Tuesday, May 20, 2014

city creek half marathon

With the end of the ski season comes the start of the hiking and biking season, weather-dependent, of course.  Although the prior weekend had been a wash-out, this last weekend was a looker, mild and sunny.  H was able to get back onto his road bike for a ride; we puttered around the house doing springtime chores like repotting plants and sweeping out the garage.  We were all caught up by mid-afternoon, however, so we threw our hiking gear together and drove up to downtown Salt Lake City for a hike up City Creek Canyon.

City Creek Canyon was our selection because there is still so much snow in the other canyons.  The trailhead, just steps from the State Capitol, is at 4,705 feet, and there isn't a whole lot of elevation gain so wet conditions weren't going to be an issue, plus the "trail" is actually a paved road, super-popular with walkers, runners and cyclists year-round - easy footing.  We'd been in the canyon on several occasions, for short walks and for my Thanksgiving morning road races, but we'd never been all the way up and thought we'd give that a try.

We hit the pavement at 4 p.m., making our way up-canyon at a good, steady pace, leaving the rest of the foot traffic behind the further up we went until the only other recreationers were cyclists, churning their way up the incline.  It's very pretty up there, with the creek chortling away alongside the road and lots of birdsong coming from the dense trees and shrubs.  We hadn't really read the trail description before we left so we didn't really know how long the trail was; we just kept going and going, as the scrub oak and grassy meadows gave way to tall pines and rocky cliffs, figuring that we'd come to the end around each next corner.  Finally, at 5:50 p.m., we decided that we'd just go until 6 p.m. and then turn around - and then the pavement ended at a gate.  The trail kept going - foot traffic only, no bikes - but we'd already been walking for two hours and had to go back down again, so we left further exploration for another day.

That's as far as we got

Now, when we checked the GPS before starting down, we were startled to learn that we'd come 6.67 miles (in two hours) up the canyon.  That would make for a much longer round-trip than we'd intended but there was nothing to be done but go back down.  We thought that we'd make good time since the footing was easy and the grade not too dramatic.  What we didn't take into consideration was that doing a 13.3 mile hike (even an easy one) as the first hike of the season would take a toll on our bodies.  By the last 1.5 miles, we were trudging in silence, pain spiking with each step: my lower back had tightened up, as had my hips, the tendons behind my right knee were sore and my feet, especially my toes, were throbbing; H's main problems were two massive blisters, one of the ball of each foot, that made each step excruciating (and his legs and ankles were tight and sore too).  To add insult to injury, we weren't using our hiking poles - because hiking poles on the paved City Creek Canyon are pretentious - and our hands had swelled up dramatically.  We couldn't have taken our wedding rings off if we had wanted to and all the little lines and creases in our puffy, sausage-like fingers had been erased, plumped right out.

City Creek itself

Needless to say, we did not break any land speed records on the descent, just barely getting back to the car by 8 p.m., making it two hours up and two hours down.  The evening was cool and pleasant, and several cyclists and runners passed us as we changed shoes, heading up the canyon themselves.  We wished them well and wished we had some Advil ourselves.  We didn't, but we were in the city where we were pretty sure we could find some beers with which to convalesce.  But that's another post...

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