Four Pass Loop – epic Colorado trail run

I take back anything I’ve said about Rowdy not being much of an endurance runner. Here’s a short video I made with my phone of yesterday’s epic – the Four Pass Loop near Crested Butte and Aspen, Colorado, and then some – totaling roughly 32 miles over four 12,000’+ passes and just shy of 11,000′ vertical gain…and equal descent. There would be times I thought it would be best we both just stopped in our tracks and lay down. Then he would go from panting at my feet to bolting off after a chirping marmot, or one of the billions of scents he seems to pick out from each square yard of wild earth, and I would force myself to also perk up. He kept getting these energy bursts…like mine, they would come and go…and he even pulled me up the final hill to the car at 9:00 p.m.! Maybe he sensed the car was near…or maybe he’s just a badass…perhaps both. We didn’t run all 32 miles. More like 24, but tried our mightiest. There was more snow…and water…and mud…and mileage than anticipated, but we’re home safe and sound and he’s sleeping like a baby after two big meals and a nice Bag Balm massage.

We left the car at the Trail 401 trailhead around 7:45 p.m. and jogged up to West Maroon Pass before a headlamp became necessary, so we made camp for the night. The next morning we crossed West Maroon Pass, ran down to Crater Lake, up Buckskin Pass, down to Snowmass Lake, up and over Trail Rider Pass… then a storm began forming above us. We (I, rather) decided to also go for Frigid Air Pass. After all, what’s another 10-11 miles when you’ve already done 20+? Instead of camp in the low country and deal with mosquitos, extra hours of darkness and cold, and the storm clouds that would likely unleash a wet hell if we didn’t hurry up and climb out of the basin, we set off for the last pass followed by a five-mile descent back to the car. We could always find shelter and ride out the night, but that sounded miserable. Maybe if we hurried we could make it to The Last Steep in Crested Butte by 11:00 and grub a delicious burger. I promised Rowdy a quarter of my burger if he sacked up and pushed onward with me. We crossed Frigid Air Pass at 8 p.m… were back at the car at 9… dinner from the Steep by 10… and in bed with a pint of ice cream, a beautiful lady and a leg massage by 11:30. Rowdy got his massage the next morning.

I saw a shooting star about five minutes before we got back to the car. I made a wish that I hadn’t destroyed Rowdy with such an unexpectedly long day and that he would recover with ease. I know the glucosamine I put him on over a week ago has made a huge difference so far. Oh, and it never even rained. Rowdy, I promise to always prepare for rain and never again forget a tarp when packing for overnight adventures. I feel like an a**hole for making you run so far. It sure is good to see you getting around alright the day after. I am impressed and proud.

I made this four-minute video of our adventure with an iPhone app called VidEditorFree. It’s pretty basic, but user friendly and they don’t slap their logo on each frame. This is how you do it when you’re exhausted and there’s no GoPro, videographer or selfie stick.

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