I had been wanting to do a run that included the three peaks of South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, and Green Mountain for quite a while and yesterday finally seemed like an appropriate day. My conditioning is decent and the weather was right; it was about 60 degrees with low clouds and occasional drizzle.
The adventure began in Eldorado Springs where I took the Towhee Trail to the Shadow Canyon Trail. The Towhee Trail has a 9% average grade on which I was able to maintain a running pace, but once in Shadow Canyon the average climb becomes 24% and I soon found myself power plodding or maybe I'd call it speed stumbling. One mile took 42 minutes. At just about three miles I arrived at the summit of South Boulder Peak which is in effect a pile of Boulders 2500 feet above South Boulder Creek where I began. I took a few pictures and was ready to head back down to the truck. I picked my way back down about 350 vertical feet to the bottom of the saddle which lies between SoBo and Bear Peak where I drank some water and ate a Clif Bar. I decided to go for the next peak which isn't that far and is only another 250 foot climb. I would decide there whether to continue to on over to the summit of Green Mountain or return.
At the top of Bear Peak I was feeling better physically and mentally as well because I had now reach two out of three of my destinations. I was ready to move on to Green Mountain. After an initially steep descent I found a the Green Bear Trail runnable as it headed down to a little valley behind Green Mountain and then started up it. I would say I lost and then gained about 1200 feet of elevation on the journey between the two peaks.
Before starting out I had envisioned myself heading down to Chautauqua Park from Green Mountain and then taking the Mesa Trail all the way back to Eldorado Springs but I had already been out for three hours and thought it would be better to take the route through Bear Canyon to pick up the Mesa Trail. The Bear Canyon trail was an enjoyable descent to run and I'll probably go back there because it seemed the most runnable incline of the day. Somehow I missed the Mesa Trail and was told by a couple different people walking there that I would have to go back up to connect to it. I ran back up to a trail intersection with a posted map but I couldn't make sense of it relative to what I was seeing. I decided to run back down and see if I could pick up a different trail that might connect. I ended up in a neighborhood which may have been better in the long run; I was able to fill up my water bottles at a community pool drinking fountain and also down 24 ounces quickly.
I found a trailhead with a map. There was a low route and I high route to where I needed to go. Both ways were about four miles. Again I misinterpreted the map; a turn-off was much sooner than expected and I ended up on a long descent to the high route. At this point though, rehydrated I felt fresh even though I had been out for more than five hours. I finally picked up the Mesa Trail and felt some comfort of knowing where I was and the definite distance that remained.
I don't have accurate data on distance and elevation because the iphone doesn't have the battery power to operate the Mapmyrun app for so long, but I think the total distance was only around 15 miles, possibly even less, but the elevation gain and loss was likely around 6000 feet.
It's interesting that I didn't feel as spent after the run as I have on other outings of even three hours. I functioned normally last night and feel OK today; there's not even any concomitant soreness. I didn't expect I'd run today, but now I think it's likely.
Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak as seen from the valley behind Green Mountain
Green Mountain as seen from Bear Peak
View to the Continental Divide from South Boulder Peak
The playground as seen from Cherryvale
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