Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"I wanted to keep going but I realized I have a more strenuous
commitment on Friday, so I reluctantly turned around."
- Jim re: running in the canyon this afternoon


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 I mean. 

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 Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil