•October 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment
I was super excited and nervous for this race! Excited because: how often do you get to race on top of the continental divide, nervous because: what kind of crazy person runs on top of the continental divide. I was pretty sure that I could accomplish the 14 miles that it would take to reach the end but I didn’t know what kind of shape I would be in at the finish. There was 3400 ft of vertical climbing and the race topped out at 13,200 ft. As far as a finishing time…I had no clue.
This race was a point to point so the buses dropped us off at Henderson Mine and from there the race took Jones Pass up to the continental divide and the trail went south and eventually merged with the Herman Gulch trail and ended at Herman Gulch trail-head. When the gun went off my friend Kristen and I started running slowly. The steepness gradually crept in. Kristen pulled ahead since she is a much better runner. I kept it slow and contained. I was concerned, however, about the time limit. I only had 2 hours to reach the first cut off point at mile 4. I know that sounds like a long time but when you’re running straight up a freakin mountain it can take quite awhile. I would start to get outta breath so then I would hike, power hike more like. This still did not let me catch my breath. In fact, looking back at the whole race, I never caught my breath. I did a lot of hiking up to that first (and only) aid station at mile 4 but after that is when it all got really fun! First of all, I ate bacon and chips at the aid station, that always puts a smile on my face. Second of all, I was on the top of the world. I could see a helicopter flying lower than where I was running. There were no clouds and the weather was perfect. Cool but not cold and sunny but not hot. It wasn’t even too windy considering that we were on the divide. Running along the edge was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. I just kept saying to myself “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” I was even passing some people. I think I was just so amped up that I was functioning off of adrenaline only.
I finally made the top (13,200 ft) at about 6.5 miles in. Quite a bunch of us where snapping pics of each other and enjoying the moment. I was thrilled to be part of such an awesome community of trail runners.
We started to descend, which I actually enjoy. There were rocks strewn about and the trail curved this way and that but I love the thrill of going downhill fast and having to intensely focus on your foot work as to avoid a spill. I got at the tail end of a group of 5 guys who were pushing the pace. I stayed with them stride for stride and I felt like part of a team, an unstoppable team, doing a crazy and amazing adventure. I’m sure I had the biggest grin on my face at that point. We stayed together for quite awhile until we began climbing again and a couple of them peeled off to strip down some layers. I stayed with one guy that kept moving. When he would hike up a steep section, I would do the same. I was learning from his technique.
One section of the trail is an out and back to Herman Lake. At the lake is a checkpoint that you must get your race bib punched to prove that you didn’t cut the course. When I was almost to Herman Lake I felt the tiredness catching up to me. I took my 3rd gel and a little water. At the turn around a very enthusiastic guy threw me a high-five and on the way down there were so many exchanges of “strong work”, “nice job”, “looking good”, etc that I got my energy back. I started cruising as I re-entered treeline. The forest was cool and I could feel the chilly sweat in my wind jacket. There were large root systems that I was continually dodging and afraid of twisting my ankle on. I caught back up to one of the guys from the pack. Turns out he was from Cincinnati and does this race every year (impressive) the 50k distance, not the 22k. I stayed with him through much of the trees until he slowed and I passed. Now I was running by myself. I knew that I was near the end and I could feel the sense of accomplishment bubbling up. “I can’t believe that I’ve done this” I thought. I crossed the finish line with a smile and some cheers from the 15+ people at the end. More bacon and chips awaited me at the finish. I rode the shuttle the 25 minutes back to the tents where I met up with Kristen and enjoyed some beers. I came in 3rd in my age group (F40-49) but sadly there were only prizes for 1st place in each age group. Back at home I enjoyed another beer in my newly acquired mug!
•October 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment
My friend and I decided to run the East Inlet trail in Rocky Mountain National Park to Lone Pine Lake. It was perfect weather and we got a fairly early start. Since the parking lot/trail head is not located in the national park system you do not need a park pass to park your vehicle or use the trail. There are porta-potties located at the trail head. You get great views even from the start on this trail.
The trail started climbing and climbing and climbing. It was a lot of up. So much up that there were many areas where the national park service had built stairs with stones. The views behind us were getting better the higher we were getting. We never got up above treeline but it was still a beautiful trail.
Lone Pine Lake was beautiful! It’s named after the single pine tree that grows out of the small island in the lake. As you can see behind us in the pic below.
The descending was much more fun. Since the trail was fairly rocky we just had to pay attention as to avoid any twisted ankles. As we got closer to the start/end of the trail there were lots of other people just starting out their hikes and the trail became more crowded.
In all the trip was approximately 11 miles with almost 2,000 ft of climbing. Fun trail but not my favorite. Since we worked hard, we deserved to reward ourselves so we grabbed some drinks and grub at Pine Restaurant in Grand Lake. I had a habanero margarita and it was really good. Service was somewhat slow though.
•October 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment
This trail is a 3 mile loop that starts and ends in Aspen Meadow. It is rated as difficult but I felt that there were good spots to run on this trail and that most of it is fairly runnable. I’ll save that for later. Puppy and I just hiked it for the day. It was a good hike and easy to get to for us.
As I finished this trail I realized that I completed all of the trails in the Golden Gate Canyon State Park system in 2016. Whether trail running them by myself or hiking them with puppy…they all have been conquered!
•October 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Puppy and I went for a decent hike on the Burro trail. It’s a 4.5 mile lolipop loop trail that’s rated as difficult. It starts and ends at Bridge Creek. The first part of the trail I had been on several times connecting to other trails but when I hit part of the trail that I had never been on it got a little creepy. It was really early in the morning and we started descending down into a ravine area. Since the sun wasn’t really up that much the ravine seemed even darker. We continued to descend and I could tell that the rock walls on either side were closing in. There was also a lot of overgrown vegetation due to the moist climate and the small creek that was hardly flowing. I was only slightly concerned about running into a beer or mountain lion and not being able to give them their space due to the lack of space in the area. We made lots of noises and I continually spoke to the dog so that any animals would hear voices and head their own way. This section wasn’t too long and before I knew it we were climbing back up to the more open meadows that Golden Gate Canyon is known for.
We often hike so early in the morning that other people are not even on the trails yet. We hadn’t seen anyone and then we heard noises to our right. It startled me since I had just been thinking about not wanting to spook any animals. Turned out that it was only 3 young male deer. The bucks weren’t too concerned about our presence and went about grazing. We climbed some switchbacks and when we were higher up we heard the same deer running through the trees and breaking some branches. Something else must have spooked them.
We started back down and back towards the first part of the trail. We didn’t see another soul until close to the end when we saw a woman in her 70’s walking her lama…as you do. Puppy just starred at the lama since he had never seen one. It was a good day of hiking and pretty challenging.
•October 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment
I needed to get out and hike with the puppy after work since I couldn’t fit it in beforehand. We headed to Coyote Trail since I knew that it had good westerly views at the top and we could watch the sun starting to go down. This trail does a lot of climbing straight up to the top which means a good quad burner for me. We did it in pretty good time since we had no time to waste.
At the top we lingered and I sipped on a beer. A storm was slowly rolling in so we didn’t stay long. I always want to drink a beer at the top of a climb or at the pinnacle of a run but I’m accustom to doing my outdoorsy athletic endeavors in the early morning and beer just doesn’t usually work at that time of the day. But today it worked!
When we started back down that’s when the slight buzz was kicking in. Now I see why so many people these days drink and hike/trail run. It does have an appeal but I think I prefer to be in more control than what that allows me.
PSA: There was an old discarded bottle of Corona at the top as well so I packed it up and brought it down to recycle it. I can’t imagine people that litter! If you brought it up there then be responsible and take it back down!
•August 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment
I arrived at Hessie TH at 7am and was one of the first cars there, which is important since this place fills up and people arriving later have to take a shuttle in. As I started running I got that feeling of excitement and fear all at the same time. It comes from running on an unknown trail, by myself, early in the morning. It’s empowering and makes me feel as if the world is all mine. I love this feeling but also am respectful of dangers that could present themselves. You can’t let fear rule you though. You would miss out on so much greatness.
The trail gained elevation at a pretty steady pace and was fairly technical with lots of rocks and roots. My ankles were already tired from last Sunday’s race so this terrain wasn’t gonna help any. I saw a few other trail runners out with big happy smiles on their faces. Trail runners seem to be some of the happiest people around. How can you not be happy running through some of the most beautiful country in the world. Trail runners are also friendly and quite often up for a quick chit-chat.
There were lots of lakes, streams and waterfalls to make the surrounding area very picturesque. As I climbed towards treeline, the trees became smaller and less abundant. I never truly made it to treeline and turned around near 11,000ft.
A storm was rolling in and the low lying clouds are always exciting for me. I love the look that these clouds create. The temperature stayed in the 50’s and was perfect for running. It drizzled a little bit which never bothers me. In fact, I think it adds to the character of the day.
I even found snow. Not pretty snow, but snow just the same.
After 2 hours of running I decided to turn around. I was tired and with the storm rolling in you could no longer see the continental divide. I knew I would have no views on top. Little did I know that I turned around just a few hundred yards short of reaching Devils Thumb Lake. I would find this out after I got home and checked the maps. Oh well, next time.
Overall this was a gorgeous run! A little too technical for what I prefer but the views make up for the sore ankles what will come with the next few days. I ran just short of 12 miles to 11,000ft with over 2,000ft of elevation gain. Next time I’ll have to do the High Lonesome loop!
•July 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment
I saw repeatedly how this was going to be a big storm and since we live at 9,000ft in the mountains I knew we would get a lot of snow! I left work at 2:20pm on Friday the 15th since the snow had already started falling at our house. From work I drive up 3600 feet to home and the weather conditions can vary greatly. It was only sprinkling rain when I left work and about halfway home it changed to snow. It was beautiful, gently falling on the dirt roads and melting right away. When I got home it started picking up. I came in the house and hubby had a fire going in the wood stove, jazz playing in the background and a great selection of cold beer just waiting for me. He had veal and lamb Bolognese cooking in the crock-pot and the house smelled so inviting. The puppy was crazy as usual and excited that we were all together.
While we waited for dinner, we stood on the porch in the snow sipping Shadow Brewer Imperial Stout by Ommegang, listening to the jazz and playing ball with puppy. This is probably one of our favorite things to do. It continued to snow while we ate dinner and drank The Commodore from Diebolt Brewing. It did not stop snowing even once and we were excited to see what we’d find the next morning. We felt like it was Christmas.
The next morning I woke up to see about 18 inches of snow on the porch. I knew I had to get out and run in it. The snow was big fluffy flakes that were gently falling with even spacing between them. It couldn’t have been any prettier. According to my training plan, I needed to run for 1 hr and 30 min but didn’t want to drive anywhere so I just ran in the neighborhood. I love running while it’s snowing! I wore my old shoes with the screws that I added to the bottom to provide traction in snow and they worked great. I didn’t slip or slide once and felt like I had more gripping power while running up hills. After 1hr and 30 minutes my shoes were soaked through and my feet were wet but other than that I was warm and fairly dry the entire time.
By the time I got home hubby was up and cooking bacon and the fire was still going. I sat down and started to ice my knees and realized that no work would be done today except for plowing the driveway. It was one of those days just to sit and enjoy the snow and fire. We cracked open The Beast Grand Cru from 2014 that we had been saving (cellaring) and the snow began to pile up. We had carbonnade (Belgian stew) cooking in the crock pot all day so the house smelled so yummy.
Sunday morning we woke up to over 36 inches of snow! It just kept coming down with no signs of stopping in sight. Puppy and I got out and played in the yard while hubby plowed the driveway AGAIN.
The snow was just over puppy’s head in some spots and in other areas he looked like he was just tunneling though. We were having a blast. Even though we live in Colorado and people seem to think that we get snow all the time, we don’t. Snow days are very special to us since they don’t occur like this too often.
It was another day of no work and just playing so we got out the Big City Quad brewed by River North in Denver and sat in the snow imbibing while watching puppy romp. For Sunday night’s meal we had Chicken Marsala. We had planned out 3 crock pot meals since we knew we’d be surrounded by snow the entire weekend and would want some stick to your bones type of food. It was a superb weekend!
By Monday morning we found out from the news that we had received about 4ft (48 inches) of snow total!