Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Mountain-Running Morning

Most of my El Paso trail running is done in the North Hills section of Franklin Mountains State Park. For a change of scenery, this morning I drove to the top of Transmountain Road to run the Smuggler's Gap Trail, which runs south through the mountain range. And by "through the mountain range," I mean "up and down the mountains." This trail requires some very steep climbing, often on loose or jagged rocks, and is at the outer limit of runnability for me. I spent maybe half the time running, a quarter climbing, and a quarter descending carefully. It was a blast!

I saw Indian paintbrushes:

And ran on edges like this:

And climbed stretches like this:

About an hour into the run, I reached the chain-assisted section of trail. The park has bolted chains into the rock on some very steep parts of the route. Even though it wasn't runnable I descended the chains for fun, so I could climb back up.

There are three sections of chain, and after descending the first two, you reach the window, a hole in the rock face with a view of east El Paso:
Taking a good picture of the window is difficult, because it isn't possible to back up very far--the only standing room is a narrow ledge.

I turned around at the bottom of the chain-assisted section, and after climbing back up, I pulled out my burrito. That's right, a burrito. Vegetarian refried beans in a tortilla. (I also had CLIF ShotBloks for backup).

Two things about the burrito:
1. It was delicious.
2. Half a burrito is enough.

It was so handy--I was even able to run while eating it--that I think I'm going to do it again. I'll make mini-burritos next time, so I'm not tempted to eat a whole big one.

The run took me an hour and four minutes, including photo-op-stops, to get to the bottom of the chain assisted section, and 53 minutes to get back to the start. 

And then I went to Starbucks.

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