Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ptarmigan Peak

With everything that seemed to go wrong on my Eccles Pass run on Friday, Sunday's run up Ptarmigan Peak was the complete opposite! It was ideal. I had a full day of rest and felt ready to fire on all cylinders.

Ptarmigan Peak overlooks Silverthorne & Dillon. The trailhead is just above I-70, but quickly rises and disappears into pine and aspen forests. I started at 5:30am and was treated to a sunrise hitting Buffalo Mtn and the rest of the Gore Range. The full moon was setting over Buffalo at the same time. Isn't there a play called "Moon over Buffalo"?

This trail had a few rocky spots, but overall it was smooth singletrack with minimal obstacles. It was very nice to not have to worry so much about tripping after my six close calls the other day. I took the above aspen picture on the descent. I was cruising in the 7:45/mile range. I usually never go that fast when running downhill. But everything was flowing and I was in my running "happy place". For me, that's when everything seems right with the world around me and I just can't get enough of what I'm doing.

Back to the ascent. I enjoyed chasing this Ptarmigan (bird) for about 25 feet before he flew off. I've never seen one before, but at a closer glance, it resembled a black & white chicken.

There was a 2-3 mile stretch that was quite steep. I powerhiked most of it, but was really pleased with the speed I could maintain at altitude. I feel very good about getting in several weeks of hiking practice because that will no doubt be a big part of my Silver Rush strategy.

Above treeline, the trail became runnable again, so I shuffled through the tundra landscape until I reached the summit.

Even though the approach to the summit is quite barren, the views are spectacular. I kept hoping I'd find some elk grazing, but no such luck this day.

Here's a look to the west and the area where I cruised around on Friday.

I made it to the spacious summit (12,498') in 1:29 and clearly I had some extra energy to goof around. The totals were 11.76 miles in 2:19 with 3600' of elevation.

I highly recommend this run. It's easy to get to, the trail is simple to follow, and the scenery is amazing. You're going straight up and the down, but everything about this trail makes the effort worth it. Aside from my Eccles Pass run, I've never hiked in this area. I'll be back for sure.

Below is a 360 degree view from the summit.

Ptarmigan Peak Summit 360

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