So, along the way, I got talked into running the Dead Horse 50K next month in Moab [I’m sucking so much at blogging… Dead Horse was now over a month ago]. By the time my birthday “run” was over it was time to actually go out and do some running. To help myself out, I mapped out a 20 mile run (that actually turned out to be a little bit less, but that’s okay) run with “only” 4,400′ of elevation gain.
The morning was chilly in the crisp, perfect way that happens in the fall. I hiked a lot on the uphill section and felt pretty crummy for awhile but the scenery was gorgeous. This section of the San Juans near Coal Bank Pass seems very different from the Ouray area.
Note to self: figure out nutrition so I don’t feel like utter shit on every training run for my 70k next year…
I made my way up the ridge and to the one section that required a little bit of scrambling. In this case, that meant some really cute belly flop drag myself up.
After this, it was an easy ridge walk up to the broad summit. It was really cool to be able to see so many peaks I’d been on recently from Cow Benchmark over towards the Stony Pass area.
The run back towards the car was a little bit less enjoyable because I had chosen a trail that was really popular with mountain bikers so I was constantly having to step to the side and let them continue downhill. (Mountain bikers! Don’t pass a runner and then take a break just a minute down the hill and let them pass you and then repeat the whole thing again!)
My route came out a little bit shorter than I’d planned but it was a totally lovely fall day in the mountains.
I’ve been complaining about this on Twitter but it’s a real problem: getting an alpine start when you work until 11pm and then you’re wired and can’t sleep is next to impossible. I’d had some ideas about bigger peaks in the Sneffles range and elsewhere along Red Mountain Pass but ultimately settled on a pair of 12ers above Brooklyn Road because I could leave the house at 7:30 and have plenty of time.
Things went according to plan until I wound up behind a herd of sheep being driven up onto a chunk of private land around Red Mountain 3. I sat stopped for a bit while the herders seemed to be taking a mid morning break. Since none of them signaled to me or said anything, I put Ruth in 4-low and just started creeping through the herd. It seemed to work.
Finally, reaching US Basin, I started a pretty direct ascent up the western slopes of McMillan Peak. Sprocket was delighted to find some snow on its flanks and before long we’d reached the 12,804′ peak.
I ran down the slopes of McMillan while Sprocket frolicked his way along.
It wasn’t long before we reached the Ohio Peak-McMillan Saddle where some old mining remains were.
It was sunny and gorgeous and the mountains were making me smile so we took a little break to lay down in the alpine grass.
Or I did, anyway. Sprocket seemed to want to move on. We made out way to the summit of Ohio Peak, 12,673′, where I briefly considered continuing on to another 12er, Anvil Peak but decided against it worrying about the endurance of the SP. We made our way back to US Basin along the ridge and then descended through the most beautiful wildflower bloom I’ve ever seen back to the road.
After Spring Break, all I wanted to do was hang out with my Sprocket. The first thing we did when we were reunited was hike/jog (aka #joyrun) the Perimeter Trail in Ouray. It was just a little muddy but almost totally snow free!
We’ve explored Mailbox Park near Norwood:
We’ve taken some runs near Dallas Divide that turned into snow trudges (it all gets the heart rate up!):
Had wonderfully warm sunny runs on and between mesas above Norwood in the Uncompaghre National Forest:
We woke up one Saturday morning to 6″ of snow in Ridgway and I was over it so we drove down 1200′ in elevation to run near Olathe:
I’ve gotten to run more in Ridgway:
I even made it up to Miramonte Reservoir one day for a run with this sweet view of Lone Cone:
I had a slow start to the week with some yoga on Monday and then took Tuesday off because it was cold pouring rain sideways. I didn’t have my winter running fortitude or anything going I guess.
Wednesday I got out for a lovely little road run. I got to say hi to the cows. I forgot my sunglasses and got tired of squinting into the wind. But I did it and the weather couldn’t have been lovelier.
Thursday, I headed out to complete the last of the four Thunder Trail loops. I guess I must have taken all my photos on Snapchat and they’re lost to the ether now… But it was pretty! This week’s run, Naturita Rim Loop, seemed to be less on the rim than Portis Loop but was less rocky than Portis and less steep than Thunder Loop.
I think I need to find a race to train for. My aerobic capacity in the mountains has increased back to a point where I don’t feel quite as embarrassed and I need something to kick my butt into higher gear. Any 4-Corners region runs to recommend? Trail runs in central New Mexico or Arizona would be awesome sauce (aka potentially semi-warm escapes?)
Yes, I know, running is not the first thing you think of when you think of Natural Bridges. When I passed by the entrance sign on my way home after exploring the Henry Mountains a bit and checking out Bluebell Knoll I figured with Sprocket nursing his broken nail it was as good a time as any to check it out. I didn’t want to leave him in the car alone too long so instead of doing what I really wanted to, hike under all the bridges through the canyon, I ran down from the road below each bridge and then back up.
Well, ran up is a gross exaggeration but I did mostly run down! The first bridge, Sipapu, was my favorite hike but I think Katchina was the coolest looking bridge. I even tossed in the short run to the Horse Collar Ruin overlook.
Sprocket stayed nice and cool thanks to a stiff breeze on the rim above the canyon that was blowing through the open Jeep windows. I, on the other hand, spent the entire afternoon a sweaty mess: sports bra running forever.
The hikes are all pretty short (the longest is 3/4 mile, I think) so it didn’t amount to much but it was a fun challenge. I briefly felt guilty for “rushing through” the highlights of the park but it sure beats just looking from the overlooks and driving on!
Oh man! I never got around to a Week in #joyrunning post last week so here’s two in one!
Week of September 4:
I started out with a bunch of running around Natural Bridges National Monument on Sunday (more on that this week!) that was AWESOME. Tuesday I toughed it out through an under-fueled 3 miles around town, and Wednesday I headed up to the Thunder Trails for my weekly loop (Thunder Loop). Thunder Loop has a pretty killer uphill on the southern end and Sprocket and I definitely engaged in some power hiking between small running bursts there!
Week of September 11:
The week started out … poorly. I worked a bit on Sunday and then just relaxed when I got home. Monday, I was in a terrible mood and convinced myself that I didn’t “need” to run. By Tuesday the “I don’t wanna” had magnified itself to a point where I was in a terrible mood and I rationally knew that getting out and doing something was the fix. I convinced myself to get dressed and tackle two miles and that I could quit then if I wanted to. At just over a mile, I realized I felt human again and threw down five…
Back in the groove, I reeled off 6 road miles Wednesday and about 4 miles on Thunder Trails’s Goshorn Loop Thursday. I kept things rolling with a fun ridge hike on Saturday!
I only got out for a couple of runs last week but they were both on the long-ish side for me (one run at 5.5 miles and the other at 5.7). In February and March I was averaging about 20ish miles a week of hiking and running only to see that fall off in April and May and wither away to almost nothing in June, July, and the first part of August. It feels so good to be back to moving at least 12-ish miles a week (and hopefully climbing at bit as we move into fall.
I’ve really been granting myself “permission” to drive somewhere between five and ten miles to get to a trail or quiet Forest Service road to do my runs on. I’m finding that on the trail I’m way more likely to do more miles and more hills. Sprocket approves of this choice.
I’ve found some sweet trails to run on around here and I’m finding more all the time. A lot of the time I just drive around until I find a jeep road or ATV track and run that. During the week I almost always have it totally to myself. I’ve also been checking out the newly constructed Thunder Trails near town. My longer run (5.7 miles) was running the Portis Loop. It’s my goal to run one of each of the four loops every week in September so I can check them all out before the snow flies.
The views from here can include the La Sals, the Abajos, Lone Cone, and the Wilsons depending on where you’re at and how the hills and the trees are. Makes it hard to complain.
I’ve been working my tail off but last week, I didn’t work until early evening so Sprocket and I headed out to savor summer a little bit. It was warm but not near as warm as it’s been this past week so we headed to the Stealey Mountain Trail to do some exploring. The start of the trail was pretty flat so I made a bit of an impulsive decision to start running.
Less than a mile from the car, the elastic fell off my braid so I was rocking the long hair down which was hot. Sprocket seemed to be enjoying the run so we kept on going.
We took a little bit of the long way around which opened up views to the Sneffels Range and Uncompahgre as the trail trended downhill.
As we doubled back to the east, Courthouse mountain dominated the skyline. Our pace slowed a bit as we started to move up hill but we were totally just out enjoying the day.
The highlight of Sprocket’s day was crossing a couple of streams that were low enough to allow him to just splash around and cool off a bit.
We tried to find a pack trail that was supposed to take a very direct route up to the saddle but it just seemed to be gone. It was pretty steep and starting to get hot so we just took it slow and savored the views back towards Castle Rock:
We finally rejoined the quad trail route and made the final push to the summit of Green, or Stealey Mountain. The summit was heavily treed so there weren’t a whole lot of views but the green and the sun was heavenly.
As convenient as it is to just walk out the door of your house and start running, I’ve really started to embrace driving a few miles out of town to explore. Sprocket seems to hate running on the road and his pace literally drops minutes when we’re out on the trails.
I have found some good trails but dry washes also make good runs this time of year and provide Sprocket with all the sniffs that he could dream of.
This time of year is really busy for school teachers so getting out for happy runs is totally necessary for my sanity and I’m so happy that I have places to do that!