Ten days ago we had 30 inches of snow. Since then it's been warm, with a good soaking melt. A sunny Saturday noon-hour with temperatures in the mid 50's was an absolutely perfect time for a run.
This is the Switzerland Trail of America, the railroad right-of-way I spend much of my time exploring. I parked just off the Peak to Peak Highway and here was beginning the run, due east. It's five miles or so to Sugarloaf Mountain.
Normally I'd run the return distance but today Claudia agreed to meet me for a hike and a picnic. I've been wanting to hike to the top of the Mountain and today was the day to do it.
A major challenge faced by the railroad in the early 20th century was the amount of snowfall in the mountains, particularly in the shady and the leeward sides of the terrain where drifts were often massive. Though the initial distance of my run today was relatively clear, I did encounter some conditions that were fun challenges for a runner.
Looking back at what I'd just come through, here's a good patch of ice I thought for sure would throw me down. I slowed down pretty good, kept my weight above my feet and managed to stay upright.
About a quarter of a mile further down the trail in the downwind side of the mountain I encountered this bit of messiness.
At first I tried to avoid getting my feet wet, but finally gave up the effort and just slogged on through. Like running in rain and mud, it's actually quite liberating to just let go of the concern and forge ahead.
There were four-wheel drive tracks to run through, but in many sections they were so narrow it was like a high-wire act to stay within them. I found myself running with my arms outstretched to maintain balance.
Midway through the five-mile distance the trail crosses a saddle as it moves from the north side of one mountain to the south side of the next. On the second half the sun was bright, the trail was mostly dry with occasional splashes through unavoidable puddles. Mountain soil, being mostly decomposed granite, forms a mud that doesn't cake on your shoes. I was grateful for that.
These were all ideal conditions for a run at the slow pace I've been training myself to--11 min/mile. The 3% downhill grade didn't hurt either.
The air was sweet, alternately cool and warm, never cold, and fragrant with the smell of the forest in the sunny sections. Sights along the way were stunning. Here's the Arapahoe Glacier.