Back in 2010 I decided to run my first marathon. Unlike most people who pick an “easy”, flat road course, I decided to go the opposite direction and chose one of the toughest ones in the country: The Leadville Trail marathon.
With the starting line at over 10,000 feet, course elevation gain total over 7500 feet (including a 13er summit) and loose, rocky terrain I had my work cut out for me.
When race day arrived I thought I was prepared. I had been trail running for over 10 years at that point, fit in all my long runs and did several 14ers for high altitude training.
However, I distinctly remember my greatest weaknesses on the course: my power hiking skills and ability to run long, sustained climbs. I had done a ton of trail running to train but very little power hiking. “Why hike when I could run?”, I wrongly assessed.
This is a great beginner ride! Park at the trail head off South Golden Road for a nice easy single track green hill with very few obstacles and little elevation gain. There are only a couple switchbacks and they are nice and wide to help you practice your turns. Once you get to the top of South Table the trail opens up into a great double track that is very flat. Rocks are few and far between, but offer just enough for you to practice on! If you choose to take the Basalt Cap Loop just once you will get a great 5 mile ride in. Do the loop several times to extend your ride and focus on your sighting, shifting and braking skills. Just be aware, South Table is known for it’s rattlesnakes! They love to get sun drunk on the wide open paths, so keep your eyes open and give them their space. For more tips on what to do if you see a snake, read the this article.
With warmer weather here and summer approaching, rattlesnakes are on the move and making their way out of hibernation dens.
Both bull and rattle snake encounters have been on the rise recently due to the toasty temperatures with sightings at Green Mountain and North Table Mountain parks just this week.
Due to this news, it would be easy to become fearful and avoid heading out on the trails. However, rattlesnake bites in Colorado are fairly rare.
I grew up in the foothills right in the heart of rattlesnake country and in my 30+ years (my parents started me young) of hiking, trail running and mountain biking these trails I encounter a handful of rattlers a year and have been struck at just twice (one time in my teens I was wearing headphones and didn’t hear the warning sound of the rattler just to the side of the trail).
With my firsthand experience and work with Jefferson county open space and city of Lakewood park rangers, I’ve compiled a list of all you need to know about how to avoid rattlesnake encounters and what to do if you do see one of our slithering friends.