Monday, September 23, 2013

does this trail have a name? no trail!

This last weekend I caped off a summer of running with a route I've been keen on doing since I first moved to the Roaring Fork Valley almost 5 years ago. The route I'm referring to is the No Name Trail (sometimes referred to as Jessie Weaver Trail) up to the canyon top above Glenwood Springs and then down the Mitchell Creek Trail to the Glenwood Fish Hatchery.

The No Name Trail climbs approximately 5,000 ft in 8 miles onto the canyon top (The Flat Tops Wilderness Area) and dead ends at the Transfer Trail. From Glenwood there are two other access points onto the Flat Tops, one of which is Transfer Trail and the other is the more rugged Mitchell Creek Trail that starts at the town's Fish Hatchery.

On the Fall Equinox my partner in ridiculous pursuits Zeke Tiernan and I dropped a car shuttle off at the Mitchell Creek Trailhead and then began our climb up No Name. You may ask at this point if we celebrated Fall in style. We did. Zeke tripped over a rock 4 minutes in. Don't worry, I tripped over a stick about 30 seconds later. You can't celebrate autumn without a fall.....

The route was everything I could have hoped for and more. We climbed out of the canyon and into an alpine zone, and then we got lost. For an hour. If anyone ever repeats this route, please note to take a hard right down a hill about 5 minutes after seeing a sign for route # 635. Don't go down that route. We didn't. But we still had no idea where we were. The torrential rains from the late summer turned the trail into an overgrown jungle. If you want to know what the trail looks like, I suggest you take a giant leaf and put it over your face. We bushwhacked and second guessed ourselves about 5 times. The trail opens up about 3-ish miles from the Hatchery. Lucky for us, the sky also opened up and we were hounded with hail and rain for the rest of the run. About 4 miles from the finish, we lucked out and ran right into the thickest brush of stinging nettles in the United States. I was really happy to hit this patch as I love having really itchy legs. We didn't just brush up against the nettles. We were "in the shit" as they say.

The route ending up being a 5 hour outing, though the running was more around 4 hours. I look forward to exploring this area more next season. Below are some images from the route.

Zeke one mile into the route

4 miles up No Name. Canyon entrance is in the background

Zeker pushing through some brush halfway through No Name

a low bridge at the headwaters of the No Name creek make the crossing difficult in early season

Zeker heading into the alpine zone toward the top of the canyon

a really neat picure

Zeke checking the map on the Flat Tops

heading down Mitchell Creek 2 miles from the Hatchery

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Avalanche Lolli-Pop Loop

two weekends ago my great buddy and training partner Zeke Tiernan and i checked off my final long outing before arkansas traveler. the loop was actually a lolli-pop style run starting at the avalanche creek trail head just off of highway 133 outside of carbondale. any time i'm in charge of picking the route, we usually end up bushwhacking at some point...we got to bushwhack. to achieve the loop, run 11 miles up avalanche, then make a right onto the silver creek trail. (there is good signage here.)

my girlfriend Lyssa was camping out with a group of kiddos for outdoor ed, so we were treated with a brief stop and some chatting with her about 2 and half hours in. We topped off our bladders and continued up the first of three passes. after gaining the first pass (Grassy Pass), you stay high for some amazing high alpine track, then you climb out of a small basin onto Silver Creek Pass. From there, it's a fast and furious descent down toward the town of Marble. at the base of Mt Arkansas, make a right at the bearded hunter laying next to a rock, and head up the north fork trail to avalanche pass.

avalanche pass is a bitch. the footing is rutted out and there is some over growth on the way up. once you are on the pass, head up to the right toward the high point another 200 feet. now this is where you get to have fun. time to bushwhack. the trail poops out 500 yards down the other side of the pass. the trail is a brown, dotted line on the map, which usually means it is a primitive or unmaintained trail. in this case it is a figment of the maps imagination. follow the creek about 2 hours back to avalanche and cross. then it's just 8 miles back down avalanche to the car and you're done!

in all seriousness, we had 9 hours of epic running and it was a great way to spend the day. here are some pictures from the day.