Itching for something different, I drove down to Indian Creek, which I'm a bit more familiar with this year after a couple of tours there. The mountains are about 1,600 feet from low to high, the terrain is obscure and confusing, with winding, maze-like trails that seem to go on longer than expected and occasionally have unmarked junctions. Bring a map. But it's good fun.
I thought maybe the area would be light on snow by now, and on the western descent, I was right. This is roughly the low point on Indian Creek, with the deepest snow thus far:
Ridge running high on the Indian Creek Trail:
There was some nearly untracked snow on trails up to this point, but I looked forward to more open areas and hopefully drier running up high on the western slopes.
I took the Powerline Trail across the back of Roxborough State Park, a long, somewhat boring trek uphill on an abandoned road alongside power lines. But it's still the mountains.
Then the Indian Creek Trail appears suddenly and dives off into the woods again. The climb on this section is through beautiful forest which at this time of day, had sunlight streaming through the trees at steep angles. At this point, I hadn't seen a soul in 2 hours, it was just the sound of wind, trees and birds.
However, my hopes of running dry exposed trails for the remaining few miles were destroyed by the worst snow of the day, on top of the ridges and even on open forest roads.
I began cursing this last 5 miles as the Road That Never Ends, which burned an hour and a half.
One of the turns on the road had a shade of cool blue-grey, with a weak sun barely shining into the gloom. It was beautiful, but I was tired and ready to stop slogging through other people's footsteps.
In places, feet had punched through a foot and a half down. Thankfully, the snow was now consolidated enough that I was able to walk/jog on the footsteps about 6 inches below the surface.
Next time I will have proper expectations regarding conditions and time, and it will be less of a hit mentally. But this time, I was so glad to get onto anything that involved some semblance of level ground.
Distance was 15.15 miles, time 4:26 (moving 4:01), elevation gain/loss 2,591 feet, avg. pace 17:36 (moving 15:58), and best pace 7:09.
Mine was the last car in the parking lot, and I changed socks and shoes, stretched, and headed home. I do appreciate the solitude (as long as I don't get injured), because come dry weather, this place will be thick with hikers, bikers and runners. Off-season is still my favorite.