Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week Ending Nov 17

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horseooth north summit. Easy jog.

Tues - 8.5 miles intervals. 4 x mile (City Park) w/first three as fartleks, final one steady. Foggy morning. We do these miles in alternate directions with clockwise a little long plus one extra hill (1.02), and anti a little short (.98). Felt a little ragged on these, especially trying to push the 'hard' segments of the fartleks, but managed to keep things decently consistent at an average pace just over 5:30: 5:42, 5:26, 5:37, 5:26. Hinterberg is destroying me on these right now: must work harder.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north. Just another light jog up the rock. Shorts and a T. Glorious Front Range autumn day.

Thurs - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north. Postponed plans to get out on Centennial for the reintroduction of some tempo work in favor of a gentle morning jog up Horsetooth for the weekly sunrise. Ziggy notched his first true Horsetooth summit with aplomb! Also: Mike, Lee, Mary, Scott, Celeste.

No better way to start the day, says Ziggy. Pic: Hinterberg.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') steady. Towers effort in the dark. Felt decent enough, but worked harder than I would have liked for a fairly mediocre 32 high on the watch. Basically followed Brian's pace, 5 - 10 meters in arrears the whole way up.

Fri - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north. Felt sluggish from the Towers effort last night, so kept this one super light. Strong wind from the south, but nice and sunny out.

Sat - 11.5 miles (6,300') peakbaggery. On tap for this morning was a loop taking in five of the ranked peaks circling Youngs Gulch to the east, west and south: 7,623, 7,875, 7,802', 7,697', 7,980'. Jason and I started out from a pull-off on Hwy 14 adjacent to the Young's Gulch trailhead, which is currently closed. If I had to guess, I'd say the Young's Gulch trail will remain closed indefinitely given what we saw of it today. Heading up trail from the parking lot, it was clear that a huge volume of water came through the Young's Gulch canyon during the September floods, basically wiping out the whole trail. We tried to follow it for a while, but soon gave up and started hoofing steeply uphill in a southeasterly direction for 7,623', which sits high above the confluence of the Young Gulch creek and the Poudre River. The going was largely decent, with minimal brush to contend with and some fun rocks to negotiate. The summit is a nice rocky outcrop with fine views north to Greyrock and surrounding peaks. The ridge here seems to have been something of a firebreak during the High Park fire last summer, with most everything to the east decimated and to the west down into Young's Gulch largely intact - at least in this northern section of the gulch. We followed the ridgeline south from here, picking up a forest road along the way, until we were a couple hundred feet under 7,875, a fairly trivial peak sitting above Rist Canyon's Stratton Park neighborhood to the south. From here things got a little spicy as the route to 7,802 required some stealth private property maneuvering. Heading southeast from the summit, we picked up a quiet neighborhood dirt road, cut across a small gully and were soon negotiating the peak's northwest ridge easily staying out of sight of all residences. The peak is littered with refuse, clearly a dumping ground for whoever owns the land, but also sports decent views of surrounding peaks including the monarch of Rist Canyon: Mount Ethel, which pokes proudly above all the surrounding hills.

The run from 7,802 to 7,697 was one I was not much looking forward to. I had told Jason previously that our morning's route would involve a stretch of 'light trespassing,' and once on the ground it was clear that there was absolutely no getting around it in piecing the two peaks together. Coming off the summit we almost immediately had to negotiate a property with a lot of earth-moving equipment on it - no doubt the same guy littering the adjacent peak. Out of view of the main structure, we made a mad dash across an open pasture for a nearby hillside. With adrenaline pumping I was in full-on LoJ madness mode, getting snarled on a barbed fence just as the dogs started barking. Once over the fence though, things soon calmed down and we sidehilled our way under another property, while keeping an eye on the Stratton Park homes in the valley below. Soon enough we were on the road servicing these properties, and decided just to run it down the valley a bit to a point where we could cut across to 7,697'. We did this at about the 7,400' contour, after 360'ing at the sight of a bloke in his front yard coiling up a hose. We followed a creek under another property and then sidehilled above yet another on our way down to Young's Gulch Creek and Young's Gulch Road. We quickly crossed the creek and made our way across the road, starting up the wooded east slopes of 7,697 just as a truck went cruising by. I'm not quite sure what the driver would have made of two skinny dudes darting off into the woods if (s)he'd seen us, but I don't think we were spotted, so a moot point I guess. From there it was a straightforward march up the hill for the summit, which again offered expansive views to the top of Rist Canyon and Buckhorn Mountain in addition to the mighty Ethel. We also had a view north to the final peak of the morning, 7,980, which looked a good ways off. The original plan was to drop into Youngs Gulch and follow the trail north a couple of miles to the base of 7,980 before hoofing up. However, the scene on the ground once we negotiated our way down to the creek made it clear that we wouldn't be following any kind of trail. The flood erosion up here was worse than it was at end of the canyon where we'd started the morning and the going was painfully slow. Changing plans, we decided to just hoof up and down a couple of feeder drainages to get out of the canyon and onto 7,980'. Predictably enough this took a while, but eventually we got onto 7,980 from whence we could start hoofing in earnest. The summit was a rounded disappointment, given the work it had taken to get up there, but the views north were commanding and almost worth it. From here, all we had left was a 2,000' drop back down to Youngs Gluch and the trailhead. Of course, we left the worst for last and found ourselves negotiating a tight, thicket-infested gully that splits the east slopes of the mountain right up the middle. Once in, there was no getting out so we made our way slowly down the dry creek bed, finally popping out at Youngs Gulch for the short run out back to the car.

A fun morning with just about all the elements that make up a classic LoJ morning: steep climbs, multiple peaks, great views, detection avoidance, and miserable bushwhacking. Jason swears he's never coming out for more, but he said that after last week's escapade too.

Sun - AM: 3 miles (1,800') baggery. Had plans of picking up a couple of peaks this morning, but ended up getting just the one peak, 7,309, in the Greyrock area that I had failed to get last weekend for fear of missing a deadline to be home. Rather than run the Greyrock trail to the drainage 500 feet below the summit and grunt from there, I decided to hoof directly from the Poudre up the steep cactus-infested south slopes. There was a light covering of snow on the ground in combination with strong winds, which made things a little spicier, especially when negotiating the big rock band halfway up, but other than that this one was reasonably straightforward. Lost my hat to a huge wind gust on top, before cruising down through burned-out forest to the drainage heading west off the saddle with UR7,284'. Given the heavy winds, I was a little nervous running through a stand of dead trees, so ran pretty recklessly to get on the trail that services Greyrock. From there it was an easy jog back to the car. I was going to get the peak above Hewlettt Gulch next, but the trailhead was closed due to flood-related resource damage, so I decided to call it a morning and headed home.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Alistair hadn't been up Horsetooth in a while, so we decided it was high time for a run at his PR. Prior to today's outing his best was 49 high, a number he had proudly told Ranger Steve about a few months back. Impressed, Steve had told him that Alistair's time was just a few minutes shy of the ranger record of 45 minutes. With a pretty focused effort, Alistair came away with a new PR and a match of Steve's time at 45:30. Won't be too long until he's beating his old man, but I won't give it up easy. These things need to be earned. Bench: 8:00; top stairs: 25:00.

Total: 58 miles (17,700') 

Bailed on the Thursday hill tempo workout in favor of another Horsetooth sunrise, but I think we'll be back at it this week. Still in no real hurry to push the fitness, and happy to just be out getting moderate mileage in with the occasional workout mixed in.

Couple of races on the calendar for 2014. Taking the family out to Costa Rica in February where I'll be running the Coastal Challenge stage race, while Dana and the kids enjoy the beach. Salida Marathon in March as always, followed by the Lake Sonoma 50 in April. I still haven't accepted my invite to run Western States, but barring catastrophe between now and Dec 1, I'm sure I will. In August, I'm excited to head out to British Columbia to run the Squamish 50 miler, which looks like a rugged beast of a course, and then hopefully in September I'll be lining up for the Steamboat 100. Without giving it a whole lot of thought, the race calendar is about as full as I want it to get for 2014, so with the exception of a few local races that'll pretty much do it I guess.

Of course, before all of that we've got the highly anticipated Fort Collins 50k Championship Trail Race on December 7. Pretty sure I won the marathon version last year, so I'll be looking to defend there.     


  1. Good looking schedule, will be eager to hear how you think Costa Rica compares to Nicaragua. I think most of the CR race is on the Pacific side (?), but hope you get to see some of both coasts.

    1. Yup, on the Pacific side with some detours into the jungle/mountains.

      Nicaragua was a great experience and a little more raw than I expect Costa Rica to be. Nicaragua is working to develop its tourist industry, but its a very poor country with a lot of work ahead. I've never been to CR, but I'm expecting something a little more pristine given the nation's reputation as an eco-tourism destination.

      I'm more of a 'rough around the edges' kind of guy when it comes to international travel, but CR seems like a great place to bring the family.

  2. This mt. bike trail review of Young Gulch (the one by jbaum90) is one of my fav's of all-time, enough to remember it:
    The end is a bit of a disappointment though, it just stops on a ridge overlooking a house with a dog barking at you. Sure enough, it was true when riding it several years ago. Par for the course for that area, I guess.
    But also,
    Along the way, you're likely to encounter hippies smoking pot under a tree, possible snakes, poisonous foliage on the side of the trail, and a good time.
    Hope the trail can be recovered!

    1. While we didn't encounter any bona fide hippies, we did stumble across a couple of abandoned squatter sites, which I'm sure were home to pot-smokin' hippies. Lots of large mushrooms, but not sure I'd recognize poisonous foliage if I saw it. Doubt it's anywhere near the top of the priority list for the FS, but hopefully they'll get around to reconstructing the trail in time.

  3. Replies
    1. Yeah, and they raised their prices ... again. At $55 though, it still represents some of the best trail racing value in the state. And who wouldn't want to spend a weekend in Salida in March?

    2. Yup, still half the cost and 10 times the beer of Rock and Roll Denver.

  4. What will our bet be this year? Since I struggled to beat your protege Abby Pomegranite in a 10K, maybe I should get 90 minutes this time.

    1. I think I still owe you beer from this year's race. Double or quits for 2014, but no way you get 90 minutes. I'll give you a very generous hour. And if Abby beats you, you pay double.

    2. If Abby beats you, JT, I'm taking the Surly back to Lakehood and you walk home!

  5. If I beat JT I think I deserve a portion of the beers (and JT has agreed to wear the cat pants). Patrick, I will be sure to warm up before Salida with at least 25 miles- could be a close race.

    1. Beat JT and you can have all the beer. Cat pants? Even better.

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