Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Buffalo Creek Run

The first half of this run was dry and relatively easy, since it was on roads and in the 1996 Buffalo Creek Fire burn area, which is now open to the sun and therefore relatively dry.

The last half was in the forest on snowy trails with dubious footing, sometimes involving breaking trail in some nasty firm snow. It was slow and tedious. But such is trail running in February.

This is near the top of the Nice Kitty trail, which climbs from FR 543 to the Colorado Trail. The name makes me laugh, wondering if trail volunteers saw a mountain lion while building this trail. And it makes me nervous for the same reason.

It's about 5 miles to the CO trail, quite a nice uphill climb. When you are on the trail below, you are happy to have the main climb behind you. This "trail" is actually a forest road during this segment, although I don't think anyone but park rangers actually drive on it.

Cool rock formations abound on this entire trail loop. Seriously, how do rocks like this even form?

Somewhere around here I saw the only other runner of the day, a girl who started right after me but ran in the opposite direction. I'm guessing she ran up FR 543 then took Shinglemill uphill to the CO Trail -- which is a shorter run -- but I'm not sure. Regardless, she was doing a solid job to pass me where she did.

As usual, the trail was seemingly broken by insane people whose footprints don't seem to form any logical pattern. A lot was damn near impossible to run, and I ended up walking a mile or more of the trail near Green Mountain. It was extremely jarring to walk on. And I'm not going to lie, it was somewhat demoralizing. Although I did breeze by a poor couple on mountain bikes on this section. Hey, been there, done that!

Sometimes it was dry for 100 feet or so:

I was happy to get back to the forest road, which meant I had "only" 8 miles to go.

Yet, it was not much better than the hills. There was nasty, crusty snow and ice the entire way :\ That is basically a sheet of ice on the road below. And the snow was more difficult.

I think if I run this in the winter again, I'll opt to do the loop the other runner did: cut it short at Shinglemill, which is open and dry. Breaking trail or running in hard snow is not much fun.

My legs were hammered by mile 15 and I just wanted to get it over with. This always happens on the 8 miles to the parking lot. It's longer than I imagine, and it usually hurts a bit. Whatever. A day in the mountains is far better than a day at home.

Distance was 20.09 miles, time 4:49 (moving 4:31), elevation gain/loss 2,134 feet, avg. pace 14:26 (moving 13:31), and best pace 7:30.


  1. That trail looks brutal but the scenery is amazing. I agree 100%, tough miles in the outdoors are much better than a lot of other things we could be doing.

  2. Richard - The trail's not bad by mountain standards; the initial climb is on a long, low runnable grade. The worst thing was the snow.

  3. Yeah that makes it easier. The Trail I have been running shoots up elevation in about a 3 mile span. I feel like I am running straight up and my quads are burning. I'd love a long low runnable grade.