Photos in Strava.
PERSONAL (and covid-19) NOTE (Route notes below):
Sometimes you just feel driven.
11 hours of driving driven. 11 hours of driving driven, without stepping foot in a single building, interacting with a single human, or EVEN using a single toilet. 100% isolation, other than adding fuel (with a disinfection routine) to my Suzuki Swift (think geo metro) [for keen followers, no I have not fixed the exhaust pipe I knocked off during the Cascade Trifecta yet].
I feel driven because I am so close to the FKT Titan Ben Nephew. I feel driven because I love this stuff and start to feel unbalanced if I don't get out on some kind of effort in nature. I have a notebook full of high-risk and lower-risk FKT options, I feel an urgency to drive forward with some of these lower risk efforts so long as the trails are open, there aren't people, and there is a way I can camp in isolation. Chris Gorney's Red Rock Quad fit the bill. so I drove hard 10 hours, did some shake out running, slept, did the 10 hour effort, slept, then drove a 10 hard hours home. I am ok if I need to be the "bad guy" because I chose to do this. I am just doing the best I can with who I am and how I have my life structured going into this messy time. I did also, dial back my descending efforts to minimize "fall" risk. so yeah, I digress.
My God, Chris Gorney put together a winning circuit of the Red Rocks Canyon Conservation Area here! After tagging Wilson, Rainbow, and Bridge mountains in separate efforts (there by knowing, and knowing how beautiful and engaging these routes are alone) I knew I was in for an amazing effort. IT COMPLETELY DELIVERS!
Bounding through bouldery washes
Beautiful limestone and sandstone (seriously the colors and patterns can make you pause mid-stride)
Playful class 3 and 4 scrambling with STUNNING views.
A 50k day with some 11,000 feet of gain!!!
I started and finished at the "tire popper" strip of the EXIT AREA of the Red Rock Canyon NCA Scenic Drive Loop (which is closed to cars and bikes at this time) and finished at the same place 10hours, 37 minutes later...
I set out, in unsupported style, with 3 liters of Tailwind mixed to 1200 calories, two gels, some pistachios, and a Katadyn "Be Free" 600ml filter flask (empty) which I filled once in First Creek (still flowing a little), once in the Creek all the way around at Icebox Canyon, then finally again at Pine Creek with less than 4 miles to go. the "be free" filter bottles are GREAT.
Back to the route...
You start with some cruiser road miles to get warmed up
Then turn up First Creek Canyon Trail (also cruiser for awhile)
Then I (not knowing Chris Gorney's scramble route up Wilson and not wanting to place undo risk during this time of covid-19) opted to continue up the lower class "standard route" of Wilson (it is a longer route up, likely slower, but felt like the safe decision)...This wash is so bouldery and so playful. But some day I want to do Chris' shorter scramble up...
I dropped my UD Adventure Vest 5.0 at the top of the saddle, taking just my phone in hand, for the out and back to Wilson summit, it was cold and super windy so I snapped a photo and immediately went back down to the saddle.
I then gained the ridge that Chris describes in his route. Don't expect to find much of a trail, you bushwhack a bit for sure... it is pretty fast, but remember, if you are in shorts, DESERT PLANTS LOVE TO HURT YOU AND THE ROCK IS SPIKY HERE.
I did the pack drop again for the out and back to Rainbow Mountain/Rainbow Wall. YES, you tag both the Rainbow Mountain Summit (it has a summit register in ammo box on its true summit) and the do a little out and back to Rainbow Wall Summit (also, has its own register again ammo box) both of these involve some good route finding, thought it is pretty well cairned, and some fun scrambling with BIG VIEWS.
REMEMBER: TAG BOTH SUMMITS FOR RAINBOW.
I wished I had brought my BE FREE filter flask as I saw a few pools trapped in the rock and was a little parched by the time I regained the ridgeline highway.
I then cruised over to Bridge Mountain, did the bag drop again. I accidentally dropped my bag to high on the ridgeline to follow Chris' most optimal route (with less mileage and gain) later to get from Bridge to North Sandstone...this frustrated me.
Bridge Mountain is the technical, mental, and physical crux really BUT it is an awesome Class 3/4 scramble with excellent exposure and views. SO COOL.
Oh, I don't have a photo from Bridge Mountain Summit because I forgot my phone when I did my bag drop. I signed and dated this Register for some evidence (if someone wants to check hahaha) and also I have photos from the actual summit from when Matt Zupan and I did the Bridge Mountain FKT as described by Buzz Burrell showing that I do in fact know how to get on this semi-technical, exposed summit.
Because of my bag drop up high, I had to drop from bridge summit then climb all the way back to the ridgeline and take the top of the ridge over to North Sandstone. This way is likely slower/longer than Chris' lower route (see his GPX file).
Did the short out and back to Sandstone Summit (again you find an ammo box). Then cruised down the techy steep trail, down the 4x4 road, then onto the trails around to Oak Creek Trailhead and from Oak Creek TH you run the gravel road back to the Scenic Loop and Scenic Loop to the Exit "spike strip, tire popper thing" (<- scientific name)
I loved the route, I loved the day. THANKS CHRIS FOR THIS CONTRIBUTION.
Check out Chris' Youtube Channel "Mountain High Adventures" for some beta on the local routes and FKTs. Reach out to him, he is super helpful and stoked to see people get after it. I got in touch with him through Facebook.
Exit "Tire Popper" to First Creek TH in 18:31
Wilson Summit in 2:04:03 elapsed
Rainbow Mountain summit in 4:06:27
Rainbow Wall summit in 4:31:02
Bridge Mountain summit in 6:49:00
North Sandstone summit in 8:08:44
Willow Springs TH in 9:00:57
Oak Creek TH in 10:27:22
FINISH at Exit "Tire Popper" strip: 10:37:19
- Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest 5.0: super light, carried my 3 liters of water, phone, one wind layer, BE FREE filter bottle, and phone perfectly for this effort
- Katadyn "BE FREE" Filter Flask - this thing is awesome, total game changer for making unsupported projects come together without risking drinking unsafe water right from the ground...not that I have done that, ever, no definitely not...
- Arcteryx Wind Layer
- Patagonia ultra thin long sleeve
- random old running 3/4 tights to cover knees "just in case angry plants"
- Ultimate Direction Hat with "popped bill" to look silly
- random sunglasses
- Athletic Brewing NA "WILD RIDE" IPA at the finish - they make a great craft non-alcoholic product! if you are trying to get alcohol consumption out of your habits a bit, Athletic Brewing Company is a great option.