Saturday, July 3, 2010

Steamboat - Zig Zag to Gondola - Ups

Time: 1:26
Distance: 9.2 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Warm and clear

The family and I headed up to Steamboat for the long Fourth o' July weekend. We rented a cheap(ish) condo down below the base area of the ski resort (third night free!). After a fun day of watching ski jumping (the big Nordic ramps are covered in green plastic and wet down - they let spectators stand right next to the landing area alongside the ramp...the skiers actually made a fluttering sound as they flew by), riding the alpine slide, hiking up to Fish Creek Falls (237 amazing feet of falling water) and exploring the town, I squeezed in a run before dinner and a trip to the rodeo.

From the condo, I ran up to the ski resort and jumped on the Zig Zag trail, which curved around the north side of the resort and climbed moderately, but steadily, through a combination of lush forest, cat trails and open meadows. It actually was quite beautiful, much more so than most ski resorts seems to be in the summer. The trail was built for mountain bikers, with banked turns here and there. Fortunately, I only came across a couple of bikers and both were stopped to rest.

I was pressed for time, so I worked it pretty hard up the last of few climbs before topping out at the gondola terminus. I ran right by a wedding gathering set up immediately adjacent to the trail. Guests, dressed in their wedding best, were filing in and being seated as I ran by shirtless and sweaty. I had to smile to myself at the incongruence of it.

From the gondola, I jumped on the Thunderhead Trail, which is a hiker-only trail, and descended through an endless series of switchbacks back to the base area, pausing a couple of times to take in the the views and to give a nod to the sea of wildflowers covering the ski runs the trail cut across.

I pushed the descent pretty hard (again...working on my descending stamina). Felt great to really work this run.

I had not been in Steamboat for something like 12 years. The place has changed quite a bit. Nonetheless (and most importantly), it was great to run on new trails!

2,289 feet of elevation gain.

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