Sunday, July 21, 2013

When I grow up... screw continuity this is about our trip to Breck

My Grandparents recently celebrated their 50th anniversary! And to celebrate the whole family came out to Colorado and stayed in Breckenridge for the 4th of July.

Independence Day Trail 10k

With a good numbers of runners in the family, we decided to do Breck's 4th of July Trail 10k. The Minnesota contingent of the family consists of some pretty good runners. My uncle was once a competitive marathoner, like oylmpic marathon trials good. My cousins both were high school cross-country stand-outs good enough to run D1 college level. But none of them had run trails before.

We all rolled out of bed to get ready for the race and my one cousin realized that she had forgotten all of her running stuff. I offered her a sports bra and top and she said, "I'll just run in my swimsuit." Crazy person. She finished the race bruised and bloody from falling as many times as is possible in a 10k but she rocked it as the 5th place woman!

Cory got an impressive 3rd place. He said that the guy who started out in first got lost and decided to drop out. In a fit of rage the guy crumpled up his bib and threw it in the race director's face. What a jerk! It's not like there were even any prizes.  Cory was happy to accept a podium spot, though.

I was pretty happy with how the race went for me. I got 4th in my age group and I think I was the 14th woman. The course was beautiful but it was frustrating because there were very few places where you could pass people. In the initial climbs I was forced to walk because the people ahead of me were slowing up. On the downs I once again got stuck behind some slower people. This was the first race I ran where slower people didn't just step to the side to allow you to pass quickly.

The Minnesotans seemed to enjoy the race but said that it was a lot harder than they expected. My dad loved it as well, but got caught up by all of the slow people on the single-track. We will have a better strategy for next year.

Scouting the Breck Crest Course

Last year Cory ran the Breck Crest Marathon and I was dying to see part of the course. Cory cautioned me that it wasn't easy and that it probably wasn't wise to go run 23 mountain miles the day after a race. I was stubborn, but we ended up deciding to do the first 8-10 miles, which are the prettiest, and then turn around and come back.

We woke up early and headed out to greet a beautiful sunrise. The first few miles are all uphill but not too steep. It was pretty runnable. Then we hit a jeep road that was crazy steep and powered up to tree line. Once we got to tree line there were beautiful views, but we were surprised to feel a few rain drops. It seemed too early for storms.

Cory enjoying early morning wild flowers

It was sunny but rain was starting to fall.

Love this high country

As we continued on, leaving the jeep road and going up the more technical and steep Wheeler trail, I asked Cory how on earth were people able to run this section. He said that everyone walked a bit, even eventual winner, Nick Pedatella. This made me feel a little bit better about walking, but as we got higher there were some ominous clouds waiting for us.

Beautiful dark clouds

Cory looking at the map near the saddle

Once we got up to the saddle, it was pretty clear that the weather was not on our side. We still managed to get in about 14 miles and some sweet pictures, but I still have some unfinished business up there. I'm contemplating doing the race this year.

The Decalibron

Going into this trip we knew we wanted to do something epic with my dad. Near Breck there are four 14ers that are pretty easy to do all in one day. Those peaks - Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross - are colloquially called the Decalibron.

We've heard a lot of things about the Decalibron. Bross is legally closed, but a lot of people summit it. That doesn't make it ok, but we were talking to Cory's uncle and aunt who, as we speak, are doing their second to last of all the Colorado 14ers. They said that the person who owns the land at
Bross' summit wants people to summit Bross but he doesn't want to assume any legal liability if someone were to get hurt. We also had heard that the descent down Bross is the worst part.

At the parking area, waiting to head out

We got out early and headed up the trail in before the masses got going. We quickly ascended Democrat and stood at the cold windy summit. I immediately regretted not bringing pants. There was still a little snow, but it was packed down and easy to get around. Democrat was probably my favorite peak just because it had the best views and the rocks were different - more jagged than the sloping summits of the other peaks.

Just below the summit of Democrat

We scurried on down and across to Cameron, which I would say is the easiest 14er I've ever hiked. There was a family with small children hiking it. Cameron and Lincoln were pretty runnable as you can see in the pictures.

Cameron Lincoln saddle

Going up Lincoln

At Lincoln's summit

The wind got even stronger as we headed down Lincoln back towards Cameron and across to Bross. I was starting to get jittery thinking about the descent. I could see the scree field I had heard about and it looked steep. As we neared the top of Bross, a couple that was ahead of us came back down towards Cameron. They said they had heard enough about the descent and were going to go all the way back to the Democrat/Cameron saddle and descend. This was not what I needed to hear.

On our way to Bross

At the summit of Bross. I'm freaking out about the descent.

We sat at the summit and while my dad and Cory snacked, I was shaking mostly because of the cold but partly because I was so nervous. The trail looked doable from where we were but it twisted around the mountain and out of sight. This is where I pictured a precipitous drop off with a pile of carcasses laying at the bottom. We discussed our options and the guys talked me into giving it a shot.

We got started and I went so slowly that I thought the guys were going to throws rocks at me in their anger. It wasn't bad, but if you were to make a little slip you could fall a long ways. Beside the vertigo, let me just say that this was the most over-rated descent I have done. I have done much steeper things, but I think people just freak out over the drop-off.

I had heard that there were parts where you could just jump and slide and I think that Cory was looking forward to this a little. Really though, the trail was pretty clear and stable. There was a scree slope just beyond the trail that looked like people had tried to come down. Maybe this was the freaky part people were talking about. Not sure, but it was an epic day. We took our time and did it in about 5 hours.

Pretty Lake Emma beneath Democrat

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