The Changing of the Seasons

Late yesterday afternoon, I joined a newcomer to Park City for a trail run up to our town’s most notable trail, the Mid-Mountain Trail, which undulates for 20 or so miles between 8,000 and 8,500’… or about half way between town (+/-7,000′) and the crest of the Wasatch Mountains (10,000′ around here). I had a busy day and am still very far from fitness, but I just had to get up into the real mountains for one final trail run this season. You see, we’re supposed to see our first big winter storm of the season tomorrow and that’s to be followed by long-term cold (and ski resort snowmaking), so the higher trails are almost certainly out of play until May or June of next year.

Armstrong Trail - Park City

A view while ascending the Armstrong Trail to the Mid-Mountain Trail. (Click here for a larger version.)

The imminent change in seasons has me reflecting back on the the trail running I’ve logged this year, here and elsewhere. It also has me contemplating bigger issues like my lack of fitness all year, relationship with running, lack of time at home during the summer, etc… but that’s heady stuff that I’ll have plenty of time to think about (and share) over the long winter. For now, I think of those runs that I have enjoyed this year… and think of both what I have to look forward to when the white blanket lifts from the Wasatch next spring and where my heart tells me I should go to enjoy some sweet, snow-free single track until that happens. Today, I will live in the moment and revel in the bliss of a final snow-free run on my bread-and-butter five mile trail loop from home.

Call for Comments

  • What have been some of your favorite trail runs of 2012?
  • Are the trail running seasons transitioning where you are? Any folks in the Southern Hemisphere excited to have summer ahead of you?
  • If winter will soon slow or stop your trail running, how do you fill that void until your trails open again?
  • Are you already dreaming about 2013? If so, what about?

There are 7 comments

    1. Stefan


      We already had our first snow last week. Marvelous! Here are some pics of my hometrail from last week (Southern Germany)

      However, I also look forward to ski mountaineering again.

  1. Phil Jeremy

    Best trail run this year…flying to San Francisco from Nice,France for 4 days only just to run the Way to Cool 50k. Great day,great people,great organisation and the most enthusiastic and supportive aid stations and runners I've ever come across. For 2013 I'd like to have a go at Karl's Speedgoat…..'sans' switchbacks of course :)

  2. Jennifer L.

    This year will mean actually wearing layers! Last year in New Hampshire we had a small amount of snow and layers were not needed. It will be interesting for me because it will be my first year training in the snow. Can't wait! :-D

  3. Michael K

    What stand out in my mind was a "double" of Mt Raymond and Gobblers from Butler Fork at 6pm on a long summer evening. Being able to see into both Millcreek and Big Cottonwood was spectacular! Having lived here and run avidly for 10+ years I was stunned at how runnable it was and that I'd never been introduced to it. I was so thrilled to continue running I even ran up to Solitude on the road and ambled back to the car finally depleted.

  4. art

    the runs that stand out the most are the non race runs.

    Devils Post Pile to Tuolumne Meadows via the JMT was probably the most fun, because my partner had never run in the Sierra before. Experiencing his amazement as well as the place itself (3rd time for me) made for a great day. a somewhat brutal but beautiful 30+ mile jaunt.

  5. John Maytum

    Races were fun, but my favorite run this year was probably the Devil's Dome loop in the North Cascades in early October. Gorgeous day made all the more beautiful by the fall foliage.

    I love snow running in the Cascade Foothills so I'm eagerly awaiting the first snow of the year.

  6. CJ

    I have absolutely enjoyed running the trails in the Colorado Springs area since moving here back in April. Awesome to have the opportunity to train on the Barr Trail, although I've enjoyed a nice break from it since the Pikes Peak Ascent. I hear the winters are pretty mild here which will be nice. I enjoy some snow for the beauty but I hear it melts off fairly quickly in this area. Even still, I look forward to a few nice snowy trail runs before long

  7. Mike

    I have had a blast since moving to Frisco, CO from Philadelphia. I run up Mt. Royal every day here in town and love every bit of it. The endless system of trails up here in every direction is truly amazing. I love the ability to get into the high country all year with traction and an ice axe. Stoked for Bandera, Badger Mtn, WS100, and Leadville 100.

    If anyone lives up in Summit county and wants to get together this winter let me know!

  8. Zach

    Boise has a very mild high-desert climate, but there is easy access to more high alpine terrain that will be covered in snow soon. My wife and I have come to really enjoy snow shoeing as an alternative to trail running. However, the incredible trail system in the Boise foothills is mostly runnable through the winter.

    Next year I'll be focused on running a handful of ultras – primarily in the Idaho Trail Ultra Series.
    This will be my first winter to train through the winter and remain in running shape. I'll be regularly checking in with for inspiration and information. Happy Winter!!

  9. Charlie Hunsberger

    I'm in here in Florida, so my trail running season from home is just beginning. Re: the ticks and chiggers are finally starting to recede!

  10. Morgan Williams

    For sheer human enjoyment, probably the hour or so during UTMB I spent chatting away with Gary Knipling. Great guy to pass some trial time with.


  11. Matt Millis

    Run of the year was finishing my first trail marathon at the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon in Indianapolis. Not a big mountain race by any standards, but the hills will surprise anyone who thinks Indiana is just one big cornfield. I'm hoping run of the year will be replaced with my experience at the Tecumseh Trail Marathon on 12/1.

  12. Chris P.

    I've had some wonderful runs in a lot of amazing places this year. The standout runs and races have mostly taken place in Colorado, Utah, and Alaska. I hope to spend more time training on skis this winter mixed with some snowy trail running and a few trips to warmer climates to get in some competition. I hope to use my winter training and racing as build-up for the Cedro Peak 45 miler next April.

  13. Martin from Italy

    My favorite race of 2012 was the Sellaronda Trail Race in the Italian Dolomites. I just published an article on the race in my blog

    As we go into the European winter I'll be putting away the running shoes and getting my ski mountaineering gear out of the garage. Looking forward to great adventures and races up and down the snow covered Alps.

    I'd love to get back in to the UTMB in 2013 – if not there'll be plenty of other great races to choose from.

  14. Andy

    Cannot pick a favorite race or run of 2012. Hey, there's still nearly two months left — maybe I haven't had it yet!

    As for the time of year, Wed AM was my first run of the season in tights, and the last before the first snowfall later in the day. But by Sunday it's supposed to be 60 degrees again. Such is November in southern New England. Love running in all the seaons and am stoked for winter, with a pair of MT110s Winters ("from the I've-run-up-Green-Mtn-with-two-feet-of-fresh-dept")en route as of this writing.

    After three 50ms and one 100k the past 2 years (and a bunch of 50ks) I am dreaming of my first 100m sometime in the first half of 2013. Looking forward to lots of wondrous winter miles before the ground softens and the next season of trail running springs anew.

  15. Guy C.

    Outside Mexico City, the trail running season ends with the "Triple Corona," a series of of three skyrunning events in November and December held on dormant volcanoes (Iztaccihuatl and Malinche) that climb up to 4,650 meters (15,000+). However, the break is short as the events kick in again in January (organized by A terrible place to live if you like to ski, but the consolation prize is excellent: with a hat, gloves and thin fleece or two long-sleeve shirts under a thin shell the running is fine all year long even at 15,000 feet.

  16. the other "Geof

    Favorite Run/Race of 2012: Despite dropping at mile 85 (terrible quad strain), running the first 72 miles with a good friend at Sawtooth up in MN was tops for me. Beautiful course, great volunteers and quality time out on the trail.

    After 5 weeks off to heal, I am back at it and slowly getting my fitness back up to snuff. I love running in Winter here in Northern IL and look forward to a full calendar in 2013. (McNaughton 150, Pikes Peak Double, Sawtooth and a few other to be determined long ones…)

  17. Jim Skaggs

    Hmmm, favorite runs of the year? Too many to mention. Zion traverse, GC R2R2R are a couple of standouts, not only for the beautiful scenery, but for the opportunity I had to enjoy those places with a group of great friends. Favorite races would be Logan Peak, Waldo, Wasatch (dnf). Other favorite runs would be many of the local training runs I did, both by myself and with friends. Come to think of it, most of my runs this year were favorite runs. I didn't have too many that sucked. 2013 plans? Big ones for me, wife and training willing. Hopefully winter won't slow my running down, but the snowboard is in the shop getting tuned as I write and I'm looking forward to hitting the slopes.

  18. Sam Winebaum

    The new "Queen of the Wasatch" for me, Pinecone Trail in Park City. Take the couple years old magificent Armstrong Trail from Silver Star to Mid Mountain Trail. A bit less than a mile on MM then a bit more than 3 on Pinecone to the Wasatch Crest at the South saddle of Scott's Hill. About 8.5 miles and 2700 vertical feet of smooth, root and rock free constant grade climbing through magnificent groves. Incredible views of Jupiter Peak, White Pine Canyon, and Scott's yet also mostly shaded. At the Crest many possibilities but one of my favorites is to run to Guardsmen Pass and stick a thumb out for a ride down! Any way you do it back at Silver Star there is a cool cafe right at the trailhead. Breakfast or a beer as you wait for slower friends to come i

  19. Nick J

    Having just passed my first year living in the Pyrenees the 2 standout races were an 8 mile uphill only to the "dent d'orlu" where we started in thick cloud and ended in warm sun overlooking the best inversion I've ever witnessed. The second was my first SkyRace, the Marathon du Montcalm, which is pretty much the same as Pikes Peak in terms of distance and vertical gain, a tiny bit more gain in fact plus the brutality of having to bag two peaks, that was a day to remember, bluebird, super hot, my first shirtless run (this was good actually) and a real kick in the bum in terms of finding out my fitness levels – 8hours 38mins… I was super slow, but not quite the last runner that mountain kicked a lot of arse that day.

    As for season change, I'm looking forward to getting out on snowshoes this year, last winter I spent 2 months post holing, even though it's a great workout I'm not doing that again, pair of Kahtoola's will be my next purchase… Can't wait for the snow to be honest, already touching the higher peaks…

  20. Walter

    Mt Royal is a nice climb every day. You can't go wrong up there. I really enjoy the loop around Buffalo Mt. Check it out next yr if you haven't already. Good luck with your races. That's a heck of a schedule.

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