Tuesday, August 15, 2017

now bid me run

On Saturday night I am pacing the last 25 miles of the Leadville 100, from Fish Hatchery/Outward Bound aid station to the finish. My expected start time is somewhere between 10pm and midnight, expected finish between 5am and noon, depending on how my runner Carl is doing. So I thought I'd better go run up a mountain to check the legs and lungs actually function at that altitude. Also wanted to test out another backpack as the one I'd tried last weekend was a bit bouncy. Check - legs and lungs function, though not as well as our friends would like.

Climbs on route: just one but it's a good pull.. 9% average gradient, says mapmyrun.
My topo map measurements said 4 miles, the trailhead marker said 5 miles, my GPS did not work, and mapmyrun says 4.5 miles. I'll take that as a good average.

We are going U-P, up, to those distant ridges..
The trail was extremely rugged, roots and rock (but no reggae) all the way. On the way down there was rain to make it slippery, for extra credit. One guy said, "I might as well be back in New Hampshire!"
Plenty of company on the trail, numbers of overnight backpackers, photographers, but only one other runner. She passed me as I walked one steep bit, must have taken a break later since I caught up. When the trail was runnable she pulled away, on the bits we had to walk for steepness or rock-hopping I'd slowly catch back up. An hour and a quarter to get up there with more walking than running.

Once at the lakes the crowds had thinned out well, only a few folks who had overnighted. Perfectly gorgeous as usual in the CO high country: whenever I actually get up there I regret not spending more time at altitude.

Not only that, but wildflowers too. The bluebells aren't visible in the pic but I could see them as I bent over gasping for air.

The Continental Divide is just a few hundred feet more climbing, chose to go fishing instead. A young man galloped down from the Divide trail and shot down the hill, probably doing one of the fine loop runs available here. The other trailhead is so busy, there is a shuttle bus to get there with a park-and-ride in the nearest town.

My orange fly line is on the right of the pic. Click on the pic to enlarge and there may be seen a little white fleck in the middle. This is a Royal Coachman fly bobbing in the wave over the deeps, as I hopefully wait for a cruising fish to spot it.

One showed up like a surfacing submarine, black in the green water, missed him entirely. The one in the picture above first rose in the shallows near me. Presented the caddis fly, which he took though we missed each other again. Another cast to the same place and he roared up to savage the fly. He seemed as annoyed to have missed out on a tasty morsel as I was to have missed the strike, though I didn't hear him cuss.

By now the hikers were showing up - lots of spectators now, dogs barking, people swimming. A small emerger fly was taken as it lit upon the water by a handsome 18" fish.

The wind would gust up to where a cast flyline would blow back to my feet. In the waves and murk as the clouds raced over the sun, there would be dark shapes of fish coming up in the waves then fading back. The water went from clear to green, then black as the clouds tore off the mountain.

A big fish patrolled by and doubled back. I put a Goddard caddis fly out 20ft ahead of him, he accelerated up instantly then the take was surprisingly gentle.

A fine handsome cutthroat trout pushing 20", returned to the water with thanks. I took a short nap in the shelter of some bushes after this. At 11 400ft it is still cold in August, the sun was most welcome. Thunder rolled in the distance and I chose discretion over valor, ran back down the hill. The way down was only 10min faster than going up, due to rocks roots and general slipperiness.
There was a half-hour before needing to meet my wife, as well as runner Carl and his wife, down in Boulder for the Shakespeare festival - we went to see the tragedy of Julius Caesar. So of course I stopped to have a look at the creek, clambering down from the trail. It is tiny but in good shape with small brook trout everywhere they could reasonably live. Back in N.Carolina there was trout fishing in tree tunnels, the streams overhung by rhododendrons and the wild variety of temperate rainforest growth. Here in CO we have tree canyons instead.

In this one eddy alone there were three different small fish that tried manfully (fishfully ?) to attack a dry fly too large to fit in their mouths.

The larger fish (relatively speaking) absolutely glowed with health.

Back down to the Shakespeare, pausing only to inhale a burrito.
Early in the first act, the line
now bid me run
and I will strive with things impossible
made me think of trying to pace Leadville on inadequate training.. oh well.

Then there is Cassius, my lean and hungry brother.

CAESAR (speaking so that only ANTONY can hear)
I want the men around me to be fat,
healthy-looking men who sleep at night.
That Cassius over there has a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much.
Men like him are dangerous.
He reads much.
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men.
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mocked himself and scorned his spirit
That could be moved to smile at anything.
Such men as he be never at heart’s ease.

It is true, we are not. On the other hand a good run up the hills, gives a certain pleasant fatigue and calm. I should do more of that.

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