Monday, October 18, 2010

Early Season Snow

Joe, heading into the clouds over the Continental Divide.
When I woke up this morning I was surprised to see it wasn't raining/snowing yet (as was forecasted), and the sun was almost shining, so I gave Joe a quick early-bird call and asked if he wanted to cruise up to Eldora for some alpine action.  After about three seconds of waking up/being convinced he jetted over and we headed up to the 9000' Hessie trailhead.  
(Over the phone, however, he had mistaken "Eldora" for "Eldorado" (as in, the fairly low-altitude canyon just south of town), but didn't realize this until we were half-way or so up Boulder Canyon on the way to Nederland.  So, despite being fairly unprepared for above-treeline conditions (only Nike Streak XCs in the trunk, no longsleeve or gloves), he was, of course, still game.)

This trailhead ~30min from Boulder is notoriously crowded in the summertime, but on a grey, gloomy and damp weekday morning we had the trail more or less to ourselves.  The run up towards Devil's Thumb and the Continental Divide was, in a word, idyllic.  Neither Joe nor I had a lot of pep in our legs, so we just bopped along, chatting, jovially surveying the surrounding beauty and expressing delight at the snow and silence falling from the clouds.

A sampling of the scenery as we headed up the basin.

The last 10+ minutes or so of effort in the climb comes in the form of a steep trail up the valley headwall.  This reach of terrain was blanketed in reasonably consolidated shin-deep snow this morning that transformed our running cadence into an arduous pow-hike bee-lining for the ridge crest as we were determined to reach the Divide itself.  Once on top of the modest 12,123' high point on the ridge, we were treated to the usual expansive views down valley and over into Winter Park, an atypical windless calm (ideal for Joe's cotton-clad limbs), and that general sense of rightness that comes only (for me, at least) from gasping for lots of oxygen and gaining a lonely summit.

Joe cruising at 12,000', nearly to the top.
Finding the alpine action I came looking for.
Not nearly as cold as it looks.
Happy at the summit.
The descent unfolded in much the same way.  We blitzed down the initial 1000' drop of elevation only to turn around and see our ridge become engulfed in snowing clouds and then continued on down the valley into more of the same.  

Joe floating the drop.
Two hours and thirty-seven minutes after we'd left, we were back at the car.  There aren't too many more days like this left in the high country, so it was a treat to sneak in maybe the last one of the season for me.


John said...

Thanks. A bonus read for your audience is always appreciated.

Unknown said...

beautiful, wish they had summits like this near where I live in Australia

Jannicke said...

Wonderful read. Thanks for sharing.

ld said...

a wild way,a wild snow trail....that's what usually missed us in my home...reunion's island

thanks for the view

Anonymous said...

wonderful training thanks to share with us,
from spain one skyrunner fan!

mtnrunner2 said...

Looks awesome. Love that trail. I didn't even know Winter Park was on the other side the first time I ran it, and got a nice surprise! lol

You are hearty; I'd be carried out by rescue with hypothermia if I tried a 2.5 hour run in shorts at this time of year.

DW said...

Man you've got me missing Boulder!

jason said...

Nice late season sneak indeed!

Part of the fun of trail running for me this time of year is the dynamic crap shoot for weather: shirt off run one day (sunday), snow run a few days later.

What is the distance to the divide?

While it takes a bit more driving, I love running up to Roger's pass from the tunnel.


Jeff said...

Brilliant views.

Pez said...

I'm waiting for that snow here in Eastern Spain (just 2 or 3 times at year).

Thanks for share everything in the way you do it.

Thank you very very much.
Keep on emjoying (whowww).

Moshe said...

Nice... Joe can put on Jeans and continue straight to the office

smartwool said...

I really like the photos! Great!

Brandon Thrower said...

Sweet run! When are going to come out and show the southern Appalachian mountains some love! I know there isn't much altitude associated with them, but trust me they are steep!

knix05 said...

Are you the Yeti ? Wonderful pics.

Unknown said...

Nothing like living the dream! That is a great first shot of Joe with the snowy mountains off to his left.

krsinc said...

I'm curious what are you taking pics with a cell phone or camera. I never see you wear packs (I'm the same) and would love to carry a camera on my runs in the Boise foothills.

Anton said...

The pics are from a camera I carry tucked/clipped in my waistband.


I just found your blog. :) I'm so happy that I did.

Rich said...

Thanks, amazing scenery. I'm curious about how you stayed hydrated on this run. I don't see any water in any pictures.

Geoff said...

good to see some folks enjoying my "backyard" while i've been out of town.