2012 Fleet Feet Arizona Trail Race Report

by Charles Monday, February 20th 2012

The day started with a early morning departure to Colossal Cave Mountain Park for the 8 mile 2012 Fleet Feet Arizona Trail Race - it was cold as we got in the car and hoped that it would be just a little warmer by the time the race started. The start and finish is the La Posta Quemada Ranch, as we turned into the Ranch we immediately saw the start/finish line and runners warming up, seeing so many runners ready to hit the trail was exciting!

It is still chilly as we line up for the start - but in no time we are running and beginning to warm up. The start of the race winds around the road/parking area to spread everyone out before running past the Arizona Trail sign, thru the gate and onto the trail. After about a mile the temperature starts to feel perfect - this trail is a blast to run as it winds across and along Posta Quemada Canyon.  The scenery is gorgeous and the lines of runners on the single track create bright ribbons of color.

The layout for this course is great - a loop at the end of the course ensures that there is a minimum amount of time spent contending with runners trying to go both directions on the narrow trail (although you will have to step aside for the leaders if you run at my pace). To create the loop you turn off the Arizona Trail (a big thanks to the race staff for such great directions at all the intersections!) and turn onto the dirt road that that takes you back to the final section of the trail. The final climbs are a nice challenge before the fast downhill finish.

Part of the fun of this race was having so many friends and colleagues at the event - from the Summit Hut we had Jeremy Davis - Owner, Dave Baker - Founder, Richard Allen - Buyer, Charles Miles - Buyer, Dana Davis - Owner, Frank Camp - Marketing Director and Alison Taylor - Buyer (race results) - a great group to enjoy the fabulous breakfast with after the race.



If you missed this race this year think about signing up next year - but sign up early, this race is fantastic and will certainly sell out quickly! You can find quite a few pictures of this race on Flickr from Everyone Runs.

A few notes about gear we used on this run:


Photo Credit: Fleet Feet Tucson and Dave Barger.

Hot Peak 60, Inov-8: I like the fit on this cap and the sweat band does a good job keeping sweat out of my eyes and off my glasses - plus in the Black/Lime color it looks fast! - Charles 


Photo Credit: Fleet Feet Tucson and Dave Barger.

UV Arm Sleeves - Print, Moeben: Moeben arm sleeves were perfect for this race! The start was quite chilly so having some extra warmth was great while the last mile of the race, when I spent a great deal of energy trying to catch Frank, I got hot and was able to push the sleeves down for a cooling effect. The UPF 50 would have been great as well if it had been sunnier! -Dana

Performance Mini Crew and Ironman Thunder Pro Low-Cut, Injinji and Wigwam: By combining my original weight Injini socks with the Wigwam Thunder Pros I get maximum cushioning while keeping the toes separated so they do not rub against one another- they are the perfect match! -Dana


Photo Credit: Fleet Feet Tucson and Dave Barger.

F-Lite 230, Inov-8: I put quite a bit of thought into which shoes to wear for this run. In the end, the 230's won out - solid protection, great fit, minimal enough that I had to put some focus on good form. -Frank

Summit Hut Go Hat, Headsweats: This hat is incredibly lightweight, offered some sun protection and kept sweat out of my face! What more can you ask for? -Frank

Events | Gear

Product Review: Buff

by Jonathan Friday, February 3rd 2012

If there were a Ten Essentials list for garments, the Buff would definitely be on it. The Buff website describes it as a “multitasking bandanna”. It is its versatility that makes it a nearly indispensable item.

The versatility is a result of a combination of high tech material and design simplicity. What could be more simple than the seamless tube of fabric? The fabric itself is a lightweight stretch polyester microfiber that offers excellent moisture management and insulation against both cold and hot environments. For those who prefer natural fiber fabrics, merino wool versions are also available. A note of caution regarding the wool products, some insects find fine wool products an irresistible source of food – something to keep in mind when storing.

Like the traditional bandanna, the Buff is worn primarily in the area of the head and neck. Just a few minutes of playing around with the Buff reveals its potential. A diagram on the packaging (also on the website) shows seventeen of the more common configurations. From cap, to hair tie, to neckerchief, the Buff has you covered.

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A wool base layer, and Buff neck gaiter are perfect for a cold morning hike in the desert.

Those of us who live in Tucson are used to heading out in the early morning on our hike or bike ride with temperatures in the low 40’s, then finishing our trip in the afternoon with temperatures in the upper 70’s. We like garments that can be worn over a broad spectrum of temperatures, but we really like garments that functionally adapt to wide temperature swings. It’s nice to have a jacket that can be worn across a wide temperature range, but it’s even better to have the cool-weather jacket that turns into a warm-weather shirt. The Buff will do that. Wear it as a neck gator in the morning, then as a headband in the afternoon. Wear it as a cap over the head and ears in the cool morning air, and over your nose and face as a mask against the sun in the afternoon.

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On approach on a cool morning

I always wear a buff under my bicycling helmet. It not only dramatically increases the comfort of the helmet, but it keeps perspiration out of my eyes and off my sunglasses. It also keeps my head warmer in the morning and cooler in the afternoon. I find that it performs well under a climbing helmet too. For women cyclists who may want to stop for a cup of coffee or a meal, the buff can be employed in a number of stylish ways to mask the dreaded “helmet hair”. Actually, the use of any helmet can be enhanced with a Buff.

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Preparing to don the helmet over the Buff

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Helmet hair? No problem!

During some recent experimentation and brainstorming, I thought of a new application. If you turn the Buff inside out, then slide it over your head down to your neck, then pull the top down over and carefully tuck it into your button-down collar shirt, it can double as an ascot! Now, I know that not many people are familiar with the ascot tie, and even fewer have ever worn one, but is it not nice to know that if you ever needed an ascot, and you did not have one, that, in a pinch, you could use your buff? Hey, you never know.

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Buff doubling as ascot tie

Gear

Bear Canyon Trail to Seven Falls

by Jonathan Tuesday, January 3rd 2012

Sabino Canyon is a spectacularly beautiful place to hike. Halfway up the side of the canyon, the Phone Line trail contours along length, offering great vistas. Other trails include Blacket’s Ridge. A paved road runs along the bottom, along which runs a tram.

Bear Canyon, the next canyon over from Sabino Canyon, while not as spectacular, has its own treats for the avid hiker. With the exception of the trail, the canyon is undeveloped. Like Sabino, water flows year-round. Many hikers enjoy rock hopping back and forth across the stream as they follow the trail. Many find the bear Canyon trail a more natural riparian experience compared to the paved road in Sabino.

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Sycamore trees, boulders, and water in Bear Canyon

The boulders, sycamore trees, and water make bear Canyon worth the trip. The coolest feature, however, is Seven Falls. About two and one half miles in from the mouth of the canyon (four miles from the parking lot), there is a fork in the trail. The fork that goes down to the left, will take you to an area of slickrock with waterfalls both above and below. While none of these seven waterfalls are particularly tall (the largest not more than about 20 feet), but they are all pleasing to the eye and ear. The water flows across the slick rock forming a number of small pools. The place is ideal for sunbathing, sitting quietly and listening to the mantra of the water, or if you are so inclined, climbing up the rock cliffs to the next fall. A note to parents: kids love this place, and opportunities to slide or fall off cliffs abound.

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Falls, pools, and slickrock at Seven Falls

The other fork in the trail, the one to the right, will take you further up the canyon eventually joining the trail that runs from the Prison Camp area to Upper Sabino and Hutch’s Pool. The upper part of the trail provides access to Thimble Peak, the distinctive and aptly named high point on the ridge that separates Sabino and Bear Canyons. Ambitious hikers and trail runners make a loop combining the trails of the two canyons.

To get to Bear Canyon, park at the Sabino Canyon recreation area parking lot (permit or fee required). Take the dirt path from the parking lot to the road, then the road to the bridge over Sabino Creek - the crossing of which will put you face-to-face with the trailhead for both the Phone Line and bear Canyon Trails. Soon after stepping on the trail, there will be a sign pointing to the left for the Phoneline Trail, and right for the Bear Canyon Trail. It will be about another mile to the actual mouth of Bear Canyon.

There is, for those who prefer, a road that parallels the trail for that one mile segment. I generally prefer taking the trail, having already done some pavement walking from the parking lot. In fact, on our last hike there I saw three white tailed deer foraging not far from the trail.

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White Tail deer foraging near Bear Canyon Trail

The relatively low elevation makes Bear Canyon a good choice for winter hiking. Remember, however, that canyons such as Bear Canyon often active as drains for cold air in the higher elevations, making the bottom of the canyon somewhat cooler than the surrounding area. Summertime can be enjoyable to, as long as the water is flowing and peak high temperatures are avoided.

The traffic in both Bear and Sabino Canyons is substantial - they are just north of town. However, Bear Canyon is still an excellent choice for those who like to hike along a stream, and experience waterfalls, while avoiding long drives.

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The mouth of Bear Canyon

Trails

Snowshoe Shenanigans

by Tyler Clark Wednesday, December 21st 2011

After getting a taste of winter about a month ago, I’ve been eagerly anticipating more snowfall on Mt. Lemmon. Unfortunately, the weather through the rest of November was fairly warm and no snow fell up on the mountain. All that changed in the second week of December when a storm system rolled in and dumped a ton of snow.

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On the following Wednesday, clear skies returned. The very next day my girlfriend and I rented some snowshoes from the Summit Hut and headed up to enjoy some fresh powder. Through the store’s rental program, local customers can check out tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, climbing shoes, and snowshoes to outfit their adventures. Considering how infrequently we get snow down here in Tucson, I was quite glad to be able to check out two pairs of snowshoes and test them before making a purchase.

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As we drove up Catalina Highway, snow started to appear even at the low elevations of 4,500 feet. By the time we reached Windy Point Vista, which is roughly halfway up the mountain, there was enough snow lying around for a few people to have snowball fights.

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After parking at a trailhead near Summerhaven, we strapped on our snowshoes and headed up the trail into the fresh powder and 35 degree weather. Noticing that some cross country skiers had already paved the way before us, we decided to follow in their tracks. The snow was very deep, between 3-4 feet, and had a very fine powder consistency that weighed down the trees and made them look beautiful and crystalline.

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After two miles of fighting our way uphill in multiple feet of powder, we reached a high point looking south over Tucson. The view was majestic. As we took a quick break on a nearby log, the warmth of the afternoon melted the snow and ice seated on the trees, causing it to rain down over us. The crackling of the snow and ice falling to the ground almost sounded like rain.

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Heading down following our own track proved almost as difficult as creating that track in the first place. The snow had a frustrating tendency to slide under our feet, making the descent a little tricky. When we finally arrived back at the car, we eagerly jumped into the warm and cozy Subaru to enjoy the scenic ride back down Mt. Lemmon.

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Activities | Trips

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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