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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rampart Reservoir

Today we drove up to the mountains west of us and ran at Rampart Reservoir. We ran this a couple times last year, however we parked at the dam. This time we parked at Rainbow Gulch trailhead on Rampart Range Road and ran it as a lollipop loop. Given the late spring we had and the late snows in the high country, the water is still pouring into the reservoir - this is good.
So here is the aerial map of what we ran, with a clockwise direction for the loop. The loop ranges between 8990' and 9315' elevation. The trail is almost always above and next to waterline, except in some of the tributaries where it is routed farther inland for high water. The long straight section on the east end is the dam road. This is a taxing run mentally and physically because there are no extended climbs or descents, yet nothing is flat - a lot of up and down rollers which make momentum a definite mind game.
Kathleen cruises the fine singletrack on the northwest shore.
Starting in toward the main body of the reservoir with the brilliant morning sunshine glistening on the water. That is the first of many boats we would see on our run.
Climbing out of one of the many inlets, the water is smooth as glass behind Kathleen.
About halfway around the northern shoreline, the first views of Pikes Peak appear between the trees - just never get tired of that view!
At the end of one of the outstretched fingers of the reservoir, Steve emerges from one of the bog areas - roots, logs, and always muddy. These areas never get much more than slivers of sunlight for any extended periods during the day. Hope you brought your bug spray!!!
Nice shot of the trail weaving through a stand of aspen.
Rounding this corner, the first full views of the entire Peak grab your attention - sharp left turn or you'll run right off the edge into the drink! The mountain is way more impressive seen from the north like this - one enormous piece of granite!!!
On the southern edge, looking back toward the dam.
Steve runs through one of the few open meadows along the trail, dwarfed by the stunning landscape - the views on every section of this trail can take your breath away.
Kathleen crosses the bridge to complete the loop proper - now it is back up the hill on Rainbow Gulch to the trailhead. Finish with a climb?!?!?!
A kind mountain biker offered to take our picture along the stream before we headed up the hill to the truck. It was a fantastic run today - AND - Kathleen's longest run ever!!! She is finally getting her legs back!
Happy Trails!

Today's stats (as requested by J.B.) :-)
Shoes - Asics Trabuco
Mileage - 15
Elevation gain - 2600'

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Buffalo Creek

Our original weekend plans had been to head up to Twin Lakes Friday night after work, catch a few winks in the Pilot, head into Aspen for a lope on the Government Trail, do some window shopping in downtown Aspen for the afternoon, head back over Independence Pass in the evening, get our zzz's overnight in the Pilot, again, do a scenic cruise along the shores of Turquoise Lake on Sunday morning, then head home. The weather forecast didn't look real stellar in the mountains for the weekend, so we decided to save our time, miles, and money for another time. Consequently, a change of plans . . .
We decided to head up to one of our all time favorite mountain bike areas - Buffalo Creek. This awesome network of trails is about an 80 minute drive from our house and is a mountain biker's paradise. We have thought it could potentially be a trail runner's paradise, also. With well over 50 miles of trail, the centerpiece for this gem is the Colorado Trail. Today we avoided the Colorado Trail proper due to its tendency to be a literal bike freeway on the weekends and stayed on the connecting trails to the north. We have done many epic 30 mile mountain bike rides here over the years - I think we may have even eeked out a 40 miler or two - and have been anxious to get a new look at the fabulous trails on foot. Today was our start.

***A little history, as you will see in the photos - This area has been scarred by several horrendous forest fires. The first major one was in '96 and nearly 12000 acres were burned across an 11 mile path. That was followed by mudslides that almost destroyed one of Denver's major watersheds. The area was also subject to fire in 2000 and again in 2002, when it was affected by the Hayman Fire - the largest in Colorado history. That fire burned 138,000 acres and 133 homes were lost. While it was spooky coming back to the charred forest after the fires, we now have an appreciation for the sometimes "lunar" landscape in parts of this area. It continues to be a wonderfully beautiful area in spite of the burn spots.
The first few miles are on a non-motorized two-track dirt road. Kathleen is enjoying the sound of the rushing Buffalo Creek. Most of the start is through a lush canyon. Parralleling the creek, the trees give way to this view below - showing the effects of the 1996 fire.
From the same photo vantage point above, Steve turned to snap the below pic of Kathleen at the start of the Gashouse/Baldy trail intersection. We get to head up the trail into the trees.

Steve cruising along the pristine Baldy Trail.
A shot of Kathleen a little farther up Baldy. Another burn area - notice the burn line up the hillside behind her.
Still climbing and back into the forest.
Slickrock, Baldy style. It looks flat but it is a fairly steep pitch.
Did we mention there are miles and miles of sinuous, flowing ribbons of pristine singletrack???!!!
. . . and more of the same with gorgeously blooming wildflowers. Trail eye candy!
A meadow along the Sandy Wash Trail.
Some of the lunar landscape singletrack. Still awesome.
Driving home with a view of the backside of Pikes Peak.

We ended the day with an awesome 14.5 mile loop. We had expected this area to be good trail running and we certainly weren't disappointed! We have been fortunate to mountain bike many areas over the years and are now having tons of fun re-exploring some of those areas on foot. Old trails are new again! Plus, we will be on the hunt for some new stash as well. Happy trails this week!

Shoes: S - Asics Gel Trabuco
K - Montrail Odyssey

Sunday, June 14, 2009


...or Don't Run At All!
After another week of, shall we say, "atypical" summer weather, we decided to run where it is normally too hot to run right now - Pueblo Reservoir. In the background above, you can see the wonderful fresh coat of snow on Pikes Peak from yesterday afternoon's storm! The reservoir was hopping today with jet skis, boaters, and water skiers. Surprisingly, it was not hot yet there was little trail traffic - in 13 miles of trail, we saw 2 mountain bikers, 2 hikers, and 1 dog. (Oh and one super tiny rabbit, but more on that later...) We started our run at the marina today, instead of up on the mesa, and headed down the South Shore trail to get things rolling. It has been so green at home, we forgot that even with lots of rain, desert still looks like ... desert! It was great because the trails were not super dusty and the traction was probably a bit better than when we last ran here in March.
Kathleen is climbing one of the first hills out on South Shore, with the trail winding along behind and to the left of her. It was a bit overcast with a few peeks of sunshine, but the cloud cover probably helped out as we were pretty warm by the time we finished.
We stopped out on Pedro's Point overlooking the water - the long horizontal stripe just above waterline is the top of the dam and the water is pretty high for this late into June. We hope it stays that way!
Kathleen cruising along the Outer Limits trail.
I scared this poor little guy half to death by almost running over him! This rabbit was no more than the size of my fist and his little heart was beating at high rev when I stopped, though he did not try to move. We encouraged him to leave the trail so he did not get run over by a bike - they would never get stopped in time!
Kathleen running Outer Limits ... or is it the Serengeti?
We took a little trip out to the first overlook on the Voodoo trail - never done the loop yet but that will be on the list for this Fall. From the bottom of Outer Limits, Voodoo is an additional 11.2 mile loop according to our maps. It appears to be sweet singletrack just like all the other trails we have run here - nice!
We were enjoying the trails so much, before we knew it we were back to the South Shore area and heading in toward the marina. We are a bit torn - this is such an awesome trail running area, yet not many runners come here. At the same time, it is nice to not always share the trail with 1000 of your "closest friends" on a weekend day. So come down and explore these trails but only tell a person or two...
Crossing the stream and heading for home - it was a nice warm day at Pueblo Reservoir and we followed the directions on Kathleen's new lid - Run Happy. Hope you do the same this week!

Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey
S - Asics Trabuco

If you want to see some of the fine weather we have been having, here is a link to a video of Lance Armstrong and friends training today outside of Aspen, Colorado. BRRRRR!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Special Guest Appearance

We had the privilege to meet up with Coleen for a quick evening run at Garden of the Gods. We were also happy to meet her dad, Bob, a long time ultra runner, whose website we frequent - Colorado Springs Trails. Small world - turns out Kathleen knows one of his running buddies! Coleen is in Colorado doing a training block for Leadville 100.
Kathleen and Coleen on the Palmer Trail - we were getting rained on at this point but still having fun on the trails.
The girls running past the Siamese Twins arch.
After about 20 minutes of rain, the clouds moved out and we were able to finish the run in sunshine - sweet!
...Capped off by a nice rainbow.
Pikes Peak shrouded by clouds after the storm - it turned out to be a beautiful sunset. It was great to meet up with our favorite Kansas blogger and get in a nice run. It was also cool to meet Bob after reading his website so many times - and to top it off, he only lives a few miles from us! So we'll for sure be running into him more often now that we know who we're watching for. Good luck to Coleen as she prepares for Leadville 100 - we'll look forward to seeing you in August!
Happy Trails!

Monday, June 8, 2009

More fun in Cheyenne Canon

Saturday BIG Run in Cheyenne Canon

We had planned on running in Boulder Saturday with TL, but unfortunately a knee problem has been nagging him since Sage Burner 50K. We certainly hope it is a quick recovery and we'll be heading up to Boulder to log some miles with him soon!
It was a wonderful sunny day (finally), so we took off for Cheyenne Canon to check out a few more trails and add to our loop potential there. We warmed up on the climb up Gold Camp and then turned off onto the Buckhorn trail, which Kathleen is running above. This is a very steep trail in sections and has the typical decomposed granite (read: gravel) surface that most of the trails below Pikes Peak have.
After reaching the top of Buckhorn, we continued climbing up Jones Park trail, rising steadily above Bear Creek Canyon. This is a view from one of the ridges on Jones Park, looking up Bear Creek Canyon, where we would soon be running.
The views from the top of Jones Park were amazing, 2700' above Colorado Springs at this point. We have had such a mild, wet start to summer and everything is amazingly green right now.
From that point, we started the descent into the Bear Creek drainage and crossed the creek to make the long descent on Bear Creek trail. This was all new territory for us and we were having a blast (OK - after recovering from the first 2000 feet of climb!!!) On the other side of this bridge, Jones Park begins it's climb again, but we took the turn downhill on Bear Creek. This is a much more rustic trail - lots of loose rocks and very tight foliage at the top. Whereas Jones Park and Cap'n Jacks are open to motorcycle travel, this is unmotorized only.
Cruising down Bear Creek and having a blast!
We had to stop for a group photo at one of the bridges - it was an awesome day and we really like these new trails we are discovering.
After descending a bit on Bear Creek, you emerge from the trees to one of those "Ah Hah!" vistas that take your breath away. The canyon opens up and before you know it, you are running the southern wall almost 400 feet above the rushing creek. This shot is looking back to the falls, about the lower third and center of photo - we had just run above them and out around the left side of the photo.
Running along the ridge high above the creek, with unbelievable views of the canyon below! Bear Creek was quite a steep descent and we lost all of our climb and more before landing on the High Drive, a very steep road that filters traffic one-way out of the canyon. In order to complete our loop, we had to go back UP High Drive!
We made it!! It was incredible to have Kathleen back out on a hard run like this - she was really running well and this is one tough loop. One of the nice things about building up our endurance is that it has opened up some more difficult terrain for us to explore than we would have ever tried in the past. Sweet! Now it was just a bit more climb on Cap'n Jacks trail, then mostly downhill to the trailhead.
Here is Kathleen in one of the monster, bobsled-like chutes that you encounter on the descent of Cap'n Jacks. You don't "ride" the berms as much on foot but it is still a blast to run through them.
We had a really fun day on the trails. This was possibly one of the harder runs we have done, with a bit over 4000' feet of climb in 11.5 miles - it was also a ton of fun and some good mountain running! ...And there are still miles and miles ABOVE where we ran today still waiting to be explored...

Shoes-Asics Trabuco

Another Great run at Falcon Trail

Since Kathleen missed out last weekend (and we were a little tired from Saturday!), we headed over to the Air Force Academy to play on the Falcon Trail. While not an easy run, we have done it enough times to manage our run very well even if a bit fatigued.
First of all, it was another unbelievable blue sky day again on Sunday. It had been a long time since we had great weekend weather but we certainly had it again today. Here Kathleen is cruising along the climb up toward the community center...
... and again along the creek, enjoying the beautiful day! Once again we had a lot of serenity on the trails - not crowded at all, especially given the fantastic weather. We tried to get a video to show some of the great scenery but we need a little practice with that!!! (Although it would make for some good comedy...) Maybe next week.
Steve climbing the ridge up toward the Stanley Canyon trailhead. It was picture perfect and the views on the backside ascent are really cool. The legs were a bit weary from yesterday's climbs but we actually felt pretty good out on the trail.
Rounding a steep switchback, overlooking the visitor's center - are we there yet?!?! We finished up the run with 13 miles and an awesome day enjoying the trails and sunshine. Hope everyone has a great week - Happy Trails!

Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey
S-Asics Trabuco
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