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

Friday, August 14, 2009

Snowmass Appeal

Act Three - Aspen/Snowmass

Friday we left Steamboat Springs and rolled down into Aspen. We cruised town for a bit, hitting all the important "shopping" spots like the Ute Mountaineer, Aspen Sports, Aspen Velo, and the Hub - all the other stuff is just foo-foo! Then we headed over to Snowmass Village where we would set up base for a couple days. Our plan was to get a good night's rest and then go out for a preview of the Vasque Golden Leaf course. We have been eyeballing this route for several years (even before we could attempt a half-marathon)! We had a bit of a glitch though: Saturday was Blast the Mass, the Colorado State Mountain bike championships, and part of what we wanted to run was on the bike course and would be closed by race marshalls. So we had to suck it up and make the decision to get up at 6 am on a vacation day - that is wrong! The racers were to start up the mountain at 8, so we were out on course by 7:15 to try and beat the bikes to the course closure. Oh, and by the way, it was 39 degrees at the start!
Up, up, and up is the theme for the first mile and a quarter. We started up one of the mountain service roads, then caught the Village Bound Trail until it intersected the Government Trail. This trail makes up a a majority of the course. At 1.3 miles, this was the view down onto Snowmass Village - already 1020' ascent. So you are out of breath and then you have this breath-taking scenery, a double whammy! Note to self: Keep an eye on that rim above Snowmass - there might be a trail along there ....
Once on the Governement Trail, the singletrack traverses Snowmass Mountain, with numerous stream crossings, narrow trails through shoulder high overgrowth, and lots of rocky, technical terrain.
We were out so early, a lot of the dense forested areas were almost still dark!
We made it!!! The course marshalls let us through the closure as we were 15 minutes ahead of the front racers. And Kathleen is cruising past the turn off where the bikes left the Gov't Trail and turned onto the Anaerobic Nightmare Trail - sounds like fun!!! The stands of aspen trees we ran through were unbelievable. There is a reason this was voted one of the most scenic trail races in America.
The sun is finally starting to warm us up a bit by the halfway point. The course rolls in and out of dense forest and wide open meadows - what a great mix of terrain!
Kathleen rolls through the aspen, with most of the climbing done for the day. Another good reason to smile.
umm .. no caption needed here
More aspen, more singletrack, and endless fun. If you finish this run without a permanent grin on your face, you have no pulse!
Aaah, starting the descent across Buttermilk Mountain and preparing to drop all the way down to Maroon Creek on the outside of Aspen.
We deviated from the race course which takes part of the bike path into Aspen (which we have ridden and know). Instead, we took the advice of a local that we met who was out mountain biking and ran the Maroon Creek Trail. This was a great trail down in the gorge and was cool and dark for most of the length.
We popped out into the open on this bridge over Maroon Creek to views of Aspen Highlands ski slopes. From here it was up the canyon and out onto the bike path for the roll out into town. This is definitely one that is worth the price of admission!!! We made a quick visit to Paradise Bakery for post-run "nutritional" needs and a stop at Starbucks for a little recovery rocket fuel before hopping on the free transit back to Snowmass Village. One thing that is nice here - you can park where you are staying and never drive while in town - the transit buses run every half hour and go just about everywhere up or down valley from Aspen. With parking at a premium in town, it makes sense for them to have an active transit. It was super easy, too!

The stats: 14 miles, 3600' elevation gain
Shoes - Saucony Progrid Xodus (awesome shoes, maybe a review coming)

Apres Run

We had a reason to get wrapped up and back over to Snowmass. The pro MTB races started at 10 and would be finishing soon. Rumor had it that a little known racer from Texas would be mixing it up with the other pro mountain bikers in the cross country event ....
Yep, you guessed it . . .
. . . none other than Mr LiveStrong himself, Lance Armstrong, won the men's pro event and we made it in time to have front row views! It was fun to watch him finish since we are big Lance fans. Of course watching all the pro bikers, Kathleen had to reassert her theory that cyclists have the BEST legs. Blasphemy!
We also got to hobknob with Bill Ritter, governor of Colorado, who is an avid cyclist. He was hanging out at the expo area, so we introduced ourselves and got a photo op with him. (of course, we failed to tell him we did not vote for him!!!!) oops.

Coming soon: Act Three, part deux Stay Tuned!!!


Tina at Gotta Run Now said...

Now, those are my kind of running trails! Well, not really, but I wish they were!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Wow! Nice pics. Makes me wish I was there. 39 degrees - that's just wrong. Aug. in MS - HOT and HUMID!

I have a ? for ya about the shoes. I am running the St. George Marathon in Oct. in Utah. AFter the marathon we will be hiking Angels Landing. What do you think about the Saucony's for walking this hike?

HappyTrails said...

Dear Happy Feet,
I think the Sauconys would be fine for your hike. One reason I like them is the great cushioning - not usually found in many trail shoes - which comes in handy on hardpack trails and dirt roads. We discovered they cushioned equally as well as a road shoes on the portion of paved bike path we ran in Aspen. If you don't run many trails, I think you could still get good use out of them on pavement or dirt roads after your hike. The vibram sole is very grippy, too! Hopefully they would be a good fit for your feet. I'll look forward to watching your progress for St George!!!

Meg Runs said...

How smart that you took advice from a local on the best trails...they sure are gorgeous!

I do love my Saucony trail shoes too...yes, VERY grippy and I feel so sturdy and safe in them.

Lance Armstrong?? VERY cool!

Slomohusky said...

Nice adventure. Great run/climb on gorgeous terrain - plus Lance Armstrong. I am a fan of his. Nice to know Colorado Gov. is active in something healthy. Our Nevada Gov. is only active in keeping one foot off FBI watch lists, and the other stomping on our public schools.

What a good life you have. Have fun and thanks for sharing the adventures and pix's. Fall is coming soon. Can't wait to see some pix's of Fall trail runs from ya. Cheers!

Slomohusky said...

Happy Feet 26.2 - Just read your comments. I know Zion Natinonl Park well. Where really good shoes for this hike and be prepared. It is very hard and it turns away many experienced hikers. In fact, the LA Times had a recent article from their outdoors editor asking the National Park service to make it Permit access trail and/or restrict access on it. Be prepared for it. Have fun at St. George. My sister and husband have run it every year for the last 20 years. I would be there with ya, but did not get in the lottery.

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