For those of you that have been following along, you know that I am a bit addicted to climbing the Manitou Incline, followed by a run down the Barr Trail. I run it 2 or 3 times per week, and its around a 30 mile round trip drive up and down Ute Pass to get there.
For a change of pace, I decided to stick around home, but get a good trail run in today since it was so beautiful. Believe it or not, a really terrific trail (Lovell Gulch) is less than a mile from my house. I've hiked and biked parts of it, but have never been around the entire loop.
If you go to the link above, you'll see that its about a 5.5 mile loop, with a 900 ft elevation gain. I believe the highest point is the farthest eastern part of the trail near Rampart Range Rd.
It is mostly single and double track, with some great ups and downs through mountain meadows, gulches, and ridges with amazing views. Here's a pic from the first part of the loop going counterclockwise (recommended)
The first section is a pretty steady climb, leading up to Rampart Range Rd, where it reaches a peak, and then follows the power lines for a bit.
Pikes Peak and our little town of Woodland Park
After a bit of a drop, there is a pretty steep climb on the western end of the trail, finally reaching the top of a really crazy drop that I am sure MTB'ers LOVE... I just got a pic as I reached it, but you can't really see the drop down the hill. Glad I had Yaktrax on to help with the braking on the way down!
Anyway... such an amazing morning... it was in the mid 40's when I was up there. The sky was that deep blue/black color that I love in the Colorado Rockies.. and the sun was warming up the pines and the smell of the breeze was incredible.
So, what did I learn, other than the fact that I had been neglecting one amazing trail run right in my back yard? I learned that I really need to work on running uphill! Granted, the Incline is an intense climb, but for me it's a steady grind up steep steps. Trying to maintain a running pace up these hills... especially at 9,000 ft (2700+ m), was tough... I was sucking wind, and walked 50% of the time up the steeper uphills. But, I did the 5.6 miles (9 km) in 1:19, which I'm not too unhappy with. At least now I have a goal to knock that down to an hour or less. And, I realized after finishing, that this was the longest run I had done to date, so that was cool.
I will absolutely be back on this trail, and soon. I can't wait to run it in the summer either in my huaraches or barefoot. I think it offers great variety, a good training distance (maybe someday I'll do two loops), beautiful scenery, and it's so close.
Anyway, just another example of thinking locally... support local business, buy food grown locally, and run local too!
Hope you all have a great week! I'll leave you with this little passage from Walt Whitman in the late 1800's that I borrowed from Barefoot Ted:
"I would advise that each runner
leave shoes and stockings at home, but of course this should be optional
with the individual; next to bare feet are sandals, next to sandals
moccasins, next to moccasins, soft, low shoes."