I’m absolutely thankful for the Memorial Day holiday yesterday. Having a day specifically to remember all those that have given their lives for our freedom really boosts the patriotism in all of us and it’s amazing to see all the flags being flown on these holidays. I met up with a small group to do a remembrance run in honor of all those that have sacrificed for our freedom. Me specifically, I always take the time to remember my real life hero Sgt. Kenny Schall, he will always be in my heart.
Saturday’s Epic Run:
With all the solid runs last week, I really wanted to cap off my week by knocking out an epic run on Saturday morning. We were spending the whole day at the lake on Sunday so Saturday morning it was going down. In December I posted about hitting a new trail and it turned into a 4 hour scenic drive and I didn’t get any running in that day. Trail Run Fail. Well I was finally able to make good on that trail and returned this Saturday morning. This area is called Four Peaks because of the prominent four summits that are atop this mountain range.
The highest of the four peaks, and the most traveled route, is called Brown’s Peak. The part I was most excited about was the elevation present with this mountain. The peak sits at 7600 feet above sea level…WHOA…when I climb the mountain by my work the peak sits at 2600 feet above sea level. For Phoenix that is pretty much training at elevation. Obviously the next step would be Flagstaff but let’s take one step at a time lol.
I woke up and was on the road by 4am. It only took me 30 minutes to get from my house to the highway turn off. Then the hard part begins. The additional 1.5 hours is spent driving on dirt road where I was literally going 5 mph in certain sections. After the long drive, I reached the trail head around 6am. I linked my watch, threw on my pack, and away I went.
I am obviously bias, I love Arizona and will never leave this place. This area is gorgeous and provided a ton of spots for me to stop, catch my breath, and snap some amazing photos. I honestly felt bad because my camera phone had absolutely no way of capturing the true beauty that I got to see with my two eyes. But what the heck, I’ll share them with all of you anyway lol.
This run was made up of 5 parts:
Part 1 - Trail Head to Saddle:
From the trailhead, the trail immediately starts climbing. There is a lot of gradual switch back trail with a few spots of dead uphill climbing. This was a runable section but with all the elevation gain I accumulated last week, my legs didn’t have the same bounce. I wasn’t too concerned, I wasn’t on a time limit, and took as many opportunities as I could to snap some pictures. This was a great section to run and really gave me a great workout.
Part 2 – The Scree Chute
The main access point to the summit is the Scree chute. This is a dangerous scrambling section that climbs about 800 feet in a half mile. This section really tested my nerve and my scrambling ability. Being relatively new to scrambling, I thought I did extremely well. I obviously didn’t fall and tumble all the way down the Scree chute which is by far the biggest win of the day.
Part 3 – The Summit
I get a huge sense of accomplishment when I hit a summit. Of course when you have 2 trails you summit on a regular basis, the summit loses some of the momentousness. With this being a new summit, I can’t explain how I felt sitting on top while also considering the rough climb I had just below. I know 7600 feet is nothing in comparison to some of the great mountain ranges around the world, but for Arizona I felt like I was on top of the world. It was a true 360* view of everything around me. Amazing!!
Part 4 – Scrambling Down the Scree Chute
By far the hardest part of the entire day. Anybody who engages in scrambling or hiking knows the common saying, “it’s much easier to go up than it is to come down”. And an equally common saying is, “do not go up something that you aren’t able to come back down”. Well there were a couple sections that had me thinking of both those sayings. I really had to take my time and plan out my hand and foot placements. This scramble was no joke. In the end I safely made it to the bottom of the Scree chute, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and continued back down the trail.
Part 5 – The Downhill
The summit was easily the best part of this run, but man oh man the downhill portion of this trail was pretty darn awesome. Once you get down the Scree chute, there is a bit more boulder hopping and down climbing that is needed before you hit the saddle. Once you pass the saddle, you return to the runable section of the trail. I stopped a few times to catch some video and pictures but this section is awesome for some solid downhill running.
Overall the run ended up being about 5.5 miles with 1900 feet of elevation gain. A solid effort with a ton of great views. Like I said, I’m relatively new to scrambling, a lot of trails I run have very minimal scrambling, so when I initially got back to the parking area I was negatively reflecting on the scrambling. It tested my nerves and really took me out of my comfort zone. After a few days, I see the accomplishment much differently. I need to continue pushing my limits and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. So much opportunity is available if I’m willing to take those few extra steps. Of course always taking safety into account for everything I do lol. Mrs. Schlub would kill me if I fell off a mountain or something like that lol.
I have a bunch of video that I’m editing so I hope to share with all of you this week before we head out of town.