After running aimlessly for 15 miles through the woods on Sunday, I made my way over to the Ptarmigan Peak trail on Monday morning for an early run. Since most of the trail is west facing, I figured I'd have better success at avoiding the snow. Thankfully, I was right. I ran this for the first time last year and loved it. Twelve miles round-trip with views that rival any outside of SW Colorado. I was quite tired from some big mileage (for me) the previous week, so I just cruised without worrying whether I was running or hiking.
|Started at 5:00 a.m. and took this shot about 40 minutes into the run.|
|The sun lighting up the Gore Range mountains. It was chilly and I was wishing some of that sun would light me up. You get a better view of the snow on Buffalo Mtn that I thought I could run through the day before.|
|I don't take enough pictures of dead and rotting trees.|
|Came upon some elk all spread out over the tundra. (click pics to enlarge)|
|They take notice that I'm coming.|
|Looking back towards the lake and the Tenmile Range.|
|And...they all gather to prepare for a mass exit. Sure makes me feel powerful that 40 huge elk would flee from my presence when they could easily trample me into a pancake if they wanted.|
|On the summit, looking northwest-ish. The Ute Peak trail runs along that entire ridge for miles. My elk friends are trying to descend that snowfield. Not a good idea, so they turned around.|
|Looking east at Grays and Torreys. The Ptarmigan Pass trail follows this ridge.|
|Descending on some sweet, wildflower-lined singletrack.|
|Flat and fast, but only for a mile or so.|
|These claw marks were on just about every aspen tree along the trail. I figured they could only be from a bear. Today, I learned about them here.|
|Came across this big guy just over a mile away from the trailhead.|
I enjoyed this run so much that I'm itching to go back and run from the Ptarmigan Peak TH all the way to Ute Peak and back (about 26 miles).