Thursday, 9 June 2011

Day 39 - Into the Rockies

Day 39 started with the Rocky Mountains in the not too far distance. It was a much cooler morning than of late.  I was very relieved to be running in such conditions after the high temperatures of recent days. It didn't last long, though, and the scorching sun soon made things challenging again. I have come to realise after the 4 previous tough days that my body is screaming out for a full rest day. There is no chance of that just yet.

There was further substantial evidence of flooding today with many ranches seeing parts of their land underwater. The late thaw of snow here in Colorado looks to have created a few problems. Thankfully, my route was unaffected.

The river and it's overflow was surging very violently and fast in many parts. I must admit that I was tempted to dip my boiling hot feet in the water. There was little time for that, sadly and, as per usual, I aimed to get into at least double figures before lunch. 

I managed to run 11.5 miles before taking a break in the very beautiful Steamboat Springs. After a quick Skype call to Katy and Jack I was on my way again getting ever nearer to the 3rd major climb of the run across the USA. Wee Kirsty joined me for 5 miles just before the climb started. She isn't daft!

The climb up Rabbit Ear pass started at 6900 ft. Over the first 2 miles I had climbed up to 8000 ft. At this point there was no sign of the summit. 

I took time to look back every now and again. There was some amazing views across the valley. Cars, houses and roads that I had been level with earlier in the day were by now just tiny specks of dust in the distance.

I was pretty tired by the time I reached the summit at 9400 ft and by now I was completely surrounded by snow. There was loads of it and I suspect that it will be the same for the next 4 days on this run.

With Wee Kirsty keeping me company, I reached the 29.5 mile point in near darkness and very cold conditions. I couldn't help thinking how much easier the run is going to get once I leave the Rockies. They should take 4 more days to get through with many more climbs to make. The peak elevation will be at Berthoud Pass at 11,307 ft.

The miles and massive effort that I put in over the next 4 days will be dedicated to the memory of John O'Brien (known to me as Uncle John). He passed away following a battle with cancer in 2002. I know that his family are avid followers of the journey across the USA and this blog. I can't think of a more fitting set of miles, here in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, for which to dedicate to the memory of one of the finest and kindest men that I ever met.

John O'Brien