Thursday, June 16, 2011

CO 149 - The Silver Thread

The RAV was rolling just before the sun again today. Can't burn sunlight when there is so much to see in the San Juans. Besides, I have to get my internal clock set for that little affair going on Saturday morning since it has a 5 am start time.

These acclimation weeks have very little structure or planning. They become more exploratory in nature with plenty of non-taxing activities. Oh, I've tried the other route and it did not work out so well.

Back in 2007 I started running, yes running, up Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak. Because I had to be in New Mexico for a week long IB workshop by sundown, I chose to run the five mile approach road with a seventeen pound summit pack. The gasping created by that effort was replaced with dizziness that was occasionally interrupted by hysterical laughter as I worked my way up the steep slope leading up to the rocks. The snow there was 2-5 feet deep. It was also soft by 8 am. So, I was post-holing as deep as my chest while climbing a 60-degree slope. I sat in an attempt to clear my head once I reached the rocks. I eventually decided to turn around on the climb up to the Needle's summit. Recovery was not happening. I retreated and returned a week later to summit these and the other Sangre de Cristo Range 14ers. Thankfully, most of the snow was gone from that slope.

That brings me back to this morning. I drove out to where the SJS50 course crosses HWY149 at Slumgulliun. Knowing the course would come down this section, and wanting to test my shoe/sock selection on a steep slope, I ran a kilometer up from the road. That is about 3274 feet along the ground. And I ascended 1032 ft. That is over 31% grade. And that is steep. These people love their steep trails and jeep roads. Switchbacks are as foreign to the locals as rush hour.

With a heart rate that quickly passed through my normal training zone, I "ran" that K in 10:12. The descent took 5:13. I will NOT be bombing down these steep descents on Saturday. I'd like to keep my knees and hips for a while longer.

If finished up by running below HWY 149 until I reached the Slum. This "Slum" is a rather large chunk of mountain that is moving about 20 feet per year toward Lake San Cristobal and its collection of high-priced homes and cabins. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out - on Saturday and in the coming years.

The next several hours were spent driving and hiking south along CO149. The topography changed at almost every bend in the road. It was fascinating and jaw-dropping and promised much romanticism.
Of note, the wind blew ferociously from the south all day, bringing enough moisture to allow cloud formation in what was an empty blue sky. This, I believe, made the pictures more interesting. Hope you feel the same!

Hiking along the Continental Divide and Colorado Trails

More of the CDT and CT
Faraway 14er Sunshine Peak from the Divide
13,826 ft Rio Grande Pyramid - Where the Rio Grande begins
North Clear Creek Falls - WOW!
Imagine sitting here with a sweetie at sunrise . . .
Surreal midday light effect

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