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 &
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
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,
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
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
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.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil