Monday, October 08, 2007

Fall Comes to the Mountains

Although the miles have been few, they have certainly been sweet here on the trails of Tahoe. The change in seasons always leaves me with a sense of nostalgia, especially in fall. Perhaps it's because summer is my favorite season in the mountains and I'm sad to see it go. But it seems to be the combination of that sadness, coupled with the excitement of the coming snow and all the joys of the ski season, that leave me with the odd feelings that I identify with fall. When I lived in southern California, it was the way the Santa Ana winds blew the smog away, leaving a crystal clear view of the distant mountains that gave me this feeling. The difference is that down south, the onset of winter means that the best season for running is just beginning, whereas here I am doing my best to appreciate every last day of clear mountain trails.

Friday's run on my backyard trail

Saturday's run on the TRT

The aspens have begun to turn, and I have spent several days already running through snow dusted trails. It makes for heartbreakingly beautiful running. The crisp air also means I don't carry much water, even on a 20 mile run. Summer may be my favorite season, but I think fall provides the best running conditions.

Paige Meadows on the TRT

The TRT heading west from Tahoe City

The Truckee River

Last weekend I payed a visit to my old stomping grounds, the beautiful trails of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. This is where I ran my first marathon to qualify for Boston, and where I trained for Grandma's marathon, which still stands as my PR for the distance nearly a decade later. Needless to say I have a fondness for running in this town. Unfortunately I missed the peak of the fall colors, as the leaves were really just beginning to turn. If you ever have the opportunity to run the Twin Cities Marathon, I highly recommend it. It is flat, fast beautiful, and filled with cheering spectators for the entire distance. When I lived in both St. Paul, and south Minneapolis I trained on portions of the course which follow bike paths along the many rivers, creeks and lakes of the Cities. Last week I ran what felt like a blazing fast 7 miles along Minnehaha Creek, and recalled the joys of sharing urban running trails with all the other runners out there. It's a contrast to the solitude of running on mountain trails, and perhaps that's what gives me such an appreciation for it. I feel like I suddenly have a hundred running partners, even though I likely won't say more than "Hi" to any of them. That always contributes to the feeling of speed, oh, and the fact that I live at 6000 feet and ran on a flat paved trail at sea level!

The Mississippi River viewed fromthe Science Museum in St. Paul MN

While Andrew and I were in Minneapolis, the bears here in Truckee were up to some unusual antics. It's been a tough year for the bears up here, with more than 30 killed by cars in the Tahoe area this season. It's no wonder then that this bear decided it would be preferable to jump off a bridge than tangle with an oncoming vehicle.

The scared bear clings to the side of Rainbow Bridge on old highway 40 (photos courtesy of Tahoe Tribune)

You can read the entire story here, but the short version is that the Bear League set up a safety net, tranquilized the bear, and pushed it off the side into the net. The bear was fine.

This is the excitement of life in a small town. In truth though, the issue of how to leave peacefully in the natural envorinment is a serious one. Although this is a sensational story, it is only one of many cases where the bears (and other wildlife) are adversely affected by the presence of humans. I'm glad, this time, that the bear got out alive.

This week is the Lake of the Sky trail run in Tahoe City. My training has been sorely inadequate, but I'm trying to think of it as a training week for the upcoming Helen Klein 50 Miler. Thus no tapering for me, although frankly I don't see how I could run any lower mileage than I already am. The weather looks questionable for the race at this point, so I am getting mentally prepared for a cold wet day.

For those of you with big races coming up, good luck! Addy is running her first 50 miler at Dick Collins Fire Trails 50 on the 13th, and Russ his first 100 miler at San Diego 100 on the 20th. I'll be sending good vibes your way!


  1. Wow....what beautiful photos! Funny that fall means snow for you guys. Your mention of the santa ana brought back some great childhood memories of playing fall soccer games with the warm winds blowing across the fields.

    Good luck at the 50k this weekend! And thanks so much for the good vibes. I'll definitely be needing them :D

  2. Hard to imagine how that bear ended up on the side of the bridge!

    The current weather forecast for Tahoe City calls for rain Friday and sun on Saturday. Let's hope it stays that way...

    Take care

  3. These pics are insane! God, I love your "backyard trail" as well. All I see in my backyard at the moment is my apartment manager, sweeping.

    Thank you for the well-wishes! It should be an amazing adventure. You'll hear all about it.

    Over and over. And over.

  4. Hey Gretchen! Cool pictures-I can't believe it's already fall! Good luck this weekend and have fun-wish I could make it down...haven't been doing too much, just trying to maintain a good base-we got a puppy a month ago so have been spending time with her. it'll be fun when she can run with me! hope school is going well and keep in touch-

  5. Eep! Seeing your pictures of snow is scaring me. It reminds me that these cool Boston days are only the tip of the iceberg (no cheezy double entendre intended).

    How did the bear get up there in the first place? I'm glad he got back to the ground safe and sound.

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  7. Love the pics of fall, which look more like winter to us. Glad the bear got rescued okay. I wore a bear (one of the Care Bears I think) costume for the first time last weekend and needed to be "rescued" after 90 sweaty minutes. Good luck tomorrow.

  8. I have heard of this "Autumn," but have come to doubt its existence.

    Here in SC, we're still hitting temperatures in the upper 80s. Yesterday it was 65 degrees and humid, BEFORE SUNRISE.

    Of course, I ran my Autumn marathon in the North (PA), but on the infamous October 7th, finishing in 80+ degree heat.

    This being said, I'm still sorry to hear you'll be losing clear trail running as Autumn comes to your neck of the woods. The trails there certainly look incredible.

    I seriously have to get out West for a trail race one of these days.

    - Dean