Monday, May 3, 2010

Golden Gate Canyon State Park - Long(ish) Run

Time: 2:36
Distance:  15 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Average
Weather: Cloudy, snow, cool

First...this looks like fun - a completely unorganized, unplanned throw-down on Boulder's Green Mountain. Be sure to read the rules.

Originally, the plan was to head over to Golden Gate Canyon State Park and run the Dirty Thirty 50K course, but things didn't go as planned.

First mistake was thinking the course map and turn-by-turn instructions were in the back of my car.  They weren't. The second mistake was thinking the trails might be mostly snow-free.  They weren't.  The good news...I went running.

With JP travelling, this was another toll run...the babysitter being the one to whom I had to pay the toll.  So, with no time to waste, I sped the 30 minutes from the house over to the state park visitors center, picked up my $6 day pass and headed over to where the Mountain Lion Trail comes down to the main park road.

From the parking lot, I jumped on Mountain Lion, which snakes up a south-facing slope. The trail here was enticingly snow-free. Everything was perfect as the trail climbed up and over several ridges after crossing over Noll Creek. Soon, though, as the trail dropped back down to the creek and followed it up through a ravine, snow was everywhere.  I did my best to keep running, but between the snow and the snowmelt-swollen stream, I had to speed walk far more than I wanted to.

In the early going on the Mountain Lion Trail. Could it be...snow free trails?

 A bit later on the Mountain Lion Trail, after the trail enters the woods and heads up a ravine.

After crossing the stream seemingly a dozen times, the trail left the creek and climbed steadily and steeply up to Windy Saddle before dropping down to the upper part of Forgotten Valley. Here I left Mountain Lion and started climbing up the Buffalo Trail (ain't it cute how all the trails are named for critters?). Still running intermittently on snow, I made my way up to Rifleman Phillips Campground (how's that for a name?).

Looking back up toward Windy Saddle from the backside, en route down to Forgotten Valley

 The climb up the Buffalo Trail, on what appeared to be an old ranch or logging road.
A lake, with historic cabin on the right in the lower part of Forgotten Valley.

From Rifleman Phillips Campground, I ran Gap Road up to Aspen Meadows Campground where I picked up the Snowshoe Hare Trail and ran by Dude's Fishing Hole. I had to stop several times through this stretch to sniff out the trail.  With all the snow, and the dearth of footprints, route finding was a bit sketchy.  After a bit of trial and error, I was able to follow the trail and climbed up and over a ridge and circled back to Rifleman Phillips Campground.  I retraced my steps down the Buffalo Trail to the lower part of Forgotten Valley.  Finally, I hopped on the southern bit of the Mountain Lion Trail and cruised back to my car.

I think all of the trails I ran, save for the stretch on Gap Road, are part of the Dirty Thirty course. (The race is June 5th.) The running Golden Gate is very nice...some steeps, some rocks, some cruisers, and a fair bit of variation in, grassy valleys, thick lodgepole forests, rugged mountains and numerous creeks, especially this time of year.  And, the area is peppered with log cabin ruins and a lot of pioneer history.

I was disappointed not to have gotten in more miles. The snow definitely slowed me down, and dampened my desire to keep pressing. And, the clock was ticking and needed to get back home to jP and CP.  Still, it was good to run somewhere new (I hadn't been in the northeast part of the park before), even with the poor conditions.

And, I can't leave without, once again, lamenting the long march of winter. Bring on the warmth and sun!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah ... bring the warmth. I am ready to have the skin roast a bit.