Vail Daily Editor Don Rogers: The family that runs together …
Vail, CO, Colorado
Tuesday I did some research for this week’s column. I’m sure my colleagues would call it playing hooky.
But this was hard work and essential to the core of why most of us choose to live here despite the still-high cost of living and generally lower-paying jobs. Important stuff, yessir.
We are an outdoorsey people, more focused on fitness than most, always ready for a challenge. Right?
Besides this was our slightly wacked-out way of going on a family outing: Get up at 6, drive to the top of Crooked Creek Pass, take a little side road to the Mount Thomas trailhead, and tie our shoelaces tight.
Then run for two hours. Father, son, son’s wife, daughter and Mom. Mom’s the only one just sane enough to hike on these ventures.
I love this trail. I hate this trail.
You start at about 10,000 feet and run to about 12,000 feet. Up. And up.
This is what passed for some family togetherness. Run out for an hour, and turn around. See you back at the trailhead. This is how the collegiate athletes get their workout and we get ours. It works pretty well, actually.
Our favorite trails:
n East Lake Creek. You work hard out and back with up- and downhills each way, along with some nice stretches that are sort of level where you can stride out a bit.
n Two Elk. It’s up the creek from Minturn to the base of the Back Bowls, but at a mellow grade so you run a little faster than on most trails here.
n Off Silver Spur in Eagle Ranch. This is all up on the way out. Convenient from the house and good before the higher elevation trails are ready to be run.
n The mesa just east of our home on Eby Creek. The powerline road is up and down each way, so no easier back than out. And no one is ever out there. It’s like being a golfer with your own private course.
n And this grind up toward Mount Thomas. For me, it’s 50 minutes of pure pain to the ridgetop saddle and sweet level to downhill before the next steep spot. Back down is fine other than keeping the softball-sized rocks and roots in the shaded spots from tripping you up.
This is “Sound of Music” country, like the Alps with all the meadow in bloom and views of the peaks all around.
And exactly what I love about trail running. No fancy equipment, no worries beyond breathing and stepping true. Especially on this trail, it breaks down to the simplest things: Breathe, and keep chugging.
I worked my butt off running that trail. Remembering as I write, that’s just fun.