Running near the summit of Pikes Peak in 2003
Each year when Pikes Peak race weekend nears, I feel a deep yearning to return. It’s as if all the years of training and racing up that mountain have left something inside me, (or more likely I left something on the mountain), and there is a sense of wanting to reconnect. I discovered myself as a runner on its slopes during the 4 consecutive years that i ran the marathon (9th in 2003, 1st in 2004, 2nd in 2005, 2nd in 2006). During those years, I discovered the patience, focus, and determination necessary to succeed on the mountain, and those qualities have defined my approach to training ever since.
I look forward to returning to my favorite race on my favorite mountain, but this year it was not to be.
So this past weekend I looked for an alternative mountain endeavor to take its place. Coincidentally, 6 month old Autumn was clearly jonesing for an adventure and Kristin’s brother Logan was visiting from mountain-deprived Michigan. So on Saturday morning, Kristin, Autumn, Logan and I packed the car and set off to Yosemite for the weekend.
For me, arriving in Yosemite is like a Catholic arriving at St. Peters Cathedral: An architectural masterpiece presided over by powers higher than your own. It’s at once humbling and empowering. No other place inspires me to explore its reaches more than Yosemite.
Yosemite Valley from the Four Mile Trail to Glacier Point
Once arriving in Yosemite Valley, we immediately set off on foot toward Glacier Point on the Four Mile Trail (it’s actually 4.6 miles to the top). Kristin and Logan hiked up with Autumn in the baby bjorne while I ran. Once the valley rim is achieved 3200′ of climbing later, spectacular views of Half Dome, Nevada/Vernal Falls, and the rest of the Valley are awarded. Tour groups and buses notwithstanding, it is one of the finest viewpoints in the Valley. [see the Strava route]
The Mist Trail. One of the finest short hikes in the world.
On Sunday, we collected our free coffee from the Lodge and ate breakfast while pouring over maps to plan the day’s adventures. Kristin would do a 10-mile loop around the valley’s scenic bike paths with the baby jogger, while Logan would do his own hike up to Mirror Lake. My objective for the day, was to run from Yosemite Valley (4000′ elev) to Tenaya Lake (8200′) via Clouds Rest (10,000′), 18 miles in total with 7000′ of climbing. The route was gloriously scenic, following the Mist Trail past Nevada and Vernal Falls and the John Muir Trail around Half Dome. The views from Clouds Rest, a massive granite formation perched high above the valley, are stunning. [see Strava route]
Yosemite, steeped in climbing lore and tradition, is also an ideal playground for the vertically inclined runner. The view from Clouds Rest.
The run finished at Tenaya Lake, where I took a bus back down to the Valley after a cool dip in the water.
Tenaya Lake. Where rock climbers meet mountain runners meet standup paddle boarders.
It was a wonderful weekend in Yosemite. Only downside was not being able to do the hikes with the fam…
Kristin & Autumn hiking up the Four Mile Trail. Autumn’s first visit to Yosemite!