Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charoleau Gap/Samaniego Ridge Trail

A few weeks ago, I joined TTR for another early Sunday trail run.

We met a little before 7am at the trailhead of the Charoleau Gap trail. Actually, it's more like a dirt road. 4x4 trucks use it a lot. Apparently, it's a really popular place for off-roading.

Anyway, right at 7am, we were off! I satyed with the group for about a mile as usual, but then I just couldn't keep their pace anymore. They are speed demons! 
And it was just too cold. My nose, ears and fingers were really feeling it. I was even wearing gloves. 
The sun was still behind the mountains, so I knew I had a few miles to go before it started to warm up.

It was freezing cold in the beginning!
Slowly ascending...
The sun barely peeking out. 

Finally, the sun came out and I picked up the pace! Well, as much as I could. :)

Sun warming up the trail. 
Happy that it finally became warm. :)
 I chatted with some other runners along the way. Before she passed me, Alli and I talked about future races for a little while. Then, Stephanie caught up with me and we talked about being new to TTR. This was her first run with TTR so for once I felt like the seasoned trail runner! It was nice to give advice about some of the runs. 

I continued on the trail as the sun continued to rise. It got warm, but never warm enough to take off my jacket. I was a little bummed because I bought new arm warmers and I wanted to try them out. Next time!

The hills on this trail are wicked! 
When you first start and look out at the trail, it seems like it will mostly flat. 
They are slow and steady inclines the entire way! Some hills were steeper than others:

Literally straight up! I was basically rock climbing!
Notice the tire tracks in the photo. I can't believe people think driving over this stuff is fun...but then they probably think the same thing about me running up it. :)

I was slowly going higher in elevation...
Maintained by the Tucson Rough Riders. 
As I headed farther up the trail, I was sure I was the very last person. I was going so slow! The uphills were no fun and I was getting over a cold from the week before. I wasn't in top running shape during that week so I expected a slow run...but this slow? Those uphills were definitely tough though...I'm not kidding. 

The elevation slowly started to change and I could tell mainly from the difference in vegetation. It got a little greener and more shaded. Which meant cold again lol. 

At a open spot in the trail, I could see what I later found out was the Gap (no not the store...)

It's right where the two mountains dip together. 
It was so peaceful out there! I loved how there were not any other runners. On other trails TTR runs on (especially in Sabino Canyon) there are usually a lot of other people crowding the trail. Not the case here. 

As I got closer to my destination, the views got a lot better. 

The uphills were still brutal...
 Finally, I made it to a sign! At the time, I wasn't sure what it meant (it's not like it said Charoleau Gap as you can see). So, I kept going. I passed a TTR runner. We said some motivation to each other as we passed by (Nice job! You're doing great!) and continued on our way. I went down the trail (it was really really downhill) for about a mile and then decided I should turn around. I sure didn't want to get lost on this trail. 

The trail sign at the Charoleau Gap.

I headed back down the trail back to the parking lot. 

The same trail I ran up. 

Soaking up the sun for a little while. 
Heading back down...
I was about a mile or so away from the parking lot when I saw this little guy in the trees next to the trail:
Little calf watching me run
He was cute until I realized he wasn't the only one watching me. His entire family was there too. Including some better believe I got out of there fast!

Almost there and the trail had one last surprise for me...another hill! This one was not a nice one, just like the rest of them. I completely forgot running down it at the beginning. 

The last of the ferocious hills. 
 I came running into the parking lot in 3 hours and 42 minutes. I saw the RD's car and ran straight for it, telling her my time. At that time, it was perfect weather for my arm warmers so  stripped off my jacket, got some food and hot cider, chatted with some other runners who finished, and tried to soak up a little sun. 
I stayed for about 30 minutes afterwards (it's always nice catching up and getting to meet new runners). 

My total mileage was 13.42 miles.Very slow, but it was also very hilly and I was recovering from a cold. Also, not the most ideal conditions for me (way too cold!) but it was nice at the end. I would like to do this run again next year. Definitely on my list. :)

"I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."   - Jesse Owens


  1. So very cool! Reminds me of the course they had laid out in N. Kentucky for Tough Mudder - about the same distance too. It is amazing how those hills can slow you down. I loved having to literally climb one, then slide down the other side! Looks like it was beautiful too. Trail running is something I want to get more into as time goes on.

  2. Wow, what an amazing looking trail! Definitely looked more like rock climbing in some spots.

  3. woww, that looks beautiful but oh so hard! I've never done any type of trail running. I'm not sure I can handle it!

  4. LOVE your pictures, amazing view!!! Great job!!


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