Distance: 23.48 miles
Weather: Sunny & Warm
There's nothing better than exploring new trails right from one's door, but that's a rare thing. So, the second-best thing is exploring new trails right from a friend's door. Those were my thoughts as Todd G. and I started running up the road from his house to the trails of the Willow Springs neighborhood open space.
|Willow Springs Open Space Trail Map - Credit: Bill Highland|
And, for the most part, things were fine through the early climbs through the 800-acre Willow Springs mountain park. The trails in here were awesome...well built, narrow, little-used singletrack. The trails, loaded with tight switchbacks, climb the hillsides behind the subdivision. After one minor summit and lots of up and down across grassy hillsides and through forested drainages, we made our way into the privately-owned Ken Caryl Ranch Open Space.
The Ken Caryl Ranch subdivision includes 5,000 acres of open space with over 25 miles trails, much of it great singletrack. In this area, we ran along more of the great, narrow foothills singletrack before dropping down into the subdivision itself for a number of miles on the red dirt around the hogback and red rocks.
It was in here when the Achilles started really aching. We were about 10 miles in at this point and I was not eager to call it a day, so we marched on. Soon, the trail turned up and we headed back up toward the foothills. Just before ascending a really steep, rocky canyon, we came across a bunch of West Metro Fire and Rescue trucks parked at a trail junction. Apparently, a kid fell 60 feet down a rocky cliff here yesterday. (Denver Post story here.)
We had better luck and made our way up out of the canyon and onto a hillside covered by gambel oak and aspen. Beautiful spot. I hit a rough patch through here and was just trying to hold it together. Everything seemed to be aching. Still, we motored on, passed a few mountain bikers and made our way back onto Willow Springs land.
We wound our way back to Todd's 'hood via a different route. Thanks to Todd's route-finding, we did the 23-mile loop with only one mile of overlapping trail. Other than that way-short section, it was all new trail. And, all the trail was great. And, unfortunately, it's all private land...owned by the subdivisions below.
Once back at the truck, I assessed the damage. Left foot...trashed. Right Achilles...aching. Groin...shot. I haven't felt this fragile in years. Time for some prescribed time off for a bit of PT and healing. Ugh.
Other than the aches, this was a great (and much slowed) run. Eager to do it again...in due time.