Wasatch 100

Wasatch 100

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Loop - O - Mania 2012

As part of our ultra-running training the best place to train is in the mountains with elevation and altitude.  The nice part of the Rockies are the many well established hiking trails that can be connected to make loop workouts.  I already have two posts including the 4 passes loop.  This post is a combination of 3 loops:  Red River NM East/West Fork 15 mile loop, National Park Tonalhutu / North Inlet 26.62 mile loop, and the Indian Peaks Kings Lake / High Lonesome / Devils Thumb loop 16 mile.

Loop 1:

East/West Fork loop was the first.  6 miles up the road in the Red River upper valley the pavement ends and there is two dirt roads to go 1 mile to the east or west to the trail heads.  We went up to the parking area of the East Fork.  The trail is a very runnable trail that goes on an easy constant climb to Horseshoe and Lost Lake.

This is more of a personal trail since it is an area I have been hiking with my family since I was 4.  My parents now live half the year in the upper valley of Red River and we always try to make it up once or twice a year.  Most of our hikes start up the west fork but on this occasion we started on the east fork.

Horseshoe lake will be on the other side of the peak ahead.  The trail loops around the contours of this area.  We saw a few hiker on the way up but generally the trail to Horseshoe of Lost Lake are seldom used.
Below the next 3 pictures are of Horseshoe lake.  It is the highest lake in NM sitting slightly under 12,000 ft.  The trail going up on the other end goes to Wheeler Peak, the highest point in NM (great addition to the workout).

At this section, I ran ahead of Kelly since she did not want to due the 2 mile out-and-back to Horseshoe.  I was able to push a solid uphill run to the top.  This felt really good since just a week before we ran the Vermont 100 mile (me) and 100K (Kelly).

Two miles later the trail leads to Lost Lake.  In both cases these lakes were man-made in the 1880 to feed a ditch that ran water 40 miles away to the now ghost town of Elizabeth Town near Eagle Nest, NM.  The section between the lakes is mostly runnable and we both took advantage of the flat rolling single-track.
Following Lost Lake the trail descends down the to join up with the Middle Fork Lake trail and then back to the West Fork parking are.  In our case, we were running late and I had my father waiting for us so we could have a real cooked breakfast and make our way back to Denver.  Attached is the link to my Garmin report.  We covered 12.25 miles and with 2,650 ft of climbing yet if we would have finished the loop we would got close to 15 miles.


Loop 2:

The next loop is the the Rocky Mountain National Park Tonalhutu / North Inlet 26.62 mile loop.  Just above Grand Lake, Co is the trailhead for the hike.  There is two parking lots with plenty of spaces. Below the parking areas the trail begins next to a utility building.

 Old wooden irrigation pipe

The trail gradually climbs through the trees along the Tonahutu creek until about mile 4.5 where it hit Big Meadow.  It then move on the east-side of the meadow for about a few miles.

Below are pictures of the cabin and barn built by Sam Stone a rancher in 1900

Once reaching the north end of Big Meadow the trail turned east with first amount of climbing.  At mile 8.8 we reached Granite Falls

Soon after passing the falls and more climbing we hit this great alpine meadow with view of the Bighorn Flats.  We had our fist wave of rain so we pulled out our rain jackets to wear for next few hours.

Three hours into the journey we hit 10 miles at 10,700 ft  more storms on the way.  About 1/2 mile later we made our way to tree line.  At that point a big wave of storms was sweeping across the valley so we decided to wait it out back in the trees (smart move because some hikers we ran into later said they were miserable on the exposed ridges).
Below is where we waited out the storm
View of the saddle we climbed over below

All the following pictures are from the 5 mile section crossing over Flattop Mountain.

At mile 13.25 we hit the highpoint of the hike at 12,276 ft

View of Bear Lake on the east side of RNP

This is the junction on the trail. Also 3.5 miles below is the Bear Lake parking area near Estes Park
Blow this picture up to see all the cairns marking the trail
Below and the next found of pictures are of the descent into the North Inlet Canyon

Blow this picture up you can see the switchbacks coming up North Inlet 
I always need a marmot picture

Hallet Creek

Look at the quality of the trail

At mile 29 we had lunch - a few slices of left over pizza from Grand Lake Brewing

These pictures are of Cascade Falls 3.5 miles from the parking area. It is a very popular family hike

For a marathon distance mountain workout this is a very runnable route with great view and altitude.  It can also be reached with an additional 7 miles from the Estes Park side of RNP for 50K+ workout.

Garmin reading: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/209571454


Indian Peaks Kings Lake / High Lonesome / Devils Thumb loop is a 16 mile run located just a few miles from Nederland Co.  The trailhead is 1 mile past Eldora and there is 2x2 parking on the road and 4x4 parking by the start.  This would be our last workout before leaving to run the CCC and TDS in Chamonix the following week.

The trail goes 1 mile before deciding which direction to go; we decided to go west up the Kings Lake trail which for several miles use to be a road.  Below are signs and first few sights at the beginning.

The next few pictures are of an old abandoned narrow gage railroad track and trestle near Rollins Pass.

 (Mile 6 we reached Kings Lake and then preceded another 1/2 mile to the pass above)

Devils Thumb

Garmin reading: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/220092540