Sunday, October 24, 2010

Storm Mountain (More Race Scouting)

So the latest course iteration for the proposed trail ultra event is looking like a 100K (62 mile), with 4 summits, and just under 20,000 feet of climbing. A challenging course for sure. One of these summits is Storm Mountain. This is the lowest of the 4 summits at 9918 feet, but the toughest one to access based on the latest route. The goal is to tie in this summit via a loop from the Dunraven Trailhead/Miller Fork area. The word from the Forest Service seems to be that if we can find existing routes (maintained or unmaintained) then the areas we are now looking at should be ok. The Storm Mountain section will rely on quite a bit of unmaintained trail that hopefully is still in existence. From what I found today, Storm Mountain could still be an option. I definitely found some trail that hasn't seen much use recently, but still a trail by definition. It's going to take at least one more scouting trip up there before deciding to include it. Unfortunately, I didn't get to summit Storm today. Pete and Nick got to the Donner Pass area on Saturday, but had a little trouble finding some trails up there. They had a good excuse since it was all covered in snow. It looks like we might get a lot more snow up there tonight.
More pictures from today's scouting trip here
GPS data here

The high peaks of the National Park covered with snow and clouds.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flowers Road and White Pine Mountains

I don't usually seek out runs along mainly jeep trail, 4wd road, double-track, or whatever the correct terminology is, but I had no complaints after this run. Starting a few miles west of Stove Prairie on Flowers Road, I ran another 3 miles of this road after it was no longer safely passable for my vehicle. I then headed south and climbed over the pass between East (elev 10248') and West (elev 10305') White Pine Mountains. There was a little over a mile of nice single-track trail to the north of the pass, but otherwise all jeep trail. The scenery was just spectacular and at peak fall foliage. I descended down the south side of the pass to Box Prairie and the trailhead for Donner Pass where I turned around and returned the same route. A total of 16 miles and 4100 feet of climbing. While motivated to run here so I could scout some potential trail racing routes, what I found was an area that I expect I will run many more times in the future.

Signal Mountain (left) spared by yesterday's snowstorm

Flowers Road approach to the mountains to be hurdled

GPS data here

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fish Creek Trail

We have been pretty much snow-free in the high mountains of the Northern Front Range, and I was hoping to squeeze in another run "up high" this morning, but it wasn't to be. I had planned a nice loop around the Zimmerman Trail and Crown Point starting and ending at Browns Lake Trailhead. As I drove up Crown Point Road early this morning the snow was flying and accumulating. Concerned that I might not be able to drive back down the road later, let alone find my way around on unfamiliar and snow-covered trails, I headed for lower elevations.

Browns Lake Trailhead (elev 10,480') a no-go for today

With so many great trails around Pingree Park, the trip was not wasted and I decided to run the Fish Creek Trail starting from its northeastern trailhead. Its about 6.5 miles one-way mainly between 8000 and 9000 feet in elevation, but still with a few decent climbs mixed in. The other trailhead sits by Sky Ranch. This trail offers a nice mix of dense forest, open meadows, and moderate ridges as it rolls through the Fish Creek drainage. Plenty of beautiful aspen stands this time of year.

On my return for this out and back run I added another little out and back on the Little Beaver Creek Trail and then the connector trail to Flowers Road by Jacks Gulch Campground. My total miles for the day ended up a little over 16 miles (about what I was expecting for my proposed loop up high).
A nice blanket over the Mummy Range

GPS Data for today's run

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blue Sky Marathon/Half Marathon

Blue Sky Marathoner Bill Moyle still going strong at 71.

The Fort Collins trails played host to about 200 trail runners today for the 3rd running of the Blue Sky Marathon and Half Marathon. While most of the course is out and back along the Blue Sky Trail, the marathon course consists of about a 7-mile loop up in Horsetooth Mountain Park, with a sweet climb up the infamous Towers Road. It was at the top of this climb that I got to hang out with Nick, Alistair, and Crew at the Towers Aid Station and played amatuer photographer (more photos here) while cheering the marathoners through the top of their toughest climb of the day (about 5 miles into the race). Last year, a 50K distance was added in addition to the marathon, but this race was dropped. I think it was wise to stick with just one or the other, instead of having both so similar in distance. Anyway, there is hope for a mountain ultra race in the northern Front Range that could be something special, hopefully next year. Probably either a 50-mile or 100K in and around the Comanche Peaks Wilderness. A proposed 50-mile course can be seen here.

I did get in 16 miles around Horsetooth Mountain Park this morning (about 11 before and 5 after the marathoners came through). Still no snow in the high country and I will try to take advantage of that, if possible, as October rolls on.

The morning course:
Southridge-Audra Culver-Horsetooth Rock-Soderberg-Wathen-Westridge-Towers-Mill Creek-Loggers-Carey Springs-Towers (down to aid station)-back up Towers-Spring Creek-Herrington-Stout-Spring Creek-Horsetooth Falls

Start/Finish at Horsetooth Mountain Trailhead.