Thursday, September 12, 2013

Off-roading by foot and by car!

Friday August 30 was my last day at work... at a job that I was no longer fulfilled by as a professional, as a passionate outdoors person, as an athlete and overall as the person I've become.

Things change, people change. And things (the job/company) changed, and people (me) changed. It was time to move on.  So not only was I going on a holiday weekend on Friday, but I left the office without looking back. 

The drive down to Lake City was long. Lake City is a small town in southwestern Colorado so aside from the fact that it is indeed really far away, trying to leave the metro area at 4pm on a holiday weekend added a good 2 hours to our drive. For some reason though, I was relaxed and nothing seemed to worry me. We arrived at our campsite late, but we put up our tent, laid out our sleeping bags and I fell asleep almost immediately. 

We woke up on Saturday to have breakfast and hit the road. We arrived at the trailhead, changed and off we go. We wanted to trail-run in that beautiful country that is southern Colorado and try and summit two 14ers: Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks. The traverse to the northeast ridge of Redcloud was absolutely stunning with a few runnable miles. While it was definitely lacking oxygen and above treeline, it was what I call enjoyable. I was simply running at a comfortable pace, slowly gaining elevation but blasting some good tunes in my iPod.

Amazing trails
Once we gained the ridge it was harder to keep up the jog, but I was still feeling good to keep a decent pace while hiking up. We arrived at the summit before we knew it (after 4 miles), took a quick picture and continued on the ride heading south. The single track on the ridge was stunning. Amazing to run on again but we could see clouds building up. As we started climbing again we heard this very loud thunder... it was somewhat scary and while I tried telling my man we should just go down, we were 5 minutes away from the summit and the storms were still fairly far. I know it's stupid, but the storm WAS far and we just went for it fast, snapped a pic and got off the summit fast.

Quick Redcloud summit shot
Ridge between Redcloud and sunshine 
Sunshine summit shot. (family shot) 
The way down was supposed to be a fast single trail run, BUT it turned out to be all scree. It was steep and basically a big pile of rocks. It was taking a while to get off that mountain and our puppy seemed to be slowing down. After a while, we saw his paws were bleeding. We stopped to take a look and his pads were completely "broken". That broke our hearts and I pulled out my First Aid Kit, we fixed as possible and tried to continue on. He could barely walk so chuck had to carry him. We did get rained on and took longer than expected, but it was worth it. Once we hit tree line and the actual trail, we booked it down and Levi would walk on the trail much better than in the rocks.

My hero rescuing my hurt pup
After that crazy hike/run, we wanted to go over to Silverton for food and camping on the other side of the pass. Cinnamon Pass is a 4-wheeling mountain pass which Chuck was beyond excited to explore... in my car. I, of course, freaked out. But in the end it was worth it. We finally got to use my 4-wheeling car for what it was built.

The jeep doing its thing! 
We camped that night at this awesome ghost town called Animas Forks on the Silverton side of the pass only  to find out we had to drive over the pass back to our trailhead for our Sunday run. After a ride over the pass that really got my heart rate going, we arrived at the trailhead for Handies Peak. Levi had to stay in the car so chuck and I set the goal to summit in 1.5hrs and be back in the car in under 3hrs. Off we go.

Handies Peak playground
Again, it was amazing country and there was a very runnable trail. Handies was shorter than Redcloud and Sunshine therefore it was slightly steeper, but leaving the pup in the car kept me motivated and pushing hard. We summitted in 1hr and 28mins. We spent a couple minutes there and had a snack before heading down. The way down was AMAZING. I ran again with some loud music and a big smile in my face. We were back in the car 2hrs and 32mins after we started.

Handies Peak summit shot! 
Needless to say, the third time up the pass to go back to Silverton was somewhat less stressful (I think I was getting used to it), but I must say, I do like paved roads. Our hurt puppy does too, I'm sure. After an absolutely delicious meal at Handlebars in Silverton we drove over Red Mountain Pass (craziest paved road EVER) to get to Ouray. You basically drive on hwy 550 which stretches quite a ways, but the 12ish miles around the actual mountain pass is called the Million Dollar Highway. And it's pretty epic. 

After all the hiking, running and driving in crazy roads we were pretty spent. We visited the Ouray Brewery for some beers and food and camped one more night just outside Ouray. On Monday we started our trek back home. It was an amazing weekend.

The Durango-Silverton train made an appearance- I LOVE trains! 

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