Monday, January 10, 2011

Hey There Friend: Green Mountain On Snowy Days

I've never been much for Green Mountain trails in Lakewood.

1. The trails are usually loaded with hikers, bikers, runners, and meanderers
2. The trail system, to me, is so complicated that I fear I would get lost out there for hours on end and never find myself off the blasted mountain
3. The treeless slopes of the mountain tend to be breezy and sub-par on gorgeous views unless you get a kick at looking at Lakewood's housing structure. There's only so much golden grass you can look at before your brain starts to hurt.
4. Some of those climbs are endlessly long

- no offense mtnrunner-

The best times I have had on those trails were in the latest of hours with my headlamp and the company of two to three of the DTR peeps.

HOWEVER. (make that a very big however)

Today was a new day of the new year and I decided, after changing my "where to" on the GPS four times (I think "Lee" my Nuvi navigator was going to strangle me), to head over to Green Mountain to run on this lovely snowy day with the pup.

Why? You may ask.
I really don't know. Yep, that's all I got. I have no clue. I punched it in and soon Lee was telling me how to get to my location.

So I went to the trailhead off 470 and Alameda/Jewell...actually I only know two of the trailheads even though I think there are a bunch more. The temps were in the 20's and it was SNOWING! Yay!! I had brought my snowpants, hiking boots, and snowshoes as backup in case I had chosen somewhere with snow up to my knees and couldn't run.  The parking lot had two cars in it and no signs of the human race. I was starting to feel a little excited. Could it be that this lovely weather had sidelined all the outdoorsy folk? Sweet!!

I set my Garmin, loaded up the pup with his pack and we headed out. I was just ever so slightly cold but felt very comfortable right off the bat. Two fingers on each hand were painfully cold after getting on my Yak Trax, but with a little help from my friend Hothands, I was good to go in about 5 minutes.

I knew the general direction I wanted to go, but didn't have the slightest clue what trails to take to get me there. There was no park map that most of the open spaces carry, so I did what I always do and just winged it. Every time I came to a cross-way I just picked a direction and logged it into the memory bank for my return. Surprisingly I never got lost.

The run was drop dead gorgeous and extremely satisfying. I was slow due to some of the climbs and the fact that I was running in quite a bit of snow, but I got some good mileage in and a little clearing of the brain so this wildchild was a very happy girl. The ankles felt a bit tired a few miles in. There were stones and frozen shoe holes hidden under all that powder and I had a little difficulty being graceful across all that. I also feel a little "Princess and the Pea" with the Yak Trax as I feel every little spring under my feet. It can get really uncomfortable with long mileage.

At one point I saw a herd of deer, mostly bucks prance across the landscape like a ballet movement. Argos whined and carried on but did not dare chase them. We ran on and soon came to a very large coyote who was busy being entertained by some little tasty in the snow. He was pouncing left and right, leaping high in the air only to land and stuff his snout into the snow. I never did see him catch anything but he was definitely on the chase. He sat on his haunches and stared at us for a little bit. Argos was absolutely convinced that this "dog" was here to play and be his friend. Maybe even become BFFs. He was very irritable with me when I told him that he couldn't go play. I even tried to explain why, but I think he tuned me out at that point in his pouting tantrum.

The more I thought about what I was seeing: the deer, the coyote, the peacefully quiet snow storm I was running in...the more I started feeling a little closer to Green Mountain. A little more sympathetic to it's barren slopes and city views. It was as if the mountain and all it's nature was beckoning to me and asking me to give it a chance. "See what I have to offer?" it was saying to me, "Take a look around."
I stopped a few times to just turn in great circles and look around me, admiring the silence that blanketed the mountain from the snow. It was an eye opening and pleasant run.

Wearing my Under Armour Cold Gear shirt, a Sporthill half zip, and my Go-Lite Virga rain jacket over top as a shell I was surprisingly warm. Maybe even a touch overheated a few times. I wore my Brooks pants, a heavier set of gaiters, my Salomon Wings shoes, and Smartwool socks. Additions of Smartwool hat and neck gaiter and THESE gloves: Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Gloves.

These are one of my very favorite pieces of gear. I wore these gloves in TransRockies, Grand Canyon, TransAlps...they are super lightweight making them perfect to stuff in a pocket or pack without crazy bulky weight. Hothands in them if the weather permits but I have yet to get my hands cold or wet for a length of time wearing them. RUN to your nearest REI or outdoor store and buy up one or two pairs. I have worn them in the midst of rain, wind, and snow and never got wet or cold. One would seriously question my sanity after feeling how lightweight they are but I promise you they are so inexpensive as far as gloves are concerned and are one of my must haves whenever I run. I would pay several times their price for a pair.

Anyways 8.5 miles later, me and the pup arrived safe, toasty, and tired back at the car. I snapped this picture to show how wild the weather was. My hair was frozen and looks white here, there are ice crystals on my eyelids (I had to keep unsticking them every so often as they would freeze together), my eyebrows were frozen, my hat was so frozen it resembled a helmet and my water was frozen. I had snot flowing down my upper lip but deep down inside this girl was warm and happy happy happy.

Argos dealt with his own freezing problems:
He had drool frozen off his lips

Santa dog!

So, thank you Green Mountain for showing me your beauty. My legs, butt, and ankles are sore and I know I owe it to you and your roller coaster trails.  I apologize for being so utterly shallow previously and thinking you were just "the boy next door".  I promise to add you into my rotation, however all bets are off if it is a weekend or holiday. I cannot stand battling the crowds. 

1 comment:

mtnrunner2 said...

Honestly, I'm not crazy about running Green Mountain from the trailheads either, because of the bike traffic. Also the reason I mostly abandon Jefferson County in the summer and run in Boulder.

Pretty much every street on the north or east side of Green Mountain that ends at the open space has social trails from the subdivisions that have been there for years. Park management encourages use of the main trails, but doesn't prevent use of social trails unless they are being regenerated. For me that's the way to go.

Or run on a snowy day.