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

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fun in the Sun!

We have had at least a solid month of the most phenomenal weather (as if it is not always great...) and aside from needing some rain, we will take all of it we can get!  We had our hopes up to run Falcon Trail at the Air Force Academy Saturday morning to test out Kathleen's running progress, however, when we got there the trail was closed for a 24 Hour mountain bike race.  Plan B - we headed back home and ran at Ute Valley Park, which is always a good backup plan!
View across park to Pikes Peak
Kathleen running bottom of the valley

It was another splendid fall day along with summer like 80 degree temps.  We were able to get in about 9 miles at Ute and loop back to the house.  Kathleen decided to break off there and nurse her ailing legs in hopes of a shot at a longer run Sunday.  I headed across to the Foothills Trail and up for a short extra loop in Pike National Forest.
Starting to show some fall on Foothills
Next weekend, expect more orange and yellow..

Ended the day with 12 miles and both feeling really good.  We got a late start with the trail confusion, so we were a little sapped from the 80's at the finish of the run.  But fall is here, and we'll stockpile all the warmth we can!

Stats - 12 miles, 1600' elevation gain
Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S - Asics Trabuco

Limbaugh Canyon Run on a Spectacular Day!
Trail 715 with Mt Herman in the background

We were hoping to get in a run today with a bit of fall color starting to show, and we hit the jackpot by heading to Monument to run the Limbaugh Canyon Loop that we first ran back in August.  We got out quite a bit earlier today, but it was already warming up.  Welcome back summer!  We ran a loop through the Fire Center and connected over to Trail 715, which is the backbone of the route.  Won't need a whole lot of description for the run as the photos pretty much tell the story.  If you want to see more after seeing the pics, you might be interested in this link.
Climbing 715
A little group photo-op
Why run pavement???
Bucolic countryside south of Mt Herman - Love Colorado!
The trail heading up Bear Creek drainage

Since we knew all the turns for the route this time around, we were able to just concentrate on the trail and the beautiful mountain we were running around.  The above photo is about 1 mile below the Mt Herman road crossing and was our first taste of changing Aspens for the year.  There is something serene about their quaking leaves and the soft crunch of a leaf-blanketed trail that makes running in the fall endearing.
Opening from the forest to Mt Herman road
Signature fall colors in Colorado - Aspens & Blue Sky!
Wanna get away???

For those who live in the east and upper midwest, I know the plethora of colors you get in the fall - I grew up back there.  However, there is something about the dry mountain air, dizzying elevation, azure blue sky, and rich golden aspen trees that really make the fall here.  What it lacks in colorful variety, it makes up for in mountain grandeur!!!
Trail 715 - Limbaugh Canyon
Kathleen running Limbaugh - Awesome Day!
Wildlife encounter #1 - Smooth Green Snake

Not nearly the size or intimidation factor of a bull snake or rattlesnake, but this smooth green snake might be the most colorful snake we have seen.  He was almost moving too fast to get a good pic!
Coming out of Limbaugh Canyon...
... to this View!  Inspiration Point, overlooking Palmer Lake, CO
Kathleen passing the sandstone spire on Red Tail
Wildlife Encounter #2 - Hello Yogi!

So we're finishing off a nice run, heading back down through the Fire Center and I round the trail nearing the pond to this sight.  After regaining consciousness (!!) I carefully extracted the camera and started taking pics.  As soon as he (how can you tell?) saw that I was not going to continue toward him, he just sat down in the trail and watched me.  This is ~ 100 feet away.
Hey ... how's it going tasty human???
Finally distracted by some horses

So we have seen bears before on the run, but never one this large.  This was a very large, very magnificent animal.  He seemed very mellow, and honestly, I think he just wanted a dip in the pond.  It was already in the mid 80's by now and that is ONE.HEAVY.COAT he has on!  Pretty cool to see animals like this close up.  He took off into the brush shortly after this photo as a group of 5 horse riders approached.

We had a great 14 mile run - this is really just an all around awesome loop, especially with the fall color and wildlife excitement!  Hope everyone has a great week and let us know if you would like to try this one out - we'll be glad to go along!  Happy Trails...

Stats - 14 miles, 2700' elevation gain
Shoes - K Asics Trabuco
S Pearl Izumi SyncroSeek XC

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Pretty Good Week

Falcon Trail Holiday Run
Blodgett Peak from Falcon Trail

It is unusual for me to run on Mondays, however, bonus holiday mileage is always a plus.  On Labor Day I headed over to the US Air Force Academy to take in the Falcon Trail.   Kathleen decided to stick with a bit lower mileage at Ute Valley Park to try and take it easy on the hips and legs, so it was a solo run.  It turns out, I was not the only one with the bright idea to head out to Falcon - it was a freeway on the trails!
Hello Mr Bull Snake, thanks for the brown shorts!!!
The Cadet Chapel
Wonderful Trail!

It was an incredible day with typical Colorado Fall weather - crisp morning, bluebird skies, and pleasant temps during the day.  Even with the trail traffic and two long days in the legs, I had a great run (aside from missing K) and felt really solid the whole time. 

13 Miles, 1800' elevation gain
Shoes - Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC
Post-run Starbucks - Happy Trails revved up!

Who stole Summer?
Saturday morning on weather.com - what?

Saturday, Kathleen had to work and she got out early for a run near home.  I was up really early and headed for Boulder to meet Tim for a run and help him move into his new digs on the east side of town.  Before leaving, I was horrified to see the above reading on the weather channel.  Wasn't it just last week that we were needing to get up at the crack of dawn just to beat the 90 degree temps???
Dowdy Draw Trail
Eldorado Canyon

(I neglected to bring my camera on the run, so the two photos above are public domain from various OSMP web links.)  Tim and I had a great run on some of the southern trails in the Boulder OSMP trail system, hitting Dowdy Draw, Springbrook, and Goshawk before taking Rattlesnake Gulch into Eldorado Canyon State Park for a short grunt up Eldorado Canyon trail before turning around and heading back along mostly the same route.  Tim is busy training (and stressing out over) for the Bear 100 near Logan, Utah in two weeks.  So we did a nice "recovery" run before his last big run in preparation for the race.  Of course we were hungry, so we moved some stuff to the new place, then hit up Beaujo's Pizza for a little salad bar and Prairie Pie - oh yeah!  

We had an interesting chat about logging mileage for trail runners.  In typical, normal running circles, output over time is logged with straight numbers - mileage run and time spent.  However, as is the case with so many trail runs, there are significant variables that can make a 15 mile run take 3 hours, which on a running log, looks really bad.  Significant accumulated vertical gain, extreme technical footing, and raw starting elevation all conspire to make mileage a secondary factor.  So if you run trails, how do you account for these factors when you log your runs so that 6 months from now, you will know what your Effort was?

14.6 miles, 2650' elevation gain
Shoes - Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Fantastic Day at Cheyenne Mtn
Part of NORAD's Antenna Farm atop Cheyenne Mtn
-keeping an "eye" on the Western World!
Sunday morning we headed to Cheyenne Mountain State Park for a little trail activity and brilliant sunshine.  Another gorgeous day was on tap and we have to take advantage before old man winter shows up.  Had a nice view of the gobs of aerial devices atop Cheyenne Mountain from the parking area.  If our blog disappears, you know I photographed the wrong ones.....
You again???

For the second time in a week, rounded a bend to find a well-fed bull snake sunning on the trail.  This guy was more bashful, retreating hastily before I could get the camera out.  These are one of the more common snakes we see and are not venomous, but can be large and intimidating.  This one was a bit over 3 foot long I would guess.  If you are not a large insect, rodent, small bird, or lizard, he is most likely not at all interested in your company!  They are hoarding for winter right now, so watch your step.
Kathleen enjoying the Sundance Trail...
...Steve was, too!
 Trail with a view
Heading into the Rock Garden
Nice forest photo
Parting Shot of the mountain

Once again, it was an awesome day to run trails in Colorado.  We had a great time at the park, headed home  and enjoyed a cold soak for the legs, followed by a leisurely afternoon with the return of NFL on Sundays. Happy Trails!
12 miles, 1725' elevation gain
Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S - Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Something Old.... Some things New

Great day at the Garden
Sunny skies and INCREDIBLE views!
Kathleen cruising the Dakota Trail

Saturday we hit the trail early at Garden of the Gods.  Weatherman was bringing in 90 degree temps to our area for the long weekend, so no holiday weekend sleep in....  Since most of our runs suffer from sun exposure, and the Garden is no exception, we had to beat the heat (and the crowds!)  Plus, after seeing a nice sized prairie rattler on the trail last Sunday on my run, we did not want to increase the likelihood of reptilian encounter.  It got hot pretty early, however, and the snakes were in hiding!
Steve dwarfed by the Siamese Twins Arch
A little video to survey the landscape 
(Kathleen had stage fright - no commentary...)
Kathleen coming onto Niobrara Trail
Steve almost to the top of Ute Trail

We were able to get in a fantastic run at the Garden.  We are very fortunate that we still have a fair amount of green on the landscape - usually we are a pretty dull shade of brown by this time of year!  Kathleen clipped her run off at 9 miles, due to some IT/hip issues left over from a couple of LONG technical descents on our vacation runs.  I stayed on for an extra frontside loop and was able to do 12.5 miles.  All in all, it was a great  day for the trails!

Shoes - K Saucony Guide TR
S Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Bear Creek Lake Park

Sunday, with some spare holiday time, we made a little trip up to Morrison (suburban Denver) to run trails at Bear Creek Lake Park.  There are several new races being held there in October and we wanted to snoop around the area.  We had been reading a bit about it on Laura's blog as she is prepping for the 50k.  As Denver is generally hotter than we are, we headed out with the sun just on the horizon this morning for the 1 hour trip north. 
Kathleen rounding Turtle Pond

The plan was to run the half marathon course, just to see what the area was like, and of course, to get some new trails in!  Most of the course was singletrack or doubletrack, with very good footing and not much in the way of technical snares.  The first half winds in and out of the trees along Bear Creek and Turkey Creek, with lots of different birds and thousands of grasshoppers.
Looming on the horizon ... Mt Carbon
Bear Creek Lake from top of Mt Carbon Loop
(notice the green swath along Bear Creek leading down to the lake)
Denver Skyline over Steve's shoulder

We climbed up and over Mt Carbon and headed down the back side toward the golf course.  There are some nice views of  suburban Denver in all directions and one thing is evident - they need some dang rain.  IT.IS.BROWN.  Wow - we did not realize how much we have benefited from our rains in the Springs. 
Another one...?

On the backside of the course, there are three stream crossings.  I thought maybe these would be 5 to 6 strides and you are over at this time of year.  Negative.  These are full on sloshers, as seen in the photo above.  You stride out of these and have water oozing from your shoes and socks for quite some time!  We both wore Drymax in anticipation and happy to report that we have no blisters from running the next 6 or 7 miles with wet shoes.
Kathleen finishing the last climb strong!

We made our way around the last part of the course, which was far less scenic, and it was getting blazing hot out there.  We were glad to roll back in to the trailhead and start the cool down and also glad we started early.  We were able to run 13 miles - Kathleen finished a little gimpy with the hip/IT  issue - but was encouraged to be able to complete the loop.   This is a very nice course, for sure, and will be quite fast for the front runners in the various race distances.  PLUS, we had a great time discovering yet another new trail area.   We followed up the run by meeting up with Jill (and one of her boys) at Wahoo's for fish tacos - NICE!

Shoes - Both Asics Trabuco

Meanwhile, back a few weeks...
Still thinking about our trip to Snowmass/Aspen area a few weeks back.  Lots of good times there and a lot of time spent on the trails.  If only one could afford to live there.....  Just one cool thing we didn't get to post from one of the runs we did on Rim Trail:
Steve & Kathleen on the Rim Trail
Poem carved in stone on Rim Trail

Up on the Rim Trail, near the Yin/Yang Circle that we visited last year, there is this monument with a poem carved in stone.  It was hard to read in the overhead sun - here is the inscription:
Quietly the spirit and beauty of the mountains
fill my heart
I open to the awe
and sense of discovery.
I feel free and alive and at peace.
Nearby I hear God saying
Do you want to play?"
Stark King 1945-1996

Of course our answer was, "Why, yes, thank you!"
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