February 11, 2013

Running the Towers


Normally I know better than to run up Mount Sentinel and University Mountain this early in the year.  This second week of February I was pleasantly surprised.  Other Missoulians had already been up to the Towers.  The sun was out and it was a great day for a 2600ft climb up the Sapphires.   


The trail tread was very narrow - no wider than the width of my foot.  I tight roped all the way up and only had a handful of deep snow face plants.  Still can't believe I was able to run the entire way up in February!



The trees thin out near the top and provide great views north and east.  Stuart Peak and the Rattlesnake mountains were about to be swept into the clouds.  Still haven't been up to Stuart yet...  




The last hundred feet of climbing were really rough.  Windswept side slopes meant alternating between a couple inches and a couple feet.  Never knew what you would get with each foot strike.




Trees and towers alike were coated with ice on the north and west sides.  Very beautiful and quiet up there.  The sun was melting the ice on the towers and huge shards of ice came flying at me.  Didn't get to spend too much time admiring the view or searching for peaks to run later.  






I ran as far as I could over the ridge back towards Pattee Canyon.  After a half mile I was waist deep in snow.  Miller Peak (7000 ft) was towering in the distance under some crazy clouds.  I need to find a way back there.



Look how far my waterbottle fell into my footprint.  Wasn't running that section!



As always, the views on the way back down were incredible.  That is Mount Dean Stone sitting in front of the Bitterroot range.  Beautiful sunny day in the mountains and a solid 3 hour run.  Getting ready for Chuckanut in March!



Well after 2 1/2 years I finally broke my yaktraks.  One of the metal coils completely separated from yaktraks and was pointing out away from my foot.   Gonna need to replace these fast!






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Originally from Strongsville, OH, I spent 8 years in Raleigh, North Carolina and have since recently moved to Missoula, MT. I have been a runner all my life and have recently started pursuing ultra marathons. Any excuse to be outside and on the trails.