Hiking to Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park

Sky Pond

Sky Pond. My phone camera does NOT do this hike justice. I am in the works of getting a new phone and/or nice camera.

(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month, starting with Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park….)

Starting out at 4:30am sounded rough but ended up being well worth the early morning call. I pulled into the parking lot and everyone climbed into my car. We were all sleepy-eyed but ready to make the journey to Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Even though the weather was predicted to be overcast and rainy, I still had a feeling there might be a lot of people trying to hike in Rocky Mountain with it being just a couple of weeks before school starts.

We got to the trailhead right around 6am, thankful that there was only a few cars in the parking lot. The five of us ladies set out to the trails.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Nine miles round trip, this hike is described as being strenuous and predicted to take up to nine hours! We figured, all of us being a part of 3W Races, a running company, that It shouldn’t take us near that amount of time.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

The hike was well-marked and it’s only the last half mile that is sort of strenuous with natural stairs and a scramble up a waterfall. That’s right, A WATERFALL!

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Timberline fall from a distance. This waterfall is the one you climb, but off to the right of the main water shed.

Starting out on a very gently incline, you catch beautiful glimpses of the valleys of Rocky. Then, under a mile, you reach your first landmark, Alberta Falls.

Alberta Fals

Alberta Falls

As you keep hiking from there, you reach a few junctions in the trail leading to other (assuming) wonderful hikes. If you do want to hike to Sky Pond, I suggest making sure you read the map well or bring one with you, knowing where to turn. There are signs, but sometimes they don’t always say, “THIS WAY TO SKY POND!” For the most part, you stay on the main, prominent trail.

Photo Credit: Katja

Photo Credit: Katja. Check her out on Instagram.

Reaching about 2.8 miles into the hike, you get to The Loch, a fairy tale looking lake surround by enchanted forests. Maybe it was just the overcast morning and all the conversation about books, but we really did feel like we were walking through a story book.

The Loch. Photo credit: Katja

The Loch, Lisa and I. Photo credit: Katja

After completely passing the lake, the trail starts inclining a bit steeper, but still not that hard. When you’re at about 3.25 miles, you start to hike some rock stairs and get to a point that looks like the trail ends. There’s a sign pointing up and you realized you have to get to climb a waterfall. I thought this was the coolest part of the hike!

Climbing up the waterfall!

Lisa climbing up the waterfall! Denise and Susan waiting at the base.

The trail/climb is to the side of Timberline Falls, a speculator waterfall from the water shed of Sky Pond. Not an incredibly difficult climb, but super fun to scramble up the side of a waterfall. Given my rock climbing experience, this was a blast, but I could see this as being a bit scary for some.

Photo Credit: Katja

Going up! Photo Credit: Katja

From the top of the waterfall, you see Glass Lake. It was a little overcast, with clouds just hanging on the top of the surrounding peaks and ridges, but a breath-taking sight nonetheless. (I don’t have a great picture of Glass Lake specifically.)

This is by far one of my my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

This is by far one of my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

We looked around for the next cairn marking the remaining .2 miles of the trail to get to the second lake, Sky Pond. With more fairy tale stone paths through patches of bright green, lush grass, we reached the end, and gazed upon the water. I can imagine seeing the reflections of clouds on a bright, clear day, but after the 4.5 mile hike, it was beautiful.

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

On the way down, we stopped to eat lunch on a big rock by the Loch then continued back to our car. Now, we were seeing the masses, super grateful for starting our hike when we did, agreeing none of us like crowds.

Photo credit: Katja

Photo credit: Katja

Getting There:

  • The Sky Pond hike starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in the park.
  • Easiest if you enter Rocky Mountain National Park by the Estes Park entrance (northeast side of the park).
  • It is $20 to enter the park (I have an annual National Parks Pass – saved us SO much money this year!)
  • If you do get there later in the day, there is a second, HUGE, parking lot one mile from the trailhead that has a free shuttle to Glacier Gorge. You pass it as you come to Glacier Gorge.
  • Click here for a map to the trailhead.

Tips:

  • Get there early; like all the other articles say, this hike is well travel and crowded, especially near Alberta falls.
  • Bring “grippy” shoes; the waterfall climb can be a little slick. We all hiked in our trail running shoes and did great.
  • Bring plenty of water and nutrition. It’s not too incredibly strenuous, but depending on your fitness level, make take you a little bit longer than us. (We did the hike in about 5.5 hours versus the predicted 9).
  • We went in August, and happened to be on an overcast day with wind – make sure you bring layers of clothes, sunscreen and/or a hat to prepare for any weather.  As you climb up higher, weather can change drastically and quickly. This hike reach about 10,500 feet in elevation.
  • Hiking guide.

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July 23rd, Castle Rock Prairie Dog Half/10k/5k – Review

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Many of you know I work for a running company in Colorado called 3W Races. This is a dream job that I started almost two years ago now!

I mainly do marketing for them (emails, local event promotions, acquiring sponsors and social media) but I have been transitioning into more race production and race day tasks. For our big races, our half marathons, after set up, I am the volunteer coordinator and organize all the water stations and course marshals. This means recruitment, mapping  out where they go, communication with volunteers and making sure they get to the right location and do the right thing.

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The next one that I have been working on is coming up on July 23rd. We have the Summer Splash Prairie Dog Half, 10k and 5k in Castle Rock. This race in particular I got to run two years ago! It’s a beautiful course that is just hard enough to give you a workout and feel accomplished without being too hard.

The year I did it, I placed second in my age group for the half marathon! I remember that day pretty well because I showed up early to help set up, ran the race, then stayed after to help clean up. I also remember my knee hurting really badly for that race after doing a double race weekend. You can read all about it HERE.

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Gear Review – SLS3 Compression Foot Sleeve

20160511_110723 (I was given a free pair of the SLS3 Compression/Plantar Fasciitis Foot Sleeves in exchange for my review. All opinions below are my own.)

After trying the SLS3 running belt, I was stoked to try another product by SLS3. I use my running belt all the time and I had bought a pair of SLS3 compression calf sleeves I run in regularly.

I got an email to be part of a blogger group to try the plantar fasciitis foot sleeves and thought, “Well, I do have plant fasciitis and I like SLS3 products, so yes, I’ll try those!”

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I’ve been battling the dreaded plantar fasciitis, a bad word to runners, off and on for a few years now. Although mine is un-diagnosed by a doctor, I’m 99% sure I have it and it sucks. I am lucky that it hasn’t gotten to the point of side lining me completely. When I first discovered the signature bottom of foot pain, I did my research, read every book I could, and came up with a routine. Every time I feel a little twinge, I use my methods and it’s gone.

With my running being off and on as it has been over the last 6+ months and me admitting not taking care of myself due to low energy and lack of time, I haven’t been able to shake this bout of plantar fasciitis as easily. The foot sleeves were calling my name!

What are they? They are compression sleeves that just cover from above your ankles to right before your toes. Claiming to help with the relief of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon pain and stress fractures by applying  compression, increasing circulation, reducing inflammation, and providing support for weak ankle muscles.

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While, I can’t prove if they reduce inflammation and increase circulation, I can say they did relieve some pain!

SPECIFICS:

  • Come in black or pink
  • Three different sizes to choose from (S, M or L based on shoe size)
  • Moisture wicking fabric
  • Interchangeable (each sleeve is not right or left foot specific)
  • Machine washable

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PROS:

  • Alleviated my foot pain relating to plantar fasciitis and achilles tendon issues for a brief time
  • They fit under socks
  • Cool, in temperature

CONS:

  • Stiff when you run in them
  • Thick. Yes, the fit under socks but I could still feel them
  • Too tight for LONG periods of time

 

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Originally, I was wearing them to treat plantar fascitiis, now I have some weird achilles pain and I have been using them for that. While great for a temporary relief post-run, I don’t like them while running.

Althought the website says, “Helps relieve joint and muscular pain even during sleep,” I once, accidentally, fell asleep in them.  I did order my size based on their sizing guidelines, but they must have been too tight because I woke up to shooting pains in my feet! I quickly took off the sleeves and the pain was gone, leaving me to believe that they were cutting off my circulation.

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Would I recommend them? Sure! If you have achilles pain or plantar fascia issues. However, they aren’t a cure for either issue, just a temporary pain relief. I personally will put them on while I foam roll (my calves because that’s sometimes the root of feet issues) and then keep them on as a barrier while ice.

I would also suggest them for if you need some ankle support while running. I don’t necessarily need a brace or ankle support, and running in them was stiff and uncomfortable for me, but if that’s a need for you, they would work well.

I’ll save mine for recovering on the couch!

Find them:

On Amazon for $18.90

SLS3

“Running & Being” – Book Review

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If only you could see how worn this book became after I finished it.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought this book, but whatever it was, I was surprised. I think what I wanted was a more holistic approach to running. After all, this was supposedly the book that “got the world into running.” With a title like “Running & Being” I thought for sure I would get words of wisdom for a simplistic approach to running.

It was a good book, just not was I was expecting and thus made it hard to get through. Instead of a holistic approach to running, I was greeted with the philosophy of running. It wasn’t a “how-to” guide. I should have read the back cover, it literally says the book became the “philosophical bible for runners worldwide.”

Original Cover

Despite the unexpected, I did enjoy the read, and took a few things from the book before I put it back on my shelf.

Written by George Sheehan, a cardiologist and runner himself, “Running & Being” ties Sheehan’s own philosophy to ideas from great thinkers and athletes all relating to running.

I previously started this book and this was a second attempt to finish it. I found my book mark in chapter two. Starting over, I realized why it got stuck there. The first few chapters is like a walk through and over grown forest for my mind. Cluttered, in my opinion, and hard to read through the “he said, she said quotes” by people half of which I’ve never even heard of.

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I had heard Sheehan was a great writer and all running-readers recommend this book, but I wanted HIS wisdom, not other people’s quotes, most of which were never about running in the first place. Sifting through the random stories, metaphors, quotes and creativeness, I did pull out a few take-ways that were integrated in between the philosophy.

  1. Go back to the fork (find where you went wrong or where the injury happened)
  2. Have fun and PLAY!
  3. Do the Magic 6 (3 stretches – Calves, hamstrings, lower back; and 3 strength exercises – Shins, quadriceps, and abs)
  4. Follow your own food rules (whatever works for you)
  5. Use fitness markers (like resting heart rate to monitor fitness and over-training)
  6. Most injures are due to overuse on a bad biological body (i.e. get your form evaluated and corrected with proper shoes)
  7. Create a running ditty bag (for races)
  8. Let it all hangout! (Wear your feelings on your sleeve while running)
  9. Learn when to kick and never look back!
  10. Become one with your run and embrace the loneliness of a long-distance runner.

The major thing I pulled away from this book was Sheehan’s comparison of running to religion. This is relatable to me as I am not a church going person but still believe something must be out there. He makes sure to say that running is not meant to be a replacement for a God but more a supplement or a way to express your beliefs. It would be a way to relate to the world and show your appreciation for the Earth.

Is the book worth the read? Depends on your mood and reading style. If you read a lot and are looking for a philosophy on running, read away! If you don’t read much and may get lost in descriptive writing, put this book back on the shelf. Will I read it again? Probably not, but I will definitely remember my takeaways.

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I leave you with this, my favorite quote from the book, referring to the idea of “play:”

“Run only if you must. If running is an imperative that comes from inside you and not from your doctor. Otherwise, head the inner calling in your own Play. Listen if you can to the person you were and are and can be. Then do what you do best and feel best at. Something you would do for nothing. Something that gives you security and self-acceptance and a feeling of completion; even with moments when you are fused with your universe and your Creator. When you find it, build your life around it.”

About George Sheehan