Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

This is the season to be thankful for all the blessing that we have here in Colorado Springs. It is so nice to be able to go 5-10 miles and be into wilderness / backcountry trails. We have such an abundance of trails to chose from and I enjoy every day and trail that I find myself on.

I hope that my efforts to map and describe the trails that I have enjoyed has created the desire on your part to check out new trails and experience different parts of our natural abundance.

It seems like I go in spurts. I pick a trail then spend the next month or so exploring all the options that the trail presents. I look for different trails in an area and you may be surprised to find some new and interesting views. I know I have found some unexpected gems in my explorations.

On the website (, I am always looking for better ways to present the information about trails to make it easier to find and follow the trails. I am thinking about adding the track information to the website so that it can be downloaded into most GPS units. I have found this useful in repeating a trail where is may not be very well defined and for backtracking when I get away from familiar landmarks. I have heard that there is going to be an advanced GPS seminar at REI possibly next month. You might want to check their website and put it on your calendar.

I wanted to give a special high five to Ben who we met on the incline Tuesday. He is 7 and here he is reaching the top of the Incline in fine form. Good work Ben and I hope you enjoy many more climbs in the years to com.

In revising some of my incline pictures on the website, I have tried to include more photos of some of the people I have had encountered on the trails.

I think I will sign off for now. I hope in the coming year I can be more consistent on this blog. Remember the forum where you can post information about the trails you have been on and keep us all informed about condidtions you have encountered to help us plan a more enjoyable hike/bike/run.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Incline

I have been avoiding any posts about the incline because officially it does not exist as a trail. Since this "trail" crosses multiple properties, it has been the subject of great debate in the community. I am never sure why such debate takes forever to complete. It is not like there are many alternative uses for the trail. Although I am not party to the debate, I would imagine that there are about 5-10 issues that are at stake here, but it has taken years to debate them and I am not sure why.

Recent news is that all this is close to resolution. All the parties seem to be in general agreement and maybe it will be official shortly. Now this is what worries me. As soon as it becomes official, I can see the "officials" declaring that we need to put together a plan for the the meantime, we must shut it down to protect the trail and the people. In the nanny state mentality that exists in most govenment agencies, I do not think that this is out of the realm of possibility. I look back to Cheyenne Mtn State Park and how it was closed to the public while it was updated and planned.

I have posted before how amazed I am at the number of people who come out to climb the incline. I expect the hard core runners and hikes but in addition are people of all types challenging themselves against the climb. More power to them. I would be a shame if the "nannies" try to restrict or curtail this. I know this can be dangerous but it is ones choice and that is how it should be.

All that being said, Tuesday was a beautiful day to be on the incline. Weather was near perfect and views were as usual, stunning. There was some icy footing especially at the top 1/3 of the trail where it is shaded. Ice was prevalent on most of the ties and not any places where the ice could be avoided. Today with the snow falling, I am tempted to head over and do it again, the views when there is a fresh snowfall are just awesome. I have posted some pictures on the website taken at various times of the year.

I have started documenting the Incline for my website. Took pictures, captured the GPS data, and starting to writeup the description for the webpage. Hopefully I will soon have this up on the site.

If you chose to challenge the inclie be aware that it can be dangerous. Loose railroad ties, steep terrain, icy conditions and rapid weather changes can exist. But if it was easy, would we be there?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's a "Hole in the Wall" you might ask. I became acquainted with this trail last year when Jerry and I stopped by after a run in the Garden and do a quick look over. I wanted to come back to explore more of the area but I never found the time. So this last month, I decided to spend some time here and have been back 3 times now. The more time I spend, the more I discover.

The area is a combination of secluded property between the old Queens Quarry and the Flying W Ranch property. From my studies, it looks like 22 acres of it is part of a small ranch that was bought a number of years back and used to build a private school on the front side. This is now a church. The far west area is part of the Pike National Forest.

Since it is close to where I live and does not get a lot of traffic, I find it a great place to get away with the dog and admire the scenery. The web page at has detailed information about the trails so check it out.

A lot of the area is accessible on a dirt roadway that forms a large "C" shape. During my first trip around the area, I discovered some small single tracks that cross between the the roadways and offer the option of making the "C" into a loop course. There is a small rock passageway and an impressive rock wall on the single track trails that are not obvious until you wander into them.

The north end of the area ends at the Flying W Ranch where there is fencing that I believe is still used for range land and cattle. I have not explored that area because of the fencing and respect for the implied private property issues.

There is an old roadway that climbs up from where the cattle guard and fencing starts. I did not follow it too far yet but from my looking at google earth, it looks like this could lead up to the top of the peaks in that area. From there, there could be some interesting access to the areas behind the front range. When I have a long day available, I plan to explore this more fully.

Because of the private land involve here, I caution everyone to be respectful of the property. If you follow the dirt road along the higher part of the "C", I think you would be into the National Forest land but the lower trails might be part of Flying W or the church property.

Good MTB area and Hiking area, lot of uphill outbound for runners similar to parts of the Barr trail.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A week ago, some of us explored the area around Mt Herman. The area is not well documented anywhere I could find but it appears most of the trail that we used is known as the Monument Trail but the last part after rounding Rasperry Mountain back to the trail head is not shown anywhere. There is also some references to the area fronting Mt Herman as the Monument Preserve and it appears like there is ongoing efforts to define the usage in this area. Lots of references to too many social trails and the need to control trail usage.

Aside from this, the trail is narrow and rocky but my main point here is that as we ran it, you could sense that fall was coming quickly. Behind Mt Herman which is Limbaugh canyon, a small furry caterpillar displayed its furryness as to say that this winter will be a colder and snowier one.

Since that day, the temperature has dropped dramatically and yesterday, the rain was mixed with snow. As I look out to the front range, there is a lot of snow in the higher elevations. While an early snow can be a false promise, with the amount of rain we have had, I feel a lot of snow may be in the offing this winter. To look at the bright side, this may mean that I can actually do some cross country skiing and snowshoeing without having to travel up the pass. Cross training without having to travel...sounds good to me.

Typically, we can expect a lot of nice days for the next several months even if we get spells of snow and rain. A perfect opportunity to enjoy our abundance of trails. Happy running...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Random Thoughts

Well it has been awhile since I posted here. Been a busy month with a new job and getting up to speed with its demands. This working stuff puts a crimp on my trails exploration big time. Since I have to be at work at 4:30 am, it has also left me wanting to just sleep when I get off. I have managed to get out and do runs or hikes most days but nothing new to report.

As a proud papa, I can announce my Daughter, Coleen's successful finish at the Leadville 100 last month. Check out her blog for a good write up (cynical dirt doll). She is one tough cookie despite here protestation to the contrary.

With fall approaching, I am looking forward to more runs where the weather is cool and dry. Hopefully there are more trails to lurking around the area to discover.

Just got a call from Jerry...time to go out and do a run...will hopefully not be so long til my next post.

Reminder, with the approach of winter, please add comments to the forum with trail conditions so we can all benefit and avoid going over to trails that are not in good condition due to weather or construction.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cross training

I was reading a recent article about crosstraining and what it can do for a person. I think because I have been having issues with a sore heel, the article attracted my attention. There are many types of cross training, but I think I am most interested in aerobic training which means bike, swim, fast hike or indoor machines such as a stair climber.

One of the things that struck me in the article was about the fear that seems to be quite prevalent about riding the roads. This has been a concern of mine also but maybe not to as great an extent as others. On my website, I have added a section on bike road courses. My intent is to find good road courses that I would feel that most people could feel comfortable riding. I am looking for minimal traffic and a wide roadway, hopefully with defined bike lanes.

This criteria does not mean that there will be no danger but should minimize the exposure to traffic and allow you to concentrate more on the training. As I pointed out in the previous blog, riding is not as natural as running and you need to pay attention to the mechanics of riding. Gears need to be adjusted, you need to pay attention to object in the road, and you need to work on form to get the most from the ride. It is not much different that mountain running on some of the more technical trails. You cannot just mellow out and get into a rhythm. There is nothing like a nice wide trail to zone out on and just feel the flow but when you are on steep mountain trails, you need to pay attention. The same is true on the bike even when the course if fairly benign. A friend of my recently crashed because he wasn't paying attention and hit a curb...hard to imagine since curbs should be fairly obvious.

One of the thing I read about cross training is that as we age, we lose some of our flexibility and ability to absorb shock. Cross training can help to keep us up aerobically but rest from the shock of every day running. I tend to prefer biking as my alternative since it does work many of the same muscles and some of the opposing ones, it does not require too much in additional you can ride from your door step or a close location. It also provides some exhilaration expecially on the downhills around here.

If you are thinking about cross training, consider the bike courses I have mapped out. They are not easy and will challenge your riding if you do not ride regularly and will definitely challenge your aerobic system if you challenge the hills.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Running or Riding

Today was a Bike Ride day. I decided to map out another section of the area that I think would be good for someone who does not feel comfortable with traffic. In choosing these routes, I am looking for wide roads or bike lanes that help to keep cars at a distance.

It was a good ride, the sky had clouded up so the heat was not as intense as it had been earlier. The course I chose met the criteria I had set so all in all in was a good day.

When I was done, I started thinking about runs and rides. A question formed in my mind...why is it that I enjoy running more than riding? The question startled me for a moment. I had never really thought about running or riding in that way before. The more I thought about it, I came to realize that I preferred running. Having answered myself...I let my mind considered what it was about running that made me enjoy it more than biking.

I came to the conclusion that running was a matter of me and the run whereas riding added the element of the bike between me and the ride. Sounds a bit strange but I realized that when I am running, I am concentrating on the run, on me, on the sensations that arise as I am in motion. I do not feel this same oneness when riding. The bike adds a mechanical element to the equation that seems to prevent me from feeling the oneness I get from running.

I guess this is also why I have never been able to carry a radio or mp3 player while running.

It would be interesting to hear what others have to say about this. If you feel like it, add to the comments.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Delight

It was a nice Sunday morning so I decided to head up the foothills to the west of Blodgett Open Space area. I have been pushing further up the ridge with each trip and then looking to see where I have been on the map.

Starting from a small trail head on Coldwater Drive, the trail climbs and climbs and then climbs some more. I have been trying to discover the best route to the top of the ridge. Up there is a spot knows as lone pine. From the other side, there is a jeep road that ends at that point. It is also an alternate route to Blodgett Peak.

Today's journey ended when the weather started to get bad. Clouds were building rapidly and I decided it was time to head back down. Later, the lighning and thunder is the area confirmed my decision as being the prudent course of action.

But in the beginning, the weather was great, the wildflowers were in full bloom. Plenty of bluebells and paintbrush with many other varieties. The terrain was steep enough that it was mostly a fast hike on the upward trip especially after the first mile.

There were several things that I learned today.

First, I had loaded the locations of some of the geocaches in the area so I could see if I could find them. This means that I had to learn some of the navagation features of my forerunner 205 which I knew existed but I had never tried to use.

In the watch I could see a little triangle where I was located at the point indicated the direction I was moving. There was a light circle about at a set distance. As I got near a geocache, I could tell about how far and in what direction the cache was located. It is kind of funny to look at the GPS track of trying to figure out how to use this to find the location of the cache. Since it was the first time for me, I was literally all over the map....

Of course once you have located the approximate area of the cache, it does not guarantee you will find the cache. There are generally hidden in some manner and the trick is to figure out how. I will not go into any detail as that I think is part of the fun of geocacheing. If this sounds interesting, go to and join the fun.

I met a mountain bike rider in the area of the geocache who also is an experienced geocacher so it became a team effort to find the cache. He, for some reason did not have this cache loaded in his unit so by using mine, we found the cache. Thanks "OLDATBPRO"...

From this point on, there was no clear indication of where the trail to the top went so I started just bushwacking. Some people have indicated that there is not a regular trail after this point.
I almost made the top but it was getting pretty steep and rugged with lots of fallen trees and scrub. And with the weather starting to get bad, I decided to head back down.

This is where the second part of my learning took place. As I was bushwacking up, I knew that it was be impossible to find my way back down by the same route so I remembered that the GPS unit has a "breadcrumb" feature. When I was ready to head back down, I just kept my little triangle in the area of the "route" line that was my track coming up and lo and behold, I returned to the cache site with no problem. From there I could just follow the trail back down.

Learning to use the navigation features of the watch has inspired me to follow other lesser know paths having the confidence that I will be able to backtrack and not get lost. I use to go up the Hitezer trail out of Cascade into the resevoir area but could never seem to find the way back and would end up on the Pikes Peak Tollroad and have to hitchhike back to my car. I think this will solve that problem.

On my next trip up, I plan to angle a little north from the area of the , it look like there may be a better route to the top in that direction I was so close today...and would really like to crest the next time I do up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One small giant injury for running

In the past couple of days, I have encountered links to an article that is trying to make the case that high quality running shoes are the source of many of the injuries suffered by atheletes.

As with all things found on the web, I try to approach these things with an open but skeptical mind. Even if the conclusions were faulty (not saying that they are) there is some lessons to be learned from this article.

To read the whole article, go to this article at the daily mail website. It brings up some interesting points.

There seems to be some presenting of examples and opinion where there seems to be a link between injury and running shoes. In my experience, running shoes can be a source of injury but maybe not for the reasons stated. Choosing the correct running shoe for you foot is a hit and miss proposition. And as soon as you find the right one, the shoe manufactures manage to discontinue or change it. I was very lucky in that the Asics GT series performed very well and for about 10 or so years, I used that shoe. Last year, the shoe did not work the same. Looking at comments from other runners, the consensus was the shoe behaved differently. I ended up with plantar faciatis. The latest model seems to go back to earlier performance characteristics.

So in evaluating the claim that the shoes cause injury does not follow from the anecdotal evidence given. Even the statistics do not have the rigor of proper testing. I would be the first to admit that this sort of testing might be quite hard to design and execute. I would also not throw away the studies completely but become more aware of the effect of my shoes on my injury. Remember we are an experiment of one.

With all that having been said, I think there is something to be learned from this article.

I have to agree that spending time barefoot could offer benefits to the runner. The explanations about how the foot molds and grabs when running barefoot reminds me a bit of ball exercise. The premise is that the extra effort to maintain balance exercises small muscles that do not get worked properly. I can see if we always encase our foot in a rigid shoe, it might prevent proper exercise of small muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the foot and ankle. This is speculation on my part but for me, it seems worth adding some activity barefooted. I does not at this point say I am throwing away my running shoes. It might be that I have not suffered the injuries as noted in the article because I am very aware of my feet and try to adjust when I sense something is not right.

In my early running years, I did experiment with running barefoot and as near as I can recall, I did not have any issues. In those days, shoes were not as sophisticated and more like than not, I probably had an old pair of converse sneakers as my "running shoes". I generally ran on grass at the high school but did try to spend some time on the cinder track to toughen my feet.

If I start adding some barefoot adventures to my training, I will be sure to post here what I find out.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One last gasp for Winter

At least I hope it was the last gasp. Seems even that little flower did not know what Colorado weather can have instore... 12+ inches of snow and even more in the high country. I guess winter is not going to leave without a fight. This was probably a good time to practice active rest.

Even though I feel that you can run through just about any weather conditions, there are times when a little prudence goes a long way. This recent snow storm was not too bad in this area so it was possible you could run. I don't think though that the streets would be where you would find me for this one. The snow being very wet and the streets were mostly slush so unless you have a full gortex or other water sheding suit, you would probably come back from the run a bit bedraggled. Such a suit is a very nice thing to have and if you are into trails on a big time basis, I would even say a necessity.

The mountain trails can be dangerous even in the height of the summer. Fast moving thunder storms and low temperatures are the receipe for hyperthermia. When ever I am going up into the higher trails where civilization is more that a mile or so away, I alway take my full gortex suite. In addition, I have what I call my backup in the form of a 55 gallon plastic trashbag.

If the weather gets really bad, the gortex is great but in the worse conditions where I might have to hunker down for a while the added layer of the grarbage bag provides the barrier to wind and rain even gortex can sometimes not handle. The nice thing about the garbage bag is that it is light and compact. Since it is alway in my waist pack and I never go without the pack, even when I don't think I will be far enough out to need my gortex, it is there for an emergency. I have even given it away at times to people on the mountain who did not plan ahead and were in danger due to the weather.

I am bringing this up now because as the weather starts to warm, the urge to head up the mountain will grow. The mountain is not forgiving and if you don't respect it, it will win. Always consider the worse might happen and plan accordingly.

Another reason to bring this up now, is that gortex or the now similar fabrics will go on sale for the end of winter. Good time to buy. I saved over a $100 the last time I bought one because it was spring.

Check out the website at I have been busy adding some new features and trying to improve the presentation of the material. With the advent of spring, I plan to take new pictures and gather more GPS data to put on the site. I have been reworking the format in hopes that it presents the information in a more usable manner.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Me and a cast of thousands

The other day, it was one of those warm sunny days that call for action when they first appear in the spring time.

My running partner called and made a case for heading over to the incline after work for a bit of a climb and run. Well it seems like him and 10,000 of our closest friends, neighbors, and others decided on the same thing. I actually found this somewhat amusing and interesting.

The incline is not the sort of place you would expect to be a popular gathering spot. It is steep, dangerous, unmaintained and 2 degrees short of a cliff and of course, private property...but what appears to be, is the most popular place to go on a nice spring day in Colorado Springs.

I had to marvel at the people that were there. Everyone from training atheletes to family groups all making their way up the incline at their own pace. I kind of had a vision of the "if they build it, they will come" senario. Since I shouldn't have been there, having a serious cold/flu, I was taking it easy so I could observe what was happening.

Men, women, boys, girls, short, tall, skinny, overweight, solo, couples, friends, and some families
all taking on the challenge of one of the more difficult climbs in the area. I had to wonder at what it was that brought them here. Some I can understand as training for some race but others, it was not so obvious as to what their motivations were. The thing that really stood out was the chatter and support everyone gave to each other and the sense of enjoyment and accomplishment they seem to show for their efforts.

Even now, it is difficult to find parking and when the incline is officially open to the public, the situation can only become worse. I know parking is one of the main factors holding up the opening of the incline. I hope a good solution can be found.

I think that maybe I should post a few blogs about the incline that talks to the best way to enjoy it and some safety considerations. Sounds like a good idea for future posts...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's Official

Well despite the calendar, spring has not been knocking on our door with any regularity. Sunday during a small trip up into the high country, nature announced that spring is here. The discovery of these small mountain flowers has always meant that the worst is over and better weather is ahead. Unlike the woolly caterpillar, these flowers seem to pop through the last of the winter snows. After the blizzard like conditions a few days before, I hope they are right.

So put away the tights and gloves and be ready for warmer runs, longer days and the upcoming races season!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What I said...

I guess I was right about false spring. With a foot or more of snow in the area, nature reminds us that the calendar is not to be depended on. This is probably a good time to talk about weather and trails. Although we got a lot of snow with this storm, it looks like the residual moisture will be minimal.

In many areas, spring means wet and soggy trails. As good trail runners, we should pay heed to
the trail conditions and avoid trails that would suffer from use in such times. While romping through the mud sounds like fun, please avoid those trails until things dry. Running to the side of
the mud is NOT and option as it leads to trail erosion and in the long run..more mud.

There are a lot of trails that you can use without fear of damage in the area. In real bad weather, I usually run south from woodmen as this is mostly paved and the park clears it quickly. The SantaFe trail in general is composed of a base that is ok for use in wet times. There are some
areas that get some mud but the trail is usually wide enough by design to avoid these patches.

Mostly it is the developed trails that are usable during this period.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

False Spring is in the Air

One of the nice things about Colorado is the mid winter thaw. In may years there are a couple of periods where the weather gets up into the 40's, 50's and even some 60's..but beware because there is still some heavy winter weather ahead. So with this being the situation, I took the dog and header out to find a trail that I have not been on. With GPS unit, Camera, and Dog...we header over to Pulpit Rock to find some trails. Some of my research and examination of maps gave me good hope that this would have some good trails to follow and I was not disappointed.

The Pulpit rock area is dominated by a large rock formation and surronded by a lot of open space. Pulpit Rock is similar to Palmer Park, Garden of the Gods, and Red Rocks just not as well known and developed. It does have some improved trails and a host of smaller trails to choose from. I intend to check out more of them as time goes on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Running at the right time

The next part of my winter running thoughts has to do with what time do you want to run.

I am by inclination an afternoon/evening runner. I find it quite uncivilized to run early in the morning and I guess that is why I really do not get real enthusiastic about many of the races. For example, the Leadville 100 starts at 4:00 AM...most uncivilized. I will admit though that there is good reason for this in many cases such as avoiding the heat of the day or afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains.

However, in the winter...I want to enjoy the heat of the day. If you have a schedule that is flexible enough to be able to choose your running time, I would recommend noon runs. For the past 8 years I have been fortunate enough to be able to choose my running time and like today's run it is real nice to enjoy the sunshine and warm breezes on a January afternoon.

Early morning runs are good in the summer since this is generally the coolest part of the day but in the winter, it is also the coldest part of the day in most cases.

The most difficult part of morning and mid-day runs is you are limited on the time available. If you hit a good patch and want to go further, you may run up against time constraints in getting to or back to work.

It may make sense to do 2 workouts on some days to get more mileage with a nice run at noon and another one either morning or evening.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's in the shoes..ouch

During my run Sunday, I became acutely aware of one of the problems of running trails. The Sante Fe trail is one of those hard packed trails built with crushed gravel and other small materials.

I found I was having a lot of problems with small rocks and sand in my shoes, more so that I normally encounter. I realized at this time that because the surface is damp due to snow melt and just wetter conditions, that these pebbles and sand cling to the shoes and get thrown off during foot turnover. This is more the case than in summer when it is dry and the sand does not cling to the shoes. Note that the picture is the ultimate test of the gaiters...although it is kind of hard to see them under all that mud. Picture is of Coleen giving them the test at the Psycho Wyco race in Kansas City. The other picture is what it looks like without the gaiters courtesy of myself.

It look like it is time to drag out the gaiters. Since there is not any snow of depth, I will be using my gaiters from Chrissy. These gaiters are nylon, thin, and light and mainly serve to keep stuff out of the shoes. For more serious snow conditions, I would use my OR gaiters.

Check out for a source of excellent gaiters for this kind of situation. These are especially good in the summer too as they do not cause heat buildup that you would get for heavier gaiters. Although I tend not to wear them that much in the summer, I will use them in races so I do not have to empty the shoes. For training give me an excuse to take a short break (hehe)