Imogene Pass Road Run, Ouray, Colorado
July 17, 2015 - With two 14er's this week and two races in the next two days it
is time to change from climbing boots to running shoes and get serious about the
tasks ahead.  The vertical relief of both mountain climbing and mountain racing is
virtually the same; your feet are lighter and you are carrying less stuff when you
race - that's the most notable difference.  On the day between the two I decided 
to run up the Jeep road leading to Imogene Pass before it continues down to
Telluride on the Tomboy road, another Jeep road leading to the old mining town
of Tomboy.  I had run half way up to Tomboy last year, so wanted to do the same
on the other side on the way up to Imogene Pass this year.

Waiting until almost eight o'clock I headed out on the initial mile and a half of road,
side-stepping puddles the whole way and crossing the first stream which continued 
on as the road for about a hundred yards.  Off to the left the valley opened up as
the road followed along the crest of cliffs that characterize Yankee Boy Basin.  The
cliffs on the opposite side of the valley and an active mining operation made for
a unique vista as the road turned toward the pass and began to climb.

Running most of the way, despite the steady and sometimes steep climb up to
treeline at about 11,500 feet gave me a good feel for my running fitness level.  My
breathing was good, but legs needed some juice after the past two days.  I took it
easy, but worked the climb to get benefit from it.  The weather was turning quickly
as I approached my fourth stream crossing above treeline.  Turning around after
perhaps three and a half miles and 1500 feet of climbing was enough to gauge my
legs before the two hill climbs I have waiting for me this weekend.

                 the winding 4X4 road up to Imogene Pass                             eight stream crossings in seven miles   

Pointing my legs downhill I weaved in and out of the rocky undulations of the road,
avoiding muddy puddles and wet rocks as much as possible.  While running for only
an hour and a half I was passed by five Jeep tours of generally about 8 vehicles with
excited gawking tourists.  It must have been exciting for them to see this mountain
scenery from the comfort of a vehicle; most would never get a feel for this country
if not for the tours.  I waived and greeted all with a smile, and tried not to act like a
macho athletic snob.

Rain drops started well before I was half way back, followed by some light hail or
corn snow.  Then all hell broke loose with heavy rain and big drops within minutes
of my reaching the car.  With temps in the mid forties I was glad to be down and
enjoying the shelter of my car and not trying to summit another peak in this weather.
With the loud thunder and lightning, my choices for adventure remained pretty good.

It was great running this road which has an iconic legacy among mountain runners.  I
am confident I am ready to take on the challenges that await me in Silverton and 
Vail this weekend.  Glad to be running again.

Camp Bird Mine from above