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

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Desert Escape, part two

After devouring some decent Mexican food on Monday evening, following our most wonderful desert trail odyssey, we hit the hay with big ole grins on our faces.  We woke with those same silly grins and began plotting our day - actually our next two days.  Steve and I decided we wanted to try Monday's fun trail route in the reverse direction on Wednesday.  Since, to me, that was the more important day, my aim was to keep today's run (Tuesday) short and sweet.  I urged Steve to feel free to stay out and explore as long as he wanted as I had brought a stack of books that I hoped to consume over this week and would be perfectly happy to hang out at the truck and read while he extended his run.  His response was, "We'll see".   We loaded up and headed out to the very popular 18 Road/Bookcliffs trail area on a most lovely morning.
 Almost to the trailhead parking lot with the spare Bookcliffs in the background.
 Prime indeed!  At the start, heading up Prime Cut Trail - a "lush" oasis in the midst of the dry desert landscape.
 Gratuitous Group Photo
 Turning onto more sinuous ribbons of singletrack - Frontside connecting to Joe's Ridge, Zippity Doo Da, and the BIG Edge Loop.
 Steve on Joe's Ridge.  The pictures don't tell the whole story - there are short parts of the ridge where the trail is perched on a knife edge - maybe 20 or so inches wide and then falls away steeply on either side.
We met a poor guy and his wife on mountain bikes coming toward us - he told us he was hyperventilating because he has a fear of heights and gets vertigo.  His wife was gently trying to nurture him through it.  Luckily, Joe's isn't really scary and is relatively short.  Zippity Doo Da - well, that's another story.  Miles of constantly rolling knife edge trail.  I hope that poor guy stayed away from there!
 Nice view of Joe's. LOTS. OF. FUN!!!
 Came off of Joe's and headed up Kessel Run and connected back over to Prime Cut.  I intended to head back down to the truck and encouraged Steve to keep running, figuring I would have about 8 miles by the truck and happy to save my legs for a potentially second long run tomorrow (fingers crossed).  Steve decided 8 was good for him, so we headed down Prime Cut together, satisfied with 8 miles for the day.

If you want to see some good video of Joe's Ridge and some of the trail exposure, watch this video

If you would like to see just how much more "spine" tingling Zippity Do Da is, watch this video from Ted over at Stuck in The Rockies.  Enjoy!
   Above - the map of 18 Road/Bookcliffs area.  We are eyeing the epic Edge Loop for a future outing - it is in yellow on the map.  It will be about 28 miles and includes a short rappel down "the waterfall".  Doesn't that sound fresh and exciting???!!!

Worthy of mention:  we refueled at Pablo's Pizza, in Fruita, that afternoon.  Mmmmm good!
Most excellent pizza, especially in a small town.  And great appreciation for their very scrumptious, homemade gluten-free crust.  I'm getting hungry typing about it!  More Please!
We got up bright and early Wednesday morning and headed over to the main Kokopelli Trailhead, planning on doing Monday's fun run in the reverse direction.  Trails always look different when done in the opposite direction.  Steve was feeling great and ready to kick up his heels.  I was feeling good but wasn't completely sure what to expect from the body once we got the legs moving.  Time would soon tell............
We headed up the rolling gravel frontage road for a little over 2 miles before connecting to Mary's which then connected us to Steve's Loop (cool name for a trail, eh?  And yes, it REALLY is called Steve's).
 A perfect  bluebird day in the mid-60's.  Perfect weather.  Perfect trails.  Perfect company.
 Up off of Steve's, now connecting to Mary's above the Colorado River.
 Beautimus cactus
 Soaking up our Vitamin D, expansive views, and lovely trails.  Ahhhhh.............
 This group started not too far behind us at the beginning of Steve's Loop where we saw them on a bench above us.  We had just completed the 4 mile Horsethief Bench Loop when they were coming down the cattle chute, surprised they hadn't caught us yet.
As Steve mentioned from yesterday's post, we saw 3 guys RIDE this section - we had heard of it, but had never actually witnessed such a feat.  WOW.  There was a well deserved raucous round of applause and cheering when the last of the 3 made it.  A fourth guy almost got the glory, but face-planted off of one of the last boulder sections.  We still cheered for him, though, as he had earned it.
 Nearing the end.....  Getting ready to turn on to a new trail - Wrangler - that would take us back to the start of Mary's, not too far from the truck.  At this turn-off, we are about 13.5 miles in.  I am getting tired but still feeling pretty good.  Two thumbs up.
 Happy Trails Duo feeling pretty happy on Wrangler
Smelling the barn..............

We made it back down and over the last hill to the truck, ending the day with a marvelous 16.25 miles.  Now, 16 miles has become "no big deal" for Steve as he's been putting in longer miles than that these past few months but it felt monumental to me.  I got a little teary eyed at the trailhead when the realization hit of what my body had just accomplished.  Starting the end of January, beginning of February, I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other to shuffle 3 or 4 miles, so I was literally soaring on Cloud 9 to be able to do what we did in the four days here.  Ecstatic.  I am not setting any speed records, for sure, but am encouraged to be able to do what we did.  It will just take time to get my strength back.  Also, I don't intend to talk much more about Graves after this (but if you or someone you know has questions, please feel free to ask as I am happy to help and share) - but when a person has climbed over the hurdle we have, it deserves positive and exuberant acknowledgment (and a big thank you to a wonderful, caring husband!).  It's all good.  Next up:  a 20 miler in the mountains the end of May........another good test........

Another worthy mention:  We re-fueled at Rib City, in Fruita, where they serve up some AWESOME smoked meats - the pulled pork and turkey were outstanding!

Another worthy mention #2:  We both wore Montrail Masochists on our 4 runs, each alternating between two pairs.  Our feet and bodies ended the trip in a completely happy state despite the rough and rocky conditions.  Very awesome trail shoes.
Happy Trails this week!
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