Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Looking Back On 2014

In the summer of 2006 I remember having a conversation with my former high school cross country coach. He told me that I was a "lifer" in regards to my running.

Somewhere along the way I translated that conversation's meaning into "run as many trails and see as many things as you can before you die." As 2014 draws to a close, it's fun to look back on the year and reminisce about some of the trails I was lucky enough to experience. Here are a few of my favorites from 2014.

Tall Grass Praire Preserve Trails - The trails of this National Preserve near Wichita, Kansas equal about 40 miles in all. I did a 10 mile loop on January 1st of this year. Running in a sea of grassy sameness was unique and stood out to me as a wild experience.

Running on the Prairie

Winding Stair Mountain - The trails throughout the Ouachita Mountains on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas are an amazing, under appreciated playground for trail running, but my favorite trail thus far explored has to be the trail on Winding Stair Mountain. The single track exists on the Oklahoma side not far from Talimena. I ran this trail on the last day of Lyssa and my annual road trip at the beginning of the year.

Toward top of Winding Stair Mountain

Rattlesnake Arch Loop - This is an 18-ish mile route that sits in the McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area outside of Fruita, Colorado. I ran this early in the year with Casey Weaver and Corey Dobson. This route offers the best arches outside of Moab. On the back half of the loop, we climbed up and through the largest of the arches before looping back around to the car.

FairyLand Loop - This is an 8.5-ish mile loop in Bryce Canyon National Park. If you are going to run one trail in the park, make it this trail. The loop starts on the rim and drops into a forest of ponderosa pine and bizarre hoodoos. The range of color was mind-blowing and the loop had a great flow to it.

Running halfway through Fairyland Loop

Thompson Creek Lake Ridge Lakes Loop - This was my favorite run of the year. Casey Weaver, Morgan Williams and I did a bulk of our training together this year. Our early season runs took us into the Thompson Divide area just above Carbondale, Colorado, for some extremely wild outings. My favorite of these was a 16-ish mile run to a very secluded trail, Lake Ridge Lakes.

Elk Mountain - I've done this run the last 3 years in a row, and next year I hope to make it 4 in a row. It's a great and very hard 12 to 14 mile run. It's a classic mountain outing that punches your ticket. 4,500 of climbing in 6 miles and then back down. Route finding is key on this run.

Casey and Morgan on the first false summit en route to Elk

Mount Massive - This year I was able to knock 4 more 14er's off the bucket list. My first of the year was Mount Massive. Lyssa and I camped out at the trail head outside of Leadville, Colorado and bagged both summits of Mount Massive the next day. This was a great weekend trip with Lyssa a few weeks after proposing.

Lyssa and I on Top of Massive

Sugarloaf Mountain - This run was only 3.5ish miles…maybe. But the trail head was virtually a local secret. Finding the thing was a trick in itself. The route was only 1.5-ish miles one way, starting at the beach and climbing steeply to the summit of Sugarloaf 17 painful minutes later. The view at the top was wild. It was pretty special to swim in the ocean immediately following the run.

running up Sugarloaf

Top of Sugarloaf

Cabot Trail - This is the designated route that circumnavigates the perimeter of the upper peninsula of Nova Scotia. Lyssa and I bike toured the 300-ish kilometer route this summer and explored the cape in all it's glory. This was my favorite experience of the summer.

Lyssa flying downhill on the Cabot Trail

Franey Trail - This is an 8-ish mile loop within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. A local told us that this was "THE" trail to do. I ran this trail once clockwise, then turned and ran it back in reverse. The trail had highly exposed roots, tons of stair steps and was extremely wet. I had a hoot.
Top of Fray

Tired Shoes

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