Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Longs Peak and Mount Elbert

I rested a couple of days after the Leadville weekend and then headed to Apex Park near Golden on Wednesday for a look around. I really enjoyed it there as it was super quiet and there is a whole heap of trails to explore. The best by far being the Enchanted Forest. I got in a good 21kms here and was feeling pretty good all day. Will for sure be going back here to explore more if I have time next month.

Apex Trail just outside Denver
Enchanted Forest
The next morning I went and collected a hire car and headed off to Rocky Mountain National Park area. This was my first time here and it really is a special place. My goal was to camp that night and the next morning go for a quick run up Longs Peak. Longs is one of the most popular 14'ers out there. It's a long day being 25km out and back and it ain't just a walk the whole way. There is plenty of scrambling involved and some pretty exposed ledges to get around. I was eager to see what it was like.

Fast and Light
Longs Peak from about an hour up the trail
I arrived in the camp site at 1pm on Thursday and set up my tent and camping gear. I then took out my head torch , wind shirt , 3 gels and a bottle of water. I thought since it was a nice afternoon that I would go and have a look at the first 10km of the trail just to see how runnable the first uphill sections were for the next morning in the dark. Normally over here you should be off the peaks by 2pm latest due to the regular thunderstorms around. I wasn't expecting to get very far but it turned out to be a truly amazing time and one that is now top of my list so far over here.

Amazing views
On my way up the trail I was feeling really strong. I love to run with not much kit these days but sure that will change for the race. Anyway I just kept going up and up and the skies were looking good. I got to a section called The Keyhole and thought if I got to there and the skies were a bit dark then I would bail but the skies stayed fine. Way over in the distance there was a massive rain cloud but it was far off so I went for it. From the Keyhole to the summit there is lots of scrambling and loose rock and I loved it. The section called The Trough was really really hard work as it was steep and I was feeling the altitude here but after that it just got better. The Narrows was exactly as the name describes and The Homestretch scramble was ace fun and pops you out right onto the summit.

The Narrows
I had the whole place to myself and couldn't believe I had summited in 2hrs 30mins on my first go at it. I had ran out of water on the ascent and I was really needing a drink. Then to my surprise and joy I found an unopened bottle of water next to the summit. I didn't waste any time and cracked it open. Thank you so much to whoever left this and sorry if you had left it stashed for another day. I enjoyed it. A lot!

It was then descent time and the scramble down took a bit of time. It's not super technical but getting carried away running it and then clipping a foot would send you flying off the mountain so I held back here and opened up the legs once back past the Keyhole. My legs were pretty sore here actually. In fact really sore but I battered on and was back down in an hour and a half making it tent to tent in 4hrs 11mins. The route was a total of 25km with an ascent of 1700m. The summit lies about 14'200ft. Easily the best summit I have done here. Can't describe how good this felt to have it to myself and the evening light going down when I was descending. This was the peak I wanted to do the most out here and I couldn't have had it any better

What was the chances of that!
The following morning(Friday) I was feeling good so went for a shorter run as the weather was pretty rotten. I went further into Rocky Mountain National Park and ran up Flat Top Mountain. It was a pretty uneventful run. Very pretty place but it was wet and windy. In total it was 15km with 900m of ascent. I felt good on the whole thing but as usual my hands were freezing! The weekend was spent running in 96 degrees heat in Nebraska. Long story!

Emerald Lake / Long in the distance on the left
So today(Tuesday) I headed to Leadville to get some more altitude work in. I left the trail head at 8am to run up Colorado's highest peak. Mount Elbert 14'423ft(4400m). The forecast was rotten but it was actually sunny pretty much my whole way up to the summit and from there clouds started to roll in. Again this was amazing and the views the whole way up were spectacular. I just can't get over how many peaks and ridges around here are so runnable. I was on the summit in 2hrs and descended in 1hr 15mins. The totals today were 17km with 1600m of ascent.

Going up
Elbert Summit
It's all going pretty well at the moment. I plan on another 14'er tomorrow morning if the weather holds and then I will rest a day or two before Lauren arrives for more action. My plan this summer was to run a lot of long distance training days but I actually think my distances are down on last year but my ascent is way way up. I have done heaps of running above 13'000ft and a lot of climbing which I do think will be good going into the race in Steamboat. Run Rabbit Run never goes above 12'000ft so I hope all this altitude work helps.

Storms rolling in on Mt Elbert
Quick update on Steamboat and my pacers are now complete. The ever reliable Kim is doing a 10 mile section with me , speedy gonzales and the ever hyperactive Woody is doing 30 miles then Angie who has just ran Leadville is coming to do 20 miles with me. I am super excited to have such amazing runners with me on this. For sure it will help me having this lot.

The Lovely Bear Lake at RMNP

No comments:

Post a Comment