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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Give Thanks and Run Trails!

Started off the Thanksgiving long weekend right by heading out to dinner Wednesday night with wonderful, long-time friends we don't get to see often enough.  Lots of laughs and good times, as always.  Geared up Thanksgiving Day and headed to Greenland Open Space, this time departing from the upper trailhead at Palmer Lake.  Sunny skies and temps in the 50's were perfect for a nice trail run on turkey day.  For many years now, we always start off our Thanksgiving day with a run or ride - it is a tradition for us.

Kathleen lacing up for a run!

Getting our dose of train activity - had two go by while we were out.

We had hoped for some dryness on the trails as Greenland is pretty open, but we had no such luck.  At least the trails here have a lot of sand, so the mud does not cake up on the shoes very much.  As you can see off on the far hill, there is still some snow that needs to melt.  Kathleen is nearing the top of the Kipps Loop climb. 

Picking my way through the melting snow/mud transitions on Kipps Loop.

These big fellas are from the Mile High Bison Ranch, which borders Greenland Open Space.  Steak anyone?

Kathleen is cruising back toward Palmer Lake on the Greenland Trail.  In the distance is another of our favorites, Spruce Mountain Open Space, however its trails were untouchable under the current conditions.  Though muddy most of our route, we still got in 10.5 miles, had an awesome day for a run, and headed home to get cleaned up for dinner with family.  We ate with Steve's sister and family, and his younger brother, all of whom live in Colorado Springs.  It was great to get together and be thankful for all our blessings, including dear family, friends, and good health!


Black Friday dawned and we did what we always do - anything to avoid SHOPPING!  The color we were looking for was more azure, and the sky was painted with it - bingo!  Now, people will drive hundreds of miles, elbow their way through lines at malls, even sleep overnight in parking lots - just to buy junk that will end up in their attic 6 months from now.  Not us.  With unseasonably warm temps ahead of an impending weekend snow storm, it was trail time!!!

Last weekend, we ran something new in Pueblo.  This weekend, we went for more familiar terrain there - sweet desert singletrack on the south shore at Pueblo Reservoir.  Unlike our trails that cannot currently shake the freeze/melt/mud pattern, the narrow twisty trails at the reservoir were in perfect form.  We started at the Red Gate trailhead and jumped onto Cuatro Cinco - which Kathleen is running above.

With the temperature eventually reaching 70 before we finished, it was another unreal running day - who would trade this for an elbow-jockey duel in the aisles of Walley World or Best Buy?  Pass.  We connected over to the Outer Limits (seen above) for some nice cliff-hugging trail along one of many inlets of the reservoir.  Way, way out there you can just see the white cap of Pikes Peak.

Last weekend, we turned around on our out-and-back about 100 feet or so below the dam.  Here is today's view from far above the water on Pedro's Point, looking out to the dam - Nice!

Kathleen is topping out on one of many cliffs overlooking the water.

Looking out from the Pedro's Point trail to the marina - water is down a bit, as evidenced by the large sand bars.  While recreation is big here, a lot of people rely on this reservoir for their water supply and the dry fall has it a bit lower than it was on our last visit.

Powering up the Rock Canyon trail - camera makes it look pretty flat, however, it is about 8% grade behind me.  This is a tricky climb, covered in loose rock plates and left over volcanic flow that makes for less-than uniform footing.  It is a great way to finish the run by draining what's left in the tank on the climb out to the ridge.

Not much else to say - great day, another great run!  We were able to do a nice 13.5 mile loop on some fantastic desert trails.  **Almost forgot to mention - set an SKCR for the route today too - running faster is good!  We're thankful - Happy Trails!

Shoes - Asics Trabuco

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Watch this ad....

... Then go for a Trail Run!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In search of dry trails...

With wet heavy snow that turned to a cement-like crust last weekend, we have had serious issue trying to find something dry to run.  Everything that has had sun is wet all the way through and will just about suck your shoes off your feet!  Yesterday, went over to Santa Fe trail which is usually our go-to trail when everything else is muddy.  No such luck.  Ran 9.5 miles of muck - the only thing not muddy was the snowpack that was still left.  Covered in mud, no photos will be posted!  :-)

So we hit the road this morning, heading south on I-25 to Pueblo and a run along the Arkansas River Trail.  We knew we would have to run some on the paved bike path, but it was dry so we went for it.  We would generally come to Pueblo to run the south shore trails at Pueblo Reservoir, however, today we decided to get a little fast leg turnover on the flat route.   When we made the turn west on Arkansas River Trail, this was the view back to the east under Pueblo Blvd - the Arkansas River looking pretty calm.

After passing by the Nature Center, we were out in the open in Rock Canyon running an abandoned dirt road (which kept us off the cement bike path!!)  Thought this knarled tree was cool looking against the bluff.  The road is a gradual ascent out toward the reservoir, generally following the twists and turns of the river.

Kathleen coming off the dirt road and onto a section of the bike path.  From here, we would be on and off on paved and dirt double track sections all the way out to the dam.  As you can see in the pics, we had a nice sunny day though the cool wind kept temps in the upper 40's. 

After following a large bend in the river, the dam wall comes into view.  On the left, you see one of MANY fly fisherman we saw on the run - they had an awesome day to be out.  If you have seen any of our pics from past runs at Pueblo Reservoir, you know there is a LOT OF WATER behind that dam.

The handiwork of beavers, above, could get ugly on the trail when they are a little further along on their task!

Me - Enjoying the run and NO MUD!

More fishing activity.  Fly fishing always looks peaceful, kind of like trail running!

The satellite view of our out and back run.  Like I said, lots of water behind that cement wall!  We had a nice run of just over 11 miles, though very different for us with continuous leg turnover and faster pace.  Aside from some paved areas, it is a nice mellow run with a total elevation gain of a little under 900 feet - pretty much flat for Colorado.  This is probably the Happy Trails version of a road run :-)  Hope everyone has a great week!

Shoes - K - Nike Structure Triax
S - Brooks Ravenna

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick trip up the Incline

Azure skies and brilliant sunshine extended their cheerful greeting this morning and the perfect workout for snowy - slushy conditions is the Incline.  So I laced up a pair of screw shoes, donned a running skirt for some vitamin D action, and made a quick trip over to Manitou.  Surprisingly, the normally overflowing parking lot at the Barr Trail trailhead was almost empty.  Made my way around the bluff to the bottom and started the march up the mountain.

Yes folks, read the sign - I AM a lawbreaker.  So are thousands of others in this fine town who regularly trek up the hill.  Good news for all of the lawbreakers - it's on the verge of becoming legal.  Yahoooo!!!

Nearing the top, it was shady and cool.  

With one mile and 2000 feet of vertical gain in the legs, a fellow lawbreaker snapped this photo at the top.

Awesome beauty on the way down.

I love rocks!

The run down Barr Trail was part super-slush, part snow-pack (awesome traction!), and part dirt.  Made it to the bottom safe and sound and continued to savor the awesome sunshine and blue skies.

Caught this little buck foraging in our front yard and perennial flower garden (looks like a bunch of weeds at this time of year) in the afternoon.  He dug himself a nice hole in the snow then moved on to check out the bird feeder to the right.  He was a little ticked off because the BIRD feeder was EMPTY.  Oops, my bad.  After he moved over to our neighbor's yard, I filled it for the next group of visitors.  Notice the buck in our neighbor's yard across the street.  There were also two does to the right of the little guy in our yard.  Couldn't fit them all in the photo!
Happy Trails this week!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Play Day in the Snow

Got some good wet, heavy snow last night and were expecting more today.  However the sun broke out late morning, so instead of staying in for the day, we ventured out in the cold for a little trail/snow run. The storm actually went "dry" as the fancy weather folk would say.  Cold north wind kept the accumulation low, whereas a warmer, upslope wind would have dumped more on us.  We got about 6 inches total in the NW part of town, so not too bad.  Ute was a winter wonderland when we got out.
Usually get this more in the spring snows, but I love the icicles on the spruce.

 Kathleen heading into Ute Valley, glad to be out of the wind!
 Footing was tricky as there was water running under the snow in a lot of spots.
 Looking over the bluff toward the mountains.
 Kathleen navigating the boulders - the snow hides a lot of loose rock, so footing is tentative on days like this.
 The "stream" was little wider this morning!
Enjoying the day and glad we got out for a while instead of holing up.  Plus we were able to get some nice pics in the snow and some fresh, crisp air in the lungs.  Happy Snowy Trails!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening....?

Out early for seven miles before work - under Winter Storm Warning now.   Tomorrow - 28 degrees and 30 mph wind - Sweet... Life is good!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A little run in the dark

We got in short runs in the dark the last couple nights.  Nothing spectacular, other than balmy weather and it is supposed to be a high of 30 by Sunday - so get out and run, right?  This is one of our multi-use trails through the neighborhood.

A little dark?  We donned headlights and cruised around freaking out the local wildlife!

It is extra quiet and peaceful on the trail at night.

So what does everyone do during the short, cold days of winter to stay sane?  Inquiring minds need to know. Treadmills and bicycle trainers are borderline insanity for us (although we do force ourselves to use the trainers, but we don't have a treadmill) - we need to be outside!!!  We were able to get in about 5 miles each night, and it seems like you are going faster at night?!?!  Happy (dark) Trails!

Shoes - K Nike Structure Triax
S - Brooks Ravenna

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More of the Rockies ... then Back Home!

Thursday Run at Fort Collins

We have been wanting to check out the Blue Sky Half Marathon course near Fort Collins, Colorado to see if we would be interested in running it next year, so we took a little drive down Big Thompson Canyon from Estes Park Thursday morning - might as well run it since we were in that neck of the woods.  We have not done any exploring near Fort Collins but know that there are hundreds of miles of trail waiting for our feet to cross them!

The Blue Sky course starts in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and follows the Inlet Bay trail down to the intersection with the Blue Sky trail.  Blue Sky marks the transition into Devil's Backbone Open Space, where most of the race course lies.  Kathleen is ascending the ridge up onto the Blue Sky trail.

  Wide open spaces on Blue Sky!

After dropping from the ridge on Blue Sky, there is a steep descent into and across a drainage.  From the rise on the other side of the drainage, the course peels off onto the Indian Summer trail - quite aptly named on today's November run in the low 60's!  Most of the course is more desert than mountain, however, the Indian Summer loop reminded us a lot of the Hartmans Rocks area in Gunnison, Colorado - sagebrush landscape and lots of embedded and loose fist-sized rocks.  Don't wear racing flats to this event unless you like bruised metatarsals!  Here Steve is ascending Indian Summer.  This is the longest climb on the half course.

Kathleen rolling out on the Indian Summer climb!

At the base of Indian Summer, we caught on to Blue Sky farther down the drainage from where we peeled off to start climbing.  The marathon course deviates to the south here, but we started the trek back to the north.  At the trail junction, we crossed over and up the steep rise to gain the ridge on Blue Sky again and then headed back the way we started.  Steve is happy to be starting the gradual descent back toward Horsetooth.  We had a great time and think this was a nice course.  The scenery is a bit on the "bleak" side but it is sweet, narrow singletrack of high quality.  We can tell why they limit the racer count - there are maybe two spots where passes can easily be made once you enter the Blue Sky trail.  The course measured out at 13.27 miles - pretty good for laying out a half on all trails.  There was about 2000' of accumulated vertical, mellow by Colorado standards.

Shoes - Nike Structure Triax ESC

Friday Run at RMNP

We headed out to the Lower Beaver Meadows trailhead on Friday morning to grab one last run at Rocky Mountain National Park before heading home.  We were aiming to loop Beaver Meadows and Moraine Park but were not sure what to expect.  After the short clip out to Lower Beaver Meadows, we started ascending the ridge up and over into Moraine Park.  Kathleen is climbing in the pines here - from what we saw, elk use this trail as much as humans!

From the ridge, looking out to the Cub Lake drainage, above Moraine Park.

Steve cruising the Moraine Park trail, above the campground area.  There were long stretches of tight singletrack as seen here, combined with technical sections with lots of embedded boulders.  The Moraine was formed from glacial movement which was the cause for the large dumps of rocks in certain areas.  Once again, stellar weather for November - jackpot!

Kathleen cresting the ridge between Moraine Park and Upper Beaver Meadows.

Several of the 12'ers and 13'ers just to the west of Long's Peak - the wind was howling on the peaks!
Upper Beaver Meadows.  It was interesting to learn some of the natural history of this section.  The beavers are almost nonexistent here now.  The elk have all but de-forested the aspen in this valley, leaving nothing for the beavers.  The parks service is now fencing off remaining aspen stands to keep the elk out and eventually bring the beaver activity back to this area.   The elk are at approximately 180% capacity for what the herd should be here - definite population problem.
 Upper Beaver Meadows trail.
Steep climb over the ridge to Moraine Park.

Back down from Moraine Park, we caught the Lower Beaver Meadows trail and headed in for the day.  We were able to run an awesome 10.5 mile loop in spectacular scenery and once again take advantage of premium weather conditions for our run.  We fueled up on some great burritos at Ed's Cantina in Estes Park, got some go-juice at Starbucks, and headed for home with some great memories of our visit.

Shoes - Asics Trabuco

Back Home - Some Comfy Trails Sunday at Ute Valley

We're always in a little lag coming back home after a trip - kind of that "back to reality" funk.  However, we have such great trails to comfort ourselves with, we'll be just fine!  We hit the trails at Ute Valley Park Sunday to stretch the legs out after the travel and some great runs.  With trails like this, how could one tire of such a great urban gem of a park?
Our old friend - Pikes Peak - making an appearance through the pines!
Cruising through the rocky trails and enjoying the emerging sunshine after a cloudy, gray morning.  We had a blast getting back on the local trails after a week away - it was also fun reminiscing of the week behind and all the great memories we stored.  We called it a day after 9.5 miles and kicked up the feet for most of the day.  Happy Trails this week!!!

Shoes - K Brooks Cascadia
S - Asics Trabuco
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