Got out a bit early to get in some miles before hooking up with the Boulder Trail Runners group for a pack run.
Distance: 8.83 miles
Weather: Sunny & Cool
Heard via the Boulder Trail Runners listserv that Andrew Skurka was going to share some stories and pics from his six-month, 4,700-mile Alaska-Yukon Expedition at Sherpa's Restaurant this evening. So, I cleared the decks and planned to stick around Boulder post-work in order to catch the presentation and get in a few miles.
I got over to Chautauqua around 4:30 p.m. with plans to run for a while and then meet up with the BTR Thursday Happy Hour running group at 5:30 p.m. Standing in front of the Chautauqua meadow with so many trail options before me I tried to guess what would be the least likely option for a fairly large running group of people with mixed abilities. I was keen on not running the same route twice this evening. So, I guessed the group was not likely to run up the Flagstaff Trail, so I headed off solo in that direction.
I was feeling pretty good and ran an easy pace up the Flagstaff Trail to its intersection with the Ute Trail near the apex of Flagstaff Mountain. Hit a spit here in 28:23 and turned around and retraced my steps back to Chautauqua.
The BTR group was already gathering as I ran up. After a quick pit stop for some water, the group of 15 or so runners set off running toward, you guessed it, Gregory Canyon, where the start of the Flagstaff Trail is. I still held out hope that the group would opt for a cruise up the Gregory Canyon Trail, but twas not to be. Up the Flagstaff Trail we went.
The group quickly split up with three of us well off the front running a steady, but easy pace. The group didn't seem to have a pre-arranged route, so at the first trail junction we stopped to regroup. This would be the theme for the rest of the run...run, stop, run.
We ran up Flagstaff to Crown Rock (regrouped) and descended down to Gregory Canyon (regrouped). From there, we ran down to the parking lot (regrouped) and headed up the Bluebell Trail and ran a series of trails over to the Mesa Trail (regrouping twice), then three of us ran up Mesa a bit and picked up an extra mile or so on a few trails I'd never run on that eventually led us back to Chautauqua.
It was a lot of fun running with the group, but all the stopping to regroup was a bit much for me. I thought about bailing a few times, but was enjoying running with some new folks just enough to stick with it. Glad I did.
After the run, I headed over to Sherpa's for some Nepalese food (fair) and some $2 pints of local beer (very good). A crowd of about 40 people turned out to hear about Skurka's adventure. This was the first time he'd given a presentation about his expedition, which he returned from about five weeks ago. He had some great stories and good pics and video. He still has a lot of work to do on the presentation, but he's got a great experience to share.
One video he showed stuck out in my mind. He shot himself sitting under his tarp during a hard rainstorm. He was at the tail-end of the trip, enduring a long stretch of difficult bushwhacking through pure wilderness - a 3 and a half week stretch of no towns, no roads...just wilderness. You could tell from his voice and his thousand-yard-stare that he was walking a razor's edge of emotion. In the video, he was opining on what wilderness in Alaska is compared to what we have here in the lower 48, but his eyes and just-on-the-verge-of-cracking voice told us more about Alaska wilderness than the words. You could tell he was mentally going through a lot of difficulty. Very telling. Very poignant. If you get a chance, be sure to catch his presentation.
Boulder Daily Camera article on Skurka and his expedition, here.