such force that I was sprinting to keep up with my body. After the initial front came through the wind calmed slightly and the snow started coming down even faster. We looped around the far south end of the route and started heading back north with the wind in our faces once again. That was when Peter asked what was already on our minds, "do we go up Unkle?". What Peter was referring to is one of our favorite climbs up to the Black Mountain ridge line from the back of Dry Creek canyon.
We had a fairly logical discussion about it, before Greg quipped something about the older lady (70 or so) being tougher than us. I had seen this woman just the week before as Peter and I stood on top of Mt. Wire, watching her run toward us on the ridge, all alone. Her shins were scratched and bloody and after I asked, she told us how she had went out the length of the ridge before turning around. When I asked about her shins she replied "no leaves this time of year, the scrub oak just grab on like cats and won't let go". I was completely impressed and told Greg the story earlier on our run, now he was using it as a way to motivate us up the last climb. I believe this is the part where the lines between hardcore and stupid become blurred .
Dry Creek canyon is pretty narrow with steep slopes on either side which keeps it fairly protected, so we were lulled into a false sense security as we made our gradual ascent to the back of the canyon. The temperature was dropping but it was only around 25 to 30 degs so it didn't seem that bad, until we started the real climb. About halfway up I decided to put on my jacket, while Peter and Greg kept moving to stay warm. The wind was blowing harder and harder the higher we climbed. I plodded along, following their footsteps in the ankle deep snow, trying to catch up to them before they reached the top. Peter and Greg made it to the top of the ridge only a few seconds in front of me and yelled back that they weren't waiting. I was a little confused at first, thinking maybe they just wanted to put the screws to me, but once I reached the top I immediately knew why they took off, the wind. Not only was It blowing so hard up on top that I couldn't run straight, but the snow had also drifted up so it was nearly knee deep in spots. Visibility was reduced to thirty yards or so and I was sure my cheek was getting frostbite.
Several minutes went by and the conditions continued to decline. Then, right as I was thinking about curling up in the fetal position and giving up all hope, Peter and Greg bailed off the south side of the ridge.
Instant relief. I couldn't believe how calm it was just a few yards down off the ridge, now the only problem was figuring out where we were. The first words I remember hearing were "man, the weatherman nailed that one" from Greg. Because of the poor visibility we were unsure how far we had made it down the ridge. Normally it's only about 2.5 miles in a direct line back to where the car was parked but now we'd have longer, albeit a warmer, route back. We stood on the side of the mountain trying to figure out which drainage was which but nothing looked familiar from our new viewing angle. In no way were we lost, we just wanted to try and find the shortest way back to the car. We decided we couldn't go wrong if we just headed down and hoped for the best. A few minutes later we were back in the bottom of the drainage we had just climbed up, at the back of Dry Creek. Now it was just a return trip on the shoreline trail, pretty much the longest option we could have found. An extra 3 miles on empty stomachs made the return trip on the shoreline a quiet one. As we got closer the talk turned to food and the inevitable mention of Crown Burger. The crown burger is one of the most scrumptious sandwiches on the planet period. Pastrami piled an inch an high on a flame broiled hamburger patty dominated my thoughts as I found renewed energy in the last mile.
Sitting inside the warm restaurant devouring our sandwiches we decided that truly memorable adventures end with a crown burger.


Erik said...

Sounds like my morning of projectile vomiting may have been more enjoyable. Except for the Crown Burger, of course.

peter said...

Even without the crown burger, still better than projectile vomiting, at least once the feeling in my fingers returned.

Brian Beckstead said...

Next time you guys have a Saturday adventure let me know. I'd love to tag along. Sounds like fun stuff!