Tim and I headed up to Crested Butte last Friday to do a fantastic run above 10,000′ with several good climbs. We had perfect weather for a tree-line run and this fueled our positive attitude as we made our way up the initial climb, Gunsight Pass, which lies at 12,000′ just north of town. After this first 3000′ climb we dropped down onto trail 404 and headed into Peeler Basin nestled cozily in-between Peeler Peak and Scarp Ridge. We made our way through this gorgeous area and the trail became less and less defined until we were running on deer trails up to Star Pass at approximately 11,500′. From here, we headed south on the ridge up Garfield Peak and Peeler Peak at 12,200′. This was runnable terrain making this a great training day. After backtracking off Peeler Peak and back down the ridge to Star Pass, we headed over into Democrat Basin. The drop down form Star Pass was rugged, rough, and gorgeous. Once down, we moved quickly through most of Democrat Basin on smoother and flatter trails until we lost our way a bit as we headed toward Daisy Pass. We quickly found the base of the pass again and cut through a few switchbacks on the super steep slope until we came to the top. We had planned on taking on the challenge of a couple more peaks, but decided against it as the storm clouds were beginning to roll in. As we descended off of Daisy Pass and into Poverty Gulch, we were in awe of the incredible surroundings that included dozens of 12,000′ and higher mountains all around. Down Poverty Gulch, the trail turned into a rugged jeep road and eventually into a well-defined dirt road just before we reached the Slate River and the Slate River Road. Here we picked up the pace on our way back to the car at the Oh-Be-Joyful parking area. All told, this was a fantastic five hours in the mountains. We took many photos as well:
This summer has been a bit unique for me. I feel I am cultivating a deeper passion for wilderness, mountains, and simply being outside. I have had the opportunity to run many incredible trails this summer, and I hope that will continue into the autumn as well.
It is also nice to be able to head out with other runners into these settings; as I have had the good fortune of a more aligned schedule to run with friend Tim Parr more and more. He is gearing up for a double at the Pikes Peak Marathon next weekend. (He will be racing both the ascent and the marathon).
I am still not as much of a nerd as my wife. She loves to stop and look at the smaller things of creation. Here is a mushroom that caught even my attention though. I made sure to take a picture for Annie. Also of note on this long run was the incredible fragrance of wild flowers as we ran through them on tight single-track trails. The beautiful scents from all types of flowers kept us fired up for the entire run.
One thing I have tried to accomplish this summer was developing a mindset of ‘less is more’. I have consciously moved toward less food and hydration during training. I have moved toward less gear in general. An interesting thing is that I also found joy in running on terrain that could be described as ‘less trail.’ This above picture is of the ‘trail’ in Peeler Basin. Very enjoyable indeed.
One thing I think I made a mistake on this summer was not running as much in the early morning. My schedule was great, but it left me running more in the middle of the day. I feel much more prepared for running in the heat and on more fatigued legs, but I missed the longer morning runs on a very consistent basis. The times I have run in the early mornings I have noted just how ridiculously peaceful, calm, and joyful those runs are. And every one of these instances I have made the mental note to get out in the early AM and run more. That will be a goal for the fall. Did I mention?… I love Fall!
Here is a photo of the NE side of Star Pass. Scarp Ridge is to the right. Garfield Peak is to the left. Tim and I ran down this side of the pass which was very rough. We made a bet regarding just how many people we would see while out on this epic run. We saw a total of 7 people, all during the last 3 miles of the run (close to the road in Poverty Gulch). So; no matter how much I or others may complain… the trails are not crowded. Don’t believe me? Come to Crested Butte and Gunnison to find out. Annie and I love living in this valley for many reasons; and the trails, access, and the views are part of that list.
As I write this, there are 8 more days until the Leadville 100 run. I am excited. The body is feeling okay and the mind is more than ready to take the pain of mile 80. I am looking forward to dealing with the discomfort again. This weekend I will be heading over to the Leadville 100 Bike Race as my friend and training partner from high school, Mike Cipriano, is racing in his first 100 mile bike race. I got to thinking about this the other day; about how awesome it is that two guys who ran cross-country and track together 10-14 years ago in Upstate NY are now finding joy in pursuing 100 mile goals in Leadville, CO. Pretty cool. Happy tapering. Live Well. DC