join one of the official training runs organized by Karen Powers of the
Bighorn Wild & Scenic Trail Run staff. Karen, mother of RD Michelle Manneville,
is in charge of course logistics, including clearing trails and marking the
course prior to race day.
This run includes about twelve of the last eighteen miles of all four
races that will be held on June 18-19: the 30K, 50K, 50-miler,
and 100-miler. Nine runners, including Jim, joined Karen from the Head
of the Dry Fork to the Tongue River Canyon trailhead. Although this
section includes three good climbs before Horse Creek Ridge, it has a
net descent from there to the trailhead of about 3,600 feet.
I decided to "do my own thing" to avoid that
knee-wrecking descent, which I'd already done eight days ago. I ran about the
same distance as the rest of the group but in an out-and-back and not
Jim and I met most of the other runners near our campground in
Dayton. Several runners left their vehicles at the end point
five miles up the Tongue River Canyon Road. A couple of us
transported everyone to the start at Dry Fork. We took three
young women with us in our truck, leaving no room for Cody. I
missed him during my run but it was fun to meet some new
On the dirt road to Dry Fork I spotted a moose in the woods. Jim
took this picture (which I cropped) since the big fella was on
his side of the road:
Jim and the rest of the group started up Freeze Out Road from
the location of the Dry Fork aid station at 7,650 feet
elevation. Since I'd also run that section recently, I drove the
truck to the top of Camp Creek Ridge a little over a mile away
(about 8,100 feet) and got this photo of two of the runners as
they worked their way up:
I started my run there with Karen and several other runners but
got behind them several times when I was taking photos. Jim and I
both ran some with others in the group and some alone. He was in
the middle of the group and I was closer to the back -- just
like we are in races!
I'm noticing less snow and more flowers each time we drive up to
Dry Fork. There is still some snow in deep-shaded areas and near
the edges of forests. Jim reported that the snow is all gone
from Fence Spring now. Parts of this section are dry, some are
wet from recent rain and/or snowmelt.
I'll include photos here in the order in which I took them from
Camp Creek Ridge (8,100 feet), along the undulating dirt roads
and trails to the Upper Sheep Creek aid station location, down
to Sheep Creek (7,300 feet), and up to Horse Creek Ridge (8,000
is the direction runners in all four races will see the course
in a little less than three weeks.
That's the last I saw of Jim (in white
Location of Upper Sheep Creek aid station
Horse Creek Ridge
Heading down to the fence line
Then runners drop into the Tongue River
You can see photos of the Tongue River Canyon trail in the
May 23 entry.
I ran about half a mile down from the high point on Horse Creek
Ridge, said goodbye to the last runners, and turned around to go
back to our truck alone. The remaining photos show this section
in that direction, the way the 100-milers will see it outbound
from approximately miles 7-12.
Since I was well warmed up,
I was able to run quite a bit
of the 5+ miles back to the truck. I drove back down 38 miles to
the campground and arrived about the same time as Jim. He caught
a ride with one of the other runners who left his vehicle at the
Tongue River Canyon trailhead. We both felt like we had a good
When we compared notes about our runs, it was interesting to
discover we both got off-course near the same place but going in
opposite directions up/down Horse Creek Ridge from/to Sheep
Creek. We both got back on course OK within a quarter mile. The
course isn't marked yet and this is a confusing section when the
jeep road morphs into single-track (and vice versa, the other
direction) but it will be well-marked on race day.
I'm beginning to put course photos from our training runs on our
Picasa site and will add more
from now until race day. Check it out.
A SNAKE-FREE DAY
Happily, no one in the group, including Jim, saw any
rattlesnakes today through the canyon area. He was glad some
young, faster runners were up front so they scared any rattlers
away before he got there!
Last night we were watching a "survival" type of show on cable
TV where a guy killed a snake in the Black Hills of South
Dakota, skinned it, and roasted it over an open fire. We both
had sort of a gag response watching that, wondering if we'd have
the guts to eat rattlesnake meat if we were hungry enough.
Probably, if it was a matter of life or death. We just hope we
don't have to make that decision.
Marsh flowers on today's run
Speaking of cable TV . . . we were having some problems getting
clear channels so we mentioned it to the Hoods, who own the
Foothills Campground. "Cable Guy" came
out to repair the severed cable in the campsite next to ours and
discovered our line was crimped. He fixed it, too. Now Jim's a
very happy boy with dozens of clear channels to watch in the
We were both amused to watch Cable Guy chew bubble gum and smoke
a cigarette at the same time. That's a first for us!
Next entry: more training runs on the Bighorn course
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil