16 March 2011

Horsetooth Rock

Horestooth Rock is a monolithic geological formation that can be seen from nearly everywhere in Fort Collins.  To think I lived in Fort Collins for 17 years before I ever set foot on top of it seems crazy now.  I wasn't always a trail runner though (or even a road lover for that matter) but I was somewhat active and liked to hike when I first moved to Colorado in 1992.  
 Horsetooth rock on a winter day from Towers Trail and Herrington.

I first ventured to the top of "the rock" a year and a half ago.  Up until last summer I still went there infrequently, mostly because there was a large ΔElevation between the trailhead and the rock.  Well there still is, but I've come to think differently about hills.  They make me a better runner, even if they sometimes suck on the way up.  Really, once I accepted that I may have to slow if not walk a bit (and not count that a failure) the satisfaction from sitting atop a peak and soaking in the panoramic views softens all the work that goes into getting up.  Plus running downhill is a lot of fun.

Last Sunday I ran up to the top of Horsetooth Rock, choosing it over more miles on flatter trails to fill the window I had to run in.  As I left the parking lot at Horsetooth Mountain Park it was overcast and there was fog and low hanging clouds everywhere.  As I headed up the trails the higher I got the more often I'd see brief windows of sunshine to the west, though clouds and running through fog were the norm.  When I reached the plateau at the base of the rock I got a view to the west and my jaw dropped.  It was mostly sunny to the west with small clouds of fog dotted here and there throughout the valley.  These fog banks were literally disappearing before my eyes.  I climbed the rock and sat and watched for 10 or 15 minutes, watching cloud after cloud wisp away up the thermal updrafts along the sides of the valleys.  It was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time.  It's Wednesday night and I'm still thinking about it, it was that cool.  I wish I had some pictures to share, but I left my camera in the car figuring the overcast day would not be conducive to good pictures. Sometimes the mind holds better pictures than the camera anyway --  though they are tougher to share without 1000 words!

I'm looking forward to being back atop Horsetooth Rock this coming Saturday as I run in Alex's March Madness Run.

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