Friday, November 16, 2012

The Simple Things

I don't run in the morning very often. Family/work obligations typically get in the way.  I'd have to get up so damn early to get in a run before it's time to herd kids...  But, today, I had to use running as my AT (alternate transportation) after I dropped a car off at the repair shop.

So, I ran home from the repair shop by way of Elk Meadow Open Space. Just an easy cruise, but it was great to be out on a warm(ish) morning. Feels good to have the run done before 9 a.m.  Got to remember that.

The simple things...

Looking up Noble Meadow in Elk Meadow Open Space.
Hoping to sneak out Saturday morning for a few early miles with the crew over at Woody's place.  Two mornings in a row?  It could happen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Rare Thing

Wait!  It can't be! The kids have to be in school on Monday, and it's a bank holiday/day off of work?  Really?

I'd heard about days like this.  It's sort of like vacation.

After a bit of work Monday morning at a bagel shop in Golden (couldn't help it...), I headed up Golden Gate Canyon to the state park of the same name.

After paying the obligatory park fee ($7), I headed over to the Nott Creek Trail parking lot and headed out into the cold wind for 14 miles of up and down.

I ran the Mountain Lion, Burro and Snowshoe Hare Trails, tagged the summit of Windy Peak (aptly named on this day) and made one wrong turn (+1 mile).  I didn't see another soul until about a mile before finishing up.

The trails were in good shape, clear in the sunny areas, and covered by an inch or two of dry snow in the shade and on north-facing slopes.

Good day.

Dude's Fishing Hole, on the Snowshoe Hare Trail
View from the summit of Windy Peak.
Atop Windy Peak. Just call me Ray. 
Mountain Lion Trail.
Lots of first tracks today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Running with Animals (and Pirates)

After a six-mile effort at his school's Fun Run fundraiser this fall, my son has taken a nascent interest in running, so he signed up to join the High Altitude Pirates running club here in Evergreen.  The club is run by the P.E. teacher from one of the local elementary schools. Kids from the high school XC team help lead the Tuesday/Thursday workouts.  And there's junk food after the group runs.

Yesterday, while jP was running with the other kids, I did a few laps at the high school track. Unfortunately, the group run was shorter than usual, so I just had time for a mile warm-up and 2x1 mile at just under 6, a whopping one 200m interval and a 400m cool down.  Sigh.

This was my first time at a track in months. The 6:00 pace felt "comfortably hard,"and I was reminded regularly about how infrequently I run a consistent flat route at a quick pace here in the hills at 7,600 feet.  I hope to get in more of this work through the winter.

As jP and I kicked the soccer ball around the sweet turf field, another runner took to the track to get in a bit of exercise.

Elk intervals at the Evergreen High School track
This big feller was busy keeping a noisy harem of cows and yearlings together. They managed to stop traffic on the local road for a good 10 minutes. Great fun to watch.

Next up for jP (and me) is a Thanksgiving 5K. Got to put that Pirate training to work!

Monday, October 29, 2012


Every once in a while, usually out of nowhere, I get the urge to say, "thanks."  Just a simple thanks.  Thanks for everything we take for granted.   Thanks for family, friends and good health.  Thanks for clean water, clean air and big chunks of public land. Thanks for the trails. Thanks for good books. Thanks for a great job and great colleagues. Just...thanks...for everything.

Today, that urge to say thanks came during a six-mile tempo run along the Platte River bike path from LoDo. No doubt, the feeling came as a result of the 65-degree, sunny day, combined with the energy surge that came as a result of the lunch run. Oh, and thanks for Illegal Pete's burritos.

Thanks for the Saturday run up the Manitou Incline (30:31).

 Thanks for the run from the top of the Incline to Barr Camp.  And a big thanks to the woman that stepped out to make sure I wasn't too cold in my running shorts.

Thanks to the batteries in my headlamp that lasted just long enough (barely) to see me safely down to the Cog Railway and my car.

Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs from the Ws on the Barr Trail
Thanks to City of Denver voters that early in the 20th Century voted to tax themselves in order to preserve mountain tops, ridge lines and riverways in the foothills. Today, those lands are Denver Mountain Parks.

Thanks to Denver Mountain Parks for buying and protecting Elephant Butte. The views from up there are unmatched in the foothills.

Mt. Evans Group from the top of Elephant Butte
Looking down on Evergreen Lake from Elephant Butte
Thanks to the Mountain Area Land Trust for doing what it can to make sure there's room for elk in the foothills and beyond, even as we squeeze more and more people into their habitat.

This modest sized bull and his harem of cows and yearlings were grazing in our 'hood Sunday.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 22, 2012

One of Those Runs

Have you ever had one of those where the minute you step onto the trail, you know you're going to have a great run?  A run where the climbs are effortless and one seems to have boundless energy.  A run where the descents are fluid, the foot placement is confident and solid and the quads absorb without complaint all the punishment one can dish out.  A run where you finish your run at top speed and do a subtle fist pump and think to yourself, "That was GREAT!"

I've had those kinds of runs before...but not yesterday.  My 9.5 mile ascent/descent of Bergen Peak in Elk Meadow Open Space was a slog.

Funny thing was that it started out good. It was a perfect fall day. I climbed well up the Bergen Peak Trail, but as soon as I hit the hidden little social trail that climbs the south side of the final stretch to the top, things got tougher.

Looking south(ish) from near the summit of Bergen Peak
By the time I got home, I was feeling like I ran 30 miles, rather than less than 10. Not sure what it was, but the last hour on the trail felt like three.  Still, on such a beautiful day, there's few other places I would have rather been.

All-in-all, though, a fine, fine weekend doing things that matter:

Hiking in the Bergen Peak State Wildlife Management Area with CP and dogs Maya and Cisco.

CP and Cisco with Mt. Evans in the distance.
Watching the amazing colors of a Saturday night sunset from the deck at the house.

Flying high with jP on Sunday afternoon.

Life is good.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Between work and family obligations and the grind of trying to squeeze runs in between it all, I have been starting to feel the pinch...that feeling that you're not doing anything well and constantly rushing to be only moderately late to something.

As a result, my head has usually been somewhere else, and my body has just been along for the ride.

Add to all that the fact that winter is coming and the wind soon will be bitingly cold and our trails will be snow-covered.

Early this week I decided it was time to do something to recharge the mojo a bit.  So, I took yesterday afternoon off of work and headed to the hills.

Looking down Eldorado Canyon toward Denver.
I started my recharge run at the Fowler Trailhead south of Eldorado Springs and climbed into Eldorado Canyon State Park. The wind was really whipping as I ran through the old narrow gauge railroad cuts. By the time I got to the trail above the visitors center that leads to Walker Ranch, the winds had died down and I settled into a meditative, relaxed pace.

From there, I climbed over to the Walker Ranch connector trail and descended down to South Boulder Creek and started the 7.5-mile Walker loop running clockwise.  About this time, I started looking at my watch, wondering if I was bitting off too much since I had to pick up jP at school at 3:30 p.m.

Views of the Indian Peaks from the Walker loop trail.
I quickly decided I would have just enough time and disappeared back into my head.

This was my first trip back to the Walker loop in years. I used to mountain bike this loop regularly when I lived in Boulder. I really enjoyed the modest grades and mostly non-technical trails. I just ran easy and focused on enjoying the sounds of pounding feet, the feeling of a cool breeze on warm skin and the Zen of moving unhurriedly up and down hills under one's own power. Recharging.

The mouth of Eldorado Canyon as the afternoon shadows march down the canyon walls.
As expected, I got back to my car exactly on time. I was depleted, though.  With my focus on recharging, I neglected to refuel. I was out for about 18(ish) miles, 4,200 feet of elevation gain and 3:20 and only brought two gels...not enough for me on this day.

Still, driving down Highway 93 on my way to pick up jP, my mind was in a better place, more relaxed and positive...maybe even rejuvenated.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gateway to the West

I spent the bulk of the week in St. Louis at a work meeting. Got out for a couple of runs from our downtown hotel.  A few pics from the week.

Wednesday: 4.5 miles. Squeezed in a quick run from the hotel over to check out the 630-foot tall St. Louis Arch. The last and only time I saw this was when we drove the moving truck from Washington, D.C. to Colorado. It was neat to see it close up. I had some fun w/ the iPhone camera trying to get some neat angles and trying to capture the sun striking the silver arch.

The St. Louis Arc

Thursday:  12.25 miles on North Riverfront Trail, which is part of the Great Rivers Greenway network of St. Louis trails.  This bike path starts near the river adjacent to a massive and really cool old brick power plant. It travels through some really industrial areas. The Missouri River through this part of St. Louis is very much a working river. There's little open space, aside from some patches of trees along certain parts of the river. I ran about 5.5 miles down the trail. I did spy a bit of wildlife, such as a trio of turkeys scurrying into the tall grass in one green area about five miles in.

That said, it was interesting to run past all the heavy industry...the scrap yard...the (smelly) water treatment plant...the fertilizer piles...under the conveyor to railroad trestles, etc... A totally different experience from my typical mountain trails.

The start of the bike path:

The start of the bike path by the old power plant.
No hill or altitude training on this day!
Ran through a lot of this kind of stuff. Note the flood wall on the left.
You can't keep nature down too long.
At last...a bit of green. This is about where I saw the three turkeys.
Always fun to get out an explore a new place on foot.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Six-Mile Run to Remember

Yesterday, my son's school held a little fundraiser. Kids got pledges for each quarter-mile loop they ran at a nearby park. I took an early lunch and joined Jack on his run.  He ran, pretty much non-stop, for six miles in about an hour.  That was, by far, his longest run ever.  

He was having so much fun.  "This is awesome, dad!"

I ran about 5.5 miles with him, and served as his crew, handing him water and offering encouragement, along the way.  Great day.

He raised about $300 to help support the school.

Round and round we go.
He had some sore quads this morning.  "Dad, do your legs ever hurt like this?"

Oh yeah!

Monday, October 1, 2012


For a change of pace, I spent the weekend riding a mountain bike around the trails of Grand Junction and Fruita.  

I used to mountain bike a lot, well, exclusively. I have fond memories of hammering up the canyons around Boulder in preparation for the 24 Hours of Moab race, zipping around the trails of Buffalo Creek and screaming down the glorious Monarch Crest/Rainbow Trail gem near Salida/Poncha Springs.

In the last 5-6 years, though, it's been all running, until this weekend.

A good friend of some 20 years came to town from the Bay Area for a weekend of desert mountain bike riding. That seemed like a good excuse gather up a group of friends from the Roaring Fork Valley to get back in the saddle for some rough miles on the old mountain bike. Truthfully, I was looking at the weekend with some trepidation. I wasn't worried about the legs. Training for and running a 100-mile race gives one a certain amount of endurance fortitude. That said, trail running doesn't do much to prepare one's backside for two solid days on a soft-tail mountain bike.

Yep, I'm still running old school. A 10-year old Moots YBB.  A great bike in its time, and still a nice ride. However, compared to the high-tech machines people ride these days, with their 29'' wheels, disc brakes and full suspension, the ol' Moots is showing its age (mine doesn't have braze-ons for disc brakes...).

So, Saturday, we show up at the Lunch Loop trail system outside Grand Junction.  What do you know, there's Yeti Cycles all set up with a truck, a huge trailer and 30 bikes available for demo riding.

After 10 minutes, a wee bit of paperwork and handing over my drivers' license and credit card I found myself on this monster.

The Yeti 575, all mountain joy.
All I can say is wow...and expensive - $4-5,000 depending on what components one wants.

I'm sold on the whole 29'er wheel thing, as well as full suspension. This bike probably weighs about seven pounds more than my Moots, but other than during the hike-a-bike sections, I didn't mind the weight. The braking, plush -- but, not too plush ride -- and comfortable geometry was amazing. Many times during the five hours (sorry, Yeti guys, I just couldn't get it back any sooner...) I had this bike out, I began to remember why I used to love mountain biking so much.

In addition to riding a bunch of the Lunch Loop loops, we rode the Ribbon Trail (using a car shuttle).

Dwight at the top of a stout climb on the Ribbon Trail
View down into the Lunch Loops/Tabeguache Trail System
A slickrock(ish) section on the Ribbon Trail. There were a bunch of these huge slabs.
On day two, we headed over to Fruita and spent the day riding in the Kokopelli Loops trail system west of town. This time, I was back on the Moots. The ride was way rougher, but, man, what fun. The trails here (as in the Lunch Loops area) are excellent. A nice mix of rock, dirt and gravel, with a hearty dose of fast flat sections, technical rock gardens and cliffside clenchers.

Bob (with Luka running and panting just behind) wrapping up Steve's Loop. 
Looking down on a portion of Steve's Loop. A bit of exposure here.
Keith on a section of the Steve's Loop trail shown in the previous pic. Cliffside. 
All-in-all, it was a fantastic weekend of riding and catching up with old friends. A big thanks to Bob, Dwight, Keith, Mark and Trevor for a very memorable weekend.

Anyone got a full-suspension 29'er mountain bike they aren't using? I'd be happy to store it in my garage for you. I promise to only ride it to church on Sundays, more or less.

Bonus Pic o' the Day:

We came across this woman at the end of Steve's Loop. A hardcore dog-loving mountain biker, to be sure.  Note:  there actually are two dogs in there.  See the pointy ear to the right of the fluffy dog...  Crazy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Along with cooler temperatures and yellow aspen leaves, fall brings to Evergreen bull elk and their harems.  Here's a collection of pics of a few of the herds I've spotted around town the last couple of weeks.

And, there's something primal and, at the same time, soothing about hearing the bugling call of bull elk during the rut.  That sound seems to echo through the hills up here.

Next door to the Evergreen Library 
At the entrance to my neighborhood.
At the Hiwan Homestead Museum
Same guy at the Hiwan Homestead Museum

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mt. Rosalie and the Weekend

With the great weather, and summer clinging on by its fingertips, I managed to get out for some fun in the local hills, including a nice tempo effort (and some bushwhacking/exploring) on North Table Mountain and a early morning jaunt up Mt. Rosalie (13,575) early Sunday morning.

First up was a loop around North Table Mountain. JeffCo Open Space all summer has been building new trails in this open space gem. The trails are all well-graded and solidly constructed, which lends them to speedy runs.

I opted to run from the west trailhead, up the steep access road. After a quarter mile up or so, I peeled off onto a well-trodden social trail I'd been eyeing for some time. The trail contours on a bench around the west and south sides of the mountain before ascending up through a break in the rocks that line the south side.

Up top, I continued east and descended down through a climbing area to the Access Fund's lot at the bottom near Highway 58. I was hoping for a decent social trail to take me over to a new section of the North Table Mountain loop. Alas, there was no trail, so I bushwhacked over.

From there, it was a speedy run on the North Table Mountain Loop Trail, up Cottonwood Canyon to the Mesa Top Trail, then back down to the North Table Mountain Loop Trail and back to the car.

8.6 miles.

Looking southwest from social trail on west side of North Table Mountain
Next up was an early Sunday morning hike/run up and down Mt. Rosalie, one of the 13'ers alongside Mt. Evans in the heart of the Mt. Evans Wilderness.

I started my day in the near dark at the Deer Creek Trailhead, heading up the Tanglewood Trail, which ascends four miles or so to a beautiful, grassy saddle that is the Park/Clear Creek County line.

The saddle on the Tanglewood Trail in the Mt. Evans Wilderness.
A lone post marks the pass, and serves as a handy marker for a place to hang a left for the cross-country, 1,600-foot climb to the rounded hump that is Rosalie's summit.

Mt. Rosalie summit marker.
The ascent is a straightforward grind up through open tundra, with a few rocky spots here and there. After one false summit, the climb eases and the summit quickly appears. While the views are great, and the terrain inspiring, Rosalie itself is not an impressive peak. Just a big globe-like hump. Mt. Epaulet, next door, is a much more impressive-looking mountain.

Looking west from the summit of Mt. Rosalie
Looking down the east flank of Mt. Rosalie toward saddle. 
Descending back down the Tanglewood Trail on newly constructed singletrack.
Bristlecone pine snag and younger tree.

Still some color left down low, near the trailhead.
 Setting aside my 'dissing of Rosalie, it really is a great hike/run, especially the section of the Tanglewood Trail through the bristlecone pine stand and the parts above treeline. Simply gorgeous.

10.7 (or so) miles.  (I neglected to turn off my watch during most of the drive home.)