Friday, July 23, 2010

Troublesome Gulch - Bergen Peak Upper Loop

A busy work day meant I didn't get out for a run until late and that I'd be running a good bit of this one on the trails of Bergen Peak in the dark.

Time: 1:56
Distance: 12.33 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Cloudy & Cool

By the time the workday was wrapped up, errands had been run with the kids and I had a few minutes to catch up with JP, it was 7:45 p.m. Well, I'll take what I can get, so off I went.

I had on a long sleeve tech shirt, thinking it would be cool after the early evening rains we got today. By the time I'd cruised over to Lewis Ridge Road to make the descent down to the bottom of Troublesome Gulch, things had warmed up. From the water treatment plant, I followed the social trail over to the gulch and run up the gulch to Bergen Park.

After a quick stop at the rec center, I ran into Elk Meadow Open Space and over to Meadow View Trail. From here, it was the standard Bergen Peak upper loop, which is a combination of the Too Long Trail and the Bergen Peak Trail. Today, I climbed Too Long, running up by the quickly fading twilight and, a bit later, the near-full moonlight. I finally switched on the headlamp about five minutes from the intersection with the Summit Trail where the trees thicken up a bit making it difficult for the moonlight to penetrate.

I ran down the Bergen Peak Trail using the headlamp the rest of the way. While I really like running in the silence of the dark, I quickly get tired of running in the little light bubble. Makes me think about what the Pb runners will have to tolerate.

I had mountain lions much on my mind on the descent. The other night, JP and I were hanging out in our room around 10:30 p.m. when we heard the loudest screaming outside. It sounded like a woman screaming and the sound was coming from right outside our bedroom windows. At one point, we were looking out our bedroom window into the dark scanning for movement. The sound seemed to move to the east, so I ran over to our open bathroom window right as the loudest scream yet pierced the night silence - seemingly right outside that window. A chill went through my body and it literally felt like my hair was standing on end. The sound soon moved away and eventually ended.  I figured it was a mountain lion, and some subsequent online searches for sounds seems to confirm.

Click and listen:

So, on the way down I was thinking about those sounds just as I came around a dark bend. The headlamp caught a funny-shaped bush and, well, it scared the crap out of me. I had a sharp intake of breath, got the same chill and the feeling like my hair was standing on end. Never knew shrubbery could be so scary.

The good news...I didn't break stride, but I did spend a couple of minutes laughing at myself.

Made it back home via Meadow View and neighborhood access and sound.

Elevation gain: 2,075 feet.


  1. I have the shrubbery experience on pretty much every run, and even before dark I can get a little creeped out, when I'm the last one down. And on certain trails, there are rocks and stumps that I notice every single run like that.

    I'd rather never see a lion, but at least I've only seen one: in Bear Canyon in Boulder. I think it was because of the rushing water nearby, it didn't hear my footsteps, and I caught it slinking behind a rock. I silently backtracked out of sight before it could know what I was doing, and picked up some other runners before I continued back down. The next day I bought bear spray.

    I'm guessing you're the guy I saw on Garmin Connect clocking 9:00 miles up Bergen Pk. A totally different class, man :) I think my best is around 13:00. Well, we do what we can do.

  2. That Bear Canyon experience sounds sublime...something you'll never forget. I saw a mountain lion laying on a Forest Service road along the north rim of the Grand Canyon...but I was driving! Not the same.

    I had to check Garmin Connect. I did have an average pace of 8:49 on my last Bergen Peak roundtrip...but remember that includes the descent!

    Watch out for mean-looking shrubs.