I believe am not alone in the quest for starting off the year in the right direction, setting expectations through my initial run.
Recovering from a late New Year’s Eve and spending time with my family all morning, it wasnt till after three in the afternoon when I headed out with no real plans on a course except to just head up to the trails. With YakTrax in hand, I started slowly up to Bear Creek Trail below NCAR. The dirt service road was packed with snow but was easy going even without the trax. The sun was already beginning to recede behind the mountain tops and casting the valley in long blue shadows. At 8,461′ Bear Peak loomed above me. It would be an arduous trek in this snow, but somehow I felt like I should make journey. Attempt something I had not set out to do initially.
Moving up Bear Creek to Fern Canyon, I had caught and passed another runner and a few hikers. When I got to Fern Canyon, the steepness of the snowy slope was too much not to move forward without some help. So I slipped on the Yaktrax and climbed onward. The entire path was tracked out snow but was manageable until I started heading up the steeper climb under Seal Rock. This section of switchbacks is tough enough for me to run when the trails are clear but today slowed me to a quick hike for most of it. I still managed to catch a hiker before the saddle. The section of outcropped rocks glowed with the last light.
Now comes the real test. The Ridge Trail gains 1,031′ in the remaining .5 miles. I use trees and rocks to help pull me up the slippery passage as the footing is slick and keeps me from making quick progress. Lets be clear, there is no running what so ever at this point, I am in full out hike mode.
Sorry to say that I have only done the Bear Peak Ascent a handful of times in my 17 years in Boulder. For the un-initiated its one of those trails where you think you are close to the top, then it turns out you are wrong. The trip allows for many glimpses of the amazing views out to the valleys on either side. I couldn’t help but comparing this to my life in 2009. At times putting my head down, buried in the trees, fighting my way up, not knowing where the end is. But from time to time able to catch a glimpse of the wonder of life and see just how far I have gone.
Finally, the trees open up to the final scramble up the rock scree to the summit and it all becomes justifiable. At the top I chatted with a fellow adventurer as we shared stories about running, careers and the new year. Careful about footing at first on the descent I quickly realized that a controlled slide would be quicker than the steps down. This proved much more fun than the ascent and made quick work of the 1.75 miles back down the West Ridge Trail. I followed the same path down Fern to Bear Creek for the return home. Even as I got to the bottom of the hill the sunlight continued to provide inspiration above my gloomy path.
Today’s run, though not all that epic, reminded me that in 2010 the mountains I have in front of me, are obtainable with a just little hard work and determination.