Colorado!

YIKES!

No ‘whale of a thirteener‘ hike, no ‘Debbie Gibson’ Lake, no bighorn sheep.  Small garter snake, remnants of Aspen yellow, SNOW & Grave Danger RADIATION.  What?????

Alarm buzzed at 5am.  Dark outside but could hear rain.

Alarm buzzed again at 6:30.  Felt my age this morning.  32 miles yesterday, slooooow start.  Cup of Pappy’s sassafras tea.  Unpacked yesterday’s gear, re-stuffed the backpack with hike essentials.  On the road by 8am.  New day, new month, promised Ro high elevation.

Plan A: Whale Peak (elevation 13,078ft), Plan B: Gibson Lake.  Hour-half drive on Hwy 285.  Morrison, Conifer, Bailey…dirt-road right, just past Grant.  BEAUTIFUL autumn drive.  Had I woke ‘on time’ today, would have all been dark.  Everything happens for a reason 🙂

Dodged potholes 5 miles to Hall Valley Campground…dirt road/lotta seasonal use.

ATV-road hike.  1.2 miles to Gibson Lake Trailhead.  The panorama?  Colorado Autumn – one of the last weekends of Aspen YELLOW.  Snowy mountain backdrop.  Today’s WOW shots came early.

Gibson Lake Trailhead coated in ankle-deep snow.  Continued UP the ATV-road.  [in hindsight] Should’ve looked a little harder.  Back of the parking lot, no visible path – but on my hike return, spotted the weathered trail sign.  Gibson Lake → 3 miles.  Ugh.

Snow got deeper, off-leash joy for Ro.  UP, UP, UP.  Took more than a few water breaks.  50K day-after: legs weren’t exactly bounding effortlessly.  LOL>

Trees stunted, wind blew.  Into the Backpack: treat for Ro, GLOVES for dad.  Trail snow thinned, precip blowing to the side in drifts.  Still no Lake but could make out a vault toilet, far in the distance.  Gonna top the next hill, lunch at the Lake, contemplate next steps.  Based on snow conditions, not sure how plausible summiting a 13er was gonna be.

“Go bak” – scribed on a large boulder.  ‘Vault toilet’ reality: 3 buildings & an American flag.  Large purple gate (middle of absolute nowhere) tagged: ‘Keep OUT Mine Property’.  Today’s deal breaker?  “Grave Danger: Very High Radiation Area”.

Hadn’t seen THAT sign before.  4.4 miles in, good enough today.  Kicked back 20 minutes (ironically, against the RADIATION gate), downed a turkey sandwich (both halves), fed Ro.  Might be GLOWING, but my stomach would be full 🙂

2 roadside stops on the drive home: unplanned, unexpected, unrelated – but both SUPER cool.

  • photo opp: Christ of the Rockies statue (Camp Santa Maria)
  • food LOVE: foot-long w/ sauerkraut at Coney Island Boardwalk (Bailey)

Crazy FULL weekend – GRATEFUL to be working tomorrow.  Monday, REST day.

 

 

 

Who signs up for a 50K trail run only 4 days before the event?  Yep, that happened this week.

Received a promo email for The Bear Chase Trail Race last weekend, Friday before New Hampshire.  Generally I delete these (my run schedule’s set 6 months out) but was out-of-town/travelling soooo the ad stayed in my Inbox.

Home sweet Colorado Home.  Cool & overcast all week, highs never topped 60 (GREAT weather).  Didn’t have a great run in Keene (REDEMPTION).  Short miles this month in my Run the Year challenge (Sept 30th race) AND only 45 minutes from Home.

I know, I know – crazy ‘healthy‘ addiction.  Paid FULL price & promised Ro we’d hike tomorrow 🙂

Saturday morning.  Hydration vest outta the closet, packed a drop bag – pickles/watermelon/chicken noodle soup, change of clothes (shirt/socks).  I’m my own crew today.  Socks?  Yep, NINE water crossings – 6 of those, knee deep water.  LOVE LOVED it!

Missed bib pick-up night before (work obligation).  Arrived half-hour early in Lakewood’s Bear Creek Lake Park.  FREE parking ($10 fee waived for runners).  Volunteer handed me a Bib, 4 safety pins & my Bear Chase tech shirt.  BAM, done.

2nd time in a month, I’d be running the event’s low-mile race.  100K, 50 mile or 50K – that’s it.  First time since April 2016, I actually registered for a 50K (ran 3 last year).  Marathon 6 miles.  Baby steps.  I see a 50-mile race in my 2018 future.

Sun rose pink over Bear Creek Lake, hats off for the National Anthem & we were off.  Bunched up at the first water crossing, then hiked UP the first of three big climbs.  Backside of hill?  I flew.  Since REVEL Rockies training this Spring, I’m a much better downhill runner.

Easiest trail terrain to date – rolling hills, root-free course (my trail nemesis).  Ran strong first 14 miles.  Lost my mojo during the sun-exposed 6.9 miles ‘round Fox Hollow Golf Course.  No tree, no shade, no wind.  Popped in the ear-buds, tried to flood my head with sound.

Last loop (18.8 miles in), half marathon distance to go.  Dilly-dallied 10 minutes at Bag Drop.  Re-clothed (dry shirt/dry socks), bathroom break, swallowed a half-thermos of chicken noodle.  Departed with a fresh bottle of electrolytes.

Last climb UP, right quad cramped.  Unfamiliar territory.  Nearby runner asked if I needed salt tabs.  I thanked him, swallowed both & hoped for a miracle.  I’m a puker, not a cramper.  Limped/walked the climb, limped/jogged the backside.

Clouds rolled in, temp dropped 10-15 degrees, winds kicked up.  No sun, no headphones…no need.  Quad cramp ceased.  My miracle.

Slow pace – 12/min mile – but I kept moving.  Shoulders back, no walk, no slog.  Head voices stopped.  Focused on a guy in white, later a couple both dressed in red.  Approached, paced closed behind, then passed/moved ahead.  Ninth & final water crossing.

Less than a mile to go AND… I lost the trail.  Are you kidding me??  Bush-whacked thru high grass & willow thicket.  Crossed a paved road, met a 100K runner.  Had run past the Finish by more than half a mile.  Disappointed…but back on trail – I kept moving.

Actually came up BEHIND the Finish.  7 hours – that’s a looooong time but I FINISHED.  32 miles total.  WOW!  ALSO surprisingly, compared with 2016 results – cut more than an hour off my best time.  Today’s run a 50K PR.

Out like a LION (September), in with a ROAR (October) – starting tomorrow with a high-altitude hike.  Gotta, hafta – promised the pup, right?  LOVE LOVE my Colorado life ❤

 

The Bear Chase

Running @ Lakewood, CO, 50K 9/30/2017, by HAL Sports

 

Keenan Haga

Bib #732  CHIP TIME  07:04:43

 

 

meanwhile far, far away in Germany…look who’s celebrating Oktoberfest!

 

 

After last month’s Herman Lake hike on the CDT (Continental Divide Trail), went back to Ash for other hike destinations I may have overlooked.  She gave me two: Jasper Lake (Indian Peaks Wilderness) & Whale Peak (off US 285, on the Divide past Gibson Lake).

Next 3 weeks: 2 Colorado hikes, one East Coast marathon.  Work hard, play hard.  B-I-G life, no regrets.

Late start – 6am Saturday wake-up.  In Colorado, that means ‘no trailhead parking’.  Circled back 15 minutes into Nederland & boarded the town’s FREE trailhead shuttle service.  Me AND my pup.  Yep, that happens in Colorado too.  Dog-friendliest state of our 50 ❤

Light rain in Boulder, light SNOW in Nederland.  Mix of precip, sun darted in & out all day.

First FALL hike of the season, Aspens were a poppin’.  Bright Aspen YELLOW.  8.8 miles roundtrip per ProTrails.  Ash quoted 10 – Strava would prove her right (shuttle drop-off to Lake & trail return: 10.4 miles).

Ro now off-leash; pup on ‘squirrel’ patrol.  Ran wild thru open meadows.

Woodland Lake.  Diamond Lake.  Stayed RIGHT at both forks.  Third & last trail juncture, went against the grain & trekked LEFT.  No getting’ lost this day.  Perrrrfect directions.  (Thanks Ash.)

Arrived Jasper Lake 11am.  Gray skies & snow spit.  Didn’t stop Ro from taking a quick dip.  Brrr.

Reality, this alpine ‘lake’ was a reservoir – being drained in anticipation of next season’s snow-melt.  Heavy winter mountain snow = plenty of downstream water all summer long.  Front Range Coloradans generally lucky that way.

Today’s hike destination not the sexiest lake…but the journey itself – FAAANNNNTASTIC!  Still early – stay or go-go?  Option A: mile to Devils Thumb Lake, mile further to Devils Thumb Pass.  Option B: bowl of warm chili in Ned.  Ya’ll know how this story ends 🙂

Followed by late afternoon take-n-bake pizza.  Followed by a double-scoop of PB&J at Sweet Cow.

Maybe should’ve hiked the extra couple miles, huh?  LOL>

 

 

 

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