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

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flying Solo on Falcon Trail

With all the crazy restrictions and the all-too-confusing DEFCON color coordinated alert scales used at the local military installations, it has been a LONG time since we have been on the Falcon Trail. I heard from a trustworthy source that Falcon was in good shape AND had a green light for civi's.  With Kathleen having caught the crud from a coworker, I decided to tackle the long route on Saturday since it is so close to home.  Normally we would park at the stadium trailhead and run this as a loop, but for some reason I had it in to run in from the horse trails up on Blodgett, run the loop, and then CLIMB back out to finish.  It would be a good test of the winter fitness and the ice-induced hip strain I have been nursing.
 Over the ridge from Blodgett, the USAFA in the distance

Starting from this area, there is about a 2 mile drop in on a variety of dirt roads and horse trails to link up with the Falcon Trail.  Given our bizarre winter to date, there were rare patches of snow and almost no mud.  It was gray and cool at the start but forecast was for some sun and upper 50's so I was optimistic that the finish would be much warmer.
 Finally on Falcon - nice luge trail through the rocks
 Nice views along the creek
 That cave could be emergency shelter in a storm!
 Center of campus - Chapel on the skyline
Circa 1860's - not sure if it is the "original" glass, though!

It was indeed good conditions on the trail.  The back side was completely dry and I encountered no ice until dropping out of the Stanley Canyon trailhead to the northeast.  Down from there to the road there were a couple sketchy spots that required some mindful attention.  With the temperature in the mid 40's, there was just enough of a slimy surface on the ice to make it snot slick.  I have been enjoying the consolidated snow traction on the Saucony Peregrine, but it is definitely NOT an ice shoe (not many are...).  I traded places quite a few times with guys on bikes - passing on the climbs, getting passed on the descents.  it was such a great day to be out and the forecast high winds we have endured lately took the day off.  So it was definitely a good day to be out on the bike - a couple guys made mention that they left early to beat the wind but were wishing they would have started an hour later for warmer temps!!  

I fatigued noticeably by the time I climbed the ridge above the golf course on the north side of the Academy.  This is, after all, January  and I have not been maintaining the mileage I did in the fall.  I made a conscious effort to ignore the Garmin as I knew at that point I still had 7 or 8 miles to go.  Running out the long meadow below the BX, I passed two cyclists that I had traded spots with 4 times.  They had laid their bikes in the grass and stood beside the trail with their thumbs out as I went by.  I got a good laugh and they shouted encouraging words since they were almost done with their loop!  On the trail above the BX, I caught wind of Burger King.  Now I am not a fast foodie, but why after almost 15 miles does that smell SO GOOD???  I contemplated the emergency cash stash in my Nathan pack and thought about sauntering in to the BK and getting a Whopper, Animal Style, if you know what that is ;-)  Gotta stay clear of the bread, you know???  But alas, with a 2 mile climb out of the Academy staring me in the face, that thought was fleeting...
 Exit gate - depart from the Falcon Trail and head UP
 Blodgett Peak

The next trail beta I need to work out is a route that starts at Blodgett Peak Open Space and gains access to the horse trails I dropped in on today.  That would certainly put this run well over 20 miles and make for a good mid-summer long run bonanza.  I am thinking this might involve connecting to the West Monument Creek Trail, which drops in the "V" on the right side of the photo.  This gets sticky as Colorado Springs Utilities parked a water treatment plant on the creek and "interrupted" access to the trail.  However, there are people who know ways around such things.  :)
 AFA water treatment facility on the hill to the left,
and one of their reservoirs below right
 Can't stand still long - still have to climb out over that ridge
Back over on our side of town - looking over Mt St Francis,
home of The Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration
As you can see, I made it out alive!  17 miles with just under 2600' climb.  That was a long run for me at this time of year, however, I enjoyed the test of fitness and found out that I still have a good base.  If you are in this area, get out and run the trail - it is not often in January that Falcon is this free of snow and ice.  And you never know when they might close access again...  Happy Trails

Shoes - Saucony Peregrine
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