I had arrived to Ryan’s just before 10 that morning after a stop at Whole Foods for more Honey Stinger Waffles. If you haven’t tried those, do it now. They are heaven in your mouth. After messing around on the Google maps for a bit and looking for trails to link, we headed down to the trail head in Roxborough State Park to start this run. I have recently purchased a new 70 oz. Camelbak to use on these long unsupported runs and figured that would be plenty for the run since our pace was slow. I hadn’t worried that it was our first day of 80 degrees either.
We started up the trail and the first 4 miles or so are steady but fairly draining climbs to get back into the mountains. We passed tons of people in the first mile on what we thought was a guided hike since every few people were state rangers. After about 2.5 miles though, we didn’t run into anyone else for at least 2 hours. We got to one of the junctions we had seen on Google and decided to do some exploring since we were going for a long run anyway and headed down Stevens Gulch trail to the northwest. What started as a gradual decline turned into a ravine with water running down the trail (read that as running down a stream (sorry Tom Petty for the pun )). After running downhill for nearly 2 miles on this trail we were trying to figure out where we’d end up and eventually hit another junction where we stopped for a food break. After debating continuing downhill or take the new trail up, we chose up to find our way back to the Indian Creek trail. We made it after another long climb and ran into a few groups on horseback so we knew we couldn’t be too lost or far from the trail head we originally set out for.All this climbing really took it’s toll on us though. We ended up hitting the Indian Creek trail head off of highway 67/Jarre Canyon Road which was farther south than we expected. We see a sign that showed the trail we needed to get back was closed do to “Mechanical Thinning” aka logging. We ended up doing a few tricky turns and ended up in the thick of it anyway and had a rough go at running since it was such a mess with downed trees everywhere. This was about mile 11 and 2 hours into our run.
This is where our problems started. I took a drink of water and got nothing but air. How could I have gone through 70 oz. of water in 2 hours?? Ryan said we’d just share his but not 5 minutes later, he hits air on his as well. We make the decision to just beeline it back to the truck and get water but we had at least 10 miles to go and lots of climbing to do to get there. We slowly worked our way back and eventually hit the top of a peak where we found our only saving grace, snow.
Usually, you hear people say that eating snow is bad as your body burns energy melting that snow to water. We had no choice. We would push the snow into a ball and drip the water into our mouths and got enough to feel a little moisture in our mouths anyway. We also filled our camelbaks with snow in the hopes our body head would melt some of it. We moved on and slowly worked our way along the Sharptail Ridge, about 7 miles to go. We kept grabbing handfuls of snow to melt in our hands as we ran and eventually found some good techniques to this. We got a few sips out of the camelbaks but not enough to really quench our thirst and the last few miles were total survival mode. By the time we got to the truck, I was really dehydrated and we booked it to the nearest gas station a mile away for water, gatorade and chocolate milk. After slowly sipping on the gatorade, we got back to Ryan and Steph’s where I immediately tossed my cookies/gatorade into their yard. Not fun. I had to lay on a cot in their backyard for a while before I could move. Lesson learned. Always carry my filter!
Have you ever had a close call like this on running? I thought I was prepared but obviously wasn’t. I had tons of food but the water was the most important thing this day. I should have loaded my shirt with snow and melted as much as I could in that and sucked the water out that way but didn’t think of that until the last few minutes of our run. I should also carry my MSR filter or a UV light pen. This was an easily avoidable situation that we got into. Live and learn! Ended up with a little over 21 miles and running time of 4 hours. Total time was closer to 5 though.
This is a great park though and if you are looking for a great hike or run, check this out. The red rocks are spectacular, you’ll have a great climb and you’ll forget you are only 30 minutes from Denver.