Friday, August 29, 2008

Last full day in Silverton - Snowshoe trail run and a forest hike

Well, I made up my mind that I was going to run that ridge trail (affectionately called the snowshoe trail by some Silverton residents) that we had hiked on Sunday, so today was the last day to do it. Kenny told me that Kyle Skaggs (winner of Hardrock 100) runs it and so I figured I better run it, too! Kenny also said that he had seen 2 fresh deer kills on previous hikes through here, but assured me that running at noon time and with the Dixie Dog would probably (probably?) avoid any potential run-ins with mountain lions (okay, do I try to look big, or is it small? Be quiet or make lots of noise? I do know that you don't run, just slowly back up...)
So, off Dixie and I went, knowing that adrenaline adds to the adventure (I really felt pretty safe, not to worry). We left from the cabin we were staying at just outside of town and ran down towards the snowshoe trail. It was about 2.5 miles through Cunningham Gulch and down the Animas River before we hooked up with the trail. Before cutting up to the ridge from the river, you have to cross a creek flow, but I managed to get across without really getting my feet wet (it is all in the rock-hop technique!)I was in heaven. There were some wide snow melt/mud crossings that have been nicely shored up with cut tree timbers to enable safe crossing, and the rest of the trail is just beautiful. Lots of pines, aspens, grass, sweet singletrack, waterfalls, and mountain views (watch those forest roots, though!) The locals really care for this trail, so all downed trees are cut and moved away and brush is cut back away from the trail. Really nice. This is some of the best trail running I've done (reminded me of some of the really pretty spots at Zane Grey).

At the end of the run (about 7 miles total), we came down off the ridge by the Kendall Mountain Ski area, which is where I'll be bunny sloping it at Christmas time when we return to Silverton (see the baby lift?) Later that day, Kenny, Dixie, Cracker and I went for a hike on the other side of Silverton in a heavily forested area. The first little trail we took off on ended up in multipled downed trees and we gave up. It was like a mini-Zane Grey! We backtracked and found another trail, which turned out to be perfect, and we hiked an out of back (it is a trail to nowhere) of about 2 or so miles.

I did 2 ATV rides, 3 trail runs (total about 19 miles), 1 Body Pump class, and 5 fairly short hikes (total about 16 miles), all in 6 days in Silverton. Lots of fun! Cracker hiked about 14 of those miles. Amazing!

And best of all, I got to do most of it with Kenny and Dixie.

"Happiness only real when shared." ~ Chris McCandless as quoted in 'Into the Wild' by Jon Krakauer.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A road trip, a hike, some good food and an ATV ride

Kenny took the day off today and we headed North out of Silverton to Ouray and Ridgway, Colorado. Between Silverton and Ouray (Red Mountain Pass) we stopped at the Bear Creek trailhead and did a little hiking. I was super sore from yesterday's Body Pump class, so we just hiked a mile or so out and then the same back. The trail was in good condition in spots at first, but a lot of it later on was loose, crumbly slate. The trail kept climbing upwards and with my achy condition and the slate-type scree, I figured it would be unsafe to push it.

If you look really close, you can see me heading up the slate trail with the long drop-off:
After the hike, we headed back and went on down the road to Ouray. We checked out all the local shops, including Ouray Gallery, which is carrying some of Kenny's artwork. We picked up some dark chocolate coconut haystacks at the local chocolate store for an after-lunch treat.
On to Ridgway we went for the sole purpose of eating lunch at the local Oriental restaurant (Spicy Thai Basil fried rice in particular). It was wonderful.

Nice and full, we went back to Ouray and got all geared up to take the 4-wheeler out. We headed down the jeep road towards Imogene Pass. We had camped there on our honeymoon 8 years ago; we were remembering feeding apples to the deer and how good the prime rib was over the campfire that night. We got to the top of Imogene Pass after almost an hour of riding today. There were 2 gals hiking the road up to the pass, training for the Imogene Pass run, being held the following weekend. I'd like to do that one some day, but I think it would be a pretty hard race (17 miles, up and over Imogene Pass from Ouray to Telluride). They didn't look like they were having much fun. :) We did see a marmot on the way; they are really cute little critters that make squealing sounds that drive dogs so crazy they are forced to chase them.
After coming back down from the pass, we headed over to Yankee Boy Basin, which was beautiful.
Our ATV ride lasted about 4 hours, which was a blast. We got back to Silverton in time to make some pesto tortellini with broccoli for dinner and we went to bed tired and content!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fried quads from a Body Pump class and a trail run

I usually do two weight workouts a week, but since I wasn't in Tucson to use my machine, I took a Body Pump class at the local Silverton Movement Center. They also do spinning classes, which I have taken there before, Pilates, Yoga, and Boot Camp classes. I have never taken a Body Pump class before and IT WAS HARD. It was first thing in the morning. There were about 10 people there of all sizes/ranges, so I felt pretty comfortable in the class. It was fun, but so hard! I think I would get in shape fast doing that kind of class. With every rep, I kept thinking that I was ruining my trail run later on in the day! Every muscle on my body is sore. However, I still headed out for a trail run around noon (addicted!). It was pretty hot (well, for Silverton - even thought the ambient temperature isn't more than about 75 degrees, I am 7,000 feet closer to the sun than in Tucson, so my skin feels hot and sizzly). I ran along the Animas River again, but first headed for an out and back portion along the Animas past Howardsville, just outside of Silverton. The out and back portion was really rocky, but fun. Then I continued on down the usually Animas River route back to Silverton for a total of about 7 miles. Unbelievable views. I felt very happy to be out there today.
Kenny and I ended the day with an ATV ride down Cunningham Gulch and up to the top of one of the peaks to visit 'Bob Green'. Not sure if Bob is buried up there, but there is a large granite block and wood cross memorializing him. This is where Kenny wants his ashes scattered. You can see for miles. There were wildflowers everywhere, and a mine site that we stopped to check out. Although the weather in Silverton has been warm and wonderful, it was super windy and cold at the top next to 'ole Bob Green, so we didn't stay long. That evening, I was worried that I might have overdone it - I have a very hilly race on Labor Day in Tucson. Hopefully, I'll feel less sore by then!
I figured out after being here almost 4 days that I have some sort of gastrointestinal something or other. I'm not sure how I got it, but I think I'm finally feeling a little better. Kind of a drag, but I've tried not to let it stop me from doing whatever I wanted to do. I thought it was altitude related at first, but then it dawned on me what it was. I think it has finally run its course.

Going to bed early tonight; big day tomorrow. We're headed into the town of Ouray for a long ATV trip tomorrow to Yankee Boy Basin and the top of Imogene Pass!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Colorado trail hike

No planned run today, just a hike with Kenny, Dixie, Cracker and Jax (Kenny's friend's dog) along a portion of the Colorado trail. We headed about 15 minutes South of Silverton back down the road towards Durango and hopped off on a road to the right that took us to the trailhead. Last year, we went to the left, which was a little more forested. This portion of the trail has some forested areas, but is pretty much in an open, grassy area, with a lot of bushes and flowers.

We did about 6-7 miles. Cracker was just a hiking machine! She had more energy than all of us put together! For such a little dog, I was amazed at how she still had boundless energy at the end of the hike. I'm such a proud Mom. Who knew my little doggie would fit right in with my outdoor lifestyle? She sure can run - when the weather cools off, I'll take her on some shorter runs in Tucson to see how she does.

We went up, up, up for a while on the trail - lots of switchbacks - and then came back down the same way for about half of that portion of the Colorado trail and then veered off in the end to another trail that brought us out on a gravel road a little down from the trailhead. We ran down (even Kenny ran!) because it looked like the sky was blackening and we could feel a few raindrops. It was a blast running down because it was pretty steep, so we just flew.
The views are unbelievable. Lots of flowers and the mountainscapes look so fake! Little Molas lake was in view for a little bit. We even saw some deer, which was a treat.

Colorado is definitely one of the most amazing places I have ever been. If you haven't been to the San Juan Mountains, you have really missed out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Silverton Hike and Trail Run

Today, Kenny, Cracker, Dixie and I hiked a short trail up onto 'S' Mountain (there is an 'S' painted on it for Silverton), which overlooks the Silverton valley. The trail was steep, but the views of Silverton were perfect. Cracker is a little mountain goat and just goes wherever Dixie Dog goes. Kenny is growing his usual summer beard, which could use a trimming! I call him my little mountain man.

I woke up feeling tired, even though I did get lots of sleep. The elevation just makes me pretty drowsy and I generally feel wiped out. Even though I'm in bed for 8-9 hours, it is a very fitful sleep (pretty common with altitude adjustment). Didn't stop me much, though, because after we got done with the hike, Kenny dropped me and Dixie Dog off at the Animas River and then went to work. I ran about 4.5 miles along the Animas River into town. One of my fave runs in Silverton. It is so fun to run along a rushing river and just hear the sounds of nature. It is absolutely gorgeous and reminds me of why I would love to live in Silverton over the summer.
After my run, I went shopping in downtown Silverton and bought a few necklaces, a pair of outdoor pants, a pink camouflage scarf, and a pink camouflage ball cap (look for those in future trail run pictures!). Even though Silverton is a small town, there is plenty to buy. That's it, though; no more shopping for the rest of the week. Seriously! Really, I mean it.

We later drove across the mountain pass and into the town of Durango and did a few errands (including buying some Colorado peaches!) and ate dinner.

You can do a lot in a day when you don't work! I really needed this break. My mind feels clear and calm. Life is really simple here. No work - just eat, sleep and play.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Reunited in Silverton, Colorado

I've arrived! It took 10.5 hours to travel up to Silverton yesterday in the 4-Runner. Cracker Dog came along and we had a pretty good time with no problems. Driving through Arizona makes me realize what a pretty state I live in.

It is great to be with Kenny after being separated for 2 and 1/2 months! My world feels right again.

I always take it easy on the first day, because of the change in altitude - from about 2,500 in Tucson to 9,300 in Silverton. I feel like I'm out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs!

So we did about a 4 mile hike along a ridge above Silverton and it was just beautiful. Lots of aspen trees getting ready to change colors for the Fall, wildflowers galore, tall pines and beautiful views of the Silverton valley. Kenny says that the trail we hiked is one of the many that Kyle Skaggs (winner of Hardrock 100 this year) runs. I might think of running it, but not today.

I am truly blessed to get to experience things on a regular basis that some people never see in their lifetime. I feel really connected to God here. I'm looking forward to a fun week of hikes, trail runs, ATV trips, lying around and hanging out with Kenny, Dixie and Cracker. Doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Endorphins are good

I had a great training run out at Saguaro National Park East today! It felt so good to be running (after yesterday's hike/run). I met up with a new friend, Julie, who just moved here from Colorado. She had contacted me through my blog before she moved here, so it was great to finally get to run with her. We did most of the 8 mile paved loop (the one the Labor Day race will be on), but .8 mile before the end, we took off on the Cactus Forest trail, which cuts through the loop. We ran that trail until the other side of the paved loop, and then took the loop backwards to the Visitor's Center. Total mileage - 12.5! It felt so good to be on a longer run. Even though my legs were tired from yesterday's run, I felt energized - yay for endorphins! We walked the small hills in the last mile or so, but for the most part, I thought our pace was good all considering how tired I was and how many hills we were tackling.

Julie was really fun to talk to and we pretty much talked non-stop the whole time! I had also met Nancy and Sue there; but unfortunately, as we all got running, Julie and I started talking about trail running, one of my favorite subjects, and before I knew it, we were separated from Nancy and Sue. I usually don't like to leave anyone behind, but it just seemed to be the way it all worked out. Julie seemed pretty speedy and I was really raring to go today, too.
Even after yesterday's trail shoe debacle, I tried out the other pair of Inov8 trail running shoes that I bought. They are similar to the ones I already own - very lightweight, but supportive. They look a little dorky, but they matched my outfit and were super comfortable. I'll be keeping these.

It was really pretty out there today, and I felt so happy afterwards. What a great day for a great run with great company.