Running in Zion National Park – boy oh boy

after what has likely been the most shocking and depressing three weeks of my life an invite to what i knew to be a beautiful and inspiring place was an offer i could not refuse.  utah’s first nation park: ZION ~ “Massive canyon walls ascend toward a brilliant blue sky. To experience Zion, you need to walk among the towering cliffs, or challenge your courage in a small narrow canyon. These unique sandstone cliffs range in color from cream, to pink, to red. They could be described as sand castles crowning desert canyons.

la sportiva and most recently nuun sponsored runner jared campbell (pictured above on observation point) has been to zion national park countless times in his life.  jared and christian johnson hold the FKT (fastest known time) for the 48 mile trans zion of 9hrs 08mins which they recently set on november 27, 2009. impressive stuff.  jared and mindy were great guides, pointing out every peak and trail. honestly i can’t believe i’ve waited this long to go to zion. look at this place!

it’s been a low snow year so although we had packed down snow everywhere we went, the trails were pretty much runnable… if not suffer-able.  with the hard pack and often icey conditions i wore yak tracks on most of our runs.

our first run was one jared told me adventure running legend buzz burrell calls the “best run on earth”.  i don’t have the breadth of trail beta that buzz does so i can’t confirm that comment but it’s certainly one of the coolest trails i’ve ever run.  it’s just 2.5 miles up to the summit of angel’s landing but the switchback trail ducks into a canyon and then spits you out on the ridge pictured below.  packed snow had turned to ice making the trail pretty dicey.  especially with death on either side if you had a misstep.  jared mentioned this was the first time he actually used the chain guard rail that is anchored in the rock.  we used it as a makeshift rappel rope on the way down.  apparently the fastest time up angel’s landing is 26mins.  we ran up there in 34mins at a good steady pace.  well a good steady pace for me, jared had to wait for me periodically. the top of angel’s landing is also visible in the lower right hand side of the top two photos of the virgin river. 

our second run was up observation point, which happens to be a possible wedding location for jared and mindy. it’s the “best view in the park”, as you can see from the top two photos and this video.

the last run / post hole we did was a good 16 miles out to cable mtn and back. the way back is the very end of zion traverse. which i’d like to run some day, so it was very cool to be on this route. the view from cable mtn is a different perspective of the valley and the virgin river. it’s a sheer drop off as you can see in the video below… amazing.  nothing like a good bit of train running in a new and beautiful place to get your head straight.  thanks jared and mindy!