The Wind River High Route is possibly one of the best backpacking routes in the world. It runs along the spine of the Wind River Range in northern Wyoming, probably the most wild and remote range in the Lower 48, is modeled after the famed Sierra High Route, and thus is mostly off-trail and above timberline. I put together the great team of Andrew Skurka and Peter Bakwin, and July 29-Aug 3 we gave it a go. It still has never been done …
We were wondering, so we asked: two weeks ago we sent a survey to everyone on our email list – the results are really helpful – thank you to the 1,798 people who responded! The answers you gave will help us design and build the gear you want.
To be included in our next survey, definitely get on our email list – there is zero spam, we only send twice a month, you can opt out anytime, and we announce special deals: http://ultimatedirection.com - at the bottom right – “Sign up for our newsletter …”
OK, let’s cut to the chase – who are you? Here are some Results from the survey ….
What sign are you?
No, I don’t mean Aries, Taurus, or Gemini; the following is a thorough, in-depth Horoscope Reading based on your “running sign”. Determine which “sign” you are, and read the helpful advice for the upcoming week, plus predictions for your success and love life!
It’s 5am on April 17, when a Ford F250 pulls into the dark parking lot. Peter Bakwin and I say hello to Elaine, who fills us in on local lore while driving an hour and half out to Pasture Wash, where we are dropped off by an abandoned cabin. We shoulder our packs and navigate straight west across the flat and featureless plateau until the abrupt vertical cliffs. Vertical indeed – it’s 6,000 feet down to the Colorado River – it’s not called the Grand Canyon for nothing. We’re looking for a very interesting way down thru the Toroweap sandstone, called the Point Huitzil route, a hidden route that we turned up while researching on the Internet. This connects with the Royal Arch Loop, way out on the west end of the Park, which I’ve been wanting to do for decades. Then we’re going to walk the Tonto Rim back to Hermits Rest. Total distance: about 70 miles. 2.5 days. We just have to make it the next few hundred meters.
“We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.”
- John Wesley Powell, 1869
Spring is in the air. This can mean many things, but for Peter Bakwin and I, spring means, “go to the desert!”
This year we were going for full value: a 3 1/2 day, 110 mile backpacking route starting from the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, thru the very remote country of Beef Basin and Fable Valley, and down into the bottom of Dark Canyon. Then back again (can’t forget that part). Backpacking allows us to get into the really remote places, to watch the sun come up and watch it go down again, to see the stars, and to experience the desert environment up close and personal.
“Lawrence, only two kinds of creatures get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.”
“No, it’s going to be fun.”
- Lawrence of Arabia
March 14, 6 AM, Canyon Overlook Trailhead
Jared Campbell and I are in Zion National Park. It’s a cool starry morning, and we immediately are enjoying scrambling up the white and red sandstone in the total darkness, our headlamps illuminating tiny circles in the smooth rock. Hey wait, it isn’t supposed to be dark … we timed our 6 AM departure based on when “Civil Twilight” was supposed to start. Hmm… we keep climbing up the bare rock … then both realize that it’s not going to get light for another hour because I forgot to adjust for Daylight Savings Time. There are a few more things we should not have forgotten as it turns out…
Last weekend’s Leadville marked the return of Scott Jurek. Scott, as Anton told me last year, is “The Man” – 7 straight WS100 wins, Spartathlon, Badwater, 24 hours, etc – it is unlikely anyone will do that and hold that stature again. And he’d been out of competition for 1-3 years (depending on how you figure it). Can he come back? Is his time past or does he still have it? People would ask me my opinion, and I didn’t have one – I didn’t know.
This is his interview on Colorado Public Radio.
May 25-26, Zion National Park, Jared Campbell, Ryan McDermott, Buzz Burrell
Jared conceived of Zironman two years ago while studying Google Earth during one of his typical four-hours-of-sleep nights; it was an ingenious route, going from the west boundary of Zion National Park to past the east boundary via the most “interesting” terrain. “Zironman” was a fun way of saying the route involved climbing, running, and canyoneering, and it consisted of some iconic technical canyons as well as virgin country where apparently no one had been before. Now that the Trans Zion route seems crowded every weekend in May, these are the types of projects one dreams up.
We geared up for it on a hot day in back in June of 2011, but after spending 8 annoying hours shuttling a car in 100 degree temperatures, we wisely scaled our initial attempt back to 3/4 of the distance. That Zironman “fun run” went really well – we figured out that “No Man’s Land” had a viable route through it, we did all the hard parts, and were really keen to come back the next year and knock it off.
The following year I was injured, but Jared and his best friend Ryan very graciously offered to wait until I recovered, a relative term though that may be, so we were quite keen this year. But mere hours before we were to start, the project was in jeopardy.
Our plan was to start at 5:30 in the afternoon, knock off Icebox, the first technical canyon while it was still light, then do the entire middle section which is normally exposed to the blazing sun during the night, arriving at the start of Imlay, the most technical canyon in the park when the sun came up. An excellent plan. Except 5:30 wouldn’t come for another 4 hours. We were sitting around with nothing to do.
Could Jared handle doing nothing? I had seen him accomplish incredible projects, but never this. This might be the crux of the whole route.
I recently visited the factory where Ultimate Direction is made. This was extremely worthwhile: I met all the people we work with, saw the entire production process, reviewed prototypes for our completely revamped 2014 product line, then discussed the changes and improvements we wanted to make directly with the people who will be implementing them.
And, since the factory is in the Philippines, my morning run was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, followed by a quick swim. Very different than the 11 inches of snow and 8 degree temperature in Boulder this morning!
I also wanted to check on working conditions over there – I’ve always wondered if there really are “sweat shops” – what was our factory like? To be socially, environmentally, and technically progressive is very important to me personally, and thus I always want to move Ultimate in that Direction. And (presumably by coincidence), this town happened to be the start of the infamous “Bataan Death March” in WWll!
Upon arrival, my worst fears were realized: working conditions were really hard …
“In the High Country” will be a new kind of mountain film featuring Anton Krupicka. Filmed and Produced by Joel Wolpert with the support of Ultimate Direction, this won’t be the usual running film – no “loneliness of the long distance runner” – “High Country” will take you where you’ve never been before.
Anton Krupicka’s running has evolved from roads to trails to mountains and now free-soloing. Filmed over one season, “In the High Country” is about living and running light and free. The raw footage is terrific, is being edited now, and the film will be released in the Summer of 2013, with an approximate running time of 30 minutes.