Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Greyrock Deuce

I had originally planned on meeting Chad and a buddy of his near the top of Signal Mountain this morning, as they had camped the night up there and promised me hot coffee should I run up and meet them. As tempting as this sounded, Signal Mountain is above 11,000 feet, so pretty much guaranteed heavy snow underfoot. With my last attempt at Signal ending before the summit at about 10,500 feet and knee deep in snow, I thought better of the offer and joined a group from the Fort Collins Trail Runners for a double summit of Greyrock, which tops out at about 7,500 feet from 5,500 feet at the trailhead.

I met up with Eric, Pete, Brian, Kyle and Katy at Vern's Place in Laporte and we carpooled the short drive up the Poudre to the trailhead. It was setting up to be yet another sunny and mild winter's morning.

We ran the trail system washing-machine style, up one side of the loop to the base of Greyrock and back down the other, and then vice versa on the way back, hitting the last spur to the top twice in both directions.

At the junction to the summit on a saddle near Greyrock Meadows

We took the shorter and steeper side of the loop first and then continued to the summit at the intersection, topping out in about 95 minutes. The last mile up the rock is pretty much scrambling with a bit of class-3 stuff in places. Great views far and wide from the top.

Looking southwest to Rocky Mountain National Park

Looking north to Wyoming and, I think, Twin Mountain in the center horizon

Pete and Eric on the summit

We cruised back down through Greyrock Meadow via the Meadow trail, following it back up and across a ridge which switchbacked down the valley, finishing up with a short half-mile connector back to the car.

Eric, Pete and Kyle coming down the Meadow trail

After refueling and shedding unnecessary layers we set back out in reverse. Although longer, the climb back up Meadow trail was at a much steadier grade, making for great running on much less technical terrain than Summit trail. After re-summiting we took off back down Summit trail, moving at a decent clip and finishing back up at the car for a total of 15 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing in approximately 3hrs 20.

A good challenge, but Pete and Eric are already talking about the 'six pack,' having done a four-summit day last year. That would be 45 miles with 15,000 feet of climbing. Hmmm.

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