Thursday, June 20, 2013

St. Vrain and Meadow Mountains

Running down the snowfield on St. Vrain Mountain
 Strava (Corey's track. I haven't uploaded yet)

Today was our Tendril "Dawn Patrol" Mountain Challenge hike and I was pleasantly surprised to have eight people in the Tendril parking lot by 4:30 a.m. Two more would meet us at the trailhead.

In my car (I drove) were Homie, Mark, and Corey. Kevin followed in his FJ with Marcel, George, and Seth. At the trailhead it didn't take long to select our gear, but it did run a wide range. George looked like he was ready to overnight on the summit up there, while Homie, Corey and I just had a single bottle in our hands.

Homie set a very hard pace from the start and blew up the group completely. Corey and I were together a little ways back and everyone else fell off after five minutes, Kevin after five seconds. Homie eased up a bit and started hiking. Corey and I closed on him and I was relishing the switch to hiking when Homie stepped to the side and I felt obligated to keep running. I led from there clear to the summit of St. Vrain Mountain. I hiked when it was too steep or rocky for me (often) and ran when it was not.

We got to the saddle (for Meadow Mountain) in 50 minutes and enjoyed some really nice running as we headed south toward the saddle for St. Vrain Mountain. The slopes leading up to the summit were mostly covered in snow and the snow we had encountered so far, on a few short sections of the trail, were very hard. We wondered it we'd have safe purchase on the ascent/descent. It turned out to be  nearly perfect conditions. The last 700 feet were mostly on perfect snow - not very steep and really grippy. It was like walking up slickrock in Zion

I really wanted to get both summits so pushed as hard as I could on the ascent here. I huffed and puffed, all the while listening to Homie and Corey chat away as if they weren't moving at all. We topped out after 1h15m, covering about 3300 vertical feet and 4.2-miles on the ascent.

We stayed less than 30 seconds on top before running down and over to Meadow Mountain, where we found Mark educating Seth on the awesome peaks to the west. We had passed Marcel earlier, as he came over to the base of St. Vrain, but did not continue to the summit, probably for time reasons - we had to be back at the trailhead by 8 a.m. Homie, Corey, and I once again left the others and did the 450-foot ascent to the summit of Meadow Mountain in 9 minutes. Once again, we quickly tagged teh summit and turned on our heels to catch the others

I was a little behind Homie and Corey by the time we got back to the trail. I decided not to try to catch them, as the trail is pretty rocky and I didn't want to trip and fall. I ran down, mostly alone, but eventually passing Dawn (Chad's woman - they were the two who did not meet at Tendril but at the trailhead) and Marcel. Mark came back up and ran the last third of a mile with me.

Everyone was back at the trailhead before 8 a.m. I made it back about 7:54 a.m. for a roundtrip of 2:19 for the 9.1 miles and 3700 vertical feet. Homie and Corey finished some time before me. Mark was the only other person to summit, tagging Meadow Mountain. The weather had been perfect! We ran in shorts and long sleeves, but needed no hat. I wore thin gloves, but didn't need those either. Gorgeous views. Super fun morning. I'll be back to this area.

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