Last long trail run with my son (for awhile, anyway)

My nineteen year old son is moving out of state soon, so we wanted to get in one last long trail run together. He has been running trails with me off and on since he was about 11 years old. Last year he ran his first race with me. We ran the Mid-Mountain Trail Marathon up in Park City. It was my fourth time for that race, but his first race ever. He ran a fabulous race finishing in 4:47 (not bad for a hilly trail marathon). After about the 3rd mile I didn’t see him again until after I finished. I’m a toward-the-back-of-the-pack runner and finished in my second fastest time (for this race) at 5:21.

I wanted to take Niels on a favorite Spring run of mine, so on Monday (May 2nd), we drove up to Dry Canyon above Lindon (UT). The trail heads up Dry Creek Canyon for half a mile, then heads North past Curly Spring, climbing up and over a couple saddles before descending down into Battle Creek Canyon; then up Battle Creek to the upper meadows below Mt. Timpanogos, then dropping down Grove Creek Canyon. At the bottom of the canyon, you take the Bonneville Shoreline trail back to the Dry Creek Canyon trailhead.

Last year I did this run, but starting and ending in Provo Canyon at Canyon Glen Park, and it was a very different experience. Last year we had record snowfall and the trails were very wet and muddy, the creeks were raging, and at one point I was post-holing up to my knees in snow (but that’s another story). This year has been very dry, and there was not nearly as much water in the creeks, nor was there any snow and very little mud.

Niels heading North out of Dry Creek Canyon with Mt. Timpanogos in the background

The climb up Dry Canyon is steep, but only a half mile long. We got a late start and it was already quite warm (for this time of year), about 70 degrees. Curly Spring was full but I’ve always had a hard time getting good water there as the pipe is usually under muddy water. We each carried one bottle, planning to take advantage of natural water sources along the way. After some more climbing the trail descends down into Battle Creek Canyon. This section of the trail is usually very wet with deep, slick mud. This time conditions were not great. What had been deep mud, with deep footprints from horses and people, was now dried, hard, uneven steep trail. It is quite steep, before easing off and traversing through beautiful pine trees.

Heading down into Battle Creek Canyon

Battle Creek was flowing nicely and we stopped for a rest and to get some water. We had brought along Aqua Mira Frontier straw filters, which are great for trail runs like this.

We drank our fill, then began heading up the steep and rocky Battle Creek Canyon.

The filter in action

The climb up Battle Creek Canyon is very steep and seems to go on forever. It’s actually a little over a mile to the junction of another trail at the top. We were both feeling it climbing up this canyon. I have not been training very seriously this year. Last year I ran four trail races, from marathon to 50 mile length, and was in a lot better shape. This year I have yet to run any races, and as a result have not been running as seriously.  I was really feeling this lack of training heading up the canyon.

At the top you head North, still climbing, before finally topping out at high meadows below the south face of Mt. Timpanogos. It was quite a bit cooler up there. The elevation is probably around 8000′ up there.

At the upper meadows with Big Baldy in the background. Battle Creek Canyon exits is at the lower right of Baldy

Though I was feeling pretty tired, it felt really great up there where it was breezy and cool. From here the trail heads across the meadows towards Timp, before dropping down into the top of Grove Creek Canyon.

Across the meadow to the headwaters of Grove Creek Canyon

At the far end of the meadow the trail descends into the top of Grove Creek Canyon.

Looking down into the top of Grove Creek Canyon with the city of Pleasant Grove and Utah Lake in the far background

By this time we were out of water again and pretty thirsty. Fortunately there is a nice spring here where I had filled my bottles before. Grove Creek Spring bubbles out of the ground and is pure and delicious. We drank our fill, then filled our bottles.

Grove Creek Spring

The run down Grove Creek Canyon is truly wonderful. The trail switchbacks down one side of the canyon to the bottom, then crosses a small bridge at the base of a dramatic waterfall.

The trail then traverses the canyon walls passing various cliffs. It is wonderful singletrack all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. Our quads were pretty thrashed by the time we got to the bottom. It took us about 30 minutes of steady running (well, a couple photo stops for me) to get all the way down.

Low in Grove Creek Canyon
Cliff bands low in the canyon

At the bottom of Grove Creek Canyon the trail turns south along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I was really feeling it here. There are two pretty good climbs between Grove Creek and Dry Canyons. The first is climbing up out of Battle Creek Canyon Park, and the second is a bit further along climbing up before finally descending to the Dry Canyon trailhead. I struggled to keep a steady pace and was pretty hammered by the time I got back to the car. Of course, Niels was waiting for me having arrived a few minutes earlier. I had an appointment I had to be at so I had to force myself to stay motivated and keep running instead of walking like I wanted to.

Overall we were out for exactly four hours. Our pace was pretty leisurely and we stopped a few times to take pictures, drink, and rest. It was a nice run, though now, three days later, my legs are still pretty sore. I’ll miss running with Niels, but I’m pretty used to solo runs in the mountains. We are very fortunate to have such great trails so close to home.

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