Jason organized a terrific trip to Zion National Park. The primary objective of the trip was to run the Zion Crossing, an approximately 50-mile run that traverses nearly the entire park from east to west. He invited Sarah and me along, and we couldn't turn him down. With ample opportunities along the trails to stop shy of the 50-mile mark, it provided a great opportunity for Sarah and me to push as far as we could without committing to the full distance. Given that the two of us were the only ones in the group who hadn't run multiple 100-mile races, we were a bit intimidated.
The mercury dipped down to 17-degF at the start of the run, so we were happy to hit the first rays of daylight.
Zion National Park is a truly amazing place, offering neckbreaking views around every corner.
Ryan and Sarah posing high above the main canyon in Zion
Ryan and Suzan pushing down the trail
This was the first time that we met these two, and they turned out to be great fun. Both are superstar runners, but they were super cool and mellow when it came to waiting on us. Their speed and crazy positive attitudes, mile after mile, were humbling.
Bill posing in a sea of sandstone
Bill carefully avoiding the lip of the slot canyon
peering down into the canyon from high on the east rim
Sarah and Susan pausing for a quick breather
After the first ten miles, we stopped at The Grotto parking lot where Allison and Jason's parents were waiting with the car. We refilled our water bottles, shed a few layers, and ate a bunch of lemon cookies before beginning the steep ascent up the west rim.
The obvious notch ahead is our destination.
Jason and Bill sporting their fancy sleeves
bird's-eye view of Bill
Loads of switchbacks abound on the steep terrain.
looking back toward The Grotto
This section of trail reminded us of Lombard Street in San Francisco.
the top of Moonlight Buttress
We were excited to see the top of the west rim to finally come into view (skyline in center of photo, above Sarah's head).
We had to do an annoying descent into a side canyon before starting the last bit of climbing to the rim.
Jason attacking the final thousand feet of climbing with the trail stretched out behind him
This section of trail offered a healthy dose of exposure.
splendid views from the west rim
By the time we reached the west rim, my hamstrings were mighty grumpy. I was glad to have put the majority of the climbing behind me.
Bill and Jason patiently waiting at a trail junction
I was seriously hating life at this point, but it was a good hate.
Five miles or so after reaching the west rim, my legs finally got a second wind, and I was able to again enjoy the amazing scenery.
The sandstone was on fire in the setting sunlight.
We reached the second car stop around mile 36 nearly ten hours after we had started. Sarah and I were completely spent and had no intention of going any farther. At that point, the sun was setting and the temperature was dropping rapidly. The rest of the gang decided to stop, too. Even though they still had plenty of energy in their tanks to complete the run, fourteen miles of trail in the freezing darkness didn't seem appealing. I can't say that I disagree.
The fantastic support crew: Allison, Patty, and Matt. They were awesome about taking their entire day to look after us. We couldn't thank them enough.
The next morning we set off to do a short canyoneering trip in Behunin Canyon. Ryan and Susan unfortunately couldn't join us, but Allison and Calita were game. Jason and Bill graciously offered to be our sherpas for the day, carrying all the climbing gear and ropes. The 36-miles from the previous day had nearly disabled me, but I don't think their legs hardly noticed. Talk about humbling.
For the second time in 24-hours, we had to do the steep climb to Angel's Landing.
This time, we took the quick detour to the summit of Angel's Landing. The views to the valley floor below made my stomach turn.
all smiles from Sarah and Jason
Jason striking a pose on the precipitous summit block
Bill beginning the descent into the top of Behunin Canyon
awesome fall colors in the canyon
Jason perched high on the canyon wall
getting ready for the first of nine rappels
Jason watching Sarah do the first rapel
Sarah and Calita doing an airy simul-rapel
Andy stemming over the water in one of the tighter sections of the canyon
looking down on Jason and Andy from atop the final, 150-ft, free-hanging rapel
On the final day of the trip, we headed to St. George to do some climbing in Snow Canyon State Park.
Allison looking as hip as ever
Jason the-climbing-starfish Halladay
Bill doing his thang
Allison showing why she's the crimp-meister
Jason talked me into leading this climb. I didn't want to do it.
Little did I know that he was only wanting me to lead it so that he could top rope it. Sometimes I get tired of being his rope gun.
After a windy night of camping near Flagstaff, we made the long drive home the next day. Usually I hate long drives, but my legs were happy to be doing nothing for six straight hours.