However, as I drove over it was obvious the weather was not going to cooperate, so I turned around and went north on 119 to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, where skies were still partly blue.
I knew this park would have lots of fall color, and I had run there once before. All I can say is the trails I took were RUG-GED.
And the leaves were SPEC-TACULAR. You are now about to see way too many aspen images, because I took 332 photos, and I had a hard time choosing.
This is some nice trail running:
There are two main ridges on this route, with meadows in between. The trails in the meadows are pretty smooth, but the ones in the hills are pretty rugged, with constant ups and downs and rocks. I have a feeling this is not reflected in the corrected gain numbers on Garmin.com, so I included both at the bottom of the post.
This profile isn't to scale, but it gives you some idea of the terrain:
From my starting point at Bootleg Bottom (aid station 2 during the Dirty Thirty) I ran down to the Visitor's Center (center of profile) to fill my bottles and to check if the park or any of the gates close at a certain time. For example, Roxborough closes at 6 PM. Turns out Golden Gate doesn't close.
Then I ran back up to my car, starting with the 1,100 foot ascent from the road, passing some of the same hikers again. I hiked a fair amount myself on the way back up, but felt OK considering my lack of recent running.
Some of the trees near Bootleg Bottom were distinctly orange verging on red-orange. It probably had the most foliage variety of any spot on my run.
As you can see the weather went from sunny to overcast, and it started sprinkling right as I hit the parking lot at the end. Perfect timing.
This is from Panorama Point on the northwest side of the park. The sunset was lighting up the undersides of the swirling storm clouds:
I took Gap Road back, which I didn't even know existed, and leads into Coal Creek Canyon (Highway 72). It's a quick way to the west side of the park if you're coming from the east.
Distance: 11.46 miles, moving time 2:39 (total 4:11!), elevation gain 2,669/3,271 feet (corrected/uncorrected).
I don't know how anyone raced 30 miles over this under 5 hours, it's ridiculous. I'm going to have to eat my Wheaties if I ever run the 1/2.
Did a bunch of deep tissue work on my quads in particular in the evening, and it seemed to alleviate some of the tightness on Sunday. I've been doing A LOT of that lately (I'm going to have huge thumb muscles). I'm gradually working out all the knots that have been there for... who knows how long?