I ran this morning. Started at 5:25am. Snowing, a little wind. About 15 degrees. My goal was to run the trail that Pete, Marty and I ran in August (and I've run many times) but to run it to the next trailhead. I've never been able to do that, even in nice weather. On the map, it looked about 3 miles and an easy run.
For the first 700 ft of vertical climb, the trail was actually well worn. That was about .8 mile. My pace was 20 min/mile. All walking. Actually, less than walking. There was about 8 inches of solidly packed trail. This 8 inches of solid was not in a straight line. Any step off of it was a knee to hip deep plunge in powder.
At 8800 ft, what had been about a 10-15 peopled-tracked trail went to single track. Single track across a frozen stream up to 9000 about .5 mile later. At 9200, the single set of tracks disappeared. Up until now, I was using a single headlamp to help distinguish which foot plant would remain on top and which might result in a "trip to the hip." Now, in front of me lay fresh snow and no tracks. THe headlamp was no help.
I ran a little, walked a lot for another .5 mile only to find a trail sign/map that clearly stated that by the nature of my being there reading the sign, I was in violation of §GL550.323 which stated that I was not supposed to be there at this time of year and could face fines. I assumed I wouldn't have to pay the fines while standing there. There was no fee deposit box!
The map lacked a, "You Are Here," red dot. As best as I could determine, the trail proceeded either to my right and up the incline for more mountain OR to the left where the trail proceeded to the edge of a cliff. It looked like a place where you would walk and look out over the Vail valley. I'd been out for over an hour and on the mountain for 45 minutes of it. I did not want to go back, did not want to retrace my steps.
So, I walked down toward the cliff-overlook and there to the left was a very small catwalk/ledge where the trail headed down the mountain. I was able to run most of the 1.5-2 miles down by running on the up-side of the trail (on the 45 degree area just above the trail). I didn't plunge through the snow most of the time. At the bottom, ran across a frozen bridge of ice that covered a small stream. Then ran along the stream, a few switch-backs and then out onto the road. Then, back on the frontage road along Highway 70, crossed the pedestrian bridge, ran through Lionshead, and managed to find myself ordering a double shot espresso with a splash of hot water for myself and a double shot, wet cappucino for Marty in the new Starbucks.
2 hours, 7.5 miles, HR: freakin' off the charts! I thought I was going to blow up several times!