Monday, October 29, 2012

Solitude at Indian Creek

Work has been pretty stressful for the last two months, and coaching my daughter's soccer team this fall has eaten up most of the available free time in my schedule.  So when I got word at 6:55am on Saturday that our soccer game was canceled, I grabbed my gear and headed for the hills.  I needed some real solitude to unwind and my gracious wife said these fantastic words as I stepped out the door, "Honey, take your time and just enjoy yourself.  Don't worry about us."

My destination was the best kept secret on the Front Range.  Indian Creek.  I haven't been back there for a year and half, and that's crazy when you see how amazing the running is.  I don't understand why it's not more popular.

What I didn't tell my wife, was that my "under the radar" plan was to go on a bear hunt.  I know that area is known for lots of bear crawling around and this time of year is perfect since they're actively on the prowl for food before the long winters nap.  I've never seen a bear in the wild, so I planned to run with my camera in hand and capture a shot - hopefully at a safe distance.

I started in Roxborough State Park heading up the Carpenter Peak trail before veering off on the Elk Valley trail.  Eventually that connects to the Indian Creek trail and the true fun begins.

Thursday's snow left a cushy, unspoiled blanket of white.

I think I woke this guy up.

He didn't budge while I ran by.  Probably too cold to move.

There are very few open expansive views on these trails.  For the most part you are running in the forest 90% of the time.  Perfect if you ask me.

Not much melting had occurred, so it was 3-4" of snow everywhere.  This kind of running is exactly what I was looking for.

Every so often, my large noggin would knock a branch like above and snow would pour down my neck or in my face.  Exhilarating!

I had planned to run a few more miles back there, but I came to several sections like this and had difficulty sticking with the trail.  I decided it would be a smart move to make my way back to Roxborough.

Sadly, I couldn't find a bear.  This baby track was the most excited wildlife encounter outside of spooking countless deer.

As I ran the Roxborough Connector trail, I started getting bummed the run was coming to a close.  Time to slow down and goof off with the camera.

I don't usually get too artsy with my pictures, but this is what happens when I start procrastinating.

I encountered my first people of the day on top of Carpenter Peak.  
The trails got quite muddy on the descent from Carpenter and I had to pull some serious willpower out to not turn around and head back into Indian Creek.  I wasn't ready to get back to real life stuff.

I can't tell you how thankful I am for the opportunity to run in such beautiful places that usher in the peace and solitude that I need.  Sure it gets eery being deep into a place that redefines what quiet means and where your footprints are the only ones those trails will see for days - or weeks.  And sure it stinks when its over, but as I've learned each time I head out the door - there's always another day to run.


  1. Definitely a hidden gem up there. And, for the record, I dig the aspen leaf pic.

  2. I like the leaf pic, too. Good to slow down and notice the little things! I'll give you a call @03:00 next time the bears are trying to raid the neighborhood trash cans.

    1. I need to invite you along for the next run since you always have success with bear sightings! 3 AM? Nah, I don't want to see one that bad.

  3. I ran into a bear there last year. Kind of freaked me out, but he (or she) was gentle.

    I agree that Indian Creek's a beautiful area -- it's just a bit of a trek to get there from Denver, but a perfect getaway from the Ranch.

    1. Seems like most have had a similar experience as you. Either the bear runs away or just moseys along and doesn't really care to pay attention. Definitely agree that the IC area is out of the way for most. It doesn't help that the two main access points charge to enter/park.

  4. I wondered where that Deer Valley turn-off went as I hiked up Carpenter Peak (taking a few run/bike weeks off to heal)!

    That's a nice park, but a little out of the way (at least from north metro area), it has a locked gate at the end of the day (meh), and the region to the west takes a bit of a drive to get to. But, that's probably why Indian and Buffalo Creeks are nice.

    1. Glad you were able to get over there and check out the trails in Rox. My biggest frustration with Roxborough SP is that the gate doesn't open until 8:00am. That is way too late for me for most long weekend runs. I should just head to Sedalia and park at the IC Trailhead on 67 since that provides very quick access to all those trails.

      The other thing to watch out for with the IC trails is that once we get a bigger snow, it will take a long time for them to melt out. Everything is shaded.