Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Week Ending March 24

Mon - 8 miles (1,500') easy. Started outside the Red Rocks Natural Area west of Vegas and ran three miles up the scenic drive to the trailhead for Turtlehead peak, a popular little mountain with killer views of the Vegas Valley and Rainbow Mountains. Totally botched the ascent, ending up under a big cliff band on the east side of the mountain. Had to be back to take the kids out, so no time to circle around and get the summit. Turned around and ran back to the car.

Tues - 6.5 miles easy. Ran west from my mother-in-law's house past the last of the westernmost sprawl of Vegas (mainly a construction site) into the desert to a flood control thingy and back.
PM: 10 miles intervals. Drove down to Boulder City to meet Josh for a track workout at Boulder City High School. Workout was 8 x 1000 cruise intervals @ 3:20-3:26 with lap rest (1:56 - 2:17): 3:23, 3:24, 3:26, 3:24, 3:22, 3:22, 3:20, 3:19 (1:56 - 2:17). Josh led odd, I led even.

Weds - 11 miles (800') easy. Back out into the desert from mother-in-law's, this time jumping a fence to follow a wash out to the Red Rocks campground and back.
PM: 4 miles easy in the neighborhood.

Thurs - 7 miles (3,200') easy. Turtlehead Peak (6,324'). Had to get back and grab this one before leaving. Decided to come at it from the 'backside' in Calico Basin, following a trail around Kraft Mountain that led into a wash which in turn led to the backside (northeast) of the mountain. Hoofed it up to a cliff band, scrambled through and gained the summit. Great views from the top, which was replete with a summit ammo box containing summit register, a bottle of water, a granola bar (yummy - thanks), a cigarette, a lighter and rolling papers. Ha! Came down the standard route and then once down turned east and headed back to Calico Basin through a sandstone slot canyon accessed from Calico Tanks. Fun outing.

Fri - 8 miles (1,600') easy. Met up early with Joe Baumgarte and Doug Wickert for a short tour of the Cowboy Trails on the mesa east of Red Rock Canyon. Great run with a couple of guys who really appreciate the killer terrain available to runners and climbers in the area. Learned a ton about the almost endless options in the Vegas Valley and Spring Mountains, which has me hungry for my next visit to the area. We ended the run with a descent of Joe's favorite section of trail - dubbed the 'Canyon of Pure Bliss' - which was a great capstone to a fun week in Vegas.

Sat - 16.5 miles (1,700') easy. Came home from Vegas on Friday night into the eye of a wet Colorado winter/spring storm. Drive home from the airport was torturous, and running plans for Saturday were buried under a foot of snow. Waited forever to get out of the house as things looked horrendous outside, procrastinating by doing taxes (!), but finally popped out early evening for a quick jaunt down to Redstone Canyon where I finished with three pick-up miles before jogging back home.

Sun - 26.5 miles (3,500') easy. The annual Fort Collins Trail Runners' celebration of spring, March Mileage Madness, was completely derailed by a closed Lory State Park (due to restoration work post fire) and the snow dump that came down on Friday/Saturday. So, instead of a big reservoir circumnavigation, we did a Horsetooth Horseshoe. Running from chez Alex May east of the reservoir, we ran out to and up Horsetooth Mountain, then descended and continued on to Redstone Canyon before turning at the three-mile marker and retracing (minus the Horsetooth summit) back to Alex's for brews and food. Despite the 21 miles of road, it was a fun morning. Ran mostly with Steph and Mike.

Top Horsetooth. Pic: Rob Erskine
Alex and Sam heading up the Horsetooth Trail. Pic: Erskine
Total: 97.5 miles (12,200')

Kind of a crazy week, with fires, snowstorms and an escape to Las Vegas. The fire in Lory State Park was fully contained by the time the snowstorm came, but we'll take the moisture nonetheless. As far as Lory is concerned, it seems as if the major burning was confined to the grass and scrub of the lower valley and didn't burn anywhere near as hot as the High Park Fire last summer. The park currently remains closed, as many of the footbridges on the valley trails were destroyed in the fire and will need to be rebuilt, but other than that things seem to be a whole lot better than they could have been.

For anyone who happens to be reading this and is wondering about the fire's impact on the Quad Rock race in May, the answer at this point appears to be that the impact will be minimal. The Horsetooth Marathon (April 20), which uses some of the same trails, is still scheduled to happen and park managers are confident that the park will be open for business in about three weeks. So, at this point, no reroute and business as usual for Quad Rock. However, our planned training run for April 6 will have to be rethought as we are not going to be able to stage from Lory and most likely will not be able to use the trails. Therefore, we're hoping to figure something out with Horsetooth officials and will plan some kind of route through there on as much of the course as possible. We'll have an update on the website as soon as we have that figured out.

Had a great week in Vegas. Our original plan was to spend most of the trip in San Diego so the kids could visit Sea World, but both of them were puking the night before we were scheduled to leave so we decided to stay put and just hang out. Everyone seemed more than happy with not having to drive five hours each way to San Diego, and of course there is no shortage of activities for kids in Las Vegas. For me, it meant an opportunity to get out and explore a bit, and while I only scratched the surface, it was a really fun week. The brief forays into the Red Rock area have me very excited for my next trip out to Vegas when I hope to get out and do some real exploring in the rugged Spring Mountains, with hopefully a big traverse of the Rainbow Mountains section directly east of the Red Rock area.

El Padre and La Madre Mountains to the northeast end of the Rainbow Mountains.


  1. I made that same trip and did most of the same running last month. A great way to break up the Idaho winter. When I saw Turtlehead, I was hoping to see that you time-trialed it. Wanted to see what you could do on it. Red Rocks is a fine running and world class climbing venue. Several lifetimes of adventure up there.

  2. Cool story but where is the gaming/over 21 venue recap? This is Vegas we're talking about!

  3. Jeremy - I'm a bit weak in the head these days for too much time-trialing, which is probably why I came up by a non-standard route. And, yes, the whole Spring Mountains area is just phenomenal. Maybe we can coordinate next winter/spring and knock out that Rainbow Mountain traverse with a few of the locals. I'm told those mountains (peaks) are pretty lightly traveled, which means a lack of beta and therefore an added element of adventure.

    Mike - ah, yes, the gaming. That part not so good. I think ... check that, I know ... I lost every time I sat down. Good job gambling time was pretty restricted on this visit.

    1. Nick, I have done lots of climbing in most of the big canyons back there and have been on Wilson, Rainbow, Bridge and Whiskey peaks. Most of the peaks are sketchtastic with loose heaps of teetering choss to negotiate. Miles of piles! Wondering exactly what the "Rainbow Mountain Traverse" entails. Here is a good beta site I uncovered to find some hidden climbing locales:
      I would love to meet up and combine some running and adventuring. I get down there a few times most winters. See you at Squaw- maybe we can discuss it a bit there.

  4. Teetering choss - sounds kinda like Colorado!

    Rainbow Mountain Traverse: Wilson Peak to El Madre? Dunno, just looking at it from T'Head, it looks like it needs to be done.

    And, yup, see you in CA!

  5. Nick, I never read blogs anymore these days but glad a stumbled into your again. I spent last July in Vegas; Turtle peak was one of my faves. I got cliffed out on that same east side the first time I "ran" it. That gully from Calico is indeed killer; found frogs in there in 110 degree heat in potholes. Also climbed a killer peak to the west of Turtle close the Spring mts, and ran up Frenchman peak every morning, which is chill. Mt Charleston, if you havent been there, is another amazing world.

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