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

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Good Times on Limbaugh Canyon Trails

Last Sunday, we headed back up to Greenland to get in a run with Craig - you can read about it here.  I have had a little experience with wanting to put that course to rest, so it was no problem to head up and suffer for another lap in an attempt to push down a good time.  It was a good run and post-run conversation led to all the runs Craig has been missing out on in this wonderful playground that is the Pikes Peak Region.  One of the runs that caught his attention was Mt Herman/Limbaugh Canyon, a stout loop starting from the Monument Fire Center and circumnavigating Mt Herman on some great technical trails.  (Well, I may have left out the technical part...)  So it was decided that this morning we hit up this nice route.
Already a ways up Trail 715, looking over Monument, CO

Our forecast was looking a wee bit sketchy with 50's for highs, after 80 on Friday, and a good chance of rain.  I admit that as I approached Monument and I-25 was wet, I was a bit unsure about pulling this one off.  Limbaugh Canyon is nowhere to be when a lightning episode breaks out!  However, Mt Herman was still washed with sun from behind the clouds.  So off we went, meandering through the trails in the work center, over a couple ridges, before hopping onto the 715 Trail.  I think by this point, Craig was becoming aware of the technical nature of these trails (sorry I forgot to mention it!!) but we were enjoying the start of the long climb with the cooler temps. 
Almost to the Bear Creek drainage, time to head UP!

The climb was, as always, steep and loose with a lot of rocks and decomposed granite surface - something you get used to in these parts, sort of like running on ball bearings at times!  We had been enjoying some good chatter along the route, but a few of the harsher pitches begged a bit more silence, focusing the mind on the task at hand.  For the record, I walked *several* sections of steep, but Craig ran the whole thing - animal!  We worked our way up to the saddle intersection with Mt Herman Road, leaving one last grunt to the entrance for Limbaugh Canyon.  As luck would have it, some fine folk HAD TO BE OUT EARLY at the "shooting range" that needs to be closed on Mt Herman, so we nervously climbed the last bit with what I perceived to be largish caliber rifle and small caliber carbine going off below us.  It was just a wee tiny bit unnerving to drop in the canyon and hear ricochet buzzes echo off the high rock walls above us - yikes!

We thought for a bit the sun would poke out on the run out through Limbaugh, then about a mile out from the opening to Palmer Lake, we could see the whisps of fog rolling up toward us at a good clip.  By the time we approached Inspiration Point, overlooking the town of Palmer Lake, a dense fog had pushed in and some thick drizzly air along with it.
Town of Palmer Lake below the fog bank
Looking back up Limbaugh, with the fog really closing in

It was too cool to stand around and gawk at the sights, so we dropped in the steep descent, then made the sharp right uphill onto the new cut that heads back up into the National Forest on the front side of Mt Herman.  For some reason, it felt like we never finished climbing today, as the 8 or 10 switchbacks here really sapped my legs.  Must be pre-season lack of vert hitting home.  Started to pick up a little light rain a couple miles out from the work center, but it never amounted to much and was never uncomfortable.
Monument Rock on a gray day

It was nice to drop in the top of the work center and run the fresh cut descent on the west side - it was finished sometime late fall, and this was only the second time on it but it is some fantastic trail work.  Got down through the pond, had a few picks of The Rock, and ran it in to the trailhead - 13.5 miles, with just under 3000' vertical gain on the day.   Definitely Good Times!  This was also by far the hardest test I put the Brooks Pure Grits through to date, and it has earned the right to hang in my full time trail rotation with the Saucony Peregrines. 

 Speaking of shoes..........

OK - changing gears here, but did you know I love shoes?  Kathleen's "Imelda Marcos" streak has really rubbed off on me!  I am borderline shoe-aholic...  One of the things I didn't really get into post-Greenland was that it was the second race I have done in low heel-to-toe drop shoes.  While I admit I have not gone to the great scientific length that this guy has, I did some due diligence to make sure I did not crash-n-burn.  I started "breaking in" my body to a 4mm drop shoe early last year with the Saucony Mirage, which is more of a road shoe.  I did this gradually until I was ready to try out the Peregrine for more serious trail work, and it has been great.  Later in the fall I picked up the Kinvara 2, two days before Crazy Horse and ran the race in them on their first outing.  They were also great and I was pretty well liking the low drop, other than the occasional fleeting notion that I needed wanted more "cush".  After the unnamed cushioned shoes were used a good portion of early winter, I found myself living in KT Tape with a latent hip issue.  Nothing against the tape guys, but that ain't normal.  So in February I went to total low drop - canned all my other shoes.  Over the next couple months, voila, no hip issues.  Hmmmm.  Now while I am definitely not talking minimalist here as all these shoes are still well cushioned, my body has responded well to lowering the heel and I listened to that.  For whatever that is worth...

So imagine then my horror when I come home from the last tune-up run before Greenland and Kathleen points out this in what was going to be my race shoe - Nooooooooooooooooooooo......  Blown out toe is not good.
Plan B - Mr Blue gets to go racing

It just so happens, I found a Kinvara 2 the week before Greenland (the new model 3 is out, which I am not caring for initially) and raced in it (again no break in - isn't that sacrilege for racing???)  But I do have to give props to Saucony - a couple emails were exchanged and they had me send the black shoe back for inspection.  I'm a shoe geek if you had not noticed, so it was hard to part with those puppies after that run at Crazy Horse, but just this Wednesday, these showed up at HT Central:
Still black, but check out those blinding green accents!!!

Can't wait to wear out the Blues and get these dirty!!
Happy Trails!
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