I got out to run the 18+ mile Cascade/Paintbrush Canyon loop on Friday. I normally like to start in the morning for these types of runs, to take advantage of my caffeine loading, but I didn’t get on the trail until close to 2 o’clock, under mostly cloudy skies, which made things feel quite seasonal.
The fall colors were gong off right from the start and I kept getting tripped up due to the shear beauty of the Teton Range this time of year distracting me from the trail. I must have taken over ten photos of Mount Owen in the first couple miles, dreaming of the winter season to come. The views just got bigger and bigger as I passed below Valhalla Canyon and into the South Fork of Cascade Canyon. I kept expecting to see a bear as I rounded each corner, but all I saw were a few tourists, who thought I was a bear, until I reached Lake Solitude. From there on…I didn’t see a soul.
I stopped to set up a photo at the lake and eat some Shot Bloks, and had a hard time getting going again. I ran the first half of the trail up towards Paintbrush Divide, but my new Suunto T6 told me that I was just as fast (4 mph) if I kept up a quick power hike, which was a little less taxing. The Grand Teton looked awesome from up here, as the sun occasionally popped out and made it almost look like a painting. I picked up the pace again as the trail levels off and it approaches the 10,720′ saddle.
I was glad when I reached the divide, since it’s almost all downhill from there, but I was a little concerned that the trail on these more north facing slopes would be still covered in snow from the weather of last week. Only a short section was still covered though and I was able to keep the pace down into the canyon. The smallest ribbon of snow had begun to fill-in the Southwest Couloir of Moran, which is still on my tick-list, having skied from within about 500′ of the top on my only attempt after getting sloughed out of the Sandinista in 2006.
I ate a Probar on the go as I pounded down the trail back towards the valley. My stomach wasn’t feeling that well and I wondered if it was from my pre-run meal of strawberry rhubarb pie, a donut left over from last weekends sand skiing trip, and some yogurt that had an expiration date of the 24th printed on it. I stopped for some relief…bear style. I was feeling a little dizzy and short of breath as I powered through the final few miles of the run, and even stopped a couple times to regain my composure. Man I’m out of shape. My time…3:38 CTC (car-to-car)…not my best.