Distance: 20.52 miles
Weather: Sunny & warm
If you had to pay to run, would you? I would, and today I did.
With JP travelling for work this weekend, my options were to take the weekend off, or find a babysitter to watch JP and CP while I got in a long run. The Babysitter Gods were smiling this weekend, and I was able to get out for a reasonably long run this morning under sunny skies and 70+ degree temps. It cost me a few bucks, but it was money well spent! And, I got out early enough to still have the afternoon to goof around with JP and CP.
Due to time considerations and lingering snow in the higher elevations, I opted for some Front Range trails. I started just outside of Morrison by C-470 and began running west toward town. I remembered a trail I had seen last summer on the southeast side of the hogback. I found it again, complete with a sign that helpfully read "Trail."
The trail was actually a set of stairs heading steeply up. Assuming the trail would take me up to a trail along the top of the Hogback, I headed up. The trail, instead, dead-ended at some climbing spots. Figuring there had to be a trail up top, I did some class II climbing to get up and around some big slabs and made my way to the top of the hogback. Alas, no trail. Despite having thoughts of "when you're in a hole, stop digging" running through my mind, I pressed on. Surely there must be a trail somewhere. Public land this close to the Metro area is too precious. Alas, twas not to be. After scrambling for 25 minutes (the first mile clocked in at 26 minutes), I decided to cut my losses and started down-climbing the west side. My destination was Mt. Falcon Open Space, which I could see from my now-lofty vantage point. The challenge was that there's a quarter-mile of private land between the public land and the road I needed to be on. So, I ran south, figuring I could find a sneak to get to the road. After a couple of miles of running along old cow tracks, I hit a dirt service road and made my way out. I never jumped a fence, but the gate I had to hop to get to a public dirt road indicated I was traipsing across someone's ranch, at least for a bit of the way.
The hogback outside Morrison from Mt. Falcon Open Space. I climbed up the left side.
Well, now I know...there's no trails along that section of the hogback. So, onto Mt. Falcon.
I ran a steady pace up 3.8 miles up the mountain on the Castle Trail, hitting the shelter in 30 minutes and the upper parking lot in 43 minutes. On the upper reaches of the trail, I ran into Donnie, a guy I ran with for several miles at the Moab 50K. He was out getting in some miles in preparation for the Collegiate Peaks 50 and the SJ50. He was running with another guy out prepping for Western States.
Looking west on the upper section of the Castle Trail in Mt. Falcon Open Space
After turning around and heading back down, I made my way over to Red Rocks and ran a series of trails through the big red rocks to the amphitheater. The joint was hopping, with many people out sightseeing, exercising and taking in the views. I ran up the stairs to the top and continued on running a series of roads and trails, making my way over again to the the hogback, this time several miles north of where I started.
Red Rocks Amphitheater
I picked up a trail across from Red Rocks, climbed to the top of the hogback (there is a trail along this section!) and then down to Alameda Parkway, which is now closed to cars west of C-470. Now on pavement, I pushed the pace a bit at the end to polish off the last two miles (7:25; 6:52).
3,813 feet of total elevation gain for the day..