Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Search of the Ruins...

Yesterday, I completed what I would consider one of my most fun - albeit dangerous at times - solo adventures.

My goal was to find the remains of Spencer Penrose' brainchild: The Cheyenne Mountain Lodge on the summit of Cheyenne Mountain (elevation 9,500ft). For those of you not familiar with the Colorado Springs region, click here to check out the history of the lodge via photos and video - circa 1925 - or here to read an article about the structures on and around the mountain.

This post will likely be my most photo filled to date, so with no further ado, I'll let them do the talking for me...

(My goal is the summit of the mountain in the distance. About 4 miles away at this point.)

(Final approach to the base of Cheyenne Mountain. Soon the real climbing was about to begin!)
(First goal of the day: The Shrine.)

(Straight up the powerlines for me!)
(Just past the Shrine.)
(This was the typical condition of the old road to the summit. The only other tracks appeared to be from deer.)

(Gaining elevation quickly. Still a pretty nice day at this point, too.)

(A couple of surprised locals.)


(Looking north from about 2/3 of the way up. Already 1000+ feet above the Shrine.)

(Snow moving in quickly.)

(Starting to snow.)
(On on!)

(Getting closer. Two flagpoles in the distance. The one on the right was atop an old watchtower.)
(Almost to the stone watchtower.)

(My first shot from the top of the lookout.)
(Norad in the distance.)
(The stone stairs going up to the overlook.)

(Looking over the railing on the edge of the watchtower

(A temporary break in the weather. That's the scar where the bighorn sheep live far off in the distance.)

(Exploring the remains of the Lodge.)


(I couldn't figure this one out...)

(A shot of the whole footprint of the old Lodge from the west.)
(Something about a toll gate.)
(For as fancy as the lodge was, I was surprised to find these outhouses...)

(Much better than the usual facilities in the woods!)
(A shelter I found while exploring to the west of the Lodge. This is where I holed up for a while during the heaviest snowfall.)

(Front view.)

(Getting warm.)

(I also found this abandoned structure.)

(Looking west. Gold Camp Road in the distance.)
(Still snowing on the way down.)
(The ravine I chose to drop into in hopes of getting back to civilization.)
(A parting shot of the mountain. Looking a lot colder & snowier...)
In summation, I ran/hiked the majority of the 24 mile (+/-) journey in 4:29, but was trekking for a total of 7 hours, just trying to soak it all in (and at times, trying to take shelter from the heavy snowfall and wind). I gained about 3400 vertical ft, ate 4 GU's and a bag of Skittles, took two falls scrambling down a ravine off the mountain, and saw the weather change from 44 degrees and sunny, to full blizzard conditions - all in the course of the afternoon. Even before the new snow arrived, I was breaking trail through 4-10" of crusty snow for several miles.

It's adventures such as this one that define ultra-running - and training - for me. Rather than hitting the track for 800m repeats or running a progressive tempo run, as is necessary when preparing for a road marathon, to get mentally and physically prepared for 50 and 100 mile mountain races, you get to have fun and see some amazing sights that many people will never be able to experience. 

Here's to the big playground that is Colorado!



Mike Patrizi said...

That looks incredible man. If you want some company next time, give me a shout!

mtnrunner2 said...

Good adventure, with fun payoffs along the way!

This is the first winter I've made myself deal with the cold rather than avoid it, and it's been interesting. But I haven't been out there for 4 hours in a snow storm, either.

Do you think your body's ability to deal with cold has expanded over the years? Or is more that you know your existing limits and work around them?

Brooks said...

I don't know that it's necessarily a physical adaptation (I hate the cold as much as ever), as much as a physcological adaptation...

I've just toughened up over the last couple of years and now know that it takes a lot more to kill a guy than most of my races/adventures are capable of.

Mike: I'll let you know, man. Probably a Cripple Creek 40 miler soon.

Brandon Fuller said...

Dude, that's a perfect spot to bury that dead hooker!

Jim P. said...

...or a rabid squirrel!

Heather said...

Going to have to check this out when I come back home from across the big pond. Looks amazing!