As I prepare for my favorite race of the Triple Crown, the Summer Trail Roundup, I am continuing to try to get up into the mountains as much as I can. Traditionally, the majority of my training is on Barr Trail and at Bear Creek Park but this summer I'm trying to get as many peaks in as I can. I have gotten several training runs in with the Striders at Bear Creek Park but I'm not confident of my leg-turnover speed so I'm a little grateful that the course has changed and I am not having to run down High Drive. A few years ago I managed to fall down while blazing down the descent on High Drive and split open my knee. The kind sponsors at Emergicare hooked me up with free stitches after the race. I wear the scars proudly.
My most recent adventure involved a late arrival at Missouri Gulch to climb Belford and Oxford. I had just run the Crags/Devil's Playground that morning and didn't set up camp until 8:30. I was feeling pretty lazy and didn't want to set up my tent so I opted to sleep in my Eno hammock. The temperatures were mild and the sky was clear with no rain in the forecast. I even took some melatonin and put in some earplugs to drown out the sound of the raging creek. My body was exhausted and I finally started to doze off after reviewing the straightforward route up Belford and Oxford. Around 11:45, nestling further into my womb-like Eno, I rolled over to feel something warm and furry. My Eno is a 2-person so the extra fabric serves as mini walls. I couldn't see over the side of the Eno which was at least a few feet off of the ground. Even with the earplugs I could hear a huffing-sniffing noise and the fabric of my hammock was moving and it wasn't the wind. I was terrified. I was frozen with fear and just realized I left the bear spray in the car. I quickly went through the mental checklist of what to do and what not to do when approached by bears. If I peer over the fabric to investigate what the warmth was, I take the risk of getting my face eaten off, if I remain still, it may walk away or decide to paw at me and eventually eat this bear taco. I opted instead to cough loudly in hopes that the noise would scare it away. Unfortunately, I did not get pics. The identification of the animal was unconfirmed but I'm convinced it was a bear. I'm hoping it wasn't a melatonin-induced hallucination. The animal went away and for the remainder of the night I did not sleep. Camping solo has it's perks but from now on, I will be sleeping in my tent instead of my Eno. I greeted the sunrise with gratitude to live to see another day.
I got up around 4:45 after lying in my hammock wide awake for several hours. I started up the trail around 6. The beginning of the trail was very steep so there was no running involved in this ascent. The views of Missouri Gulch were spectacular and the trail was very well marked. I took my time and ended up getting to the top of Belford in a few hours. It was cold and windy at the top and a few hikers who were in shorts turned around rather than doing the combo because they didn't have enough clothing. After summitting Belford, Oxford was about a mile and a half to go. It's further than it looks. There was barely any snow compared to other mountains I've done this season. As I got up to the rounded dome of Oxford, a gnarly looking cloud rolled over so I ran down the traverse and climbed back up the steep approach back to Belford. I don't take any chances with being a human lightning rod. It was a fun day with great weather and the clouds didn't end up doing anything. I am planning on getting back to Missouri Gulch and doing Missouri and La Plata. There were a couple of college kids I ran into that attempted to do Oxford/Belford and Missouri but turned around on Missouri due to snow.
Stay tuned for reports from my next adventure, Monarch Crest Trail and Crested Butte on the mountain bike. I will do my best to keep the rubber side down.