Evans (foreground) from Echo Lake. Photo: Joe GFrom Echo Lake to the top of Mount Evans (14,264') by way of 'America's Highest Paved Road,' it is 15.25 miles and some 3,600 feet of climbing. For those familiar with mountain grades, those digits compute to a very forgiving grade. The one compounding problem, however, is that all the work occurs between 10,600' and 14,264'. The air is thin up there, but I really felt like I needed to get some work up high before heading out to Silverton for the Hardrock 100 in July, even if just as a token effort.
It was either Pikes or Evans as far as not-too-snowed-in, high-Alpine options were concerned, and in the interests of expediency I figured the long road to the top of Evans was preferable to potential above-treeline slogging on Pikes. Besides, Evans offered up the opportunity for some good turnover, which would also serve me well with regards to Western States, especially on the long, long descent.
A few emails on Thursday and we had a nice little crew lined up for the Saturday jaunt: Joe Grant, Pete Stevenson, Scott Jurek and Jenny Uehisa. Two hours down the road from the Fort and we were set for a 7am push off.
All pics J Uehisa, unless otherwise notedAs noted, the grade going up is really quite pleasant. Per mile, it is approximately 250 feet of ascending with very little variation, so a real runners' grade. Once settled in, the running actually came quite easily. The wind was howling a bit, and there were a few stop-you-in-your-tracks headwinds on some of the more exposed aspects, and on the tight switchbacks above 13,000', it was either a complete slog into the wind or a rushing tailwind, which provided a little extra element of fun to the summit push.
One of the depressingly long road vistas
On the summit. Photo: Joe GFrom Echo Lake to the rocky summit, I was up in 2:15, in what felt like a steady to relaxed effort. The descent (1:45) was torture after about five miles, and if it wasn't for the wonderful company of Radio Joe G FM, I may even have resorted to sticking my thumb out.
A little chilly starting out on the descent
Layers were soon shed
With a total of 30 miles on road, I think this may have been my longest ever road run. Somewhat bizarre to have achieved that going up a mountain. Welcome to Colorado.
J Uehisa. Photo: Joe G