I had a slow start to the week with some yoga on Monday and then took Tuesday off because it was cold pouring rain sideways. I didn’t have my winter running fortitude or anything going I guess.
Wednesday I got out for a lovely little road run. I got to say hi to the cows. I forgot my sunglasses and got tired of squinting into the wind. But I did it and the weather couldn’t have been lovelier.
Thursday, I headed out to complete the last of the four Thunder Trail loops. I guess I must have taken all my photos on Snapchat and they’re lost to the ether now… But it was pretty! This week’s run, Naturita Rim Loop, seemed to be less on the rim than Portis Loop but was less rocky than Portis and less steep than Thunder Loop.
I think I need to find a race to train for. My aerobic capacity in the mountains has increased back to a point where I don’t feel quite as embarrassed and I need something to kick my butt into higher gear. Any 4-Corners region runs to recommend? Trail runs in central New Mexico or Arizona would be awesome sauce (aka potentially semi-warm escapes?)
Yes, I know, running is not the first thing you think of when you think of Natural Bridges. When I passed by the entrance sign on my way home after exploring the Henry Mountains a bit and checking out Bluebell Knoll I figured with Sprocket nursing his broken nail it was as good a time as any to check it out. I didn’t want to leave him in the car alone too long so instead of doing what I really wanted to, hike under all the bridges through the canyon, I ran down from the road below each bridge and then back up.
Well, ran up is a gross exaggeration but I did mostly run down! The first bridge, Sipapu, was my favorite hike but I think Katchina was the coolest looking bridge. I even tossed in the short run to the Horse Collar Ruin overlook.
Sprocket stayed nice and cool thanks to a stiff breeze on the rim above the canyon that was blowing through the open Jeep windows. I, on the other hand, spent the entire afternoon a sweaty mess: sports bra running forever.
The hikes are all pretty short (the longest is 3/4 mile, I think) so it didn’t amount to much but it was a fun challenge. I briefly felt guilty for “rushing through” the highlights of the park but it sure beats just looking from the overlooks and driving on!
Oh man! I never got around to a Week in #joyrunning post last week so here’s two in one!
Week of September 4:
I started out with a bunch of running around Natural Bridges National Monument on Sunday (more on that this week!) that was AWESOME. Tuesday I toughed it out through an under-fueled 3 miles around town, and Wednesday I headed up to the Thunder Trails for my weekly loop (Thunder Loop). Thunder Loop has a pretty killer uphill on the southern end and Sprocket and I definitely engaged in some power hiking between small running bursts there!
Week of September 11:
The week started out … poorly. I worked a bit on Sunday and then just relaxed when I got home. Monday, I was in a terrible mood and convinced myself that I didn’t “need” to run. By Tuesday the “I don’t wanna” had magnified itself to a point where I was in a terrible mood and I rationally knew that getting out and doing something was the fix. I convinced myself to get dressed and tackle two miles and that I could quit then if I wanted to. At just over a mile, I realized I felt human again and threw down five…
Back in the groove, I reeled off 6 road miles Wednesday and about 4 miles on Thunder Trails’s Goshorn Loop Thursday. I kept things rolling with a fun ridge hike on Saturday!
I only got out for a couple of runs last week but they were both on the long-ish side for me (one run at 5.5 miles and the other at 5.7). In February and March I was averaging about 20ish miles a week of hiking and running only to see that fall off in April and May and wither away to almost nothing in June, July, and the first part of August. It feels so good to be back to moving at least 12-ish miles a week (and hopefully climbing at bit as we move into fall.
I’ve really been granting myself “permission” to drive somewhere between five and ten miles to get to a trail or quiet Forest Service road to do my runs on. I’m finding that on the trail I’m way more likely to do more miles and more hills. Sprocket approves of this choice.
I’ve found some sweet trails to run on around here and I’m finding more all the time. A lot of the time I just drive around until I find a jeep road or ATV track and run that. During the week I almost always have it totally to myself. I’ve also been checking out the newly constructed Thunder Trails near town. My longer run (5.7 miles) was running the Portis Loop. It’s my goal to run one of each of the four loops every week in September so I can check them all out before the snow flies.
The views from here can include the La Sals, the Abajos, Lone Cone, and the Wilsons depending on where you’re at and how the hills and the trees are. Makes it hard to complain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It feels like I’m talking about running a lot but it’s something that I’ve been doing a significant amount of in the last month. Conditions in the hills are totally drying out and snow in the high peaks is consolidating so hopefully there will be less in between season frustrating hiking and more summiting in March. Even so, I didn’t sit idle in February!
Consistency wasn’t quite as on point in February as it was in January but I’m still pretty pleased with my efforts. My runs continued to grow in length and my weekly mileage was pretty solid other than one week (I don’t even remember what happened there…).
Running: 14 runs, 60 miles, 10.4 hours. This is about the same number of miles as January but in fewer runs and in less time! I think I’m making progress!
Cross-country skiing: Yikes! I didn’t get out to do this at all in February. I let a bit of summit fever get in the way. I’ve set a goal to go at least twice more before the snow is gone and I’m also reminding myself that my investment in the skis was long term not just for this year.
Yoga: 11 Yoga Camp sessions, 4.8 hours. This was a little lower than last month and I’d like to remedy it in March but when I find myself in a time crunch I’m going to side with cardio to get ready for mountains so we’ll see.
I’m so excited for #summitsummer 2016 to start. I think I’m ready this time.
In the past year, I’ve found myself in this weird place of not knowing how to describe myself as an outdoor blogger. I hike but my hiking is more than just hiking. I’m not a mountaineer, I’m not a climber, I’m not a runner but my hiking has elements of all of those things. When I decided to get my butt in gear for 2016, I realized that I wanted to grow each of those elements within myself. I really wanted to be a Jill of All Trades in the outdoors. So, one of the easiest (and cheapest) things to get better at is running.
I’m not fast and I’m sure my form is terrible but I’ve been loving my runs. Why? Because they’re joyful. I look down and see Sprocket loping along, pausing for sniffs, and then sprinting to catch me. I find myself smiling ear to ear because it’s sunny. Clearly, I prefer running on either less traveled gravel roads or on trails where I can let Sprocket be himself (although we won’t shy away from a road run, especially in the gorgeous sunset light).
It’s mud season though, which presents its own host of issues. I don’t have a lot of actual trails to run around here but there are a ton of small spur roads and ATV trails and we’re trying to work around the mud as best as possible trying to stay off of muddy trails until they dry but sometimes, this time of year, you unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of it. Considering that I’m joyful running though, I usually wind up giggling through it.
And then, there are the views that just make me smile. I’ve felt a little weird sharing some of my paces on Twitter lately because they’re slow. They’re slow because I’m slow. They’re slow because I’m taking photos. They’re slow because I’m battling mud. But ultimately, I don’t care. I’m outside, I’m active. My mood is better every day because of it.
I seriously think “joy running” to myself because no matter what problems I’m facing in the “real world” (money, relationships, job, etc.) it doesn’t matter when I’m running. It can just be me and the pup loping along enjoying the world.
Going into the last weekend of January, I started to panic a little bit. Last year, I’d hoped to summit at least one peak per month, I figure that way I can’t ever get too removed from doing something that really revitalizes me. I didn’t quite make it and scratched in both January and April of last year. Not wanting the same thing to happen this year, needing some good elevation gain, wanting to capitalize on a brilliantly sunny day, and celebrating Sprocket’s return to activity, we headed for Mt. Garfield.
Sprocket and I had attempted Mt. Garfield last April with Josh but we started too late in the afternoon and the southern facing slopes that make for such amazing winter hiking were way too hot for late April. (We did have a sweet beer sampler at Palisade Brewing so all was not lost.)
Mount Garfield has a reputation for being steep and that reputation is definitely deserved (it gains about 2000′ in a litte under 2 miles). Sprocket and I slowly made our way up the slope enjoying the views to the south that just kept getting better and better.
I found that about 1300′ of the elevation happened in about 0.7 miles, after that the grade flattened out a lot and we made even better time. Sprocket loved the flat snowy sections of the trail.
Finally, we were almost at the summit. The last bit of elevation gain was on a more northerly aspect so there was a lot more snow. I hadn’t tossed any traction devices in my bag which would have been really nice for the ascent (and especially the descent on this section!) but we made our way up pretty easily.
The summit was amazing. I couldn’t see as far into the Book Cliffs (or Roan Cliffs…the nomenclature changes right about on top of Mt. Garfield so I think either is okay) as I thought I might but it was still amazing what I could see: the Book Cliffs stretching off to the west, Battlement and Grand Mesas to the southeast, the Sneffles range to the south, and the Uncompahgre Plateau to the southwest.
After taking in the views, we ran down the trail and made it back to the Jeep pretty quickly. I’m sure this is a hike I’ll do again, the option for snow-free elevation gain in the winter is a huge, huge plus.