Morning run around the 3,500-acre Centennial Cone Open Space here in Jefferson County. Great pre-run Hallowen moment at The Bagelry. Read on...
Weather: Sunny and Warm
Met up with Todd G. just after 7:30 a.m. at the wonderfully-named Mayhem Gulch Trailhead in Clear Creek Canyon for a loop around JeffCo's Centennial Cone Open Space. (Mayhem Gulch, turns out, was not named after some riotous event of the past. Mayhem is the last name of a long-time ranching family from the area. Go figure.)
The run starts with a 600-foot climb from the bottom of the canyon to the pine-covered hillsides above. The singletrack here is some of the best constructed trail I've seen in a long time. It snakes gently up, meandering across the hills and climbing via multiple switchbacks before intersecting with the Juniper Trail.
We hung a right here, continuing on the Mayhem Gulch Trail to the 7.4-mile Travois Trail, which undulates through a nice diversity of habitat types...coniferous forests, open grasslands, rocky hillsides and one modest summit. Ran into Erik Soloff somewhere in here and stopped to chat for a bit. Following a slog up to the upper parking lot (pit stop), we jumped on the 3.2-mile Elk Range Trail for another slog, this time, though, on a dirt road (the only non-singletrack part of this run).
With the left foot aching, I was eager to wrap things up, so we hung a left just before the second upper parking lot and cruised down to the Juniper Trail. At the intersection with Mayhem Gulch, I retrieved a shirt and bottle I'd stashed and we made our way back around to the south side of the property for the final descent down to the bottom of Clear Creek Canyon.
With Todd setting the pace, we cruised at a really nice, hard pace, ranging from 5:45 to 6:30 for the last mile and a half. On such a well-built, rock-free trail (not to mention it's steady downhill grade), running at this pace is pure bliss.
I was really happy to get out for another solid run while this amazing weather pattern holds. Will, no doubt, look back with envy at these days in a couple months when the temps drop and the snow settles in.
Note: On weekends, JeffCo sets alternating hiker and biker days (.pdf) for this open space park. If you visit, be sure you pick the right weekend day. Fines are in effect for violating the rules. We saw a couple of rangers at one of the parking lots.
Finally, a great moment early this morning at The Bagelry (a local Evergreen joint that makes real bagels...boiled and everything). Just after I placed my order, a woman behind the counter looks over at me and says, "Are you a marathon runner?" I replied that, yes, I was and I was up early to get in a long run. She laughed because she thought I was in costume - dressed as a "marathon runner" for Halloween. Not sure what to make of that. Any thoughts?