Karen and I spent a couple of days in Buena Vista, researching potential retirement ideas. I’m interested in someplace with trails. We took the interstate instead of Hwy 285 because it offered more options for lunch. We drove into October clouds at Loveland Pass and soon found ourselves in a whiteout of sleet. Winter comes early to the mountains.
*** Colorado Trail ***
I first drove to this trailhead on segment 12 of the Colorado Trail in 2011. It’s a few minutes west of Buena Vista on CR 365. You could scrape by with a low profile vehicle but there is already snow on the last mile so consider 4WD in October. I launched northbound from here to Harvard Lakes.
The first mile was steep but offered up some nice views, both of the Arkansas River Valley to the east and more mountains to the west. Unlike the drive in the previous afternoon, the skies were clear with bright sunshine. The cold air was a bit of a shock though at 25°. The trail was dusted with snow but my Hoka Speed Goats provided good traction.
The snow deepened a bit at one mile, but the trail flattened out and I was able to start running. At this point I wondered if I should had brought along trekking poles.
Further into the darkness of the forest, around two miles, the snow deepened to four inches. The trail was still runnable but my ankles began to get cold and my feet became wet. Gaiters would have been brilliant but I wasn’t expecting snow.
I wasn’t thinking of my discomfort though. Rather, I was wishing I wasn’t experiencing this spectacular day and trail by myself. I lean toward introversion. There are times I like to be alone, times I need to be alone, but never when I’m experiencing something so wonderful. I like to share times like these. This trail was just so perfect, I wished Karen or my girls had been with me. I felt guilty being the absolute only hiker running this trail. I felt like I’d stepped into heaven and was stealing from God.
There were two creek crossings in the third mile. This log bridge was fun. The snow deepened even further as the third mile rose higher in elevation and the trail became tougher to spot. I lost the trail once but steered back on by watching for cut logs.
I was enjoying myself so much that I could have kept going for hours, but turned around at Harvard Lake per plan – right at three miles. And it did actually take me a full hour to reach my turn-around point. The snow governed my pace as much as the elevation gain. Just a section of the Sawatch Range, the Collegiate Peaks earn their name because they contain 5 fourteen thousand foot peaks named after universities – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Oxford. The Colorado Trail, joined with the CDT, loops around both sides. The eastern loop is perfect for running. The western slope is less pedestrian, mostly above tree line.
*** Broken Boyfriend ***
I ran the trails across the eastern side of the Arkansas River the next morning. These are almost urban trails for BV, similar to the trails that loop around Ouray, but more extensive and much more runnable. There are numerous loops. I crossed the northern bridge to start and climbed up the Northern Trail.
Everywhere, even on the climbs, the trails undulated with fun dips and graceful switchbacks. The Northern Trail connected with Broken Boyfriend which side-hilled south where I descended back down to the river on the Southern Trail. The Bridge-to-Bridge Trail brought me back to my start. There were other connectors and options to run further, but I had to check out of the hotel and return home. I had a great two days of running in the City of Trails – Buena Vista.