Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bear Peak - Ups

Time: 1:14
Distance:  4.76 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Mostly sunny and cool

I love the diversity that trail running offers, not just the diversity of scenery, conditions, terrain and surfaces, but also the diversity of focus a run may require. On some runs, when the trail is rolling and smooth, the mind wanders...checking in on how the body is firing...what the wind is doing...what creature is darting from tree to tree.  Other runs require intense focus...what are the next three moves I will make on this steep descent?...is that rock loose, can I step on it?...should I step over that rock or on it?...where can I place my foot to make that step-up less of a step-up?

Today was one of those intense focus runs. For much of the run, my eyes were on my feet and the 10 meters ahead, and rarely anywhere else. Such is a run up Bear Peak via Fern Canyon.

I tackled this run en route home from a hard, no-time-to-breathe day at work. By the time I found the Cragmore Trailhead, I was ready for a different kind of work and a whole lot of release.  After a quick in-the-car change, I jumped out and set off running up the waterbar-strewn trail that leads up Shanahan Ridge.  I climbed a bit to the Fern Canyon trail and was soon in hyper-focus mode as the trail turned steeply up via a long set of big step-ups. I'd read about Fern being a damn steady climb and it did not disappoint. 

I was feeling good today, with the legs having a surprising amount of pep and no residual fatigue from Sunday's 31 miles (no doubt due to taking Monday off). I was pressed a bit for time, which gave me an incentive to keep up a steady pace. I made it up Fern with no problems and then began the steep, rock-strewn climb up the north shoulder of Bear Peak.

I'd never been up Bear before, and was anxious I wouldn't have time to tag the summit and get back down and home in time to pick up J & C. Summit fever set in as I got closer. I constantly was doing mental math...if it takes me five more minutes to summit, I'll still have 30 minutes to get to the car...and so it went. At last, I saw the summit ahead, complete with three hikers and two dogs (it's Boulder after all) sitting near the summit. I made quick work of the final scrambling to tag the tippity-top in 45:08.. 

I was in such a hurry, I barely took the time to take in the view (shameful!).  With time ticking by, I descended quickly back to the car, returning the way I cam in 29:02.

Fantastic run. Eager to do this one again.

Elevation gain: 2,701


  1. Fern was completely snow-free. There are some lingering patches on the climb up from the saddle. No problem on the way up, even with the snow...some sketchy moments on the way down (especially since I was in a hurry). Another few days of sunny, warm weather and it'll be clear.


  2. Hey Jim. I live about a 50 second jog (literally) from Cragmore. Let me know next time you're in the neighborhood.