#JoyRunning

#JoyRunning is back my friends!

I needed to get back to running and exploring so I am so happy to be back to a little bit more regular schedule. Sprocket and I are back to our usual tricks of exploring gravel roads and happily romping along.

Norwood running

Norwood running

Lone cone on run

I’ve been puttering along roads leaving Norwood seeing where they go and realizing that laps around town aren’t going to cut it (it’s less than a two mile loop…). Being back on my feet exploring with Sprocket is the best.

Dexter Creek Run

Sprocket and I inched our way out of our summer doldrums with a run-hike up Dexter Creek trail last week. I’d muddled through summer with anxiety levels that regularly crept higher and higher but I just kept pushing through and working more hours. When I reached the end of my double shifts, I knew it was time to get back on the trail.

Mining ruins

The first half mile was a bit of a grind. It was up hill, I was tired, and it was a bit late in the morning for it to be nice and cool. After that first bit though, I found my stride, we jogged the rolling hills and hiked the steep ones. I marveled at the mountains above us while Sprocket galloped along the trail.

Dexter Creek drainageAfter a couple of miles, we came to the Wilderness boundary and decided to head back down the hill; I was well aware that we’d likely feel just this little bit in the morning.

Uncompaghre Wilderness

Back in the car, on our way down the hill I spotted this lovely looking little pool. We stopped and I took a refreshing mini-ice bath before going back to town.

Dexter Creek

I’m so glad to be back on the trail. It was almost immediately that I felt back to being myself. The anxiety melted away and the joy of the mountains happened. It’s totally magic.

Sunday Sermon

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”

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–Roger Bannister

Dallas Trail Escape

Sprocket is really bearing the brunt of me working a ton of hours so when I got off at 6pm one evening last week, we headed up County Road 9 to take a short hike on the Dallas Trail.

Ruth XJ and Mears Peak

Beth and Sprocket on the Dallas Trail

From the minute we pulled into Box Factory Park, this cheesy grin stuck itself to my face and didn’t go away for a long time. The air smelled absolutely amazing, the rain seemed to be holding off behind the Sneffels Range, and the wildflowers are out in force.

Wildflowers

Sprocket

Beth and Sprocket

Sprocket loves our hiking runs where he sniffs his way up slopes and careens down the hills with his ears and tail whipping all over the place.

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Sneffels Range

Dallas Trail Views

Hayden Peak

Meadows and mountains

I think the two of us definitely needed that decompression time. I’m going to make a lot bigger effort to take advantage of all the hikes that are so close to me during these precious chunks of time.

To top it all off, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset on our way back to town:

Sunset

Sneffels Range Sunset

Sunset

Green Mountain Trail Run (Hike?)

I’ve been working my tail off but last week, I didn’t work until early evening so Sprocket and I headed out to savor summer a little bit. It was warm but not near as warm as it’s been this past week so we headed to the Stealey Mountain Trail to do some exploring. The start of the trail was pretty flat so I made a bit of an impulsive decision to start running.

Chimney Rock

Less than a mile from the car, the elastic fell off my braid so I was rocking the long hair down which was hot. Sprocket seemed to be enjoying the run so we kept on going.

Happy Selfie

We took a little bit of the long way around which opened up views to the Sneffels Range and Uncompahgre as the trail trended downhill.

San Juans

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As we doubled back to the east, Courthouse mountain dominated the skyline. Our pace slowed a bit as we started to move up hill but we were totally just out enjoying the day.

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The highlight of Sprocket’s day was crossing a couple of streams that were low enough to allow him to just splash around and cool off a bit.

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We tried to find a pack trail that was supposed to take a very direct route up to the saddle but it just seemed to be gone. It was pretty steep and starting to get hot so we just took it slow and savored the views back towards Castle Rock:

Views

We finally rejoined the quad trail route and made the final push to the summit of Green, or Stealey Mountain. The summit was heavily treed so there weren’t a whole lot of views but the green and the sun was heavenly.

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Handsome baby

Not too shabby, SP, not too shabby:

Hike + Trail run

Running & Maintaining My Sanity

Every week a new article about how exercise and the outdoors help us feel happier. We retweet the articles, share them on our Facebook pages, and think to ourselves “I didn’t really need a study to tell me that.”

FS 105

But the minute life gets busy, exercise and adventures are the first thing to get set aside. When there are deadlines looming and to-do lists a mile long “I’ll do it later” turns into “I’m too tired, maybe there will be time tomorrow” and then tomorrow fills up and before you know it, weeks have gone by.

In the midst of my blitz to the end of my teaching program and the end of the school year I’ve let my fitness regimen lag a little bit but I haven’t let things go entirely—and the fact is that I can’t. I feel a little bit strange about this (re)realization. It’s nothing new to me that my mood is immensely better, that I’m more efficient at home and at work and just  a generally happier person to be around when I take the time to workout but I haven’t quite made peace with that yet.

I require exercise to be a functional adult.

Sitting at my desk last week towards the end of the day, I could feel this unspecified dread bubbling up within me. I was caught up on my teaching program requirements, only a normal amount behind on my grading, and my belongings were well on their way to being packed and moved to Ridgway. And yet: this weird, depressed, anxious, sad sort of feeling permeated around me and I didn’t want to teach or accomplish anything. I debated whether I could just spend the evening in bed cuddling with Sprocket.

Happy dog

At home, knowing the answer to “Can I really just be lazy tonight?” was a resounding NO, I changed into my running clothes. “Just do two miles,” I told myself. “You’ll feel better.” Just shy of two miles in the damp spring air, it all clicked and I changed my route to add another three. My mental clarity returned and the run felt good.

I have accepted rationally that I need the run, the yoga, the strength and core work. I need it to be the happy friend, teacher, daughter, co-worker, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and stranger that I want to be. Can I function without exercise? Sure, but not at the level I want to. Mentally, I feel almost defeated by this realization. Knowing is power, yes, but I’m not sure that I feel okay knowing that my grasp on happiness is as tenuous as that.

“At least it’s not drugs!” I think. I ponder the intersection of endorphins and the self-confidence that has grown in my body’s abilities (and, if I’m being honest, at least a little in its appearance). There is no sweeping epiphany though, no “This is how you live your best life.” Instead, there is a quiet knowing that I need that time for myself to be me and a searching for acceptance of that fact.

Grand Mesa

Homecoming Runs

School is almost out and I’m busily wrapping up my life in De Beque. I had a lovely year there but I miss home in Ridgway. I’ve been going down quite frequently this spring, working on some projects and I’ve also taken on a side job in a restaurant. In between everything, I’ve squeezed in a few runs that just make me smile SO MUCH.

A couple of weeks ago, we got to the property just as town was going into shadow but the Cimarrons were starting to get that gorgeous low angle light.

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Sprocket even mostly forgave me for running past the river since I promised him he could climb Mt. Sneffles this summer (pictured just over his shoulder).

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I mean, really:

 

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And then the moon rose over the Cimarrons. The photo does not do any sort of justice to how gorgeous the full moon was coming over some of my favorite peaks.

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Just as it started to get dark, we finished our run at Colorado Boy where no one seemed to think it was the least bit odd that I’d get to town on a Thursday, run, have a beer, and then go back to my little shed home.

I cannot wait for this summer. I’ve missed you so much, Ridgway.

 

Ridgway Reservoir Run

My friend Heather is training for her first marathon and I’m always seeing her posts on Facebook about wanting running buddies and it totally kills me; I want to but I’m just too far away for it to be practical most of the time. Last weekend, though, I was in Ridgway so I joined her for a 10 mile run. She left planning the route up to me so I made the most of the fact we’d have two cars and mapped out a route from Ridgway to the north end of Ridgway State Park at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk.

We’re really spoiled with a pathway that runs from Town Park along the river to the State Park that only climbs above the river and near the highway for a short distance. Otherwise, it’s quiet and relaxing down along the Uncompaghre. I’d never run in Ridgway State Park but there are really nice gravel and paved paths that run the whole length of the park!

 

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We ran northbound because the general trend would be downhill but I’m not so sure that’s the best way! The elevation gain would be pretty minimal to go back to town except for the steep climb right at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk which I’d be fine with and then you’d look at these mountains the whole way. Talk about amazing.

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Heather’s been running a lot with her marathon training and I really started to struggle a bit for my ninth mile. I alternated running and walking but was able to push through all of the final mile though. Besides, those aforementioned views didn’t hurt anything.

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After we wrapped up the run, we loaded up the pups in the Jeep (Heather was dog sitting for Meadow) and took them down to the river.

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Sprocket always loves the river:

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After our swim time, we headed back north to get ready for the school week!

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De Beque Canyon Project: Joy Running the Arroyos

As convenient as it is to just walk out the door of your house and start running, I’ve really started to embrace driving a few miles out of town to explore. Sprocket seems to hate running on the road and his pace literally drops minutes when we’re out on the trails.

I have found some good trails but dry washes also make good runs this time of year and provide Sprocket with all the sniffs that he could dream of.

De Beque Running

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This time of year is really busy for school teachers so getting out for happy runs is totally necessary for my sanity and I’m so happy that I have places to do that!

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De Beque Canyon Project: Running Wagon Track Ridge

Last Friday, I headed out V 2/10 Road towards the Wild Horse area looking for a spur road that I could go explore on my run. I settled on the road heading down Wagon Track Ridge and got in a great almost six mile run. The only downside was that the whole return run was uphill but I figured that it all equaled out.

Wagon Track Ridge

I was a little bit bummed that I only made it partway down the ridge but some pretty solid elevation gain and an unknown precise mileage was a little bit more than I wanted to bite off so I simply enjoyed the sunshine and headed back to the jeep.

Beth

At home, later, I started studying the map and realized that I could access the base of the ridge at the river baring any crazy washouts or mudholes so Saturday, Sprocket and I set off to run the lower part of the ridge and hopefully meet up with where I left off the day before.

We parked Ruth just above the Colorado and then the road pretty quickly started climbing up the ridge. The very bottom of the climb was pretty washed out and I might have been able to maneuver the XJ up but I was happy to be running up instead.

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Once we reached the high part of the ridge, we trended upwards as the road went up and over what seemed like many small hills. The weather was excellent, however, and I had absolutely no complaints.

Sprocket above a canyon

One of the things I really like about running here is that I almost never see anyone so it’s quiet and relaxing. We did run into a couple people in ATVs today, one of them assumed that I must be broken down somewhere—I don’t think they see a lot of runners around here.

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At almost four miles, we reached the point where I’d turned around the day before and headed back. I’m loving that my mileage is starting to stretch out which lets me do some of my exploring on foot: jeep + run = amazing exploring.

De Beque Canyon Project