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Devils Backbone - Blue Sky Trail Run - Ft Collins - January 13, 2008

Quick Details:
    Date: January 13, 2007
    What: Devils Backbone - Blue Sky Trail Run
    Where: Ft Collins, CO
    Weather: Sunny, Cool (30-40F), Calm, Trails were variable, dry to icy to muddy
    Distance: 27 miles
    Elevation gain: 4,565' / loss: 4,565'
    Technical Difficulty: Class 1
    Physical Difficulty (subjective):3 of 10
    Time: 5:45:14
    Calories burned: 5571
    Photo Gallery: Click Here for Photos.

Eric Lee hosted the Special Idiots for a Sunday long run in Fort Collins on January 13, 2008. A huge group of 13 runners met at the southern end of the Devils Backbone - Blue Sky Trail, just west of Loveland. Our plan was to run north to Horsetooth Reservoir and then return the way we came. The total distance was 21 miles, with options to make it longer. The weather was perfect for trail runnnin... sunny and in the mid to high-30s.

At the Devils Backbone trailhead

The group headed north with Eric leading the charge. As usual, they quickly dropped my sorry carcass as they set a quick pace. Charles, Kari, and I hung back a bit and would regroup with the main group every few miles.

The group in the first mile.

The first 6 miles of the trail were amazing! The trail was almost snow-free, dry, and rolling. It's a really great place to run. We arrived at the intersection of the Blue Sky trail and the Coyote Buttes trail, at mile 6. Clem's wife headed east from here, back to her car at the Coyote Buttes trailhead. Liz Lee also turned back near here, as she had to be at work in the early afternoon. Being the slow fat guy, I continued on north as the rest of the group ate and chatted. I figured I would at least limit the amount of waiting they would have to do.

Climbing towards the Coyote Buttes trail junction

From the Coyote Buttes junction, the trail rolled northward at the base of one of the hogbacks. The trail condition slowly deteriorated too, becoming more and more icy as we continued north. The rest of the crew caught me as we descended down to the paved road that leads to Horsetooth Reservoir. From here, the trail continued north another 1.5 miles to a trailhead. This last 1.5 miles was icy and snowpacked and miserable to run. We regrouped at the trailhead, topped of bottles, and headed back south.

Charles and I ran into a herd of Llamas on the run back!

Charles and I took our time on the way back. The trail was becoming nasty... icy in spots and slick mud in spots. He took a couple of bad falls so we just hung back and cruised to the Coyote Buttes junction, and our waiting group. At this point, Kari and I decided to head east on the Coyote Buttes trail, to get in a little more mileage. We headed out while the rest of the group split up, half heading south, directly back to the trailhead and half adding the additional 1.5 miles or so of the Indian Summer loop.

Kari and I climbed and descended the first Hogback, crossed a nice valley, then climbed and descended the second hogback. After hitting a pre-determined mileage (to give us a 27 mile run), we turned back and retraced our steps. This 3-4 mile spur added a LOT of climbing, as we had to climb hogbacks a total of 4 times!

Looking south from the Blue Sky-Coyote Buttes intersection.

Headed up the Coyote Butte trail

We were feeling good, so we added the Indian Summer loop on the way back. This was a nice spur that added some climbing and about 1.5 miles to the total. We finished the spur off and headed back towards the Devil's Backbone trailhead. We rolled in after 5hr 45min on the trail, 27 miles, 4,565 feet of elevation gain. Our group was waiting at the van, hungry and ready to go!

Along the Indian Summer spur, looking east.

The entire group had a really great time and this trail was the perfect choice to avoid much of the snow that has plagued our runs over the last month. A big thanks to Eric for putting this together, I can't wait to get back up that way again for another long run!


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