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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Milking the Sun

It has come to that time of year that I love and dread. The inevitable time when fading daylight squeezes in against the post-work midweek runs. The cool, crisp mornings and colorful leaves are the beginning of the dread. From that point, the conquest of the evening run becomes a battle to "milk the sun" for a few extra drops of daylight before it retreats behind the mountains! (Remember, our "horizon" is 14,000 feet above sea level - unfair!) I have a secret in my arsenal - Palmer Park, with it's elevated mesas, sits up just enough to allow almost an extra half hour of light. I'll take it! Here is the view, 6 minutes into the run, from the aptly named Grandview trail.
Fall color frames the trail.
Fading fast ...
Out on the Mesa trail, overlooking the city, with Pikes Peak hiding the setting sun. Look closely at the center of the photo and you can make out the outlines of Garden of the Gods.
Barely 50 minutes into a run and following the moon down the trail in the fleeting light. I saw a coyote right before this pic - I think it scared him more than it startled me.
Back at the top of the Mesa and - one of the reasons that I still do evening runs in the Fall - what a sunset behind Pikes Peak. You could soak that in forever...
I have not tinkered much with the specialty modes on the Nikon, but this "night portrait" setting was pretty darn cool - the blast of the flash about blinded me, but it was nearly dark and that puppy lit up the night for this photo! I'll have to play with that some more. I was able to peel off almost 7 miles before dusk swallowed the trails. Dread it or love it - Fall is here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mount Herman Trails

Awakened again (after sleeping in - gotta love Fall!) by brilliant sunshine, we decided to head out to the Mount Herman USFS work center in Monument to run trails we have not been on in a while. We got out late because someone (?) was watching the cycling worlds on the internet ... Good job Cadel Evans of Australia (a former mountain biker)!
This area is the home of Pike Interagency Hotshot Crew, one of 5 such groups in Colorado. These are some courageous frontliners that specialize in wildland firefighting, often dropped in to the most dangerous hot spots. If you live in the West and have had wildland fires, you may have had some folks centered here fighting your fires. The cool thing for trail users is that these men and women cut practice fire lines (think singletrack) in the Pike National Forest surrounding their work area - SWEET! They cut such nice trails that this is now trail central for horse riders, mountain bikers, and TRAIL RUNNERS who all want to utilize their sweet network of narrow dirt trails!
Monument Rock stands in the center of a huge meadow in the middle of the work area.
Kathleen cruises past the pond at the base of Monument Rock. This is a popular swimming hole for canine trail users in need of a cool down from their efforts! It is quite thick with moss and algae, so we choose to cool down elsewhere.
The trails weave in and out of several drainages and alternate between large groves of majestic pines and almost prairie-like open spaces. While it was a bit warm in the exposed areas, we were more than content to be sweating after Monday's blustery highs in the 30's!!
Out on the southwestern corner of the work center, there is a memorial set up for fallen USFS regional employees. The log benches in the background are for the ceremonies held each year to add names to the memorial.
Placard for the memorial site.
Mount Herman stands tall behind our trail. This large area at the base of the mountain which is now covered in Gamble Oaks, was the site of a large fire in the 90's. Most of the burn is indistinguishable now if you did not know it had been there. Ironic location for a wildfire, eh?
Kathleen emerging from the trees into one of the large meadows. With our wet summer, there were areas that the weeds were thick enough that you could not see your footing ahead - scratchy legs, anyone?
Some of the fall color is starting to show in the Gambles - the north facing hills were blankets of orange and yellow today!
We had just passed a woman and her extremely friendly large poodle a ways back, and as Kathleen stopped to snap a photo, he came flying down the trail behind me - look at the "grin" on his face. I guess he was born to be a trail runner, not a hiker!!!
Days like today are why we LOVE Fall in the Rockies - we had not a cloud in the sky all day. Nothing but bright, blue sky and wonderful sunshine. I guess that's why we tolerate snow in September - take the good with the "cold" I guess!
Of course, a good trail run requires some recovery fuel - I pass up the foo foo drinks and go hardcore - Iced Venti Americano, black please! Say what you want about $tarbuck$, you know what you will get when you go there for Java. Nothing irks me more than trying to go "local" and paying 3 bucks for folgers quality - blaaah! So much for my coffee snobbery, on to some stats:

11 miles
1360' elevation gain
Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey
S- Asics Trabuco - AND NO FRANKENSTEIN BRACE TODAY!!!! Ah, freedom ...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome back sunshine!

After our first week of having FALL arrive in earnest (uninvited I must add!), we were excited to be greeted by full sunshine this morning. It was quite balmy in the high 40's and the sun was nice and strong with brilliant blue sky - aaah, Colorado! The sudden arctic blast brought unwanted news for many - fall aspen color season may be slim, with a lot of leaves going from green to ground. We'll attempt to get some pix of fall foliage, however, we don't live in a heavily "aspen'd" section of the state. On to the morning run...
Kathleen welcomes sunshine as she crests one of the bluffs in Ute Valley Park.
Full sun washed the top rim of the park and, hello Pikes Peak, we hardly saw you all week! Nice white coat, eh?
Kathleen carefully navigates the rocks climbing out to the west ridge.
14,110 feet of granite majesty!

We had a nice little run this morning before Kathleen had to head out to the grind. With later sun arrival, today we managed an invigorating 7.5 miles of great trails. While shaking off the remnants of Fall's chilly interruption, we basked in the morning sun and enjoyed every moment of the return of warmth!

Shoes K - Montrail Odyssey
S - Asics Trabuco

After Kathleen had to head out, I rounded up The Girl, aka Miss Sage, and headed out for a hike up the hills from home. Wonderful view of Blodgett Peak, with a wash of crystal blue sky. We did a nice little 3 mile loop and now she is napping!
Sage loves singletrack, too!!! Happy Trails!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

End of Summer

Buffalo Creek Trails

With inclement weather in the forecast (and some rough family medical news during the week), we wanted to get some good trail time in this past weekend. We decided to hit the Buffalo Creek area Saturday and that meant a "mandatory" stop at the Donut Mill in Woodland Park on the way. The cinnamon roll needs no caption - it is hubcap sized!!! You have to earn that one!
We started out low, along Buffalo Creek, and then started to climb up Shinglemill trail. It starts in the trees ...
... and then out into one of the burn areas from the big fire in the late 90's. It was absolutely fabulous weather with bluebird skies and high 60's most of the run. Kathleen is nearing the top of the first big climb.
After cresting Shinglemill, we blazed down Morrison Creek trail.
Steve on one of the clearings on Morrison Creek - we really love this area!
Kathleen rounding one of the huge boulders on Charlie's Cutoff.
We climbed Baldy and were glad it was not any warmer. It is a steep climb and has a fair amount of exposure - not good on hot days. This is a huge slab of slickrock that you climb on the baldy ascent. It is good to reach this because it is almost to the summit - yeah!
We took Homestead over to Sandy Wash - this is the last climb! There were a couple bikes ahead of us but really not much traffic for such a great weather day. We saw maybe a dozen bikes and a few runners. After this climb, it is generally descending to the finish - nice!
One of the shady sections descending along the creek. Savor these - after the fires in this area, shade is at a premium.
Group photo on the Sandy Wash trail.
We have been scoping out some spots to do our cold soak in the creek - mountain stream water needs no ice! The toes were numb in about 2 minutes and we could only stand about 8 minutes total - quite refreshing! We had a great run - our longest ever - just a bit over 16 miles. It was a great day in the "low" mountains and we really enjoyed the day.

Shoes - K La Sportiva Wildcat
S Brooks Cascadia

More Sun and Fun at Ute Valley Park

A couple light dusted areas of snow on Pikes Peak ... and more to come. We were greeted to brilliant skies again Sunday morning at Ute Valley Park - our neighborhood trail running gem! We had a slight problem, though - we used up our "good" legs Saturday and were just plain tired! So we decided to roll with it, get in a short trail run, and then let the legs relax.
Kathleen cruises across the top of the bluffs at UVP.
Steve coming down through some of the sandstone maze on top of UVP. Look at those blue skies!
We ran down through the bottom of the park on our way out. Kathleen hops across the trickling stream - careful now, the moss is a bit slick! It was another awesome day but the legs only put up with about 7 miles. Still a great little run an a great way to top off the weekend trail runs.

Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey
S Asics Trabuco

The weather man was correct also - Monday we had snow - yes, that's right - snow and wind chill in the high 20's! Very cold last night, and rain today with more snow tonight. Don't feel too bad for us as we are supposed to be back in the 70's for the weekend, just in time for more Happy Trails!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Soggy trails ...

We had close to 1 inch of rain on the north end of town last night, so Falcon Trail was off for today. Down near Cheyenne Mountain, there was only 1/2 inch, so we headed down to Cheyenne Mountain State Park for a trail run. Forecast was for mostly sunny and 70 - not happening! We had fog/clouds and 50ish all day. Still a good day for a run!
Start the watch and head out. BTW, where's the mountain?!?!
We shared the trail with more turkeys than people today!
It was awesome on top of the Talon trails with the fog settled in on the mountain. Here Kathleen is cresting Talon North.
Steve not far behind.
Mystical beauty
All smiles after a great run. Just under 14 miles of spectacular trail with 2500'+ elevation gain. Happy Trails!

Shoes - K La Sportiva Wildcat
S Brooks Cascadia

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Morning run at UVP

8.5 miles at Ute Valley Park - early and gray, but it was all good!
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