Black Toes

Trail running, running, and hiking in Colorado's Front Range.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

"Rocky Flats High" with apologies to John Denver

The Denver metro area (I work in Boulder) got hit with a snowstorm today, so I took the car up to work. This of course meant I was able to go trail running after work! However, by noon the fog had lifted and the snow stopped, and here are two pictures from the back of the building where I work:

Anyway, after work, I decided to go trail running. Originally, I was going to go running at White Ranch Open Space, which is an expansive foothills open space area with lots of climbs and fairly technical sections. It was getting dark by the time I was able to leave work (I was finalizing stuff on my Masters Degree), so I that I didn't want to chance any trailside meetings with mountain lions, so I decided to do a run not quite so tucked away in the mountains. I would love to see a bear one day, but I would be a happy man if I never came across a mountain lion. Particularly since nearly all mountain lion attacks have been on trail runners out here in Colorado.

So, I decided to run at Dowdy Draw open space outside Boulder, about 10 minutes away from work and on the way home. It's also near Rocky Flats: your one stop shop for nuclear bomb triggers and enriched Plutonium.

I decided to do the run for time and not measure pace and distance. It sort of makes the run more fun for me, that way. One thing I like about trail running, especially out here is that it makes me remember why I love running. It also makes me wonder why I'm doing something that makes my legs hurt so much. But life is full of contradictions, I suppose.

Here's a before shot:

Anyway, Dowdy Draw starts out with a gentle climb and then a nice steady flat section that lasts about 0.75 miles. After a couple of cattle gates, it becomes a nice single track section along a ridge, and descends with a couple of switchbacks into a valley. Not many people had been down there since the storm, so I was able to hit plenty of virgin snow in there. It obscured many of the rocks and made for soft foot landings, but there were a couple sections where you really had to watch it, because there was a big rock under a little covering of snow. I kept going down the single track, and then did a stream crossing! It was pretty cool because all the rocks we snow covered and icy, so it made for an interesting break in the running. I decided to turn around at 30 minutes, so as to give a little bit of time to climb back up to the trailhead.

Anyway, I made it back at exactly 60 minutes. I had no idea of my pace, but it was a great run. You know it's a pretty good run when you have icicles on your shoelaces.

I was pretty worn down after all that climbing and descending, and I think I kind of looked like I was doing bong hits rather than trail running after I was done:

All in all, awesome run, beautiful conditions, and nice snowpack. What I like about this part of the front range is that it hasn't been settled. There are little trees and shurbs sparsely scattered around, but for the most part it's all tall grasses and rocks around. I imagine it's what it looked like out here before there were many people out here.

Run: 60 minutes
Pace: ??
Distance: It's a trail run! Who cares!


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