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

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snow + Ice + Mud + Sun = Good Winter Trail Run

We had a REALLY long week this week and we were looking forward to hitting the trails this weekend to help get some sense of "normal" back to our routine. We had to run early Saturday, so we ran our Flying W loop from home for a quick outing. So we were anxious for some "real" running today - aka, TRAILS!!!
We headed down to Cheyenne Mountain State Park hoping for some good dirt under foot. When we first discovered this gem in the fall, we were hoping that it would be a winter paradise as it is on the southern-most part of town and generally has good sun exposure. We ran into a bit more snow and ice than we anticipated today, though, mixed with quite a bit of gooey mud. A good recipe for some nice winter trail running!
Aside from using extra caution on the ice (no screw shoes today) it was really some nice running out there. We started on the Zook trail and then headed up onto the Blackmer Loop. Although the sun made itself available for part of the run, it was quite cool and the upper areas of the park, like Blackmer, had a lot less mud. Kathleen is making her way through some snow and boulders on the way up.
There were some areas of dry trail where sun exposure is high for long periods of the day, but generally there was more snowpack. Oddly enough, on the higher portions of Blackmer, we saw more bike tracks than footprints - I hope they are riding low pressures and/or studs because the ice could be unforgiving at bike speeds!!! Steve is catching some rays as he negotiates a passage through the rocks.
Cheyenne Mountain bathing in the Colorado sun - awesome view from the trail!
Kathleen runs onto the top section of Medicine Wheel - we had to turn back, though, as the packed clay that makes up most of this trail was unmanageable where not covered by snow. We'll save it for another day - no sense causing unnecessary damage to the trail system.
This is the tricky part of running trails in the middle of winter - you wish for warmer days, however when those days arrive, you alternate your run between ice and mud - a transition highlighted in this photo. It is still better than being under snow ALL THE TIME, like we were last Sunday!!!
Next we headed down to Zook and across to the Sundance Trail. Sundance is lower, so we had some mud to contend with but far less ice and only minimal snowpack.
We did not see many prairie dogs out today on Sundance - they must not like the cold weather. Usually they are spectators lining the course as we run by but today they must have been staying warm in their "homes" below ground. We had a nice 8.5 mile run, enjoyed some sunshine, and were thankful for our ability to hit the trails - Good Times! Hope everyone has a great week!!!
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