Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Enjoying the San Juan Mountains, Hardrock Style.

This was my third excursion to the incomparable San Juans for a week of hiking, running and eating- less technology, grooming and sleeping- the seven days before the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run. I took my camera everywhere I went, here are a few highlights.

We spent the first few days touring the Telluride side of the mountain range, staying at Priests lake. We joked about rooming here for the night, but- hauntings...

The mountains of the San Juans are bewitched by the era of mining. Remnants pepper the hillsides; cabins, foundations, equipment, abandoned mine shafts, bed frames.

We spent some time in the Lizard Head Wilderness. This is what I found...a running theme of raw beauty that lasted all week. 

We took the time after our hike to drive up to the Alta lakes and this enchanting cabin that looks whole and hale compared to the ruins surrounding it.

And that was our first day. I may or may not be innocently browsing property around here... a girl can dream.

The next adventure was again in the Lizard Head area, the boys hit Mt Wilson (a 14k peak) while I solo-ed up to Navajo Lake.

 And true to the San Juans, we started the day in the sun, got poured on halfway and then finished in the sun again. So moody.

Ok, so none of these areas are on the course of the Hardrock 100. The race only spends a few miles skirting this area at all. So, our next day, we moved closer to the course and spent some time at the top of Camp Bird Road, scouting out Mt Sneffels (the boys) and I Blue Lake pass. The road was quite hairy to navigate at the top, but so worth it.

If you look close, you may see a neon green shirt in the skree field. That is the boys coming down from the peak. 

We saw this fella as we were driving down Camp Bird. He posed for us for quite a while.
This was the fourth bear we saw (after a mama and two cubs) this week.
Luckily, all were from a safe distance.

What follows are the rest of our adventures, which we wrapped up on the actual course. We spent some time scouting Ice Lakes but followed the connecting trail to the iconic Island Lake.

We ran a few passes for the camera. We embraced being lake hogs and made all the other hikers stand to the side so we could make this epic. Everyone was so kind to oblige.

 I am a little less epic than Cody.
 photo credit to Cody ;)
The next series are from the day of the actual Run. Cody started early in the am to run up Cunningham Gulch to cheer the runners on. I started later and just hiked. I took photos of runners as they passed me on their way down. I made it to the top just in time to have the entire mountainside to myself. It was bliss.

Cody now had pacing duties to prepare for. He was picked up by his runner at Grouse Gulch, then ran through to Telluride. Running the race in this direction meant it was night for most of Cody's stint.

Ouray Aid

Telluride Aid at the end of Cody's leg of pacing.

After a few hours of trying to rest, Cody gave up and we took off for one more farewell hike up the Highland Mary lakes. I lost track of how many waterfalls we passed.

We made it down just in time to cheer Cody's runner down the finish chute and kiss the rock.

What an incredible moment to witness, with no words to go with it. This whole event is so full of community and fierce support for the whole field of runners, comraderie that even reached me standing firmly on the sidelines. It was really hard to put down the hiking poles and pick up the iphone again. I hope to keep that feeling in mind as I make my way back into normal life, remember to put down the phone, the busy-ness and go embrace the wild.