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2009 Vacation - Hardrock 100

Matt Mahoney's 2009 Vacation - Part 6 - Hope Pass

On Wed. July 1 there was an informal group training run on the Hope Pass section of the Leadville 100 mile course. This section normally starts in Twin Lakes at 9200 ft at mile 39.5, crosses Hope Pass going south between Quail Mt. and Hope Mt. at 12,600 ft, then descends to Clear Creek road at mile 47.5 and 10,000 ft, then out and back to the Winfield aid station at mile 50 and returns to Twin Lakes at mile 60.5. Leadville has an average finish rate of about 40%. Hope Pass is where most of the runners drop out.

We started at the Willis Gulch trailhead 1 mile west of Twin Lakes to avoid the high water crossing. The water level is normally lower in August when the race is held.

We took a trail that paralleled the marshy area to join the Leadville course at the 4 way junction marked by a metal sign "Closed to Vehicles", then turned right to start the climb up Hope Pass. We started at 9:04 AM and reached the junction at 9200ft at 9:21 AM. We climbed to treeline at 12000 ft by 10:33 AM. This is the normal location of the "Hopeless" aid station, which is packed in by llamas.

There were two patches of snow that were easy to cross. These will probably melt in another week. Hope Mountain is in the right of the picture.

Looking back north from where we climbed.

Gina, Ken, and his son Alex on top of Hope Pass at 12600 ft. Harry (who was second overall in the 2008 Leadville 100) was already descending the south side. Our rate of ascent was about 2300 ft/hr (except Harry who was faster).

The south side descends 2600 ft in 2 miles, an average grade of 25%. This is an easy section. It gets steeper below treeline.

Descending toward Winfield. Alex was getting tired so he and Ken turned around and went back to Twin Lakes. The others were ahead of me.

A rocky section of the trail. It took me 70 minutes to descend 2600 ft. 14 years ago at age 40 in the Leadville 100 it took me only 30 minutes. Slowly each year my downhill speed seems to deteriorate, even though I have lost very little speed on the climbs and on flat courses.

I ran down to the road but skipped the 5 mile out and back to Winfield on mostly flat dirt roads. Gina did likewise, 20 minutes earlier. Only Harry went to Winfield. He passed me about half way up the south side and got to the pass 15 minutes before I did. My rate of ascent had slowed to 1950 ft/hr (from 11:45 to 1:05 PM). His rate was probably about 3500 ft/hr.

As I climbed, it got colder. I started with my shirt off and finished wearing my jacket.

Ruins of two log cabins on the north side of Hope Pass.

The trail on the north side is more gentle and runnable, descending 3400 ft in 4 miles. But I was tired and walked a lot of it. My descent time of 1:20 was almost as slow as my ascent time of 1:30.

I took the Interlachen trail back to the Willis Gulch trailhead, which is about a mile shorter than our ascent route. The total distance was about 16 miles in 5:30.

The trail traversed steep hillsides. Later it went along top a berm whose purpose was probably to catch water and direct it north to Twin Lakes.

The trail offers views of Twin Lakes.

Near the end of the trail. When I got back at about 2:30 PM, everyone else had already left.

For the hike/run I carried a hip pack with 2 water bottles, which I refilled from streams in a few places. I carried some trail mix but never got hungry until after the run was over. I had a big breakfast (eggs, potatoes, 10 pieces of french toast with syrup, orange juice, milk) before the run.

To part 7