It was 117 degrees yesterday. I spent a little over an hour outside running in the morning, sweating out half my body weight and fine-tuning my sports bra tan. The remainder of the day I shivered in a room blasted by AC. I ended up pulling my calf at the end of the day because my legs were so frigid. Thankfully it loosened up when I went to check the mail in the evening. I have a hard time censoring myself when people out of town say "at least it's dry heat!" Someone baked cookies in their car earlier this summer in the valley, so dry heat or not, its a damn oven in Phoenix.
We have been spending every free minute with our friends Erin and Ben, because they have the same weekend spirit as us. We grab our free time by the horns and head for the hills to cooler weather.
The Peavine Trail is flat, but I still find myself adjusting to altitude. The trail is not heavily used for how central and accessible it is, which is perfect for hours of zoning out. The trail is uneventful in the beginning, but within a mile there is a sudden change of environment with water, beautiful rock formations and pines. Prescott is the road less traveled in Arizona, but it is a gem in the high desert, and well worth the short drive out of the valley.
Peavine Trail: Prescott, AZ
Trailhead at Prescott Lakes Pkwy
Distance: 12 miles, round trip
Justin is at the height of his Western States 100 training and when we saw that Yakima was 82F last Sunday we jumped in the car and B-lined it to the other side of the Cascades. We reached the east side just in time for a few hours of sunny miles in the canyon. The day ended with a thunder storm in the late afternoon, but it was better than the alternative in Seattle. Either way I think the heat is going to be a total shocker to Justin come race day.
We parked at Umtanum Creek Recreation Area, which is also where the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k starts. This particular race is known for its grueling climbs so it seemed perfect to pair elevation gain with exposed heat. I started out on the canyon trail while Justin went directly up to the ridge. The canyon trail was extremely overgrown to the point I had to wade through all the brush. The day previous I ran 20 miles at a moderate effort so this was a recovery day for me which is why I stuck mostly to the lowland. There were myriad trails from Untanum Creek, offering plenty of variety for anyone seeking adventure. The canyon trail is only 7 miles round trip, but it ends at a waterfall. It was a nice change to be in a dry desert-like landscape. In a month the wildflowers should be in full bloom so I hope to make it back!
Umtanum Creek Canyon: State Route 821, mile post 17
Distance: Variable, 7 miles round trip in the canyon
Elevation Gain: Variable
This run was epic in many ways; I wanted time to stand still so I could stay in this moment for the rest of the week. I tested my fitness and came out in one piece which always feels nice. We covered 16 miles with 4000 ft of elevation gain in about 3 1/2 hours. It's a great feeling to be reaching the endurance I previously had before I was injured last summer. My strength training has also given me a huge leg up in the way I feel and handle my weekly miles.
The snow pack was on the heavier side for running and a few sections had us sliding back and forth. The snow was melting fast which made things a little sloppy. On the bright side, this kept traffic to a minimum. I lost my shoe while pinwheeling down the mountain in a particularly ugly section as you can see from the picture below. The grip of the Brooks Cascadia never disappoints.
I had never been to this trail head before but Justin knew this network of ridges well, so he lead the way. He ran 26 miles the day previous so his energy level was on par with mine.
I could make a long list of why this is one of my favorite trail heads but I will keep it short. The entire trail is run-able and there was no power hiking, but we still got over 4000 ft of elevation gain! Now that's a pretty sweet deal if you want to work the right muscle groups. The trail is gradual and forgiving (minus the melting snow) which gave us both a good confidence boost. The Pratt Lake trail head also goes to a handful of other sweet spots that branch off around the first mile, including Granite Mountain, Bandera Mountain, Mount Defiance and Lake Melakwa. We dipped down to Pratt Lake (~6 miles from the trail head) and continued on to a series of smaller lakes, but turned around before Lake Melakwa.
The Pratt Lake Valley was wonderfully warm. We had spent the first leg of the run getting clocked by chunks of snow falling from the trees because the snow pack was melting so it was nice to have a little temperature change. We continued to run past a couple smaller lakes until we got to the base of the climb to Lake Melakwa. We both knew things would get ugly if we didn't turn around soon because we were running out of GU and water. A cloud cover was also lingering and any rain was going to make all the snow a slush fest if we didn't move fast.
We were both happy to reach the ridge above Pratt Lake and descend the last four miles to the car. I had packed 4 GUs and went through 1000ml of water but I could have used more given the vertical miles. Luckily we packed lamb sliders with jalapeno pickle slaw in the car, which might be my new favorite post long-run snack. But honestly, anything tastes good after running for 3 1/2 hours.
Pratt Lake: Exit 47 off I-90
Distance: 12 miles round trip to Pratt Lake, trail continues to Lake Melakwa
Elevation Gain: 4000ft (2300ft to Pratt Lake and back)
I am an outdoor travel junkie with my doctorate in occupational therapy. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.