May 2016 is officially mud season – Ptarmigan Trail

We never know what May will bring in the mountains.  This year, lotso snow up high, rain in the lower valleys, wind, sun, all of which to contribute to mud and more mud.  Proper equipment, old running shoes dedicated to mud runs only, makes mud fun no matter what a person’s age or sex may be.  Think of the popularity of mud runs!  Colorado mountain trails let runners get just as muddy for free.  Free mud, free beer!  Well, at least the mud can be free.  Free beer tomorrow signs are always fun and Bakers’ Brewery (thebakersbrewery.com) are known for their signs – the ones shown here are in the boy’s room – haven’t been in the girl’s room to check their signs.  Yet:).
Ptarmigan Trail trailhead can be found above the Baker’s Brewery.  From the trailhead, go up – the first six tenths of a mile is a heart pounding and air sucking experience but if you have not collapsed in the 9200 feet elevation, relax, it levels out and becomes a steady climb.  Views of I-70 below, Dillon, Silverthorne, Dillon Reservoir, all the way to Breckenridge, the upper parts of Keystone Ski Area, Ten Mile Range, and across the Blue River Valley above Silverthorne to the west are the impressive mountains of the Gore Range.  From hill covered sage and rocks, the forest begins.  Cruise through meadows, into Aspen trees. into pines, many of which are beetle killed lodgepole but the understory with new trees is coming back!
My jaunt up the trail was cut short as the snow on the north facing side was deep in spots, the afternoon had warmed up enough that post holing could not be avoided.  Wasn’t really up for it on this day so wandered into the woods a bit and then made a unanimous decision that I was thirsty.  Off to Baker’s Brewery for cold one.



Drop off the Ptarmigan Trail, enjoy the views of Summit County and head straight to Bakers’ Brewery for refreshments and food.  Off season is a great time to visit as several motels are directly across the parking lot.  Nice big bar, good beers, good food and a comfortable atmosphere with big windows for staring west to the Gore Range.

Pleasures – Once above the first 6 tenths of a mile the trail mellows out.  Can go all the way to Ptarmigan Peak if so desired!  12 miles round trip. Nice jaunt through the woods for humans and dogs, over streams, nice views across to Gore Range and down into Blue River Valley.  Alternating stands of aspen, into beetle kill pine stands, which are interesting visuals of Mother Nature’s culling of lodgepole pine forests.  Trail is fairly soft though there are places to hop scotch over rocks and roots but that is one of the greatest pleasures of trail running!
Perils – If it is windy, be careful as the beetle kill pines are falling over regularly.  Had one friend get hit by a falling tree in a wind storm and ended up in the hospital for a week.  Lightning is common during thunderstorm season.  No dangerous animals of which to speak but you never know!  Don’t be staring at the views for to long, lest a root or rock grab your shoe, resulting in the classic trail running digger.

 

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