Trail Run – Mule Deer 03/12/16

My friend Kristen and I set out to run the Mule Deer trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. We started from the Reverend’s Ridge Campground and ran counter-clockwise. It ended up that I prefer running this trail counter-clockwise since it breaks up some of the climbing more. The loop is 9.1 miles in length but we estimated with the extra running to and from the campground that it was approximately 10 miles total. The Reverend’s Ridge area sits at approximately 9,120 feet in elevation so this was our starting point. The lowest point that we would drop to was at Ole’ Barn Knoll at 8,200 ft. Where the Coyote Trail intersects with the Mule Deer trail is one of the highest points at 9,460 ft. I’m not sure of the total elevation gain since I don’t run with GPS.

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Immediately the trail starts descending to the south and continues the downward trajectory for about 2 miles until you reach Ole’ Barn Knoll. This section was fairly muddy due to the recent high temperatures melting much of the snow. The trail in this area is mostly a deep single track with open meadow views. After passing through Ole’ Barn Knoll the trail becomes more rocky, winding, and gradually starts climbing up. The trail eventually turns north and heads towards Frazer Meadow. This is my favorite stretch. It stays around the same elevation but is rolling ups and downs which gives a nice feeling of truly running on trails. In this area the trail was completely snow covered and slippery in our running shoes since we weren’t wearing traction because of the other parts of the trail having no snow. We slid and had to take smaller steps to avoid falling. The trail crosses Gap Road and continues on the north side of Gap for awhile before joining up with Raccoon trail. We took the northern loop of Raccoon until we came across another trail that headed to Reverend’s Ridge campground. We finished the run in approximately 2 hours 33 minutes.

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Back at camp it was time to set up the rain tent since we were expecting rain that night. Thankfully the rain never came to fruition. We also got a fire going since the low for the night was going to be in the 20’s. We cracked open some beers, sat in our camp chairs, and celebrated a good day of running in the woods. How could it really be bad?! Dinner was chicken fajitas on the camp stove. We were tired, fed, hydrated (for the most part), happy and warm by the fire. This was totally my type of day!

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I stayed up just a bit later than Kristen did so that I could ensure the fire burned out properly. I sipped on an IPA and starred into the fire (one of my favorite things to do). I really just soaked in the moment and enjoyed where I am in life.

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My tent was cold and sitting on patches of snow but my sleeping bag was oh so warm. I snuggled in and it took awhile to fall asleep since I could still hear other people in the campground. Sleep was in and out for most of the night but I felt super relaxed and happy to be among the trees. I heard some coyotes during the night which only made me happier.

The next morning it was hard to get out of my warm sleeping bag as the air was cold and the sun not yet over the mountain top. I threw on my extra clothes and got back into my bag to help warm up my chilly clothing. Eventually I drug myself out and started packing away some gear. Kristen woke up and made breakfast: mini bagels with almond butter and jam. We re-hydrated and packed for our hike. Our plan was to do almost the same route as the previous day but take the Coyote trail which shortcuts from the Mule Deer trail on the west side to the Mule Deer trail on the east side. It is a 2 mile climb that was rated “Most Difficult”. It was harder than most of Mule Deer but wasn’t that bad.

Coyote Trail climbed up to a fantastic view! The trail is on the south side of Tremont Mountain and climbs to Promontory Ridge. From the ridge we could see Mt. Evan to the south and Longs Peak to the north. From this point we headed east/southeast along a meadow that showed many signs of moose residing in the area. We didn’t see any but it was a beautiful area to walk through. I see why they hang out there. We joined back up with the Mule Deer trail and followed mostly the same path as we had the day before. Towards the end I was feeling the effects of 2 long days of being on the trail. We pushed on and finished the hike in 2 hours, 42 minutes.

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When I returned home hubby had a fire going and a cold beer waiting for me. We sat and caught up since I hadn’t seen him for more than a few minutes since the weekend before. I was chilled to the bones and the fire felt so good. All in all it was a great weekend! I was lucky enough to get to do all the things I love about life and enjoyed them with a good friend! Thanks Kristen for pushing me though the miles!

 

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~ by willtriforbeer on May 31, 2016.

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