Thanks for the idea, Tim.
I decided against a ski day when woke up Sunday and since it was a 'no bikes' day at Centennial Cone Park I went for a run there.
I was also awakened by the damned woodpecker that is trying to make a home outside my bedroom. For the entire last week I've been waking up to hammering sounds, opening my window to scare it, even using a rubber band to shoot paper wads at it. Lazy bastard woodpecker, go find a tree! I bought a squirt gun today. Not sure if it has a HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINE, so I hope I don't go to prison.
This long run (~20 miles) was intended as a test of my fitness -- not for the trail races that I never do -- but for the type of outing I like once the high country trails open up. I've been doing 15-20 miles and was ready to add some elevation into the mix.
So... I pretty much failed the test and got my ass handed to me on a platter.
Even though it was a hiker day, there were two bikers at the park, one at the trailhead who realized his error after starting out and someone mentioned it, and one sheepish biker about 3 miles out on trail.
I've actually driven all the way to this park only to find it a was a bike-only day, so I can sympathize.
I gave the first guy some other park ideas since he didn't seem familiar with the foothill parks. The second guy I didn't bother, not sure if he knew and rode anyway, but I didn't want to get into a confrontation in the middle of the woods. Anyway he was accommodating and pulled his bike way over and stopped as I ran uphill. Appreciated.
This trail is also normally a loop, but Elk whatever trail was closed, so I had to do an out and back on the longest section in the park. I laugh thinking that I had actually thought of doing two loops of this brute. Ha! Not a chance.
You'll have to imagine 20-30 mph wind gusts on the open sections. Glad I had that shell. And gloves. And hat.
There was some snow in the shadows, but not much. Most of the route was dry.
I'm always attracted to the random scatterings of pine cones and needles in forests. Can you imagine how many pine cones lie randomly on forest floors around the world? Do you think anyone has ever stepped in that particular spot? It's like oak leaves in deciduous forests in the East: it's a totally random thing, but the patterns and colors are beautiful. It's just out there, happening. Waiting for us.
Highway 6 far below in Clear Creek Canyon:
The trail passes by this strange cluster of white quartz with an oddly-shaped tree sprouting out of the middle. From what I have heard, white quartz often occurs along with gold, which explains both why this area has white quartz, and why it has a history of gold mining. I didn't see any gold. Just white rocks and a weird tree.
This is, blessedly, near the turnaround point. Even the climb to the west parking lot is long. It's up there over that next hill. Or, maybe it's the next hill. Or the next.
Below is a look back at the turnaround point with Douglas Mountain in the background, which was getting rained/snowed on. Storms surrounded me all day, but thankfully it never rained or snowed on me.
Near this spot on the way back, I saw two runners, maybe mile at 12, and they just dusted me like I was standing still. Disappeared. I mean, in about two miles they gained a mile on me. Who were those guys?
I'm aware of my plodding speed and usually accept it, but today I was a little bummed to get dropped like that.
I hiked some of the steeper hills, but ran the stretch below and other douche grade sections. Contra Mike, I like douche grade. I was struggling big time.
I guess I did learn that my legs can move even though I'm dead tired and I don't feel like I have any energy. So, I kept 'em moving. It seemed like it takes more oxygen to keep them fueled, though; I was panting like a dog in summer.
Distance was 20.32 miles, time 4:44 (moving 3:59), elevation gain/loss 3,104 feet, avg. pace 14:00 (moving 11:47), and best pace 7:11.
That was hard. I have work to do.