Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Denver to Grand Canyon

I have discovered that running has taken on new meaning for me on this trip. Rather than running to stay in shape or to train for a race, I am running to explore. I carry my camera and make stops to snap photos. It has been a great thing and has allowed me to see some magnificent sights that I would otherwise not have gotten to see. Unfortunately, this usually involves getting up at 5:30 or 6:00am in order to take the least amount of time away from the rest of my family as possible. I have always been an evening runner at home. I have found, however, that I do really enjoy the early morning when the day is new and there aren’t a lot of people around.

On Friday, our last day in Denver, I went to Cherry Creek State Park just south of Denver and ran 6 miles. As runs go, it was nice, but nothing compared to what I had done the last few days. Saturday morning, at a rest stop south of Colorado Springs, I ran 4 miles on a road that ran along the interstate. This was high desert country and there just wasn’t much around.

Saturday evening we arrived in Mesa Verde and set up camp for the first night in an actual park. We bought tickets to tour the Cliff Palace cliff dwellings at 9am the next morning so I was going to have to finish my run by shortly after 7am. There were two trails that looked interesting and I thought I might have time to do both if I was gone by 6am. The first trail was Point Lookout Trail which climbed over a mile to the top of the big mesa you see when you enter the park. It was only about 600 feet of climbing but the view from the top was incredible. On the way up I was singing out loud so as not to surprise any bears. I just made up miscellaneous bear songs as I went. This mesa is the highest thing around and gives you a great view of the surrounding valley and the park entrance. It was a rush to stand on the top of that thing. I enjoyed it a little bit and then ran back down. I then went out on the Knife Edge Trail, which is about a mile out along the side of the one mesa and also had a nice view of the valley.

This morning, at the Grand Canyon, we hiked to Cedar Ridge, about 3 miles round trip, on the South Kaibab trail. It was a nice hike and the kids enjoyed it and climbed back up like it was nothing. I went out for a 4 mile run in the afternoon along the Canyon Rim Trail. The views are just spectacular. Tomorrow, I think I may try running part way down the Bright Angel trail.

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