2007 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
 
Previous          Journal Topics by Date            Next
 

  EXPLORING LITTLE GIANT PEAK & CUNNINGHAM GULCH  

FRIDAY, JULY 6

 
"7.0 miles. 13,000 feet elevation. Dives-Little Giant Pass. Climb #1. The high point is located
on a narrow ridge on the east side of Little Giant Peak where you are suddenly looking into
the upper end of Dives Basin . . . The animal trails used for this section are becoming well worn
and easy to follow . . . Stay to the left of the Shenandoah Mine buildings [ruins]. Cross the
hanging wall and pick up the unmaintained trail that stays on the left side of the Dives Basin
stream. Once below the headwall, you can see the Cunningham Gulch aid station below you.
The trail switches back and forth . . . dropping rapidly toward Cunningham Creek . . .
 
- from the 2007 Hardrock Hundred course description  
 

 

Jim has been very diligent in his efforts to plan for the aid station at Cunningham Gulch. He is captaining it again in order to (hopefully, it's not a guarantee) get another ticket for the HRH lottery next year.

Being in charge of an aid station is not an easy task, as we learned last year. It takes a lot of planning to be sure you have all the supplies and equipment you will need, time corresponding with volunteers, setting up the aid station, serving the needs of the runners when they come through the aid station, and dismantling everything and taking it back to town (or a later aid station) after all the runners have reached the next aid station.

Lots of logistics are involved with people, time, and stuff.

Last year this aid station was the last one runners came to during the race. Half had already dropped out. The aid station was open almost 24 hours as runners came through sporadically. There was never a time the volunteers were "swamped." The busiest time was getting everything ready the first morning, then we waited for our "customers" to trickle in. There was a lot of down time. Several of our volunteers were there for twenty hours.

This year will be entirely different. We're the first aid station and all 130 runners will be coming though it in about a 90-minute span -- totally different logistics! We can't be just partially set up when the first runners arrive. We have to be completely ready to handle large numbers of runners at once. We also have to be concerned with crew traffic this time so runners have safe access into and out of the aid station. Crew traffic was no problem last year because it was also sporadic. This year, I'm worried about it (more than Jim is).

I took the next photo last week (June 26, 2007). There are more photos and information about the Cunningham Gulch area and our aid station in that day's entry. Little Giant Peak (elev. 13,416 feet) is on the left, the campers along the road (elev. 10,380 feet) are where the aid station will be located, and Green Mountain (elev. 13,049 feet) is on the right. That day Jim and I walked part way up Green Mountain.

Jim started working on his aid station "to do" and "want" lists months ago. He has rounded up previous volunteers who worked with us and a couple ultra running friends to help us. He has requested (and gotten names of) several more volunteers. We will have an experienced, well-trained group to work with, although one of our key players just notified us he has mononucleosis and won't be able to help this year.

Jim has e-mailed and talked with Lois MacKenzie, the aid station and volunteer coordinator, several times since we've been here. Lois is impressed with his organizational skills and enthusiasm, but Jim feels frustrated about still not knowing exactly where all the equipment and supplies will come from. Race management doesn't stock a lot of items like tables, stoves, cooking equipment, and tools but relies on volunteers to bring them. We not only don't have most of these items at home, we wouldn't lug them across the country if we did. Making sure we'll have enough equipment is a concern for us and it takes time for Jim to locate these items (complicated by our lousy internet connection at camp and the time he's away training and doing trail work).

It would be very helpful if we could contact the person who captained the aid station two years ago when the race also went CCW, but he hasn't written back. Talking to him would be a big help. Lois doesn't get much feedback after the race from aid station captains about what they needed and didn't have, what they had too much of, and so on, information that would be very helpful to the next guy handling the aid station. Jim plans to give Lois a detailed list of such things after this year's race.

CABIN FEVER

Although Jim was tired from yesterday's trail work, by this afternoon he was just couldn't sit in the camper any  more. He decided to go back out to Cunningham Gulch and look over the aid station. Maybe he'd get some more ideas for race day. Oh, and he just might climb a little ways up Little Giant Peak, the one west of our aid station . . . he'd better take Cody with him for company. I was busy writing and happy to stay home with Tater.

He got some great views of the aid station area from just a little ways up Little Giant Mountain:

We can use that "aerial view" to visualize where the tent will be, where to allow crew vehicles, and whether to move our own camper out there next week (if we get thrown out of our current CG). Jim and Jimmy Wrublik plan to put up the tent next Monday morning, hoping most of the campers will be leaving by Sunday so we can stake our claim.

They will also attach a large Hardrock poster and sign to the tent explaining the activity that will be going on during the race, surely a deterrent to any families that aren't involved with the race. Consider that a dozen volunteers will be setting up the aid station at 6 AM on Friday, July 13 and more dozens of crew vehicles will be arriving soon after . . . not real conducive to a peaceful camping experience!

Jim decided to go to the "top" of Little Giant (actually Dives-Little Giant Pass at 13,000 feet), not realizing you can't see the "top" from the campground. He discovered several false summits on the ascent and a large basin (Dives) on this side of the pass. It's a 2,620-foot climb to the pass in a little over two miles. This year runners will hike up the mountain from the west through Little Giant Basin, come over the pass, drop into Dives Basin, and run down to our aid station on the trail to the right of the waterfall:

This view looks south toward Spencer Basin and Sugarloaf Mountain:

Climbing mountains is tough work, but somebody's gotta do it:

Despite the tongue hanging out, I think Cody was enjoying himself. He's a tough little guy and he embodies the spirit of a "hardrocker."

One of the false summits above the waterfall (trail is to the right, and keeps going up beyond this photo):

Looking back across Cunningham Gulch to Green Mountain, Jim could see sections of the track the runners will take after they leave our aid station and switchback up that mountain and over to Stony Pass and Maggie Gulch:

 

Climbing higher . . .

Looks like the pass to me!

A slightly different angle -- Little Giant Basin is below left, and King Solomon Mountain is on the right:

A good view down into Little Giant Basin:

If there's a patch of snow, Cody will find it. If we see it first, we'll say, "Cody, there's snow!" and he starts looking for it. We realized a few days ago that he knows what the S-word means. I think he has even more fun rolling around in it when he isn't wearing his pack:

And one last dramatic late-afternoon shot from Dives-Little Giant Pass at 13,000 feet:

I imagine it was fun for Jim and Cody to run back down that 2,620-foot descent, although that's a pretty steep drop in only 2.2 miles.

Next entries: Jim's trail work day on Handies Peak and Sue's hike up Mineral Creek Trail to Rolling Mountain Pass.

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

Previous       Next

2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

-