Monday, May 31, 2010

Mueller State Park - Day 1

Just returned from a weekend of camping at Mueller. This state park sits just to the west of Pikes Peak. It boasts 55 miles of trails, so I had to check it out some of them to test my lungs & legs at higher altitude. There are no big mountains or climbs. No, you are just constantly bouncing between 9200' and almost 9900'.

This park also warns you extensively of bear activity. You have to keep all your food in your car at night. I've been to other campgrounds that warn of bears, but Mueller seems to ratchet that up a notch. I have never seen a bear in the wild and I have this secret desire to encounter a very safe distance. Needless to say, setting off for a run at dawn had me raising my personal terror alert status to a new color. In two days of running throughout the park here's my count: 0 humans, 0 bears, 5 elk, 1 wild turkey, and about 1000 stumps/bushes/rocks that sure looked like a bear! I'm a little disappointed to say the least. I was well off the beaten path and hoped to see more wildlife.

I set off around 5:20 a.m. on Saturday to bag a long run on all the trails in the northern and western sections of the park. If you're running in Mueller, you better keep a trail map in hand. All trails are named and numbered on the map. Out on the trails, they're just numbered. Unless you excel in keeping track of number sequences, you will come to an intersection of trails, and like me get baffled as to where to go next.

It is a beautiful area of CO as the trails wander through aspen groves, dense pine forests, interesting rock formations, next to ponds, and high alpine meadows.

The highest peak in Mueller is Grouse Mtn (9843'). The climb is very short, but the views of many 14ers are sweet. To the west is Pikes. To the south is the Sangre de Cristo range, and to the west are the Collegiates. No luck seeing anything to the north.

My totals for the day were 20.5 miles, 3:32, and about 2900' of elevation. It was a solid run and gave me another opportunity to refine my hydration/electrolyte/food plan.

This rock was at the end of my run. The picture doesn't do it justice for how large it really is. The massive boulder on the left is balancing on a pedestal below it.

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