07/10-12/2009

Several months ago I tentatively agreed to pace Bill Geist for the last 27miles of the Hard Rock 100 trail race between Telluride and Silverton. This sounded like a great option considering I will probably never run it! Also aHR100 01.JPG (202853 bytes) good opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful places in Colorado and do a test-run of a road trip with Miles. Jean and I left Colo Spgs Friday afternoon heading west with the Yukon packed to the gills.... sure do need alot of stuff for a couple nights out with a baby! We stopped every couple of hours to let Denali out and make sure Miles wasn't getting too sick of his car seat. it worked out real well and we pulled into Telluride around 8:30pm. It was a late night by the time we got settled, found the race tents, HR100 05.JPG (274149 bytes)walked Denali, and got Miles ready for bed. Sleep was not happening and it wasn't long before the 3:30am alarm went off. I guess I couldn't complain though considering the runners have been up all night on the trails! At the 73mile aid station I found Bill's crew and chatted with them and it was only about 30mins before Bill and his pacer, Dan, came running in. Bill was ahead of schedule and running strong, awesome!
Before getting into the actual part that I paced Bill, I want to say that this race is absolutely insane and the folks thatHR100 08.JPG (165691 bytes) run it are NUTZ! It covers 100.5miles through the San Juan mtns and over 33,000ft of elevation gain/loss while connecting Silverton, Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, and back to Silverton. Amazingly enough, the 140 slots fill every year and there's plenty of folks on the waiting list.
Bill and I left Telluride right at 5am and immediately missed a turn, D'oh! Just a few minutes delay before following Bear Creek up towards Oscars Pass over 4,000ft away. Once the sun came out it revealed the HR100 12.JPG (207374 bytes)typical beautiful San Juans landscape surrounded by mountains, lush meadows and small lakes, waterfalls, and old mines. We joked about climbing some extra peaks along the way and swapped stories to pass the hours away. Slightly above 13K at Oscars Pass we could see Bridal Veil Basin to one side and the Chapman Gulch aid station wayyyyyy down in the valley below, and off in the distance we could see the route up to Grant-Swamp Pass that we would head towards next. Post card views 360degrees around! Despite already covering about 80miles, Bill easily jogged the downhills and we had a couple of snow field crossingsHR100 13.JPG (243532 bytes) where we joked about hauling the extra weight of plastic boots, ropes, ice axes, and pickets.
We got to Chapman Gulch around 9:20am and it was already getting quite warm. After about 15mins, we headed out up the long slog towards Grant-Swamp Pass. Of course there were no flat spots and we started the steep trail up up and up joking about counting down the tens of thousands of steps till the top, which was always right around the corner! The clouds always seemed to be on the wrong side of the valley and HR100 16.JPG (187730 bytes)the scree reflected the heat. More mountains all around and waterfalls by the dozens with South Lookout Peak on one side and US Grant Peak on the other. Some fool was coming down a horrible scree gulley on US Grant with two dogs and I thought for sure we were about to see an accident. The last few hundred feet up the Pass was what I referred to as "Technical Scree". There was no trail and it was impossible to not slip and slide all around while using hands and feet to grab onto anything that resembled being somewhat solid. Not fun! But it was all worth it once we arrived at the top of the windy pass and the viewsHR100 17.JPG (167860 bytes) opened up into Upper Ice Lake Basin and high 13ers all around. Island Lake is one of the coolest places I've ever seen and I want to come back and camp there. Some of the peaks.... Pilot Knob, Golden Horn, Vermilion, and Fuller. It was hard to keep my eyes on the trail as we jogged down through Lower Ice Lakes Basin and contoured above some cliffs towards the KT Aid Station. Bill was moving great and sure didn't look like he was 88miles into this race! Amazing! We arrived at KT around 1pm and spent just long HR100 19.JPG (327525 bytes)enough to chow on some watermelon and contemplate the last major climb. A side note... I didn't see Bill eat anything during the last 27miles except a few Gu's, a couple slices of watermelon, and a single fig newton!
Down the road away from the next climb, we just about swam across Mineral Creek and decided it would be fun to try to keep our feet wet for the rest of the day! More up and up and up through the humid woods and contouring towards Porcupine Creek. Some dark clouds were rolling in and we could hear thunder in the distance. Just for fun, the trail loses some more elevation before climbing back up near 13K to Porcupine-Cataract Pass. Huge chucks of Crestone-lookingHR100 20.JPG (274862 bytes) conglomerate boulders around that Mother Nature has peeled off of the ridges up here. One last small drop and climb up to the Putnam-Cataract Ridge and the 33K of climbing was done for Bill, just over 10K for me.... and that was no easy task! Just about all downhill from here and of course, Bill was still going strong and jogging through the gulch towards Putnam Aid Station where John Prater was there to shout some encouragement and plant the seed that Bill could finish under 36hrs since we arrived here at 4:10pm. We stayed just long enough to fill bottles and have a sip of the Shiner Bock they hauled up and we were off running again. The upper trail through Putnam Gulch wasn't very easy to run but we made the best of it and once in the woods continued jogging strong and making up time. After about an hour we hit highway 550 and could just about smell Silverton! Mineral Creek had a rope across it since it was thigh deep and we crossed the highway. 36hrs was within reach for Bill and we continued to walk the last few small hills and jog the HR100 21.JPG (131477 bytes)downhills. Aaaahhhh, views of town! Bill "brought it home" strong as could be at 35hrs and 50mins to put him in 30th place. He planted a big ole kiss on the "Hard Rock" to the cheers of everyone around. Truely an amazing accomplishment that I could not fathom doing!!!!!!!!
Jean, Miles, and Denali were also in Silverton after an exciting (yet exhausting) day in Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton. We hung out for a bit and swapped war-stories from the day then headed to our hotel down in Durango. The views along the drive cannot be described and just simply jaw-dropping! A good reminder once again, to get the heck back down to this part of the state for some hiking! After three room changes inHR100 23.JPG (188899 bytes) Durango, we got a good nights sleep and did the long drive back to Colo Spgs on Sunday making several stops along the way to enjoy the day, visit friends in Pagosa, stretch our legs, and play make sure Miles didn't get too uncomfy. What a great little road trip, good practice for our road-trip next month!

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