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Run up Santa Fe Baldy, 12,622

I planned to hike with the Sierra Club today but at the last minute decided to trail run with the Santa Fe Striders. Both groups were doing the same mountain, Santa Fe Baldy, 12,622 ft. It would be my first trail run with the group and I was excited.

The morning was cool and overcast, 12 of us met at Fort Marcy Rec Center in Santa Fe and car pooled to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. The elevation at the ski basin is 10,083. We ran Winsor Trail which starts out very steep  climbing 600 feet in the first 1/2 mile and 926 ft in a full mile before dropping down. There were two steam crossings and several switchbacks that leads to  a trail junction at 11,000, 4.5 miles from the Ski Basin. The total distance from beginning to the top of Baldy is 6.5 miles. My Garmin recorded 4,617 ft of total elevation gain.

We had three groups of people, the super speedy, the middle, and the back. It was interesting because some of the super speedy were further back because the hills were so killer; the front pack was wildly strong and fast. I pretty much ran alone in the middle not seeing another person until we approached mile 3 when I started reeling in a couple of the guys who were not having a very good day.  I should say I did not see another runner. I ran into my Sierra Clubs buddies  a couple of miles in at that was really awesome.

The hills and rocks were taking a toll on everyone. We regrouped at the 4.5 mile marker and everyone turned back except for Eric and I, two people never  made it to the 4.5 mile marker. Eric and I  ran and power hiked to the top. About 200 feet below the summit there was a big herd of cattle. I saw the biggest bull I have ever seen in my life. I could not believe they were  there. Maybe it was a mirage, it was hard work getting up there.  Eric is a superstar runner so it is no issue for him. I think it was kind of him to power walk the huge rocky incline with me because I know he could have gone on. After climbing over about 1/2 mile of boulders  we came to a grassy path  and ran to the summit. From mile 5.5  to 6.5 there was 1279′ of elevation gain. That is some serious climbing.

The views at the top were spectacular.  We took photos, walked around and checked stuff out before heading back down. There were big storm clouds brewing.

I felt on top the world today.  It was a very steep climb but so rewarding. It was slow and to give you reference, my 1/2 marathon road mile splits were  between 7:30 and 8:00. My mountain trail run splits were between 12:00 and 23:40.  I hit 7:00’s and 8:00’s during those miles but that was in  bursts of a short downhill running. Most miles were between 12:00 and 15:00, obviously the 23:00 mile pace was a  power walk, or maybe just a walk.  The total uphill took me 1:51, which is wildly slow but I am super proud of it. The downhill was  faster. Total moving time from beginning to end according to Garmin was  3:18 with an overall time of 3:26 for the full 13 miles. I left my watch on during breaks so I assume that is the discrepancy. I may not be getting in my marathon training mileage but I am certainly getting in the time.

Normally hiking I take a pack with my headlamp, 3 liters of water, snacks, rain jacket, warm jacket, etc. Today I had on a t-shirt, shorts and carried one pint of Gatorade and two gels. Near the end my body felt good but I was out of gas to move any faster.  I ran a 12:00 pace for the last three miles, which unfortunately went back up hill after a downhill. At the finish Jim, the Striders President was there with Gatorade, water, cookies and  salted peanuts, it was awesome. I was so happy. I also loved that I had the whole day ahead of me. We were done at noon and if I was hiking with my Sierra Club buddies, it would have been great fun but we would not have finished before 4:00. The Sierra Club book states it is an 8 hour hike and they are always right on. Sometimes a 3.5 hour run is best way to go and today it really was. I can’t wait until next Sunday.

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