Red Hill Trail – in May and Roaring Fork Beer Co.

Red Hill Trail – in May and Roaring Fork Beer Co.

Red Hill Trail is quite unique.  Till now, I have only run it in winter and on those occasions it was quite cold and the snow was deep.  On the sun facing side the trail was slick red mud or frozen solid and scary slippery.  Always fun but caution is always advised as the trail is really steep on the part directly above highway 82.
Fast forward to May 12, 2016.  Nursing a bit of a stiff knee but since there are no excuses, I thought I would do a short maintenance run.  And this time, I thought I would take the steep part up so as not to torture my knee on the way down.  Steep alright, 713 feet in the first mile.  My engine was running hot after that climb.  Then it mellowed, I stopped and took a few pictures.  Someone has left a dog bowl at the top as there is no water on the trail so occasionally people will water their own dogs or leave water in it for the person who has their dog but no water bottle with them.  Professional  courtesy from dog owners.



Red Hill trail is accessible from the parking lot at junctions of Highways 82 and 133 and can get crowded from commuter traffic, hikers and mountain bikers on busy nice weather days.  Worth a one time at least.  And, Roaring Fork Beer Company is close by.  1941 Dolores Way.  Head south on 133 toward Carbondale.  Take a right on Dolores Way and find your way back.  The tasting room is several businesses down a dead end part past several other businesses in the business park.  roaringforkbeerco.com – 970-963-5870

BEER REVIEWS – They were out of some of the beers that I wanted to try but that is a good sign that they are popular and with brilliant deduction skills, probably good!  The AMF Amber is a lager and is tasty.  More body than most lagers especially mass brewed lagers.  NOTE: Don’t go hoppy first and attempt to come back to drinking the AMF.  Good choice for first beer!  Tangelo IPA, a 6.5% ABV, is a collaboration beer between Kannah Creek in Grand Junction and Colorado Boy in Ridgeway.  I have had the privilege to drink at both those breweries and knew it would be good.   It is excellent!  But, then I tried the Street Cred Imperial Red, a 7.2% ABV beverage and since I only had time for one big beer – had to go Red to match the trail and it is a really nice drinking beer.

May 2016 is officially mud season – Ptarmigan Trail

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.

 

Arizona I-15 Strip Desert Run

Arizona I-15 Strip Desert Run

Interstate 15 between St. George Utah and Mesquite Nevada has a 30 mile strip of Arizona, a part of the state isolated from the rest of AZ.  Exit 18 in the middle of the Virgin River Gorge is pure rugged mountainous desert.  A great place for an adventure on both sides where a geologist’s and desert biologist’s dreams can be found.  Unique place.  I chose the north side as I had done it many years ago and I knew there was a slot canyon up a large arroyo which can be accessed by bushwhacking from the exit road a few hundred yards back up I-15.  The large arroyo is apparent as flash floods over the years have gouged out a big rocky stream bed.  A barbed wire fence must be negotiated as whomever built it to keep the free range cattle off the highway did a  hell of a job anchoring it to the ground and made it hard to get over or under.  It took me traversing the fence for awhile before I found a spot I could be Steve McQeen from the Great Escape and go underneath it on my back.  Not without its perils!  The desert is full of plants and animals that can stick, stab or bite.  I avoided the barbs but put my hand on a cactus I did not see.  Ouch.

Sabino Canyon and Phoneline trail

Outside of Tucson at the base of the Santa Catalina mountains is Sabino Canyon.  Ran it in the 1980s and returned this spring.  On, what I thought would be a quiet Sunday morning, the parking lot was packed at 8 am!  Most everyone goes to the waterfall on an easier trail so I asked the incredibly helpful volunteers which trail would be the gnarliest.  Phone line!  And they were correct!  Rugged and magnificent!

Desert Rat Runnin’ in Laughlin Nevada

Desert Rat Runnin’  in Laughlin Nevada

Desert running is fun.  Up, down, all around, pleasures and perils, unique smells, unique terrain and unusual footing.  How about views?  All part of a trail running adventure.  Working my way back east toward Colorado after a stint in Death Valley with my friend Ginny, I opted for the southern route and needed to get on I-40 in AZ.  The road leads through Laughlin Nevada, a miniature gambling town all its own.  Laughlin is along the Colorado River below Davis Dam holding back an unknown reservoir – Lake Mohave.  The town’s elevation is 510 feet but the highways coming into and leaving gain quickly in altitude to over 3000 feet and there are many rugged mountain ranges nearby that are mostly unexplored areas with rumors of gold and other undiscovered precious metals.  Numerous trails for all modes of transportation.  The beer at the Colorado Belle is well worth the price of getting to Laughlin – Off the beaten path fabulous, in some ways.

gold and other precious minerals yet to be found.  On the descent into the Colorado River Valley