Monday, November 16, 2009

A Rough Journey along Devil's Backbone

Not really, but since I haven't contributed anything for awhile...

Coyote Ridge to Devil's Backbone, ~18 miles roundtrip

Saturday was cool, with cold threatening. I slept in, and snow was once again predicted for the evening. But by late morning the clouds were pregnant with it...and showing.

This front was quite nice because it was windless and calm. I felt comfortable in shorts, but brought warmer jacket, hat, and gloves. Since I've been running more local lately, I thought a little bit of hills in Devil's Backbone sounded like a good bet. I hopped on the Schwinn Probe (free junker that I brought back from Minnesota and have been riding daily for several months) and headed out.

First, I should note that this week, work on the Powerline Trail from Keenland down to Trilby began in earnest. Not only is the fence up along the entire path, but it is now bulldozed into a solid dirt road. I have mixed feelings knowing that much of our longstanding singletrack social trails is gone for good, but I suppose it will be better when they pour the foundation for the alter of Progress. Or something.
Being Saturday, I assumed there would be a respite from Useful Work, and that I could hop the fence and ride this ephemeral road to Trilby. I made it a half mile before I saw the machines were fully awake, not dozing, and that I had better get out of the way. I picked up my bike and tip-toed lightly over a Southridge Fairway, and hit the real road.

Soon I was off to Coyote Ridge. Here I will skip ahead, before skipping back, to note that once again, I was happy to return from running several hours to find my bike was unmolested.

To the run: I ran with a light pack today, which is rare, so as to carry my poofy jacket, and a thermos full of hot coffee. I implored the heavens to rain snow and crud upon me -- it was just one of those weeks -- and wanted to be prepared. As it was, though, the run to the DBB trailhead was uneventful but pleasantly quiet. Saw maybe a half dozen folks all day.

And one of them was an intrepid youngster survivalist. I know this because he and his mom told me. As I paused to swig some coffee and eat an orange, they were getting ready to hike. I asked if they were ready for snow, and the boy (all of 10 or 11) told me he was ready for anything. He knew how to build snow caves, and had garbage bags with him for emergency shelter.
"He could be the next Bear Grylls!" said his mom, but in a refreshing sort of pride built on a boy's genuine interest and enthusiasm, rather than an Honor Roll bumper sticker.

Soon, I headed back, and quickly caught up with them, and wished them well. Seeing my small pack and shorts, Bear Junior advised: "I hope you're prepared!"
I slowed a bit and replied: "I hope so, too, since I need to make it back to Ft. Collins!"
"You're from Ft. Collins?! How far is that?"
"9 miles or so"
"Well, I hope you're prepared! It's a rough journey ahead!"

With that, my spirits were briefly lifted, knowing that boys of any age can still find adventure and excitement outside. I hope he learns, even earlier than I did, that your legs can take you much farther than most people give them credit for. Even if it is a rough journey.

The run back was calm and even. A few flakes started to fall, and it was getting socked in towards Estes, but not up toward Fort Collins. In the final descent, I opened up a bit and let the legs fly. These lower mileage weeks and speedwork are making me feel a bit more fresh at the end of each run, which is nice.

I hopped on the bike, and then took a detour to watch a taped Badger game with some friends. I skipped the details on why I was wearing shorts in the snow on that side of town. Some drinks, a sunset, a Badger victory, and a few inches of snow later, I was cruising home through a delightful snowstorm.

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