I'd been to Roxborough a couple of times and never made it to the top of Carpenter Peak, let alone beyond, so I thought that would be a good outing on Sunday, with most of the day available for running. I started around 10 AM, so the only limitation was I had to be out by 5 PM or risk getting locked in the park.
Carpenter Peak was a bit like a 14er at the summit, with people hanging out, taking pictures and so on. I took photos of a trio with a birthday girl in tow. Hey, being in the mountains is how I usually spend my birthdays. Seems like more people are taking photos with phones than cameras these days.
Made it to the top in roughly 42:00, which was a Goldilocks effort (medium -- just right).
The eponymous power lines on Power Line trail:
Look at that blue sky! One of the many meadows on the way down towards the CO trail:
The junction below was around 7.5 miles, after a lot of ups and downs -- mostly downs. This is a few miles from Waterton Canyon and the CO trail, but honestly the whole time I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. Behind me was a biker with the same map I had, puzzling over where to go and maybe where he was.
Case in point, I thought the junction above was another junction. I was one trail over from where I thought I was. The above section of trail climbs over a high ridge that was one of the more scenic parts of the run. Not due to snow-covered peaks, but due to being high above pine-covered valleys.
Then, I descended into terrain I had covered before: Stevens Gulch. This trail doesn't get much traffic and you can easily miss the turn off. In the winter, I was worried I'd miss it and get lost. Again, this trail has the feeling of isolation and wilderness, and is not very well maintained. Water runs over the trail (ice in winter) and it's muddy in parts.
The uphill is also long enough that I was perfectly happy to stop and take some pictures at a small meadow, enjoying the sun and the knowledge that I was almost at the top.
Then I was on the Indian Creek forest road section on my way back to Roxborough. This section was one of the nicer gravel/dirt roads I've ever run, with glimpses of mountains to the west, shade, and easy grades.
Right near here however, a trio of horses came galloping by (I passed the same three riders on the other side of my loop) and the took a sharp turn uphill. The lead woman's horse stumbled on something, and she ended up tilted off the side of the horse dangling, for a moment unable to right herself. She recovered. Whew. I'm glad I didn't see the horse and rider go down.
Then came Elk Valley trail, out in the open on grass and scrub oak.
Mule deer family near the visitor center:
Sunset when I got back home. As far as I'm concerned, late fall/early winter is sunset season:
Distance was 18.47 miles, time 4:35 (moving 3:39), elevation gain/loss 3,550 feet, avg. pace 14:54 (moving 11:53), and best pace 7:22.
A tough run. You really need to bring a map if you run here, since the trails are a maze and the topography of the area is hard to follow and understand.