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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beat the Heat at Rampart Reservoir

 Early morning sun on Rampart Reservoir

Saturday was a photo-less long run day so you will have to visualize for yourself...  Kathleen had to work, so we ran to the top of Mesa Road and she returned home to round out a 9.5 mile morning jaunt and tend to her duties.  I looped through the Garden of the Gods, down Ridge Rd and made a lap around Red Rock Canyon before returning home the same way.  20 miles and glad to be done before the big heat.

Sunday's forecast was for 90's, so we headed up Ute Pass to check on the city's water supply at Rampart Reservoir.  We had to get an early start or else miss out on parking spots at our favorite trailhead.  At 9300' elevation to start, the air is generally at least 10 degrees cooler than it would be at the house at 6800'.  It was an absolutely perfect morning with clear blue skies and mild temperatures - time to get rolling.
 Quiet bay
 Massive granite boulders are numerous along the trail

We like to start at the Rainbow Gulch trailhead and run down to the reservoir.  It means you have to finish with a climb, but it also makes the run a little longer :)  Early on in the run, we saw mostly fisherman down on the shore in various places, a couple runners, a mountain biker, and these folks:
 Kayakers enjoying the quiet morning
 Running some nice forest trails
 Views like this distract along the entire route

As we have said before, this is one of those "trick" runs.  Aside from the raw elevation, this trail has no extended alpine climbs nor does it have abundant technical footing.  However, the constant jaw-dropping views and incessant ups and downs that come with running the the shoreline of a mountain reservoir place a drag on your concentration, and eventually, your energy reserves.  There is a constant struggle to push an even pace - so this is a good mental training run, although the reservoir usually wins the struggle....
 Kathleen cruises the scenic trails
 Once again - views on the right, wait...watch your step...
 Looking out from the dam - the sharp point left of center is Blodgett Peak

Standing on the dam, looking out across the ridge you can see a wee bit of the sprawl that is Colorado Springs.  Here is the odd thing:  it is about a 28 mile drive to get to the trailhead from our houseBlodgett Peak is only about a 3-ish mile hike from our front door.  From Blodgett to the reservoir, as the crow flies, is maybe 3 to 3.5 miles.  So you start wondering, if there was a good route, why not just bust over the hill from home, trudge up to the reservoir, run a lap, then run home???  Hmmm, maybe some time pouring over the Ormes Pikes Peak Atlas map is in order...
 Back around to the inlet - plenty of snowmelt pouring in

After crossing the dam, the west side of the reservoir goes by in a flash as the 2.5 miles or so on that side seem so short compared to the length of the eastern side with the large inlets.  Running through the forest, more and more light peers through, the sound of rushing water tickles the ears, and then you pop out of the trees along the inlet, ready for the climb out to the trailhead.
Stop for a pose

From the footbridge, it is about a mile and a half climb out, starting on sweet singletrack following the inlet.  At the end of the trail, it is back out onto a wider trail (more like a road) that is quite exposed - it was here we noticed just how warm it was becoming, and we were glad to be finishing, not starting as so many were.   The route ends up at 14.25 miles with just under 2400' climb.  It was a bit of a stretch for Kathleen, but she made it.  It was a great run - yet another that is so close to home!  We stopped in Woodland Park for some Starbucks refueling, then stopped on the westside of town to hit Rudy's BBQ for some awesome smoked turkey and green chili stew to repair some tired legs!!!  We were glad to have been up high - we hit 96 degrees in town, only 2 degrees shy of a record high!   Happy Trails!
Satellite view

Shoes - K Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC
S - Montrail Masochist
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