If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Early Morning Jaunt

We needed to hit the trail early this morning since Kathleen had to work, so we decided to go to our "home field", Ute Valley Park. It is pretty awesome to have a park of this quality 1 mile from the house and we get pretty spoiled by our vast trail selection in this area. The sun tried to poke out for a few minutes, but then a gray blanket of clouds pulled back over us and remained off and on again throughout the day.
Kathleen runs along the valley floor with a glint of sunshine highlighting Blodgett Peak in the background. Except for the scrub oaks, most everything in Ute Valley has become verdant over the past few weeks. This is a pleasant sight after our long, gray spring.
We saw quite a few trail users out early today as most were expecting the weather forecast of hot and sunny to pan out - duped again!!! 8.5 miles and home before 8:45 am - we are fortunate to have great trail running in close proximity for days like today.

Thought for the day:
I do not run to add days to my life; I run to add life to my days!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A "Quickie" in Ute Valley Park

We were a little pressed for time this morning, so we laced up the shoes and headed out the door to Ute Valley Park for a "quickie" run. We are so blessed to live in a neighborhood that is criss-crossed with groomed, gravel multi use trails which access little trail jewels like our Ute Valley. Ute is a small, urban "undeveloped" park with a nice mixture of smooth and rocky trails about a mile or so from our house. Moab has arches, so does Ute, as you can see in the picture above! The terrain is hilly - constant ups and downs - not much flat terrain to speak of.

Here is Steve coming up from the "valley floor". The park has a rather remote feel and look to it even though it is in the middle of a mostly residential area. Over the years, we have seen deer, coyotes, and bear in the park. We have heard there have been mountain lions, too, but thankfully we have not come in contact with one! We also have to be extra attentive with our footing during the summer as there are lots of rattlesnakes who like to sun on the rocks. I always get "jelly legs" when I come across one! The day started out a little cooler and a bit gray. Here is Kathleen coming over a little boulder section, heading downhill. Yahooooo! Downhills are good! The clouds are hiding what is normally a great view of Pikes Peak in the background. Although it was a "quickie" run of a little over 5 miles, we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful area. We never want to cease being amazed at God's brushstrokes on His majestic canvas of nature! What a gift!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Red Rock Canyon Open Space

We got to spend the morning running in another of our local favorite spots, Red Rock Canyon Open Space. It is a reclaimed former rock quarry and, aside from having some of the best rock climbing areas in Colorado, also has some awesome trails for running and mountain biking. Once again it was "Chamber of Commerce" weather today and surprisingly light on trail traffic for a holiday weekend. From the Red Rock Rim trail you have fantastic views of the western half of the city, including the Garden of the Gods, seen in the distance in the photo above.
We have not run here before in the summer time, so today was the most green we have seen the park. We are usually struggling to get good photo contrast with the more desert plant life that is typical of this area, but today was actually quite photogenic. Steve is running along the Roundup trail on the upper rim of the park in the photo above.
Kathleen is showing off her new pink sleeves on the Contemplative Trail. She has had a tough time the last few rides and runs with a stubborn sunburn and the sleeves have been helping keep her arms protected (...and they are PINK, which is always a bonus!!!) We were able to put together a very nice 11 mile run today and enjoy one of our favorite spots in the process!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Awesome day in Garden of the Gods

We never want to allow ourselves to not marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds us in Colorado, and today did not disappoint us as the Garden of the Gods was stunning against the crystal-clear blue sky. The gateway to the park framing Pikes Peak is always an awesome panorama.
The trees are finally getting leaves on them (third week of May!!) and there is more green to contrast the red rock and limestone in the park. Kathleen is running through the Dakota trail above.
The Garden is one of our favorite spots and will probably show up on many of our posts but it offers such great trail running that we cannot stay away. There is not much, if any, flat on these trails, so be ready for many ups and downs if you run here. Steve is running the Palmer trail, ascending toward the high point of the park.
There are many stunning landmarks in the Garden and the Siamese Twins Arch is one of the more phtographed rock formations. Anyone who has the 2008 Runner's World calendar will recognize this from the February photo.
Running along the front ridge of the park on the Niobrara trail there are great views of the park, and off in the distance is Red Rock Canyon Open Space (which may just show up in our post for tomorrow!!)
Kathleen running strong on Niobrara trail, finishing up a great day on the trails. We put in about 8.5 miles with all of the undulations adding up to 1350' of elevation gain. Good times and postcard scenery - we are truly blessed!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Just" an ordinary day

While we like to look at every day as a gift, there are some days that are not overly exciting. Today we got to do the juggling routine of trying to keep a consistent workout schedule while also tending to the other "W" word - work!!! We also have Steve's folks staying with us for his niece's graduation, so time is a little tight. One nice thing about company, though, is that it forced us to fix up a few things in the house that we have been avoiding like the plague. There is always that fine balance between play time and house work - sorry, but play time wins hands down!

On to the fun stuff. K was able to sneak out before work and do a 5 mile run up and over Flying W and S was able to get in some trails at Ute Valley Park after work this evening. Got to see the first rattler of the season on the trail in Ute - it is that time! We went from waiting for it to warm up to try and run without a heavy shirt, to planning time around the heat and intense sun at altitude.

Here is a parting shot from Monday - miss Sage enjoying the trails near Pike National Forest not far from home.

"The life given us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal" -Cicero

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cheyenne Cañon and Stratton Open Space

We decided to run Cheyenne Cañon today starting from Starsmore Discovery Center. Right behind the center is the entrance to the Columbine trailhead pictured above. It was another bright Colorado day and the forecast was for our first day in the 80's so far and we were looking forward to it after our COLD winter and spring!

The Columbine trail climbs briskly along the stream and above Cañon Drive for almost 2 miles until the cutoff trail that we use to catch Gold Camp Road. Shortly after starting we saw a small bear cross the stream and scamper up into the brush before I could get the camera on him. He was not at all interested in posing for us - go figure! Columbine rises steadily, at times sustaining grades above 15% and averages a solid 10% for the first 2 miles.

After climbing to the intersection with Gold Camp Road, there is a short tunnel to run through, and then a mellow dirt road cruise (and a short paved section) to the upper trailhead for The Chutes. As the name implies, Chutes is a bermed, curvy downhill that is a blast to mountain bike down and not too shabby to run either. Awaiting you at the base of Chutes is Stratton Open Space, another of Colorado Springs fine park areas. It is a mixture of small open meadows and coniferous forest and is quite a beautiful park.

K running the Upper Meadows Loop.

S running near the end of the Chamberlain trail. We ended up with about 9 miles, but starting with a climb like Columbine in the legs, that is plenty for us. As is usually the case, we ended our run with a smile on our face and good times etched in our memory banks!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fun at Spruce Mountain Open Space

We've not been able to get out much this week - Steve did a short run Monday night after work and Kathleen did a before work run on Wednesday morning. BUT, THANKFULLY!!! we were able to get out today for a very fun trail run!!! We did a 10+ miler on the Spruce Meadow/Spruce Mountain trails. We have mountain biked these trails many times over the years (we bike a 30ish mile big loop) but today was the first time we ran this portion (we are slowly morphing into REAL trailrunners, I think!). The picture above is at the start of the sort-of lollipop loop. The first two miles roll through open prairie, then begin to climb into scrub oak and finally pines on Spruce Mountain. Unfortunately, there is not much green or color yet-the scrub oaks are still bare so the pictures seem a little dull. But it really is a beautiful area!

S starting the climb up the switchbacks to the top of Spruce Mountain . . .

. . . and K bringing up the rear!
Now we are on top of Spruce Mountain, looking north toward Castle Rock and Denver. On a really clear, bluebird day, we can see all the way to the famed snow capped Longs Peak. The views from up here are amazing! Today was a little hazy so no Longs Peak. Oh, by the way, this is one of the few days K has worn a short sleeved top on her run - it was mid 60's and we were trying to get maximum vitamin D absorption. Winter was too long this year!

S enjoying the descent off of Spruce Mountain!

We met an interesting trailrunning team today - pictured above (on top of Spruce Mountain) is Steve and his burro, Finegan. Today, they did a 12 mile training run in preparation for the trail races they will do over the summer. Finegan is 10 years old and was so sweet and mellow! We spent quite a bit of time talking to Steve and petting sweet Finegan. Burro racing is really an interesting sport. Steve gave us this website: http://www.packburroracing.com/. Look it up! It is a fun, entertaining, and interesting website. Steve and Finegan are pictured in one of their 2007 races in the "Gallery" section. He said they are always looking for new burro racing recruits and can put people in touch with "rental burros" for those wanting to try something new and exciting involving lots of trailrunning with a companion. We thought it looked fun!
After our most excellent run and visit with Steve and Finegan, we climbed into the truck and had to agree that "Life is good!". Get out and enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2008

K's Monday mountain bike ride with Becky!

I met my dear friend, Becky, for our Monday morning mountain bike ride. We had a beautiful, blue sky, WARM (finally!!!) morning as we headed over to the Fire Center in Monument. Although we had intended on doing a longer ride, we both ended up with the "BLAHS" today, consequently shortening our ride. We still had fun, though!!! We ended up with almost 17 miles of mostly delicious singletrack!!! Every day is a good day (even when we're feeling a little blah) especially when we are able to get out to bike or run on the trails!!!

K riding "The Downhill"

Because Becky and I were "photographically challenged" today due to our "blahs", I am including a couple of other pictures we snapped from the past couple of our Monday rides:

B enjoying the view on Spruce Mountain

K picking her way down Helicopter

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Our first 13 miler - Falcon Trail - USAFA

All winter (and spring since it has been a cold one!) we have been earmarking this loop as our first attempt at 13 miles and our longest run to date. The Falcon Trail is an awesome trail on the US Air Force Academy that we have mountain biked many times but have only run sections of it at a time. The loop is almost entirely singletrack and circles the perimeter of a good portion of the Academy. There are some nice climbs but nothing that is extreme - total climb for the loop was 1760'. It was a beautiful "bluebird" Colorado day, not a cloud in the sky.

Steve is enjoying his new Nathan hydration pack. It is very stable for running with the nice vest-like fit. There is a zippered pocket for the camera (we love photos) and also one for gels. This picture is on one of the rocky sections near the fire station.

This picture is of Kathleen running near the north entrance to the Academy. We are only about 1.5 miles from the finish here, and at this point we know we are going to conquer the entire loop!!! Any time we finish a run or a ride like this, we always have silly grins plastered across our faces - good times!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our First Post!

We're finally up and "running"!!! Our very first post to get started blogging. We enjoyed beautiful evening weather last night for a post-work trail run at Palmer Park. Palmer Park is in the middle of town and contains a great variety of trails to explore. We ran 7.75 miles, using up the remaining evening sunlight. We had lots of fun! Included in our run were the Mesa, Yucca, and Grandview Trails on the upper bluffs of the park.

Steve is pictured running on the Grandview Trail and Kathleen is catching some of the last rays for the evening on the Yucca Trail.

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