Saturday, July 05, 2014

Relay Creek Trail

 Back in 2006 I raced the Durango 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race that never had good karma.  It always rained for the dates the promoter picked.  The year I raced it, my stem broke on a steep downhill section at Purgatory Ski Resort as I finished up lap 1.  I'm still amazed at how I escaped inury there - I simply jumped off the bike, but the real story is that upon finishing that loop I was happy to take a DNF - the mechanic came up and offered me a new stem to continue racing, but there was no way I wanted to go back out in that muddy mess.  A little while later they ended the race due to the rain.  What I did get out that race though was an appreciation for some of the dirt roads in the area that take you to little used trails.  Relay Creek is one of those.  
 The legs were tired from the day prior, so running on a dirt road for a warm up was attractive to me.  I skipped Purgatory, but started right at the junction with Hermosa Park Road and the road to Cascade/Relay Creek.  On Relay Creek Road it was about 9 or 10 miles maybe until I hit the single track.  On a side note there are several old logging roads out there I really need to explore.  I ran some last year and those are absolute solitude.
Relay Creek Trail takes you over to Bolam Pass.  I started late - after 2PM but missed most of the rain.  A light drizzle at time, but perfect temperatures.  From there it was a long downhill from Bolam and even with tired legs it was a blast running so fast.  After 25 miles or so, Danny and Kylie drove on up and offered to give me a ride - worked out perfect and shaved a boring slog back through Hermosa Valley.  

The old Durango 100 helped me pick the date for the Durango Dirty Century which we held last weekend.  Deep snow on the trails is much easier to deal with than torrential monsoons.  As last weekend was dry and this one is wet, while not perfect, the weather this time is easy to predict.  Monsoons start at July.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Birthday Run

I started at Cascade and ran up Graysill to the Colorado Trail, over Rolling Pass and down Engineer Trail.  What a great route.  I've done this in the reverse direction but this one worked out well.
 The monsoon seasonal rains are back and I just love this weather.  Colorado bluebird skies are great for photos and scenic views but when there is moisture the air breathes so much better.  I brought my C.A.M.P. protection jacket and it worked perfectly in a slight drizzle.

 I saw several marmots including this little guy who could care less that I was within a few feet of him.  Meet Mick the Marmot.  
 Then back to regular terrain near Engineer.
Just short of a marathon taking the quick descent down cow trails from the Engineer Trail-head.  I could have tacked on a few miles heading back over to Cascade Road, but i don't like finishing on that road, as it seems to take forever.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Long Beach, WA

They claim there is 28 miles of continuous beach on the shoreline and from what I saw I would believe it.  I did a 2.5 hour run in nice 60 degree weather and saw very few others.  I started a few miles North of town to avoid the tourist concentration and it was a good choice. 
 Horse riders, cars, even people practicing golf were out there.  The homes nearby were all over the grassy earthen berm which I assume is there for storm surges.
 The sea pelicans were always on the move and would not let me get close, but the gulls never really cared much when I ran by.
 I did a see a beached harbor seal that apparently had been dead for some time.  I would have rather seen the living version.  Other than that there were a ton of dead sand crabs but not much trash or man made ocean debris.  Most of the sea wash was natural.
 Long Beach claims to have the longest continuously running beach line in the nation.  For my friends who have embraced the "fat bike" craze I would think this would a be a destination.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Twin Peaks

I found the route I was looking for after just one wrong turn.  I was able to find a crossover abandoned dirt road that allowed me to access both Parrot and Madden Peaks from Mancos Hill.  Some really good running, with scree scrambling up top.  Not quite to 12k for these peaks but they are the easiest to access from town as you park your car just a little off 160.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Little More Exploring

I headed out Friday afternoon back up near Lemon Reservoir to explore the Burnt Timber Trail.  In the background of the first photo is the Endlich Mesa that I explored last Sunday.  This is all Wilderness but pretty popular with horse riders and hikers.
 The start of the trail was rough but it eventually evened out and then there were excellent views.
 One interesting thing was that caterpillars were everywhere.  They were falling from the Aspens and many were dead right in right on the trail.  It was hard to avoid stepping on the live ones as they crossed the trail.  I'm somewhat surprised the trail was open and not closed off during this period of their transition.
I started too late, but this could be looped into Endlich Mesa via City Reservoir Trail.  I hope to complete this route someday.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Crater Lake (CO)

I hit a new-to-me trail Thursday evening after work:  Crater Lake Trail near Molas Pass.  It's an area most locals will avoid.  From Highway 550 it is signed for Andrews Lake where a lot of tourists head to because they can drive right up to that lake.  Crater Lake on the other hand, is 6 miles via single track trail from Andrews and the tourists typically don't walk more than a few feet.  After having a bit of early regret taking off and being around so many people, Crater Lake Trail was virtually empty.  
 The lake is also popular with climbers as it gets you access to Twilight Peak shown above.  There were a few snow piles to post hole through, and some muddy with creek crossings, but otherwise it was a great run.   
 It's one I will probably not go back to that often as Clear Creek or Deer Creek on the other side will give me complete solitude.  But it's a good one to have in the rotation for after work, quick high country excursions.  
Snow is melting fast and more trail opens up by the day.  CT from Molas to bottom of Engineer is another one of my summer go-to routes and I can't wait to do that one again.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Endlich Mesa

It was time to do a bit of exploring so I headed out to the Endlich Mesa, at the far end of Florida Road just past Lemon Reservoir.  I had climbed the 11 mile USFS dirt and rock road on my singlespeed mountain bike a few years back and forgot just how rough the actual road was.  The 2WB Honda Element drove up there and back right in line with the Jeeps and other 4WDs.  Impressive, if the Emperor had asked Honda to build the Imperial Fleet, I suspect we would all be speaking Japanese right now.  
 The lower trail is a mess, rutted and an old road.  It forks a bit up with the south half headed down to Vallecito Reservoir on open USFS Land, and the North eventually cresting and then turning to sweet singletrack and eventual Wilderness.  I headed north by foot, with a bit of running and walking as the legs were tired from the days prior.

 This will take you into access for the Chicago Basin for climbing the area 14ers, which was my focus for the exploring.  This seems like such an awesome back door entrance to the area, with less travel.  The more common route is off 550, or people actually take the train for a dropoff.  
 With all the exposure though definitely a trail to do in good weather.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Indian Peaks Ridge Run

Saturday, I drove the Element up to Kennebec Pass and ran the Colorado Trail through Indian Ridge over to Grindstone.
 This is the prettiest part of the Colorado Trail in our area.
 Some of the trail is nearly all rock.
 That is the Bear Creek Drainage down there with some great trails.
 The steep switchbacks were not all that bad on foot.  They sure do suck the life out of when on a bike.
 The winds were pretty high, so I was happy to be back down by Taylor Lake.  I'll have to run the full 17 mile loop someday.
 I then went looking for Manny the Marmot but he was not at his home.  He must be on vacation.

Coal Creek is Clear

I did a late Friday afternoon run on one of my favorite loops - up Pass Creek, Engineer Trail and down Coal Creek.  
 Pass Creek Trail is still snowed under quite a bit so I had to do some post holing.
 But once up high, where the sun hits the ground the fields were clear. 
 I was surprised to see some tire tracks and someone really, really wanted to ride Coal Creek but they had to drag their bike through the mess on Pass Creek.
 I'd say the effort was worth it for the views!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Iron Horse Run

I ran from my house in Durango all the way over to Silverton and finished at Avlanch Brewing Company following the Iron Horse Bicycle Race route.  Big thanks to my wife, Jeni for running a SAG WAGON while she and my daughter did some hiking at Engineer and later Molas Lake.  50+ miles and I climbed 2 mountain passes - Coal Bank and Molas.  Great day for a run!

Friday, June 06, 2014