We've got cabin fever and needed to get out for a short run today, so
we headed back to the nearby Tongue River Canyon trail this afternoon. The heck with
rattlesnakes! We'll be hyper-vigilant and watch our feet, we
promised each other. We left the
dogs in the camper for their safety. (Did you know there are vaccines for dogs to protect
against rattlesnake venom, but not people?)
Although the river level is gradually decreasing at the campground
and along the Tongue River Canyon Road, it's still loud and boisterous
in the canyon itself as the sound echoes off the walls. There is one
spot about a mile in from the trail head where you swear the river is on
BOTH sides of you. Folks who've run any of the races probably know what
There might be more than one of these spots; I can't remember
from previous years. I didn't get in very
far today on the trail. I was busy absorbing the grandeur of the canyon
and taking photos. (I'm not real pleased with the harsh sunlight and
washed-out pictures; we were there mid-day, which is a poor time
to take photos.)
Jim hiked and ran about two miles from the canyon trail head before he turned
around. He was having such a great time, he wanted to keep going. I
liked his quote above about a "more strenuous commitment" on Friday.
Tapering for a race takes a lot of self-control. We've both got "happy
feet" right now because we've cut our mileage significantly the last
couple weeks. We're eager to run this race -- NOW!
Some of these photos are heading outbound and some inbound. The only
runners who will see it outbound in the race are the 100-milers.
There were several cars at the trail head this time but we saw only
one man out on the trail. He was photographing flowers, too.
Spreading Dogbane, below:
Race officials have already marked this section with a
few orange ribbons. Through the canyon, there is only one place you can
get off the trail, however (a bridge shown later).
This looks like a dandelion puff, but it's much larger.
I can't find it in my Western wildflower book. Anyone know what it is?
This is a close-up of the center. It looks really cool
when the large original digital photo is magnified even further:
There are constant views of interesting rock formations through
the canyon. This view looks toward the "Eye of the
Needle" when runners are about six miles from the finish:
Hundred-milers see this view about a mile from the canyon trail head as
they're going outbound on the course:
The flowers never end. I've noticed more are blooming this week than last,
rivaling the proliferation of blossoms from last year (which was an
exceptionally good year for flowers at race time).
The Sego Lilies are just gorgeous up close:
I think this is a type of Penstemen:
Jim's standing near the slanted rock face that makes the river sound
like it's roaring on both sides of the trail:
On the return, we went across this bridge about half a mile from the
trail head. The steep, switch-backing side trail ends at a
cave. I took this shot of the race course from across the river:
We passed several Indian Paintbrush plants on the side trail:
Jim got back down to the bridge before me. He's dwarfed
by the high rock walls behind him. Also shown is another perspective of the race course
as it meanders above the Tongue River:
I just kept on taking photos of flowers as we neared the trail head
(then I won't be tempted to take as many during the race!). These
yellow flowers are called Stemless Golden Weed:
Two attractive species of pink flowers:
We both enjoyed our run/walk through the canyon this afternoon -- and
neither of us saw any rattlesnakes. They shouldn't be problem on race
day except for the fastest guy through there. <wink>
This is another one my "windshield" photos. When runners in all four
races reach the canyon trail head on the way to the finish, they have
just over five miles left to run. Most of the distance is on the dirt
and gravel Tongue River Canyon Road, which continues to parallel the
river through rangeland and past houses:
I don't care what the course description says about this road being
downhill to Dayton. At that point in the races, it doesn't
feel like it's downhill.
The last half mile of the course is pavement as it crosses a rustic
footbridge over the river, intersects with Hwy. 14, and winds through
Dayton and into Scott Park. The finish line is near a pavilion next to
the river, a beautiful setting for the post-race picnic and awards
ceremonies for the 50K and 30K. Runners in the 52-mile and 100-mile
races also finish here on Saturday, but their awards ceremony is in
Sheridan on Sunday morning.
Tomorrow we plan to meet some of our VHTRC (Virginia Happy Trail Running
Club) friends up at Porcupine to check out the current conditions.
Wonder how much of that snow has melted after four days??
Counting the days till the race,
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil