Saturday, August 29, 2009

I've been pretty remiss in my blog posting recently. The goods news is that I have lots to talk about! One reason I haven't posted is that Jen and I just came back from our trip to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Man was it amazing! There is a lot I could talk about, but this is after all a running blog, so I'll focus on the running parts.

I got a few spectacular runs in. The best by far was in the Swiss Alps. Jen and I spent two days in a small mountain town called Davos. It is home to a few ski areas and a paradise for hikers, runners, bikers, and all who love the outdoors.

Jen and I arrived around lunch time. After settling in to our hotel and getting some food, we headed out for a hike (at lunch I think I set the record of most pizza eaten in Switzerland by someone who weighs 160 pounds, but that's neither here nor there).

Mt. Jakobshorn was right behind our hotel. Davos is situated at about 5,000 feet, and the peak of Jakobshorn is at 8,500 feet. Mt. Jackobshorn also happens to be a ski area (and looks like a pretty freaking amazing one at that).

Jen and I planned to hike up to the top of the first ski lift at about 6,500 feet, loop a little further up and over to the other side of the mountain, descend to the town next door called Clavadeler, and then hike back to our hotel. All told it would be about a 9 mile hike.

I had an amazing time, and I think Jen did too despite me acting like a puppy dog with way too much energy. We certainly had plenty of fantastic views. The trails were also amazingly well-maintained and marked. "Nordic walking" is actually really big over there, so all through the Alps there are hundreds and thousands of miles of beautiful trails that are well cared for.

They also farm on the mountain during the summer. There were these big cows just hanging out on the mountain, sometimes just a foot away from the trail. They've got to be the happiest cows on earth.

After the hike, Jen and I enjoyed the town and wrapped up the day with a bottle of wine on our balcony looking out at the surrounding mountains.

The next morning I woke up just as the sun was starting to come up to try to run to the top of Mt. Jakobshorn and back. It would be about a 16 mile run that started with a 3,500 climb straight up. I didn't want to keep Jen waiting too long, so I planned to motor as fast as I could and try to make it all the way to the top.

Man, it was definitely one of the best runs of my life. The 1,500 feet up to the first ski lift isn't too steep and is on wide double track trails and fire roads. I made good time on this section and then launched into the steep, single track 2,000 foot climb from the top of the first lift to the top of the mountain.

I ran all of this part except for just a few of the steepest sections and was having a blast. I was feeling good, and it was just a great feeling running up above the tree line in such a beautiful place. It was a clear, brisk morning with temperatures in the upper 40s or so, and the sun warmed me up as it climbed over the mountains.

I hit the top of Mt. Jakobshorn in 1:25. I was planning to turn around at 1:30 to get back to Jen, so luckily I made it to the top with 5 minutes to spare. I used my extra minutes to hang out at the summit and just take in the views. It was one of those days where everything clicked, and I felt like I could run forever.

But soon enough it was time to head back down. I motored down the mountain and was really flying when I hit the flatter, smoother section close to the bottom. I made it home in about 2:40. What a way to start the day.

The first set of pictures below are from when Jen and I climbed up the first day. The second set picks up from where we turned around and is from the second part of the climb when I was running the next morning. The last set is from when Jen and I descended the first day. When I was running, I only took pictures on the second half of the climb, so hopefully combinging the two sets of pictures will give you a good sense of the full route from the base to the top and back.

Hope everyone is doing well! Stay tuned for more blog updates soon.

(Start of the run. Jen's rocking the treking poles!)

(Start of the climb)

(Looking out at Davos as we climb up)

(The trail the top of the first ski lift was incredibly well maintained)

(You can see the lake in the background)

(There were all these really cool waterfalls running down the mountain)

(Just about to the top of the first ski lift)

(Big smiles in a beautiful place)

(Jen's getting ready for ski season!(We're climbing up above the first ski lift. There were a bunch of cows just hanging out up here at 6,500 feet!)

(The happiest cows on earth. At night we heard the cowbells from our hotel balcony as the cows came down the mountain to the barn for the night.

(View of Davos right before Jen and I cut over to start descending)

(This is from the next morning and picks up from where Jen and I left off int he previous picture. The second half of the climb was mostly single track trail, though still well-maintained.

(It was cool seeing the mountain on the other side of Davos get lit up as the sun was rising.

(That's the building at the top of the second chair lift than I'm running towards.)

(The ridges at the top were really cool looking)

(At the top there was another trail going off to another mountain peak. It was a rocky, gnarly, dangerous looking trail. In case you were wondering, high heels are not recommended for that trail.)

(Approaching the top of the mountain. The spire toward the top right is where I'm going.

(Looking back on the final ascent at the trail I just climbed up.

(The ridge heading east of Jacobshorn. You can just make out the trail snaking across the top of the ridge.)

(Looking all the way down at Davos)

(There were some big mountains off in the disttance. You can just make out the snow on them.

(You can just see the top of a chair lift. I ran by that on the way up.)

(Close up of the snow fields in the distance.)

(Now we're back to when Jen and I traversed over and started our descent. Talk about green
(The views coming down the other side of the mountain were even more spectacular)

(Down below is the small town of Clavadeler on the other side of the mountain. We came down into Clavadeler and then hiked over to Davos.)

(Jen and I took a walk around the lake after I cleaned up post-run)

Video from the top of Mt. Jakobshorn:

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