The last time I ran up Green Mountain, above the Flatirons, my foot clipped a tree root on the decline and I somersaulted into a ravine. Fortunately the poison oak broke my fall. Unfortunately I was shirtless, this was 26 years ago, and I had to scrounge around the plants for my car keys. As I climbed back up to the trail, I thought to myself, “How am I still alive?” After 26 years, I’m in good enough condition to run it again.
There are probably more Green Mountains in Colorado than there are Beaver Creeks. There’s a popular Green Mountain in Lakewood with ample paths, but this has to be the most famous Green Mountain for trail runners. I started out late afternoon from the Chautauqua parking lot and ran over Ski Jump Trail to reach the Gregory Canyon trailhead. From here it’s about a 3 mile, 2300 foot climb. I took Gregory Canyon Trail to Ranger Trail, which averages a 17% grade. I’d call the lower third 30%. The top half was mostly snow and ice. I was unprepared with my 1000 mile trail shoes and no nano spikes.
I met a couple in their young twenties at the top. They were hanging out next to this peak finder, viewing the Indian Peaks and getting stoned. Weed is certainly more convenient than carrying up a six pack. They told me they came up E.M. Greenman Trail. I figured if they could navigate it stoned in tennis shoes, it might be less dicey than the death trap I just ascended and made a loop out of it.
It was worse. I had to commit to a forward lean, about like skiing. If my ascent was a shuffle, my descent was a controlled slide. Only fell once but honestly I think I was running slower down than on the ascent. Conditions improved half way down and I was able to run a fast final mile over the cushy, pine needle carpet. I reached my car just as the sun sank over the Flatirons. I’m going to start running this trail more now that I’m in shape for it. But with my nano spikes.