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

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ute Valley Park is Green!

Awoke to thick cloud cover and damp, gray skies early this morning, so we were not in a huge hurry to be motivated to run. Add to that Versus tempting us to watch the formalities of the finishing day of the Tour De France on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and, by the time we laced up to hit the trail, the clouds were almost burned off and it got hot quickly.
We started out with a great view from our neighborhood of some of the remaining clouds lifting from Blodgett Peak, at least temporarily...
We headed over to our "backyard" trail system, Ute Valley Park, for some good dirt miles. Although I tested it briefly on Saturday, this was my first "real" run in two weeks following a bad ankle sprain. Ute would be a good test, too, as it is quite technical in spots. On the initial climb to the outer rim, we had a nice view of Pikes Peak - bare today but it snowed up there yesterday!
Kathleen makes her way up the middle of the park, heading for the western ridge.
We have had the most consistent rainfall this spring and summer that we have had in a decade. It shows everywhere that we run. Ute Valley Park is a rugged, natural park and, by this time in the summer, is usually brown and oh so dry. Not this year - waist-high grasses abound and everything that can hold water is green. Nice! For the first time in years, the little Forest Service bear signs have the "Fire Danger" pointer on "LOW" - what a relief.
Testing out the ankle and glad to be back on the trails!
...And the clouds are returning. The build up that usually starts after noon could not wait. Good thing we got out when we did! This is the view from the top of the park looking out to the foothills and the southern end of the Air Force Academy.
Kathleen on good form cruising down the trail!
I have never seen a deer with his mouth this full. I was close enough to hear him chewing and he had a HUGE salad buffet going! Another park "user" thankful for the abundant moisture this year.
Did I mention it was good to be back on the trail? I was able to get in 8 miles and Kathleen did an extra loop to notch 10.5, so it was a nice day on the trails! Hope everyone gets out to enjoy the summer scenery while it is here - Happy Trails!

Shoes - Saucony Progrid Xodus

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lots of Stuff...

I was eating breakfast and getting ready for work this past week and walked out of the kitchen to see this guy staring in the front door at me! How rude of me to interrupt his flower grazing...!!! He has frequent flyer miles at our salad bar, ummm I mean, garden!
Kathleen's xeric garden has been exceptionally active this year. Although all of these plants survive with little or no additional water, they have really enjoyed our unusual rainfall pattern this summer.
Aside from attracting our daily deer traffic, the humming birds and bumble bees have been quite appreciative of their smorgasboard of delicious nectars!
We arrived at Cheyenne Mountain State Park last Sunday to new postings - Great, now Cougar's Shadow is not just a nifty name for a trail!?!? Although we are aware of the lion population along the foothills, even near our home, we sometimes operate under the "out of sight, out of mind" principle, which unfortunately plays right into the hands of mountain lions. The signs just give that extra precaution that we live at the intersection of wild and civilized! Some better news about CMSP - The Xterra Marathon of Trail Races will hold marathon, half marathon, and 5k trail races here October 3 - awesome!
Kathleen cruising on the Coyote Run trail. It was a great day for running and we had plans to get in about 10 - 12 miles. However, Steve severely sprained his ankle on one of the easier trails in the park and had to cut off at 6 miles. What a drag! I was deciding how I would navigate around an older gentlemen with walking poles and hooked my left shoe on a root snag - that was all she wrote, run over... Kathleen was able to get an extra loop in, though, and finish strong with 10.5 miles.
Group photo after Kathleen finished.

Another interesting wildlife side note. One night this week, we sat straight up in bed to the sound of splintering/tearing wood at 3 AM. Not a comforting noise to hear in the pitch black but I could not see much in the direction of the noise except the neighbor's motion light on the back porch. A few minutes later he is in the back yard with flashlight in hand, obviously rudely awakened from his slumber as well. As it turned out, a bear was in his back yard and panicked looking for an escape route. He tore an 8 foot section of fence free and then ripped the gate off in order to exit the front and down the road. WOW!

Went to the doc Thursday for an exam on the appendage. X-rays were clear, joint was stable with no dislocation, so I was given the blessing from Dr. Z to gradually work back to running. He was greatly relieved when I told him my plan to only attempt cycling this weekend!
So, yesterday Kathleen got to head out for her run, sans husband with gimpy leg. While she ran, I prepped road bikes so we could head out when she finished. Kathleen ran Ute Valley Park and got in 8.5 miles of trails to get warmed up.
We were able to get in a nice 20 mile ride, with warm sunny weather and relatively no traffic. And a bonus brick workout for Kathleen - run and ride!!! We took a couple shots over by the Sisters of Saint Francis complex, just over the hill from our home. This abbey's nuns established a hospital for the treatment of tuberculosis in 1887 as Colorado's climate was ideally suited for the arrest of the disease. Lots of history there. Kathleen is riding here just below the abbey with Blodgett Peak behind.
Steve riding just up the road a bit. Good news, too, as the ankle responded well to the riding. No additional swelling and no pain. Cool!

Today, Kathleen headed out for a run and I headed out for another road ride. It was hot early today and we started later than we anticipated because we were watching live Tour de France coverage!!!
Running has kept us strong, we found out, as we were able to do some climbs (in similar split times) that we have done frequently in the past. Since these were the first 2 times on the road bike for me this year, I was not sure how my legs would work, but they were good. Today I climbed 26th street/Gold Camp road to the end of the pavement, which is about a 4.5 mile climbing section. It felt great and the views from the top were great as always. Here is the view down to the Gold Camp Reservoir and the Broadmoor Hotel complex.
And here is the view north, with plenty of blue skies ... for now. I summited Gold Camp approximately 12 miles out from the house, and by the time I crested Flying W Ranch road at a mile and a half from home, there was lightning behind Blodgett Peak and the rain started within 5 minutes of being inside the house. Weather moves FAST in the mountains! Ended up with 24 miles and am a bit saddle sore ... oh well!!!

Kathleen got in a nice 8.5 mile tempo run on Santa Fe, and keeps getting stronger. Her "spring break" is, hopefully, going to be a distant memory soon!

Happy Trails and have a great week!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Celebrate the 4th on the Trails!

We tried to come up with a creative route to include the Section 16 loop on Saturday without having to finish uphill. So we started out at the main trailhead for Red Rock Canyon Open Space and headed up onto the rim to catch the Section 16 connector to Intemann Trail. At the first connection point on Intemann to Section 16, we had to decide whether to climb the brutal side or the "runnable" side of the loop. Since we were already 700' of climbing up the brutal side, we figured we could power hike most of it and enjoy a looooooong runout back to the trailhead on Gold Camp. The Section 16 loop has 1800' raw climb from either side. The side we took does it in just under 2 miles - you do the math. Here is the view about a mile into the climb up Section 16, already well above Red Rock and a fair amount of work still to do!
Once onto the big saddle on Section 16, you have this view across the canyon of High Drive's harsh switchbacks, starting from the lower right and then snaking up the canyon wall. We ran these a couple weeks back after dropping through Bear Creek Canyon. After having this view, it is no wonder they hurt so bad! It was quite a nice morning but the clouds were coming in oh so early from the west - time to get a move on because there is still some real estate to cover.
From the top of Section 16, the reward for the harsh climb is almost 4 miles of descending to the parking area on Gold Camp road. Then we got to climb back up the start of the loop to the Intemann Cutoff and back across to the Red Rock connector. From the high point on Intemann, this is the view north, high above Red Rock, looking out onto the Garden of the Gods.
Back down onto the rim, Kathleen is definitely ready for the descent to Red Rock Canyon trailhead.
One last view from the top of the canyon before heading down!
Steve cruises down the Roundup trail, finishing the day strong but tired! We had a great run, although it got a bit warm for all the climbing. Hope everyone enjoyed Independence Day - Happy Trails!

Shoes - Asics Gel Trabuco
Distance - 12 miles
Elevation gain - 3400'

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spruce Mountain

"It feels kind of weird running on a Friday..."

Those were the thoughts going through my mind as we started out across Spruce Meadows for the Spruce mountain trail today. That and the fact that it was strangely humid for Colorado, which was making the breathing a bit labored as the sun started to come out. We had heavy rain again yesterday and the abundant water is evident as all our favorite trails are lined with lush greenery ~ lush being relative to Colorado standards, of course! It is always nice to be out the first week of July without the imminent danger of our state burning to the ground in a blink!

As a side note, it was fun reading all the blogs and news this week from the Western States Endurance run - The Super Bowl of trail running - which was held last weekend between Squaw and Auburn, California. Congratulations to the winners - Hal Koerner on the men's side, and Colorado's own Anita Ortiz on the women's side! Big kudos to all the finishers who endured triple digit temps while running 100 miles!!!!
Steve ascending the lower meadow to the base of Spruce Mountain.
The rock formations along the southern edge of Spruce Mountain are very unique. Here is a nice view out to Mount Herman (foreground), with Pikes Peak just poking it's head out behind.
Kathleen rolls through the pines on the upper region of Spruce Mountain trail. It was really nice footing today as the normally sandy trails were well packed from our recent abundance of moisture.
Another nice overlook, peering out onto the western side of Greenland Open Space.

Definitely a great day for a run!
Steve rolls back through the waist-high prairie grass on the Spruce Meadows trail. We were able to do a nice 10.5 mile run, just a short drive up the road to Monument, Colorado. Happy Trails and a good start to a holiday weekend. Everyone be safe tomorrow!

Shoes- K Montrail Odyssey
S Saucony ProGrid Xodus

As always at this time of year we're gearing up for some Tour de France coverage, which starts tomorrow in Monaco. It is particularly interesting this year with the return of Lance Armstrong bringing the Global Cancer Campaign to the main stage of competitive cycling. Like him or not - we do - the resources he has been able to coordinate for cancer patients and survivors is unbelievable. If you want to find out more, read this and watch this (we love this one)!
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