Saturday, May 23, 2009

In Celebration of the Off-Season

Spring in my Garden!

When you live in a mountain resort town, life swings in a seasonal fashion. And we don’t just have the standards: ski season, mud season, lake season and fall. Things are further categorized into tourist season (winter and summer) and the off-season (spring and fall). This is Tahoe in the month of May: The skiers are gone, but the kids are still in school. The trails emerge from hibernation, while a scant few locals quietly explore them. The absence of campers, hikers and mountain bikers means dogs rule the parks and trails leash-free. Too cold for water skiing, but warm enough to sun bathe. Each day is a peaceful slice of off-season heaven.

With the onset of Memorial Day Weekend, the off-season is official over. So yesterday, the Friday before the weekend, I thought it a fitting celebration to go for a long run on one of my favorite local trails—the Flume Trail.

Cap and I set out for 22 miles of mountain bliss. In the summer, the Flume is one of the most popular trails in Tahoe, and for good reason. Yesterday, we saw a total of 5 people. (Two of them were ultra-running friends from Truckee, out for a training run in preparation for the TRT 50K.) The weather was a perfect 72, the trails were dry, and yet it was quiet as a winter morning after a storm.

There was so little snow, in fact, that we decided to make it 24 miles by venturing on to the Tahoe Rim Trail to run over Marlette Peak. This led to a bit of adventuring while navigating across the snow. I couldn’t have asked for a day filled with more solitude, beauty and fun, with my favorite training partner to wish a fond farewell to the season.

Cap trots along Marlette Lake

Cap checks out the view of Tahoe from the Flume Trail

Happy Gretchen on the Flume!

Emerging from the snow onto the summit of Marlette Peak.

Today, I happily made the trek down to Foresthill to help out at the Western States training camp. It too, was a celebration of the change in seasons. Peace and solitude are the sustinance of my trail time, but friends are the highlight. It seemed like almost every runner I knew was out on the Western States trail this morning!

I helped out Bob and Margie Read, along with a wonderful crew, checking in runners at the Deadwood aid station. Many of you asked why I wasn't running. Among other reasons: I got to greet, hug, and say hi to every single one of you! That never happens for me when I'm actually doing the running, and how fun is that!

Everyone was having such a great time. The weather couldn't have been better. I met a ton of wonderful people, whom I look forward to working with again at the race. Basically, for me, it was a celebration of the running community. You guys rock!


  1. Wow, Gretchen, those are some awesome photos! I'm totally jealous that you got an entire 24 miles (almost) to yourself and on such a beautiful day~ :)

  2. Hi Gretchen!

    After reading this, I once again swear you and Leslie are 'twins separated at birth'...same person, different mountain towns!

    I remember Leslie dragging me accross a high trail last 'early season'...still covered in snow, and looking back saying "I'm sure I can find the trail coming out the other side of this...really"...

    Keep it up! And enjoy 'tourist season' us, I'm sure 95% of them never actually leave the pavement!


  3. Hey there. Thanks for being out on the trail. I sure needed to see some friendly faces at Deadwood. That climb to Devil's Thumb is brutal!

    Nice to see the Flume trail is snow-free. I'll have to make it up there soon.

  4. Keith, you leave such great comments; I love it! That is about the best compliment ever. Leslie is pretty darn cool--and I guess you would know! Yeah, the snow turned out to be a much bigger adventure than I had bargained for, but fortunately I had a map, and in the end I was stoked about it.
    Hey, when are you getting a blog? ;)

    Catherine and Amber-- We should all get together for a girls run from Spooner up to Marlette lake sometime! What do you think?

  5. Hey there - it was great to see you! Let me know when that last bit of snow melts, and I'll think about making a visit.