LooseCrew-JeffO: Turquoise lake 20M Snowshoe Race


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Monday, January 07, 2008

Turquoise lake 20M Snowshoe Race

I hope everyone had a great, adventerous weekend!

It was an extremely awesome winter experience.
I met up with five other runners at a Park-n-Ride. We were going to take one 2WD van, but the weather reports made us change our minds to split into two 4WD. Good thing.

We drove to Leadville with plenty of time.
Near Leadville, the other vehicle drove to the side of the road for a potty break and they didn't realize that two feet of the shoulder was sculpted snow over a ditch, so he got stuck. We each had shovels, so we started digging. Then a guy with a Jeep came by and towed it out. We still had plenty of time.

It was snowing pretty good - nothing extreme. Visibility was hampered even more by the fact that the entire county was inside the clouds. So there were only pockets in the woods that were somewhat clear.

Most of us took a pack with a hydration bladder. I had over a liter of water, four gel-paks, and two pairs of gloves. I apparently brought all the right stuff.

After more than a mile of following some powerlines, and some rambling through the woods, we came out onto the frozen lake. The course heads north.

There were fishermen out with their tents set up and heaters going inside. The snow on the ice was about a foot deep, but there were some slushy spots. The claws on my snowshoes iced up extremely bad. I was walking with an additional 4 inches of crud stuck to either the front or back or both as the ice would sometimes come off but mostly not. So each step was an adventure as to whether my foot would tilt forward, backwards, straight-but-high up, maybe high on one side maybe the other. It was catawompous!

On the lake, the wind wasn't real bad, but we were travelling across it and the snow was in our eyes and we inhaled it and would sometimes cough as flakes hit the backs of our throats. There was lots of walking with our faces down and following the person in front.

I had somehow politely let everyone by at the beginning so that I only had five people behind me in the woods, so on the ice, I had to pass dozens of people. I ended up in the middle of the pack and could see that people ahead were turning drastically to the left. I thought they were going parallel to the north shore and I figure we were going to shore nearly a mile from where we were supposed to.

When we finally got back onto a snowy road, we went up to a junction. We could go left or right. Heck, visability was so bad I had no idea. A guy I know has run it several times before said to go left, but after a mile or so everyone ahead was coming back the other direction saying, "Wrong way! It's the other way!" Okay, it's FUBAR, then. So we start going back and we're mostly thinking, "Wow, we went way too far west and now we have to backtrack east."

Here's what REALLY happened! (I love this part! You had to be there!) The leaders somehow curved left in the windy blizzard out on the center of the lake where they lost track of the barely-visible trees on the shores. Us in the back, we could always look forward and see clearly that everyone ahead was veering to the left, but if you're up there at the head, there's nothing but white-out all around and you're doing your best. But apparently some shifting of the wind tricked the leaders into believing they were going straight across when they were actually doing a nice big horseshoe all the way around until they went to shore ON THE SOUTH SIDE!!

So there we were thinking we were walking east on the north shore, but it didn't seem right to me. In the old days, I had a mysterious sense of direction that was down-right supernatural. Then I became a computer tech, code-monkey, hacker-n-cracker and lost my senses. Technology is the opposite of nature. In the past few years, though, my sense of direction has been coming back. So since my head couldn't figure it out, I told myself to stop thinking and ask your instinct. Suddenly I called to Paul and said, "Try this on! We're heading west on the south shore!" He just said, "No," like that was preposterous. So a couple miles later, there's a sign saying May Queen is a ways off! Doh!

We figured we were all DQ'd and didn't care. No one tried too hard after that. Many walked 100% of it after that.

Paul and I treated it like a training run, so we pushed on until Paul met a friend. Then I forged ahead by myself.

I went pretty close to 17.6 miles, plotting it out on Google Earth.
No Photos because the visibility was ridiculous.

I learned I need to either remove the claws on my snowshoes, replace them with plastic ones, or polish them with my Dremel tool until they shine. Then spray PAM on them before and during races.

In spite of the way things turned out, I didn't hear a single person complain. It was cool to be in a race, in a region, with so many crazy outdoors people that there's no way the race will get cancelled. In spite of the visibility issues, the lake is ringed by a paved road. Even if you're "lost", you stick to the road, you'll see something recognizable.

I had about half a foot of snow on my car when I got back. The drive back was treacherous, but I have studded walnut-based snow tires and drove cautiously. Thank goodness we didn't take the van!
That night, I slept for nearly 10 hours! Those were some HARD miles! A great workout.

Here's the latest snow in Silverton. Colorado is really getting dumped on. I hope Hard Rock doesn't get cancelled.


At 7:30 AM, Blogger Talon said...

Such a fun race. I did it 1-2 years ago and really enjoyed it. I tried Pam and still had a lot of stuff sticking to my claws. Glad you enjoyed it and are having such a great winter so far!!


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