Friday, July 29, 2011

Animas Valley - Durango, CO

Looking east over the Animas at dawn
Was up in the Four Corners area for most of the week. Visiting Utah for a float through Canyon Country on the San Juan. Quick stop over in Durango, and got out before dawn for my last run of the week. Ran down a county road which intersected another county road which spanned right over the Animas River (on its way down to empty into the San Juan). Beautiful sight. Lots of water.

Kept running along and started to hear some strange sounding bird calls. Like I thought it was a flock of tucan or something. Nope. Just a herd of 50-60 elk with some of the smaller ones mewing and making racket. That turned me around because I'm not the sort of yahoo that's going to charge into a herd of 1000lb animals just to add another a mile or two into my running log. I'm smart that way. Plus I was disappointed there were no tucan. Next time maybe.

Elk =/= tropical birds

View Animas River - Durango, CO in a larger map

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building the Base for a Fall Marathon

Don't daydream in arroyo tunnels or they will hand you your ass
Had a great couple of weeks grinding out the mileage and seem to be winning the battle against the injuries that had been holding me back. I've inched the mileage back up to proper (marathon prep.) levels and am starting to feel quite a bit stronger of late. This last week was a scheduled down week due to some work obligations, put together 31mi, with one workout and a long run of 15mi. Highlights of the week included nearly knocking myself out cold running through a low-roofed culvert, and nearly stroking out from heat exhaustion during my afternoon 2hr+ long run. A 6am start may be preferable going forward.

I had logged two 50mi+ weeks prior to this. Last week's mileage was 56mi, with one workout and a long run of 12mi with Waltz up in the Arroyo Hondo. The goal is the New York City Marathon in November. I registered in April with the idea that I'd be healthy enough at some point this summer to cobble together a training cycle. It seems to be coming together fairly well with 14 weeks until race week. I know that fitness is coming on because of the recent onset of the zombie-hunger - I have been eating twice as much as normal and still dropping weight. Roast chickens run for cover when I enter an Albertsons, as they should.

High Desert spokesman Clubber Lang provides a forecast for the next afternoon long run

Related Posts:  Fall Marathon Training, II

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Fourth of July by Bike and Trail

Chip Thomas Santa fe
My better half, spinning past a terrific new Chip Thomas 
installation on the La Choza caboose
The wife and I pedaled the Rail Trail into town on Monday morning for some Pancakes on the Plaza. What a fine holiday to be out - Independence Day. Fun to ride with someone else, and at a conversational pace rather than my frequent breakaway-style sprints from one area of town to another. I was psyched to see how many other folks were out on their bikes, cruising in for some pancakes and community eventing. Big wheels rolling across the land, sons. In fact, bike parking in areas bordering the Plaza almost seemed a bit limited. 

Limited parking on the Plaza. Two wheels representing on Independence Day
The trail itself was looking first rate, with some recent maintenance and additions and what not. Some treacherous gaps by the bridge near St. Michael's have been repaired and filled in. The section of trail that runs alongside the Chevron station between St. Francis Dr. and Pen Dr. has been reconfigured to be more bike-friendly. And by that I mean the cement pylons with the near-invisible steel cabling have been removed and the glass strewn dirt has been paved over, all of which is nice. 

The new Rail Trail improvements looking northeast towards the Rail Yard (May '11).
Panqueques en el Plaza is a rockin' event but the pancakes themselves are sort of not a highlight. After wandering the crowds and checking out the classic cars we saw that Tia Sophia's was open, serving burritos and coffee that would make any patriot proud. We were scoring at will, what a morning. Worked in a few miles on the trail that afternoon after cycling back to Casa Dirt, followed by grilled steak and fireworks. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Rains Finally Arrive in New Mexico

The first of the summer's rains have arrived and the bastard Spring wind has subsided. A week too late but not a moment too soon. With almost all of the city's trails and National Forest space shutdown, I got out for a bit on the Santa Fe Rail Trail on Saturday and was treated to some unexpected showers. The sky was hazy not just with cloud but with smoke. Reminiscent of the week of heavy smoke from Arizona's Wallow Fire a few weeks back, these smoke clouds were not from the Los Conchas Fire still burning above Cochiti but the Donaldson Fire down south near Ruidoso. 

Clear and open on the approach to my valley loop

Rainy cloud invasion 45min later. Take no prisoners!
Thought the trail would be busy seeing it is one of the few remaining open trails in town (the others are La Tierra and Galisteo Basin), but as usual it was just myself, the chamisa, the occasional rabbit and the horizon.

Cactus flower and a red martian sun

Trail and curtains of rain
Creepy red sun was stalking or taunting me towards the end. Take it easy bro.
Finished the week with 50+ miles in the log, my first 50mi wk. since last September almost ten months ago. Trying to gear up for some late summer/fall racing and am just easing back to form after what seemed like an interminable lay off. Climbing the ladder not a moment too soon. Thank God.

For the week of 7/3
  53mi - with two workouts, one double, martian suns and rainstorms, and a long run of 13mi.

View Santa Fe Rail Trail - Zia to Nine Mile Rd in a larger map

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Los Conchas Fire - New Mexico

Sunset over the Jemez - Jim Thompson (Abq Journal)
What began as a scary month for fire danger led off with several eerie evenings of smoke and haze drifting in from the Wallow Fire in Arizona, followed by the ominous Pacheco Canyon Fire that went up north of town near the Winsor trail , and ultimately the devastation of the Los Conchas Fire that has burned through parts of the Valles Caldera, Bandelier National Monument, Dome Wilderness, the Cochiti Canyons and Dixon's Apple Orchard, the Los Alamos Canyons, Pajarito, Caballo Mountain, and now north into Santa Clara Pueblo lands.

I've lots to share about my reflections on the fires and the areas now burned through but mostly just wanted to post some photos coming out of the Los Conchas. From the Albuquerque Journal who have done a fantastic job reporting on these fires:

Smoke settles in a recently burned canyon - Morgan Petroski (Abq Journal)

Pajarito and the Nordic Area around Canada Bonita weren't spared. The fire burned over the ridge and down into the Valles Caldera - Eddie Moore (Abq Journal)

Closer to town, access to most of the Santa Fe National Forest has been closed as has access to the Carson National Forest up north (Taos and surrounding areas). As recently as yesterday the city of Santa Fe has closed access to the Dale Ball Trail System, Dorothy Stewart, Atalaya, and the La Tierra Trails.

Bandelier suffered a direct hit although the recently remodeled Visitor's Center was unharmed. Most of the mesa tops and higher canyon areas to the west appear to be burned through including Frijoles, Lummis, and Alamo Canyons. Status of the Stone Lions is unknown, Painted Cave looks to be untouched - Morgan Petroski (Abq Journal)

Dixon's Apple Orchard was hit by flames rushing down Medio Dia Canyon, the orchard was spared but the dwellings weren't as lucky. For those familiar with Dixon's this is a particularly heartbreaking photo. The Dome and Bandelier Wilderness areas to the east appear to have been burned through - Pat Vasquez-Cunningham (Abq Journal)

Sunday evening on the mesas, easily visible from Santa Fe. Deja vu to witnesses of the Cerro Grande fire eleven years ago - Eddie Moore (Abq Journal)
I have run, skied, and taken the bike through many of the places captured in these images, some within the last few weeks. Spent most of my winter and spring in these canyons. I'm relieved that no one has been seriously hurt by any of this, but find it disheartening to think that these areas won't be the same again until I am an old man. Quiet beauty has become just, quiet.

Smoke flows from the canyons into the Rio Grande, above Cochiti Lake - Eddie Moore (Abq Journal)

The most recent thermal-imaging map of the fire area (.pdf)  - July 1, 2011 via,
 - Burn map dated June 30, 2011

The map shows active fires still burning in Bland Canyon in the south, in the remote lower canyons of Bandelier, and through the east and northeast boundaries of the Valles Caldera, and the western canyons of Santa Clara Pueblo.

UPDATE (7/6):
 - Subsequent days' burn maps can be found here. The burned acreage is now more than 130,000acres
 - A link to a Flickr album with photos of the damage at Ski Pajarito can be found at the


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