This run would also be a test to see how my IT band reacted to running for 4+ hours. It has been holding up well on my 5-6 mile runs, and it's even survived a 12 mile run, but I had yet to challenge it with anything longer than 2 hours. Occasionally I can feel it ache a bit on gentle uphill sections, but it fades away and never alters my stride. It's strange: my previous IT issues have always manifested themselves on downhills-- not uphills. I wonder what's different this time?
So, the weatherman lied. Saturday was supposed to be the cloudy day and Sunday was supposed to be clear. Instead it was the reverse. There were uncharacteristic dark, gray rain clouds hovering over the Mosquitoes when I started out at 10am. If there is any overcast in Leadville, it generally doesn't arrive until well past noon. To wake up to clouds is rare. Since I'm a chicken when it comes to dark clouds above tree line, I knew this would probably put a damper on my plans to summit Mt. Sherman. But, I'd see how far I'd make it before I talked myself into retreating back down into the valley.
I drove 5 minutes up California Gulch and parked my car at the pull off at the top of Printer Boy. (Where the first major aid station is on the Silver Rush 50 course.) I decided to tackle the high road up the gulch first (2B).
|Mt Sherman is the snowy ridge in the distance.|
|Mt Sheridan. The trail climbs up the notch on the left.|
|A view of West Sheridan across the gulch.|
|Nearing the end of the road and the Mt Sherman trailhead.|
|At the top of the pass, looking towards Mt. Sheridan.|
|Looking north towards the summit of Mt. Sherman.|
|Looking east at some unfriendly clouds.|
|Don't shoot! I'm not an elk!|
|From Elk Run over to Upper Deck.|
|Down Cold Feet.|
|Gel was losing its appeal, so I decided to eat elk instead.|
|Gold Digger with a view of Mt. Elbert.|
|Most of the aspen leaves have fallen by now, but I found one grove with its leaves still intact.|
|The sage hill on Wheeler's Way. This is the first section of trail to melt out in the spring.|
|A skull marks the trail on Wheeler's Way.|
|Back up Old Chub to the intersection of Elk Run and Boulders.|
|The ramshackle bridge across the stream on Boulders. This was the low point of my run, it's all uphill from here.|
|The boulders which give Boulders its name (I assume).|
|A vertigo-inducing mine shaft that plunges 100 ft into the darkness.|
|The beavers have been busy and this river crossing is now knee deep!|
|A view back up Iowa Gulch towards Mt. Sherman.|
Despite the initially sketchy weather and my eventual exhaustion, I had a great time out on the local trails. (And no ITBS despite 4+ hours of running!) It's amazing that this kind of stuff is right out my front door. It's good to be reminded of that. Thanks to my wife for watching the kids and letting me indulge in what will probably be my last 20+ mile training run of 2012!
|The Tour Du Iowa Gulch. It would be easy to tack on another ~3 miles and 2,000 ft of vertical by summiting Mt. Sherman and running the upper Boulders Trail up Long and Derry Hill...|
|Not much flat.|