Monday, September 28, 2015

A Millwood 100 Attempt

This past weekend Bethany and I attempted the Millwood 100- a 100 mile mountain circuit in the Wasatch designed by Jared Campbell.  As one might expect from Mr. Campbell, the route is pretty tough with over 40,000 feet of climbing on gnarly terrain with only 3 previous finishers in one push (to my knowledge): Erik Storheim, Matt Van Horn, and Jared himself.  This was one of Bethany's major goals of the season and we figured it would be a unique experience to do this as a husband and wife duo.  With Bethany's mother in town to watch Ada, it seemed like a nice opportunity for a long date in the mountains.  (I do recognize here how lucky I am that this also constitutes Bethany's idea of a 'date'.)  Not all the stars were perfectly aligned however.  Bethany had torn her medial quad a little over a month back at the Fat Dog 120 and had done minimal running since that time.  A few tests drives suggested the whole circuit was worth a go so we set out at 3am on Saturday morning from Neffs Canyon, intending to do the route counterclockwise so as to complete the trickiest sections first during the day.

The day before we had planted drops with food and water at Thayne's canyon, S-curve, Mineral Fork trailhead, Brighton, Bear trap fork, Spruces campground, Terraces, and Church Fork.  Peter Adler met us at Alta and Brian Kamm was generously intending to meet us in the middle of the night at Big Water with supplies.  

It was a beautiful, if warm, fall day with spectacular colors and - save a few hair-raising sections around Kessler where we went off course and spent considerable time clinging to rotten, chossy cliff bands- we had a total blast.  I was pleasantly surprised to be feeling quite good despite very little focused training since Hardrock.  

Comparisons don't generally make much sense with this sort of thing but I found myself thinking that relative to other tough 100 mile courses I've done (Hardrock, UTMB, Ronda dels Cims) this route was definitely the most consistently difficult.  As such, (for most mere mortals such as ourselves) a successful completion likely demands treating it as an A-race goal rather than an end of the season add-on.  

By the time we were descending off Kessler into Cardiff Bethany had developed a noticeable limp and our downhill efficiency was slowing considerably.  We made it into Alta and met Peter, slogged up Hidden Peak and then Baldy but by that point- 16 hours and 45 miles in with approx. 20,000 feet of climbing, it was clear there was no way her body was going to sustain this kind of effort for another 55 miles.  We bailed out of Albion basin and were kindly picked up by our friends Peter and Zoe who drove us home where we ate some bacon, kissed our sleeping daughter, and went to bed.   All in all, it was a great way to spend a day together.

3am start at Neffs Canyon

Sunrise towards Mill B

Descent to S-curve.
Lake Blanche trail.

About to descend into Mineral Fork.

Looking into Cardiff from Kessler.

Cardiff pass with Peter Adler.

Heading up Hidden Peak.
Peruvian Ridge.

Impromptu seat on some pallets.  


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