Flattops in Winter – Dunckley Pass Access

On the quest to run new trails for this website, tough duty I know,  I was passing through Phippsburg, Colorado on a deep winter January day and saw the sign, the classic brown sign that says  National Forest Access.  My goosebumps rise, alive come my butterflies and my adventure genes get tripped.  Time check.  Have about 2.5 hours of light.  I leave highway 131 and am immediately on a glazy snow packed road through ranch country.  Horses and cows are happily munching on hay, old barns are weathered and leaning, farm equipment is piled high with snow and rusting, and a few cirrostratus clouds are hanging over the Flattops, a series of flat topped mesas comprising a large wilderness area.  I follow the signs toward Dunckley Pass, ranches thin out and I enter the Routt National Forest.  I keep going, wondering where to stop.  I come

around a corner as the road is going up through a dark tunnel of pine trees on the left and aspens on the right.  I see two vehicles parked and  a trail sign.  A guy is removing his cross country skis and I ask him about the trails.  He had fun.  One trail heads south through the woods from where he had come and the road continues onward to the west.  I hear mega barking, an enthusiastic dog sled team up ahead.  I opt for the road as I am guessing the the snow will be packed down.  The person leaving says the road is closed 200 yards ahead.  Turns out to be a 1/2 mile.  Temp = mid 20s, my hands warm up and the road is indeed nicely packed by weekend snowmobilers and dog sleds.  Let the joys of winter running begin = solitude, stillness, fresh air, new views, and wonderful introspections about ourselves  that only deep winter can bring…

Perils = lots of dog poo on trail beginning as the running dogs are having to relieve themselves as they run and it gets tracked up.  Since the dogsled had left only a few minutes prior to my arrival, it had not yet frozen.  Fairly easy to avoid.

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