2007 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
 
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  MORE LEADVILLE TRAINING RUNS:
TURQUOISE LAKE TO TWIN LAKES  

THURSDAY, JULY 26

 
" . . . The race route remains much the same as it was in 1983 [first year of the LT100].
Competitors go from downtown Leadville to the Colorado Trail west of Turquoise Lake, then
skirt the Mount Massive Wilderness Area and head up Halfmoon Road back to the Colorado
Trail. They follow the trail down to Twin Lakes, then take a mining trail up and over
Hope Pass to Winfield [Clear Creek] Road and come back the same route . . .
 
- Gabe Toth in the Leadville Chronicle's 2007 Summer Activities Guide, p. 13
 

 

In the July 22 entry I mentioned some of Jim's training plans for the Leadville Trail 100-miler in a little over three weeks. Besides doing three or four double crossings of the most difficult part of the course, Hope Pass, he wants to run most of the rest of the course before he begins his taper. The only part he doesn't plan to run is the first six miles through town, down the Boulevard, past Sugarloafin' Campground, up the little power line, and to the dam. He'll save the seven miles around Turquoise Lake to the Mayqueen aid station location until he's in taper mode since it's at lower elevations and doesn't have significant climbs.

That leaves the sections between Mayqueen (13.5/86.5 miles) and Winfield (50-mile turnaround) to run in various combinations the next two weeks.

HALFMOON AID STATION TO TWIN LAKES & BACK

On Tuesday Jim met our friend Joe Lugiano for a run from the Halfmoon aid station location (miles 30.5 outbound and 69.5 return during the race) to Twin Lakes (miles 39.5 and 60.5) and back, for a total of about eighteen miles. Last year during a training run Jim had some difficulty following the race course and ended up on the Colorado Trail too long. This time he wanted to run with someone more familiar with this section to be sure he followed the correct route. Now that he's seen the turnoff in a little parking area he knows how to do the last couple miles down to Twin Lakes correctly.

Jim didn't take a camera today but I've included two photos from my CT trek in this segment last summer. The trail is very pleasant in this section, my second favorite part of the LT100 course (my favorite is up and over Hope Pass -- no surprise there). It's interesting that while I was running on the new reroute of the southern end of CT Segment 11 today, Jim was following the northern end of the same segment!

On the outbound (going south), LT100 runners leave the Halfmoon aid station and run along the dirt road for about two miles before taking a left on the Colorado Trail where it intersects the road at Halfmoon Creek. After a long but gradual climb, the trail undulates through pleasant pine and aspen forests for several miles.

The first couple miles here include the most popular route for people who are climbing Mt. Elbert. During training runs and the race LT100 participants are likely to meet hikers on their way up to or down from Colorado's highest peak. The trail to Elbert soon veers off to the right (west) and LT runners keep going south on the CT.

At some point at a little parking area the CT goes straight on a dirt road down to Twin Lakes and the LT course angles right through some grass and back into the woods. It morphs into a rocky jeep road before its descent into Twin Lakes, passing through some private property. We've never had any trouble with the landowners during training runs through their property although I'm a little nervous about "trespassing." (I'm pretty territorial myself!)

At the location of the aid station, a firehouse, Jim refilled his water bottle at a little creek and returned the way he came. He wanted to run a little faster than Joe so he went on ahead. He was pleased with his time for the run, and will probably include this section in his next Hope Pass double crossing for a long run of 38-40 miles.

TURQUOISE LAKE TO THE FISH HATCHERY

After a rest day on Wednesday, we both planned a run in this section. Neither of us wanted to do the road portion at the west end of Turquoise Lake so we just drove through the Mayqueen campground and noted both the higher, more normal level of the lake this year (below) . . .

. . . and the distance from the lakeside trail's end to the Mayqueen aid station (about a mile on pavement). We then drove half a mile to the Timberline Lake trail head for the Colorado Trail and began another nine-plus mile section of the LT course. This parking area serves as the trail head between CT segments 9 and 10. Today we'd start our run on Segment 10, following it through the woods for a couple miles until it crosses Hagerman Pass Road.

This is one of the rockiest sections of the entire Colorado Trail and it slows the progress of runners both coming and going during the race. They are usually happy to reach Hagerman Pass Road and follow it and a rockier jeep road up Sugarloaf Mountain -- that part is more runnable, at least on the return when they're coming down.

  

We'd seen a woman running near the aid station but didn't recognize her until she caught up to us on the trail -- it was our friend Joy Robertson from the Denver area!

Joy has finished this race several times and was out here today for a long run from the start to the fish hatchery and back into town. She slowed down a few minutes to walk and run with us as we ascended gradually on the CT to Hagerman Pass Road, then forged on ahead:

I encouraged Jim to go his own pace, too, so he and Cody also went on ahead before we reached the road.

I had planned to hike up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain on the dirt roads the race course follows to the intersection with the Colorado Trail and come back via the trail (a CCW loop) but decided I could run faster if I continued on the CT to the top and ran back down the road (a CW loop). Jim was going point-to-point with Cody to the fish hatchery, and I was doing a little shorter "lollypop" configuration so I could return with Tater to the truck.

At Hagerman Road, I turned left and up the CT instead of right along the LT100 course:

With no cell signal out there, I couldn't tell Jim I'd be reversing directions on my loop. Fortunately he didn't wait for me, although he did occasionally look back down the switchbacks on the jeep road to see if he could see Tater and me. I was on the eastern side of the mountain, climbing as fast as I could on the moderately steep, mostly rocky trail trying to reach the top before he got there. This is one of the few smooth spots on that section of trail:

It took me 62 minutes to get to the summit from the truck. I thought surely Jim and Cody had already gone by on the jeep road but they hadn't. I came in from the left in the photo below and made a right onto the road in order to return to my starting point. The LT100 follows this road down the infamous "Power Line," a steep descent outbound and climb on the return:

I ran the undulating road near the summit, enjoying the views down to the lake and Mayqueen campground. In a few minutes I was surprised to see Joy running toward me, still climbing to the top.

She said Jim was behind her, and I surprised him when he saw me coming toward him. I joked, "Where have you been?" as if I'd somehow gotten ahead of him. The CT is a shorter but rockier and steeper tangent in the convoluted triangle made by the trail and LT100 route.

Cody came running toward Tater and me and enthusiastically greeted us:

I got a big hug and kiss from Jim before he and Cody continued on toward the power line section.

As I discovered when I did Segment 10 on the CT last summer, there are much better views of Turquoise Lake from the jeep road and Hagerman Pass Road on the LT course than there are from the trail:

We've never followed Hagerman Pass Road the seven miles to the pass. In our DeLorme atlas it appears to be a decent road most of the way up. Maybe we should do that this year:

I was able to run most of the rocky jeep road down to its intersection with the much smoother Hagerman Pass Road, but had to be careful not to trip on the numerous rocks. Seeing this storm behind me propelled me a bit faster down the road:

I enjoyed the views, both near and far, as I descended the winding jeep road to the intersection with Hagerman Pass Road. Many LT runners come down during the night and don't get this perspective:

 

 

 

There were lots of colorful flowers along both roads:

 

The valley through which Busk Creek flows from Windsor Lake is idyllic. I always think I'll see moose down there, but never have:

It was smooth sailing for about a mile on Hagerman Pass Road. I could see down to the Mayqueen campground (the aid station will be far to the left in the photo below). During the night runners can see the lights from the aid station many miles away on top of Sugarloaf Mountain and it seems to take forever to reach them:

Around the bend I caught more dramatic views of Turquoise Lake and the storms to the east toward Leadville:

 

I took a left at the cairn marking the intersection with the CT and followed the race route back to the truck. For some reason the trail seemed longer going back, even though it was a net downhill.

About a mile from the end a runner who had passed me going the other direction came back toward me. This time he stopped and we talked for a few minutes. It was Russ Gill, co-director with Francesca Conte of the Great Eastern ultras in Virginia. He recognized me but didn't remember my name (nor I his -- CRS again). He's racing LT100 for the Montrail-Nathan team (we've sure seen a lot of those shirts this summer -- must be a large team!) and running Wasatch "for fun" three weeks later.

This is a good section of trail for dogs, at least when there's as much water flowing as today. We crossed three creeks on wooden bridges on the two-mile Colorado Trail section on the LT100 course, there was water flowing along Hagerman Pass Road in the ditch, and Jim found adequate water for Cody down the  power line and before the road section to the Fish Hatchery.

  

 

The power line section of trail went well for Jim and he had no problems (again) passing through a bit of private property before the LT course pops out onto the paved county road that runners follow a mile and a quarter to the fish hatchery.

Although I ran about a mile less than Jim, we were both running for 2:26 hours! That meant he got done at the same time I did and had to wait for me to drive the circuitous route around the south side of Turquoise Lake and over to the hatchery. At least he didn't get wet. There were menacing gray and black clouds all around. I got into some rain for a few minutes near the end of my run but Jim lucked out and stayed dry..

CAMPGROUND LIFE

Speaking of rain . . . we've had a several heavy late-afternoon or evening thunderstorms since we arrived at Clear Creek Reservoir a week ago, including three with hail. One day I got this photo of the chunks of ice on our rug outside the door:

Up periscope! Tater emerges from her dry spot under the camper to
inspect the hail and see if Mom will let her inside.

The hail hasn't been large enough to damage our camper or truck, but it's gotten our attention. The storms are accompanied by a sudden 15- to 20-degree drop in temperature. There are puddles in the low spots in the campground that haven't drained or dried up for several days:

One of the things we check for at each campsite is low spots. Some of the campers here are sitting in water after a hard rain. We got spoiled in Silverton with very little rain for three weeks. This weather pattern in Leadville is more like what we had last year, so we just deal with it. At least everything is very green and there are lots of flowers!

Next up: Jim's longer double crossing of Hope Pass, and my climb up Mt. Elbert.

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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