The 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Wallace Stegner Angle of Repose is partly located in what I feel to be my second home of Leadville, CO. (Of all the "second homes" that exist in and around the Leadville region, I would bet that mine is likely the only one that consists merely of a small, trampled patch of oxygen-deprived, grass-like vegetation that lies betwixt a few pine trees and random piles of discarded trash (not mine), and could only be vaguely designated "mine" by an extremely loose adherence to some sort of probably quasi-illegal Squatter's Rights. I'll say no more for fear of legal action.)
However, the "angle of repose" I have been thinking of today is even more metaphorical than Stegner's title. I'm talking about resting. You see, it is Tuesday, which means I'm tired. Or rather, still tired. It is not as bad this week as last (because, ostensibly, my fitness is improving), but for the past three or four weeks, the weekend's serving of mountains and miles has left me predictably stymied for the first two days of the next week. By Wednesday, my stride usually regains most of its bounce and vigor, and come Thursday morning I'm ready to take on anything the peaks can throw at me yet again.
In Leadville this past summer, though, it was often different. The difference was that instead of the steep slopes of Green Mountain, Monday mornings each and every week consisted of Hagerman Pass. I loved running up to Hagerman Pass. The route was simple, symmetrical, and perfectly fit everything I was looking for in a Monday recovery run: a shallow, forgiving grade (i.e., an "angle of repose" in the sense that the road was at an angle which allowed me to rest), fantastic scenery to distract and inspire my typically weary mind, and a worthy summit.
(Curiously, probably my favorite run in Leadville.)
From where the dirt road started off of the paved road on Turquoise Lake's south shore to the 12,000' summit on the Continental Divide, it was exactly 8 miles. Another 0.4 miles of jogging up the ridge to the south offered a couple hundred extra feet of altitude and, more importantly, a seat on a rock overlooking a nearly 1000' drop into a magnificent glacial cirque forming the face of the Divide. I would sit on this rock forever, just soaking up the sun, gazing at the view, feeling the breeze on my face, chomping idly on a snowball. Eventually, though, I would stand up, take one last look west, and pad back down the hill, exactly the way I'd come.
(The pass itself is fairly unremarkable.)
These 17 mile jaunts would start gloriously slowly. Easing into the effort was paramount. In fact, despite the 2000' of gain, the goal for the morning was always to feel essentially no effort. Without fail, though, by the end, and aided by the gentle 3-4% downhill, my legs would feel alive, awake, and better than when I'd started. A summit view, two and a half hours of getting the heart pumping, mission accomplished. Tuesday morning the legs were rarin' and ready again to run up a 14er, usually Massive or Elbert.
(Looking back east towards Turquoise Lake, the venerable Mosquito Range and Leadville, from high on the road.)