Jan 2015 Antelope Island Run

I got up in time to get to the gates that open when the park does. I have shown up early before and had to wait for the gates to go up and sometimes it's been a few minutes after six before they actually do go up. At about 11mins past the hour and after waiting that long, they finally opened and I can access the island. I get across the causeway going exactly whatever the speed limit is and make it to the trailhead. I'm the only car there. That's not a first for me. While I'm getting ready another car pulls up and parks. I'm in panic mode now. Must get going and fast. I finish up and get out of the car, lock it, and I'm on my way.

It's very dark. There is no moon and being on the western side of the island means there's no lights from cities to speak of. It's just the stars and my headlamp. I make the first 5k with in pretty good time. But all the while I was occasionally looking back and I could see the headlamp of another person behind me. And judging from how far they have been and still are from me I can tell they must be running. But I'm pretty sure I'm running faster. Within the next mile I see off in the distance large dark spots that I'm pretty sure are Buffalo. I don't want to make them mad. I have to decide if the herd is on the trail that I'm running on or if they are off to the side of it.

I'm actually probably one to push the limits a little too far when it comes to proximity with these beasts. But I'm not afraid to make sure they know I'm there by yelling "hey!" and scanning them with my headlamp. As I scan the herd with my headlamp the only thing I can really see is a rough outline of their heads and their eyes staring back at me. I think they are wondering what I'm going to do rather than thinking that they need to run me down. A few of them on the far side start to run away from me a little and I can tell that as long as they stay where they are then they aren't going to come after me. No problems. I move on.

The next part of the trail is downhill. Normally not an issue except for my headlamp is not enough for me to tell between the sandy ground and the harder ground. The harder ground is much preferable. But then because it's below freezing there are frozen clumps of mud from horses that make the ground hard and uneven. It's a little tricky to navigate. I'm forced to slow a little bit, but I keep moving.

The next part is probably one of the steepest climbs of the trail I took. I have to slow down a few more notches. This part of the trail is also on a north facing slope. The snow and ice haven't melted so I have to be careful not to slip. Also about this time I was able to turn off my headlamp and see fine.

At the top of this portion you can either go off to Elephant Point or go first to Split Rock Bay or go to the corrals. I decided to go down to Split Rock Bay and then make the climb back to the corrals.

The road/trail is a pretty constant grade and felt surprisingly long to me. It just felt like it kept going. I finish the 2nd 5k just before hitting the bottom. As I do so I decide that it's time for a little food. I thought that I could eat on the run but as soon as I get the gel out I think "forget that". I stop myself and my watch. Take in the view - which is spectacular - drink some water and I'm moving again.

Since I had never been on this particular trail before I'm careful to make sure I stay on the main trail. I also know that if I don't start climbing back up by a certain point then I know I'll need to turn around. The trail proved very easy to follow.

For whatever reasons, I was really looking forward to climbing on this run. And this is the climb I was most looking forward to doing - that is, the switchbacks going up to the corrals. I wasn't disappointed in the least. Maybe it was the gel kicking in or the perfect weather something else entirely, but it was a really good climb that I got a kick out of. At one point I thought the climbing was over and that the trail was going to curve back around to the corrals but it turned out there was another switch back and more climbing. Again, I was not disappointed.

The corrals were a stopping point that I had planned ahead on. And as it turned out were at exactly 15k into the run. There's a sign that explains what historians think the corrals were used for and the remnants of said corrals. I took a few pictures, drank some water and was moving again.

The trail from this point to the Elephant Point turn off consisted of a lot of snow and ice. The puddles were frozen and had to be carefully circumnavigated. The snow was frozen hard and not very forgiving. None of this proved to be much of a problem though.

On the way back I passed several runners. There were more than I had ever seen before in one day. Maybe there was some sort of meet up I wasn't invited too. Still, it was good to see so many people out there enjoying the great outdoors. I made it back to my car in pretty good time - having only eaten one gel and one Gu chomp (there are 4 in a pack and I had 1) during the entire 16 mile run - feeling depleted but very good. This, for me, was the best run I've had in a long time. The new parts of the trail and how fresh my legs felt kept my mind occupied so I never really felt bored or zapped.

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