In this entry I'll show photos of some of
the trails where Jim and/or I have run/hiked since our arrival in the Leadville
area on August 9.
Since Jim didn't carry a camera on any of his runs there are
no pictures from the sections I didn't cover. That's most of the places he
went! To see photos of Hope Pass, Clear Creek, Twin Lakes, the Colorado
Trail sections, Half Moon Road, and Sugarloaf Mountain, see our 2006 and 2007
journals. I missed all those places this year because I've been recovering from
my nasty bike wreck three weeks ago..
Turquoise Lake to Mt. Massive (8-16-09)
Most of Jim's miles were on the LT100 Run course. He ran all of it one
or more times except the south side of Hope Pass to Winfield and The Boulevard
to the start/finish. Those two- to three-mile road sections are our least favorite parts of
this course. Why run them when neither of us is entered in the race?
Once I resumed real aerobic outdoor exercise on August 13, ten days after my
bike crash, I stuck to either the paved
multi-use trail that circles
Leadville or the undulating, non-technical, single-track dirt trails around Turquoise Lake.
was a Good Girl and mostly avoided steep and rough terrain until today, when I just couldn't help
myself and hiked up/ran down part of Segment 9 on the Colorado Trail:
"Closed to motor vehicles, motorized equipment,
hang gliders, and bicycles."
Hang gliders??!! It's a long way to carry one of
those to the top!
And now that we're leaving town today, I finally feel like I'm ready to
climb to Hope Pass or the summit of Mt. Elbert. <sigh>
I'll have to find some mountains to climb in Utah and Wyoming in
the next few weeks!
Jim is nearing his peak training for The Bear 100, which he
decided about three weeks ago to enter.
On training runs in late July in the Silverton area, Bill
Heldenbrand convinced Jim that he still has the ability to
finish hundred-milers. I agree, but motivation is also
imperative and Bill helped fuel his desire again.
Although Jim held fast to his affirmation of "no more 100s"
longer than ever before, I wasn't the least bit surprised when
he said he wanted to run The Bear on September 25. Atta boy!
That's my Jim!
Jim screeches to a halt and turns off his
chrono watch setting
as I approach him on the trail around
Turquoise Lake. (8-18-09)
He also decided that the Grand Teton 50-miler on Labor Day
weekend would be a good build-up for The Bear. Four 25-mile
loops on the course in the 100-miler are quite a challenge, but
two loops are reasonable. You'd have to run the Teton course to
fully understand the mental and physical strength it takes to do
a full hundred miles there, despite the seemingly-generous
36-hour time limit.
Smooth, runnable trail section around
Turquoise Lake (8-16-09)
My two favorite fellas! (8-16-09)
The view west toward
Mayqueen Campground and Sugarloaf Mtn. (8-16-09)
Heading around the lake toward the Tabor
Boat Ramp (8-16-09)
After some recovery from July 18's Tahoe Rim Trail 50K, Jim
began ramping up his mileage again to a high of 58 miles the
week of August 8-14. The next two weeks were/will be a little
lower because of our volunteer commitments in the Leadville bike
race and run. He plans to increase the length of both his long
runs and weekly mileage in the next month, with some tapering
before The Bear so his legs will be fresh for the race.
Lakeside trail, closer to Mayqueen
High point on the trail heading toward
Cody leads the way around the lake.
Jim has enjoyed near-daily runs around Turquoise Lake, over
Sugarloaf Mountain, near the Fish Hatchery, on Half Moon Road,
on the Colorado Trail to Twin Lakes, and up the north side of
Mount Hope to Hope Pass. He also did a 10-mile run one night on
the Mineral Belt Trail to remind himself what it's like to run
in the dark.
I was doing great this summer until my bike crash on August 3. I
ran and walked 147 miles in June (from 26-48 miles/week) and 167
miles in July (23-49 miles/week) -- almost all at rather
high altitudes and on mountainous terrain. Even though I don't
have any late summer or fall races planned, I wanted to maintain
my mileage base and fitness level. I also wanted to simply enjoy
The gentle trail around Turquoise Lake has
been perfect for me to train on recently. (8-18-09)
That came to an abrupt halt three weeks ago. I took ten complete
days to rest after the wreck. My first real walk came on August
13, when Jim, Cody, and I walked about three miles around
Leadville. I'd been so sedentary and sheltered cooped up inside
that it was a little disorienting at first to be outside. But as
long as I didn't breathe too heavily or run downhill on pavement
the first week back outside, my ribs and head felt fine.
View of Turquoise Lake from the Mineral
Belt Trail (8-19-09)
I continued increasing the distance, time, and difficulty of my
walks gradually, going from 14 miles that week to 24 this past
week. The mileage would have been higher if I hadn't been as
busy both race weekends. I'm aiming for at least ten more miles
this week. I've also begun to run some of the distance.
Views of Mt. Elbert (above) and Mt. Massive
from the northwest side of the Mineral Belt Trail (8-19-09)
It's a disappointment that I haven't been able to run and hike
my favorite parts of the LT course (Hope Pass, Colorado Trail to
Twin Lakes) and any of the local 14ers this year, but I'm lucky
to be able to walk and run ANYWHERE right now.
ONE LAST RUN IN LEADVILLE
Before leaving the Leadville area today, we both wanted to do
one last moderately long run/hike. We still weren't sure if we
could get on the Colorado Trail near Mt. Elbert, so Jim's choice
was a 17-miler between Fish Hatchery and the dam at the
southeast end of Turquoise Lake. He got a little bit of
everything today: some runnable pavement, a strenuous
double-track climb up the power line, both rough and smooth
downhill parts of Hagerman Road, a short section of gnarly
CT Segment 10 (on the LT100 course)
and the very pleasant, rolling single-track around Turquoise
Lake. It was a nice summary of the Leadville course.
I'd been itching to get on the Colorado Trail. We didn't want to
waste time driving out Half Moon Road and possibly getting
turned around again, so I went north on Segment 9 of the CT from
the Timberline Lake trailhead near Mayqueen. The Leadville
course goes through that parking area but runners head the other
direction on the CT in the race.
CT Segment 9 (NOT on the LT100 course)
I dropped Jim off at the fish hatchery, then drove to the
Timberline Lake trailhead and left the truck there for my
out-and-back hike up/run down the Colorado Trail. The parking
area was about halfway through Jim's point-to-point run, making
it handy for him to get more fluids if he needed them (there are
also water spigots in the Mayqueen campground and two boat ramps
around the lake).
Cody and I happily headed up into the Holy Cross Wilderness for
the best run/hike I've had since my bike wreck. I climbed from
10,040 feet at the trailhead up to a high point on Galena Mtn.
at 11,150 feet, down the other side a bit, and back to the
trailhead, a total of about five miles -- nothing epic,
but a good start.
Like many segments of the CT, this one goes through beautiful
aspen groves and fragrant pine forests:
Since running this segment southbound three years ago, I'd
forgotten how rocky the single-track trail is. I was in better
shape them and not as
afraid of falling then as I am now. Since it was my
first real mountain foray since the concussion three weeks ago,
I was careful through the rocky parts.
I really enjoyed all the boulders on the mountainside about
halfway up (next photo), especially since I didn't have to climb
over any of them, just around them. The trail was much smoother
on the switchbacks near my highpoint today.
I don't feel like I've lost any altitude training, although I've
definitely lost some of my leg strength in the last three weeks.
I walked carefully as I ascended the trail, not only to avoid
falling down but also to monitor my ribs and lungs. I've read
that it takes from three to nine weeks to recover fully from rib
fractures; strenuous exercise is not advised. Although the left
side of my chest still feels funny right after I lie down on my
back in bed (it's OK after a minute or less), it didn't hurt at
all as I climbed uphill and ran downhill today.
On all of our runs and hikes in the Leadville area it's been
very obvious that the wildflowers in this area are nowhere near
as prolific as they are down in the San Juan Mountains of
southwestern Colorado. The few that are blooming near Leadville
are beginning to wilt from lack of rain. We haven't had near as
many afternoon storms this month as we usually do when we're
visiting the area.
There are great views of the LT course up Hagerman Road to the
pass from Galena Mountain (next two photos) Both up and down, I stopped several
times to peer closely across the valley, trying to see if I
could spot Jim
running down the road. I was either too early or he was hidden
by trees when I was looking for him. Oddly, there are no views
of huge Turquoise Lake from this segment of the Colorado Trail,
and not many good ones from Segment 10, either.
I saw only one other hiker on the trail this morning. We talked
briefly. Since he's a thru-hiker going south, I warned him that
part of the trail might still be closed from last week's Black
Hawk crash. He had already been to Leadville for supplies and
knew about the closure. I wonder how many CT thru-hikers were
affected by this. (No word publicly yet about the cause of the
crash. We're guessing either pilot error or an aircraft
malfunction, since the weather was good.)
When I got back to the truck I could tell Jim hadn't gotten
there yet. Cody and I struck out on the CT going south:
We met Jim about half a mile in and followed him back to the truck:
Even though it was increasingly overcast and looked like it
might rain, Jim continued on another 7+ miles to the dam.
in the afternoon when I went to pick him up, I took
this photo of Jim throwing sticks to Cody in a peaceful little
cove near the dam:
The lake is very picturesque even on a rainy day.
AU REVOIR TO LEADVILLE
We left Leadville this afternoon with mixed emotions. It was great to see our
friends, but now that the race is over they're gone and it
won't be as much fun to hang out there. The same thing
happened after the Hardrock race.
Although Jim could continue
training in the area, we've decided to head to northeastern Utah
for a week so he can check out some of the Bear course. It has
changed significantly since he last ran the race in 2003.
View of Leadville from W. 6th Street
We said goodbye to Jack, our gracious "campground host," and
gave him a thank-you card with a gift certificate for fuel at
his favorite gas station. It was great to talk with him
periodically and to have a quiet, shady
place to park with water and electric hookups for two weeks.
We pulled out of his back yard about 3:30 PM, paid a
visit to the dump station at the Leadville Sanitation Dept. to
get rid of accumulated black and gray water, and headed
northwest to Grand Junction, CO, where we will stay the night.
This is a very scenic 185-mile drive, even during this
afternoon's intermittent rains:
Hwy. 24 between Leadville
and Avon, CO crosses Tennessee Pass and winds through some beautiful
mountains, meadows, and interesting little towns. I-70 westbound
is even more scenic past ski villages, through four
and through the rugged rock-walled Glenwood Canyon:
West of Glenwood Springs the terrain morphs from mountains to
mesas as the freeway follows the Colorado River most of the way
to the Utah border.
Our destination for tonight was Sam's Club on the west side of
Grand Junction. We were happy to find diesel at their pumps for
$2.54, about ten cents less than in Leadville but still
high by national standards.
We liked parking overnight here in July when we were on our way
from Silverton to Reno. We were able to get the same spot this
time at the remote end of the parking area next to a wide swath
of cool grass for Cody to enjoy before the deluge of rain
arrived. While I loaded up on supplies
at Sam's, Jim headed across the street to get something at WalMart. He found a great little Thai restaurant and brought
back two delicious dinners that we enjoyed in the camper. He
almost got back before getting drenched in some heavy rain
. . .
Tomorrow we'll drive the rest of the way to the Logan, UT area.
A new chapter begins.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil