Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More SR 50 Recon

Using blurred maps provided by the race directors, I set out to do more recon on the Silver Rush 50 course on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Luckily, the knowledge of the the mining district that I obtained and retained from completing the Leadville helped me make up for the deficiencies of those terrible maps. I honestly feel that I have a good feel for the course now.

My Tuesday morning started in Gunnison where I had found a room at the RAV. I welcomed both the 44 degree sunrise temperature and cool breeze that woke me and invigorated me. A quick breakfast led to a lovely morning drive back over Monarch Pass to Highway 24. Once on Hwy 24 I repeatedly stopped to take pictures of the 14ers I intend to climb on this trip and to read the historical signs at the pullouts. I learned a lot about the European maneuvers that eventually led to the U.S. taking "ownership" of most of our current western lower 48.



Yes, you sense a bit of an attitude in that voice. If you do not know why then you should make time study how the U.S. bought land from nations that never really had ownership or even squatting rights that land. Start with Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Then make certain that you complete your study with visits to reservations. Enough lecturing.

Because I started at sunrise, I made it to Pbville at an early hour. I visited the Provin' Grounds Cafe to download pictures and write. Two hours later I walked up and down the main drag - Hwy 24 or Harrison Avenue. I was amazed at the businesses that have taken place. Some shops moved while others, including Bill's Sport Shop and Rosie's Brewery, closed up all together. It is tough running a business that depends on tourists when those tourists only visit in appreciable numbers during four months of the year. Luckily, PG was still in business. A Mate Latte and a blueberry/chocolate chip scone hit the spot. And, again lucky for me, the Cycle of Life bike shop was well-stocked in bottles of Hammer Gel. Those thousands of vanilla flavored carbo calories will serve me well on Sunday.

Tuesday's course recon took me to a familiar place - Iowa Gulch. Not only had I run into the mouth of the gulch on Monday, I had also hiked there on a couple of occasions. In 2007 I tested my acclimatization by running high in Iowa Gulch at about 11K feet. Then, in 2008, I once again drove high into the gulch to climb the 14er Mt. Sherman. Tuesday's run had me start at what will be aid station number two; Printer Boy. I ran in the direction I will run on the return trip on Sunday. I ran two miles UP Iowa Gulch to near its eastern terminus at the foot of Mt. Sherman. The course only follows pavement for 0.75 miles in each direction and that stretch of road is where I started. From there I ran on the rough mining/jeep road up the gulch. It was an absolute blast to be chugging up that rocky road at 11K feet at 7.5-9 miles per hour. I know I cannot run that fast in the SR 50, but the pulse and perceived effort told me that I was well within my limit for the taper. Running back down was even more exciting.

Along SR 50 route

Looking down over Iowa Gulch and its mining past.  We will run up far side first.

Sherman (center) marks the end of the Iowa Gulch.

Duh!! (see next picture and note same sign)

Roadside slag heap held back by rotting timbers.

What views! The mountains and the mining remnants boast of the wildness, the industrious activities, the hopes, and the hardships experienced high in the Arkansas Valley. Gold, silver, lead, and molybdenum left this valley along with the lives and blood of many generations of natives and treasure-seekers. The reactivation of the Climax Moly Mine will breath fresh life back into this tired and economically starved community. In the mean time, all of these mining ruins reveal a lot about man's past efforts to gain economic superiority from this land. Too bad those men did not have the sense to realize how much they were hurting future generations.

Last night I slept at Stumptown. This decaying mine site sits at 11K feet and it serves as the turn around point for the SR 50. I ran another 4 miles averaging almost 8 min per mile. The sun was low on the eastern mountains. The dry air was a cool 47 degrees and it moved steadily from the north. Above me was Ball Mountain, which must be tamed twice on Sunday. Below sat Pbville and the Arkansas Valley. Beyond that, to the west, sat the monoliths known as Elbert and Massive. What an awe inspiring run. Again, the legs felt great and the lungs seemed to tolerate the air that was missing 32% of the oxygen supplied at home. I enjoyed a nice picture tour and a fully organic cold cereal and fruit breakfast before I drove down to town.

Stumptown breakfast companion - he was eating grass.


This happens a lot.

See what I mean?!

Morning crowd at Provin' Grounds

Provin' Grounds proved to be once again worthy of a pit stop. Today I sipped a mighty fine coffee and an even better scone. Unfortunately, the wi-fi was down all over Pbville today. That is why I am writing this at a cafe in Dillon (9187 ft). Earlier, I took in a tasty buffalo burger and a wheat beer at the Dillon Dam Brewery. I highly recommend the Dam Brewery for both food and spirits. Every trip I make to CO includes a stop there.

Mt. Massive on the horizon.

Well, back to the high country of Lake County. Enjoy the pics.  Hopefully, all of it is there.  I have lost connection and have pasted from clipboard!

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