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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weather Madness!

Saturday morning Kathleen got out early and hit 5 miles before work - Yes!  This is a good development.  Meanwhile, I was salivating over the weather forecast, which was predicting upper 70's!  (I checked first, and it was NOT April Fools)  Jumping around with these temps of late can be a little tricky on the body, however, I was definitely getting out for some heat for this one!  So I headed over to Red Rock Canyon, where we have not been in a while, and decided to do a little Red Rock and add on the Section 16 loop.
 Blue skies and WARM!
Looking over Red Rock from Lion Trail

I got the last parking spot at the main trailhead at about 9 - I guess everyone watched the weather forecast!!!  I headed out around the east side and up the Codell trail, then continued climbing until I was up to the Section 16 connector.  
In between RRC and Section 16 - gonna be a good day!
Intemann/Waterfall trail up to Section 16

Early on I had that strange feeling that I would have no legs - what's the deal with that on a high 70's day?  Add to that the fact that there is a boatload of climb, and I was adequately nervous.  So when I hit the steep waterfall connection up to Sec 16, I kept it scaled back and did some power hiking.  Between here and the high point of the climb, there are some ramps in excess of 30% and several extended clips of 20% grade.  Now, I am not a good walker.  In fact, if you asked Kathleen, she would probably say it makes me grumpy.  But on this day, it was necessary.  Already pouring sweat by the bucket, I will say that the trees on the climb and the wind on the ridge were a welcome relief - cannot believe I was needing to cool off???
Way above Red Rock but plenty more to climb!!!
Nice views

When I finally reached the saddle where the climb eases up a bit, my legs started to turn over for me a little better.  I was glad that I did not bag this one early.  Had some great views up there - just a couple canyons north of where I was the previous Saturday!  Downed some globs of caloric goop as I rolled across the remainder of this climb and was anxiously awaiting the long rolling descent down to Gold Camp.  I was about a minute into the plunge when I saw someone climbing toward me WAY overdressed - I thought, That poor sap missed the news.  However, it turns out it was JT out training for his outing to the Grand Canyon - getting some heat blasts in ahead of the R2R2R run.  (But, man, it still looked way too hot!!!)  It was a drag to find out this morning that the brutal winds overnight brought the neighbor's massive pine tree crashing through his roof - not good!
High Drive - it looks so flat in pictures...

The descent down the back side of Section 16 was great and the legs came around a bit - not one of those glorious, all is right in the running realm kind of days, but still felt good.  The steep drop on High Drive was a bit of  pounding as usual but I was really concentrating on my descending form and I think it helped.  Rolled out of the descent and started the climb back up onto the loop so that I could reconnect to Red Rock.  Once out of the tree lined canyon, the heat was really becoming apparent.  So it felt good to drop down into Red Rock again, knowing that the remainder of the run would be mostly downhill!
Looking out to the Garden

I stopped for a minute to check out the sights as I was descending through RRC.  On the right side of the photo, you see Ridge Road climbing into the Garden of the Gods - the first ramp is 13%, then it "backs off" to 7%.  Many times at the end of a long road bike outing I have cursed that road - it stings just to look at it!
Always better AFTER you climb it....

Finished up with an even half marathon - 13.1 miles and 3320' climbing.  After several longer runs of late, this is one of those shorter runs that remind you just how humbling running in the mountains can be.  Considering that I nearly pulled the plug early on this one, it was a good day to push through the cement legs in the early stages and let the recovery creep up on me.

Shoes - Montrail Mountain Masochist - Getting kind of attached to this shoe - only wish I could get it at our favorite Candy Store....

Could the weather continue??
Kathleen navigates some "small" stones....

Got up Sunday and found that the Chinook winds that howled overnight had kept the temperatures in the high 50's.  However, the weather alarmist forecaster was warning that the weather was changing and it was rolling in fast!  So at 8:30 we were out the door for Cheyenne Mountain State Park.  When we arrived there, it was 68 degrees, but as you can see in the photo below, the gray clouds were creeping up behind the mountains...
Nice ... for now
Grabbing some rays early on the run
The Lone "Evergreen"

This tree growing from a rock on the Blackmer trail always makes my mind wander to the Lone Cypress on 17-Mile Drive - could a trip to Monterey be in the near future???
Stopped for a photo-op on Blackmer

The sun came and went during the run as was anticipated.  It was holding on pretty good as we dropped down to the base nearing the end of Kathleen's run.  We were completely stoked that she pulled off 8.5 miles. It was nice to see a glimmer of life coming back to her body.  Granted, she was tired, but we'll take it at this point!  
Picking my way through the rock garden
Just before the rain hit...

I headed out for another loop after Kathleen was finished, rolling out onto the Sundance trail and keeping an eye on the skies.  It was getting darker and the temp was falling off pretty quickly, so I didn't head up too high.  I looped the bottom of Talon over to Turkey trot, and then the rain started.  I was still warm, so it wasn't too bad until the wind kicked up.  I took Zook over to Medicine Wheel, ran the ankle twisters down to the base, and called it a day at 14 miles.  It was quite a good time and we were so lucky we got out EARLY today.  When we pulled out of the parking area, the temp was reading 53 degrees - a 15 degree drop from the start.  AND, by 1 PM, we had our first snow flakes hit the air.  Right now as I type it is 30, feels like 16 - what a day!!!  But hey, we got our run in, so bring it on!  Hope everyone has an outstanding week - Happy Trails!
Shoes - Montrail Mountain Masochist
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