Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mesa Trail FKT run

Continuing my quest for fun adventures via the Fastest Known Times (FKT) boards... since we're in the Denver area for a couple weeks, I found a bunch of great possibilities.  I've been cherry-picking based on several factors, one of which is that there isn't yet a female time posted.  Surely many women have run the Mesa Trail faster than I'm capable, but at least I can say I was the first to record it on the FKT site.  Let's get some more ladies involved - come beat this  :)

It was our first time running in the hills above Boulder, and that experience alone was worth coming down out of the mountains last Sunday.  Beautiful place, wonderful trails, and a fun city to explore afterward.  We took the free shuttle from downtown to Chatauqua, and John hiked up into the hills to get a closer look at the Flatirons.

Those would be the really neat rocks sticking up in the background from where I started:

Wandering around Chatauqua a bit beforehand, admiring the buildings and imagining staying in a cabin here for a week, that would be fun.

Lots of people on the trails today - it was certainly good weather for it, cloudy and not too hot:

Getting ready to start at the gate at the bottom of Bluebell Road:

And... go!

The little building where the Mesa trail proper begins off to the left.  I will note that I'm trying out my new Ultimate Direction vest that I won at Spread Your Wings (thanks Too Cool!), and it was about perfect for this particular endeavor.  I stuffed plenty of stuff into it - the InReach tracker, a camera, my phone, water in the little bottles, snacks, a little med kit, and a trail map.  Not the lightest way to run, but it all traveled well in the vest:

I love paths through pine forests:

The trail at each end is super fast and easy.  In the middle there are plenty of rocks and roots; fun to run on, but I have no idea how the fast guys are setting times twice as fast as I ran today.  I speed-hiked up the hills and ran the downs, working at a reasonable pace (for me).

Little cabin in the woods:

Trail improvements, and more views of the Flatiron rocks:

I was lucky that I'd already planned to do this run on a Sunday - parts of the Mesa Trail are currently closed on weekdays for trail work.  They are certainly keeping the trail in great shape.

Gorgeous meadow, and lovely low clouds:

The bridge at the south end - note the hat on top of the sign:

My one-way (north to south) time = 1:27:03:

I paused briefly to eat a snack, send an InReach message to be sure it captured my position at that point, and take a couple more photos:

Then the long (ish) hike back up the hill to the north.  Both directions I took the "classic" Mesa Trail and not the cutoff that would save a tiny bit of distance and climbing.  Trying to match what has been done before me.  The Towhee trail heading off to west:

A random boulder in the middle of the meadow:

Views of downtown Boulder as I made my way back:

The trail is very well marked - except this one divergence (the Mesa Trail goes left; this is looking north-to-south):

More trail work, with some nice flat stones across the field:

One last wonderful downhill run, to the north gate, and done!

Total roundtrip time = 3:03:51 (break in the middle=2:49, return trip = 1:33:59).  It would be fun to come back to aim for a sub-3 hours sometime.  The distance is ~13.5 miles and somewhere around 2600+ feet of climb.

That was a fun one!

Mesa Trail page on the FKT site:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vermont with Mom and Phyllis - part 2

Mom, Phyllis, and I continued our journey through middle Vermont, heading next to the Calvin Coolidge historic site.  I didn't know this was here!  Heck, I didn't know Silent Cal was from Vermont.  Growing up in the northern part of the state, all I knew was Chester A. Arthur.  John says Vermont schools should teach state history every year like they do in Texas.

President Coolidge's home site is a great place to visit and wander around - and it's still a small working town, complete with a cheese factory.  Lots of artifacts and history to discover.

Here we are starting our tour at the general store:

The street through town, past the church and the house where he grew up:

A garden, with a replica of the whirlybird that Cal's son had - the original still exists!  It is in storage to keep it from weathering any more:

Transportation of the times (it needs a Morgan Horse to pull it):

The room where President Coolidge was sworn in by his father after Warren G. Harding died in 1923:

Some excellent cheese to take home, the best kind of souvenir!

Examining the old postal box system:

And the new ones downstairs, not a lot different:

Where the president worked while he was at the farm on break from the White House:

Thanks Mom, for suggesting we come here!

Old farm tools - now these methods have changed a bit over the years:

Two former postal employees with a US Mail carriage:

Across the street, the simple graves of the president and his family - another dead president we just happened to visit (I really should start a list):

We drove around the back roads of Reading, learned how to pronounce it ("red-ing", like the Monopoly railroad), didn't see any signs of a real town, and ended up in Woodstock for the afternoon.  Another excellent place to spend some time.

I sent this photo to John:

Requisite covered bridge picture:

Later in the day we explored the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller historic park trails.  Mom and Phyllis walked up to Pogue Pond and I went for a run.  Love the carriage roads.  Here's a view from the top of the hill:

Looking back down at Woodstock; ah the lovely green hills of Vermont:

Our final stop on the way home = Joseph Smith's birthplace.  It was certainly an interesting variety today!  The site is quite lovely (and no, I didn't know this was here either):

An impressive obelisk:

Stones marking the original house where Joseph Smith was born:

For my last day "on the job" we drove to Barre to see the Hope Cemetery, always a favorite.  Many granite gravestones are carved into intricate and amazing designs, very creative.

This is one of our favorites:

We spent some time trying to understand these pyramids:

Mom figured out to move the buttons aside on the instruction post.  There are QR codes underneath!  They are faded and I didn't try to read them with my phone, but it's not something you see every day in a cemetery.

I'm amazed that someone tackled the carving of a perfectly round soccer ball:

Pretty engraving:

Another favorite:

Very nice:

Back in the town of Barre to visit another granite carving, this one of Robert Burns (Phyllis can quote some of his books, also amazing):

From Burns to the Bern:

We happened to visit the Vermont Historical Society Museum on a day when all the state parks and facilities were free, nice!  Here's the photo I like the best - balance is the key to many things:

What a fun visit!  Thank you Mom for the idea to come to Vermont for a few days.  It was great spending time with you two, loved it all a lot  :)