Monday, June 18, 2012

Wasatch Grand Loop

Last week I had the opportunity to run a section of a crazed route gracefully named The Salt Lake Skyline Traverse, a brain child of Jason and Andy (elegant accounts can be read here and here). Greatly inspired from these two I knew I couldn’t 1-up this route (my outdoor abilities are lackluster at least relatively speaking) but what I could do was invent something of my own, maybe not as stylish but certainly something that hadn’t been reported and had appeal (in its own sense). Queue the Wasatch Grand Loop (route shown below). 

Aptly named Wasatch for well I’m sure you can figure that one out,  grand for two reasons; 1. Because I’m witty and lame (the loop starts and ends at Granduer Peak). 2. Because it’s BIG i.e. Grand; maybe not Skyline Traverse big but big enough, and loop because well it’s a loop.

I had the idea of doing a run semi-similar to the Skyline Traverse with three objectives:

1. Cover a great deal of distance through the mountains.

2. Tag all 3 canyons (Mill Creek, Big, and Little).

3. Make a relatively large loop significantly (at least 50%) on trail.

I figured one of the best ways to achieve these goals was to use Alta as a mid-point and to get there from the road would be easiest. With that in mind once at Alta I could bunny hop my way over passes and through the canyons until I reached the backside of Granduer.

To prevent heat stroke this run demanded a 5:30 a.m. start so the alarm was set for 5 and by 5:20 I was ready to go.

Making good time on the road I was able to get to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in under 1:15. With the ascent to Alta I paced myself as best as possible walking every half mile or so as to not get too exhausted in the preliminary stages of the run. Turning into Cardiff Pass is where I first questioned my ability to finish this run, my legs were sore,  I was already chaffing on my inner thigh and back, and my stomach was feeling to say the least, upset, an unfortunate consequence which forbid me from eating any significant amount of food (A ride home with a pit stop at Snowbird's beerfest sounded pretty good by this point) but I was hard pressed to get to the top of Cardiff Pass and then see how I felt. At the top I snapped a few picks and made my way down. The downhill was much more effective at curing my poor morale than the up (imagine that) and within a few minutes I was feeling much better already. I kept a steady pace and made it to BCC in a quick 45 or so minutes which is where the cavalry arrived.

Early Morning Sun in LCC

Self portrait of an idiot who didn't really want to take a self portrait.

My main man Andy Dorais met me at the Mill D trail head, he was, as I was last Sunday, in the mood for a run. "I'll try" I said. I rehydrated at his truck and tried my best to hold down some crackers and Gatorade.

We headed up to Dog Lake along the Big Water Trail. Arriving at Dog Lake once again I questioned my ability to finish the route. Again I was sore, disheveled, and poorly hydrated. As they say “what goes around comes around” and Andy was able to give me a taste of what I was giving him and his brother last Sunday and I was on my feet in no time.

We made great time down the trail into Millcreek even dropping the pace at times below 8 min./mi. Conversation was light, the mood was good, and the pace was fast...and then Church Fork showed up.

One last ascent before the day was done. "How was I going to do this?" I asked myself. Again sore, tired, sick, and dehydrated. Really if it wasn't for Andy I would have probably stopped here and walked down the road, but we pushed and slowly (except for the spot where we ran across 50-60 yellow jackets, that was fast) we made our way to the top of Granduer.

Too bad I didn't have Life Alert because at this point "I'd fallen and couldn't get up"

After stumbling down Granduer the finish line was in sight and so was the drinking fountain. Really nothing is more akin to a hangover then running for this long; you don't want to think, you don't feel like eating, and there is no comfortable position to sit or lay in.

"I was never running again."
HA! What's next a 50 or maybe the full 100 or maybe the Grand Loop completely on Trail.

Distance: 41.8 miles
Time: ~9 hours
Vertical: ~ 7000 - 8000 ft. 
Official stops: 2 (one supply in Little and one supply in Big)
Non-official stops: More than I can count

Nike Lunar Glide (From Granduer to my White Pine LCC Cache)
Dynafit Ms Feline (The rest of the trip)
Camelbak Lobo
Oakley Jawbones
Assortment of short shorts and cut off tee's
No poles


  1. I could of done better but your brother was slowing me down you know how it goes. It's your turn to set the speed record.