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

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trail with a View

After a quiet week with some rest for the legs, we had quite the social running weekend on tap.  Saturday morning, Kathleen went for a nice trail run at Ute Valley Park early before spending some time at work.  While she was running in Colorado Springs, I made the hour jaunt up to Morrison, in the foothills west of Denver, to meet Tim at Mt. Falcon Open Space.  It would be my first visit there and it is an(other) area with awesome views.  Lots of history surrounding Mt Falcon and early-1900's gazillionaire John Walker - read up on JeffCo's park page link if interested.  Below is the windshield view - heading for the hills.
Continental Divide frames Denver's western skyline along C-470
Red Rocks Amphitheater from Mt Falcon trailhead

Just over the hogbacks that line C-470 to the west, the little town of Morrison sits nestled against the foothills.  Its most famous landmark by far is Red Rocks Amphitheater - a natural marvel and acoustic masterpiece.  When not in use for its commercial intentions, Red Rocks is also a hangout for workout junkies with surrounding trails and running the steps.
View across the hogback to Denver in the distance (far left, in the smog)
This trail system gets down to brass tacks right from the first step out of the parking lot - hope you did not eat a heavy breakfast!  From Castle trail we quickly diverted to the Turkey Trot, which is foot travel only - nice on the steeps because LOTS of mtn. bikes use this park.  The initial ramps had to be 10 - 15% easy, which means there was a good dose of power hiking mixed in with the running.  Add to that an intense eastern sun exposure and we were sweating buckets on the climb.  Eventually, Turkey Trot gets some shade and it was much needed as the grade just does not let up.  When we rejoined Castle trail at 1.7 miles, the grade eased for a bit until we hit another exposed and rocky section of steep climb.  As we climbed through some more forest, we eased out into a saddle and took the spur out on Walker's Dream trail - with the awesome overlook in the above photo.  This was the point where Walker had hoped to build a summer White House for the Presidents to utilize.  After his personal castle across the ridge to the west burned, the dream never materialized and the acreage is now a phenomenal open space park.
Monument on Walker's Dream
US-285 winds it's way into the mountains

The trail system is a lollipop with multiple loop options at the top.  We took the outer part of Castle to the Parmalee trail and dropped in for a wicked steep descent.  This was a nice gulch, with lots of shade, so we lost track of the descending a bit.  When we bottomed out, the drop was almost 600' vertical loss - guess what?  Climb back out.  So up we went - had some great southern vistas, including the photo above looking at the path through the foothills of US-285.  Tim will be driving this route next Saturday morning early to the start of the North Fork 50 mile trail race.  I hope to have a good debut as a pacer, jumping in with him at the 30.5 mile mark where the 50k runners peel off to the finish.  Back on track here, we jumped back on the Castle trail and started the trip down.  Like really, really down.  This was quite possibly the steepest continuous descent I have ever run and my feet and quads were barking after shedding 2000 feet in short order.  It was quite the workout and the views were spectacular.  11.25 miles, 3000'+ on the vertical gain.

Shoes - Asics Trabuco

Sunday Social Day

We got up at first light Sunday in order to squeeze in a quick run.  It was great to be out early in the cooler air as we ran a good 5 miles on the neighborhood trails.  Kathleen was on schedule to see some folks finish the Summer Roundup Trail Race at Bear Creek Park.  Jill was coming down from Denver for the race and AJH was in town from Vermont and was doing the race as well.  Both did great and Kathleen was able to see them finish the race.  She also got to see our friend J set an age group course record which was awesome!  
Smiling Gals on a sunny Sunday

While Kathleen was off to the race, I switched gear and headed out for a hill climb day on the road bike.  This was to pay homage of the first mountain-top stage in the Tour de France to the thin air atop Morzine-Avoriaz.  I was able to ride 23 miles with 2200' climb, nothing near what those guys rode up in the tour but good enough for a nice brick workout.  I then met up with the gals for brunch and we had a good time.  After brunch, Kathleen joined the brick club and went out for a nice road ride as well - quite a morning!  Happy Trails!


ajh said...

I loved meeting the two of you. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come to the race and breakfast! Did Kathleen take a picture of me finishing the race? If she did is there a way I can get it?

Good luck in your pacer debut. That sounds exciting.

Beautiful pics as always. I am going to enjoy your blog even more in the future as now I will know small parts of where you run and of course the two of you!

Tall Kathleen I scored at Title Nine!

Jill said...

Always great to see you guys and enjoyed the barefoot running talk after brunch :). I actually enjoyed the race, more than expected, but we'll assess that better tomorrow morning. And why do I look pregnant in that pic? Oh...okay, more ab work needed obviously!

I have been to Mt. Falcon a few times and love the history as much as I love the scenery. Of course, you should have ended that trip with a marg at Morrison Inn, but we'll do that another time!

Thanks, K, for coming on over to the race and being the big color-coordinated cheerleader!! So fun! And very fun to meet ajh :).


Average A said...

I do indeed ride a fixie! However, it's relatively flat around these parts, & hills are pretty easy to avoid as well. :) I couldn't even imagine trying to ride where you love. Stunning photos & trail runs, as usual!


Anonymous said...

Looks like a great weekend, it's allways good to mix it up and you guys did.

Ace said...

Some fun running, I keep learning of great places just by reading.

North Fork 50 sure looks like some fun stuff...you never know maybe I will show up...

Meg said...

Fun meet up! I love the picture of you three as well as the breakfast fun...kind of wishing I could be there to meet all of you. Some day, maybe?
The trails in CO are still looking spectacular this summer, keep enjoying and sharing, please!!

Slomohusky said...

Fun weekend! Thanks for sharing. Good luck on the pacing!

Julie said...

You had another weekend full of fun and exciting runs! I really wish that I could of made it out to Colorado too! Being able to have a big bloggy meet up must have been wonderful! I love the picture of the three of you! You all have big gorgeous smiles:)

ajh said...

Steve must be getting ready to be the pacer! Have fun with that.

And Kathleen you want to know what I got at Title 1. Well I only bought 4 items but it doesn't take long to drop some cash there. But I was in my vacation mode and willing to spend! I have never been to a Title I store and love their catalogue. Soooo I got two tanks - just different colors. Love love love them and I don't usually like tanks. Now that I know how much I like them as they get colors I like I know I will get more. Then I got two different 1/4 zips which are probably my favorite clothing item in the world. One I have been eying in the catalogue for a year. About time I got it. The other one is new and extremely comfy besides looking good.

Here are the links if you want to check them out!

This is the one I have wanted for awhile.

This is the new one.

Here is the tank.

mtnrunner2 said...

I'm grateful for the hiker-only sections at Mt. Falcon. I've been running mainly in Boulder Mountain Park to avoid the bikes. After several years of weekly running with bikers of varying politeness, I've kind of had it :(

If you want a longer run, you can exit the parking lot at the top of Mt. Falcon, run down some country roads and connect with O'Fallon Park across the road from Pence Park, which connects with Lair O' the Bear. I have not done it, but have thought about it. Better to do during the week, because those parks are BUSY on the weekend.

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