Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hangs With Marmots

The Hewlett Gulch fire has filled the Fort Collins area with smoke off and on for the past few days. When I woke up this morning it was smoky again, with about 1/2 mile visibility in town. Time to get out of town for a run. I've been wanting to go up Longs Peak, not to climb it, but to get on the trail and do some high altitude trail running. Since my longest trail run so far was less than 6 miles, I didn't need to do too much more, but I wanted to get a decent workout in, and I needed some vertical. This was perfect.

I drove up to the Longs Peak trailhead, and the air is a bit hazy up in Estes, especially looking back toward Loveland, but it's a lot clearer than the Fort. It's been a while since I've been on trails and above 10,000 feet. I didn't have too ambitious of an agenda. Just up and back to the Boulderfield, if it was passable, without too much deep snow, postholing and slipping would not be so good. I didn't even know how my legs would respond to a 3000+ foot climb and descent, each in about 5 miles, less than 2 weeks out of my 100+.

Going up the trail, I hit my first patch of snow near the Goblin sign, about a mile from the trailhead. Hmm. I kept going, there weren't too many people out and the parking lot was empty. I wondered what I would find. As it turned out most of the trail was in great shape, runnable and dry. There were quite a few big soft deep snowbanks in the upper trees before you hit treeline and come out in the exposed tundra below Chasm Lake. Once I hit that, there was almost no snow to deal with. I only postholed once all day, which was amazing since the snow was so deep and soft.

The trail looked clear past Chasm, and I headed up toward Granite Pass and the Boulderfield. It was slow going, I wasn't pushing hard at all, and taking lots of pictures along the way. it was a little windy but not too cold. I stopped to put my fleece shirt and gloves on once I made the turn past the pass and started heading up the last few switchbacks to the lower Boulderfield. I decided that once I hit the Boulderfield I would choose a spot to stop and turn around, the footing gets worse the closer you get to the Keyhole, and I didn't want to stress my ankle too much. I twisted it good a couple of times and I felt it, but I only felt it when I twisted it, not afterwards, so that was good.

I didn't feel too lightheaded above 12,000 feet this time. I was able to run all of the flat strecthes and the not-so steep uphills without getting too winded. That surprised me most of all.

I found a nice rock in the lower Boulderfield, took some pictures, ate a peanut butter and jelly Lara bar, and then started down. The clouds were moving in and it looked like rain. I hope it would rain, that fire needs something to keep it from spreading.

About 10 minutes after I started down the trail, I ran into a familiar-looking runner coming up the trail toward me. It took me a minute to figure it out and then I realized it was Reid Delman, who puts on several trail/adventure races around the region, such as Desert Rats, 24 Hours of Boulder, Moab, Laramie, etc.,and the Spring Trailrunning Festival in Fruita each year. I haven't seen him or run any of his races in so long since I had to avoid trails. We talked for a while then each went on our way. He was doing the same thing as me, to the Boulderfield and back.

I stopped for more pictures on the way back to the trailhead. This pair of marmots hanging out on a rock stayed there and I got my iPhone ready to take their picture. But by the time I snapped the picture, the male had mounted the female and they were busy making baby marmots. Fortunately I didn't catch that in my photo. I took off to leave them to their marmot business.

On the way down there was this group of 4 older people, well into their 70s at least, I had passed them at the beginning of my run near the trailhead. They were still coming up and approaching Chasm Lake, and I was on my way down. The man leading the group saw me and said, "Oh, no, not one of THOSE." The dreaded trail runner. I wished them a nice hike and kept going.

Once I passed most of the snow I picked up the pace and ran hard down the last mile or so, trying to not worry about rocks, since the lower trail is in such good shape. It took me over 3 hours to do the run but I was taking my time. I got at least 10 miles in, with +/- 3200 feet of vertical gain and descent. I guess I'll find out in the next two days if that is enough to make me sore these days. I hope not.

Driving down Big Thompson Canyon it looked like rain. it smelled a lot less like smoke when I got back to town. The flowers in the front yard are opening up and it's getting more colorful out there every day. We need rain!

Tomorrow, I meet Ed and Dale for our Double Mick planning session and Rocket Run in Boulder. I hope there's less smoke by tomorrow. It's supposed to rain!


giraffy said...

Haaa. one of THOSE. Dreadful.

Those trails are beautiful!

HappyTrails said...

Sounds like a great day! Glad to hear the ankle held up. I'm liking your gators - probably because I have the same pink leopard ones! And my, my - animal porn on Alene's blog - two marmots making little marmots! Too funny. Your garden is looking great. Poor Isabelle and her moth phobia. Does she shake and shiver in fright? And yes, we are getting your smoke - it's really hazy down here. Have fun playing with the rocket tomorrow!

Alene Gone Bad said...

Heather, I guess it's the truth. I'm one of THOSE. I wonder if there's an antidote? The trails are beautiful up in Rocky Mountain National Park. I hope to get back to running them a lot this summer. Come do a race in Colorado! (Who needs oxygen?)

Alene Gone Bad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alene Gone Bad said...

Kathleen, if you have the same gaiters, then we need to get out and run together. Isabelle trembles when she sees a fly or a moth. Poor baby. I am hoping it rains really good up here this weekend and cuts down on that fire, it's nearly 8000 acres last I heard. As of now it feels and looks like rain, but nothing coming down from the sky. I'll let you know how it goes with the Rocket. Have a great weekend!