21 July 2014

2014 Camp Hardrock: Days 3 - 4

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, 
even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, 
the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. 
You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
- Nehemiah 9:6 (NIV)
Engineer Pass
(This is the second of five blog posts, covering my nine days at Camp Hardrock. Days 1 & 2 are found here.)

After running up the Highland Mary Lakes trail on Day 2, I set aside two more days to explore the Hardrock course before the volunteer work was to begin. After talking to a few people about what section to run, I decided on Bear Creek Trail out of Ouray. There are actually three Bear Creeks on the Hardrock course, the Silverton, Telluride and Ouray Bear Creeks. The Ouray trail starts off Highway 550 and ascends up a series of switchbacks into the canyon overlooking Bear Creek. Passing the Grizzly Bear and Yellow Jacket mines, the trail continues to above treeline and into Engineer Pass. The 7.1 mile trail ends at the top of the pass, just below Engineer Pass road.

As it turned out, I was running the trail ahead of the course markers who completed the marking as I was coming back from the turnaround point. It was an easy trail to follow between the obvious trail and cairns that marked the game trails. The afternoon clouds were rolling in on three sides as I came to the turnaround point and as I heard thunder off the distance, I made a "beeline for treeline" by taking the straightest path I could to the trees in about 20 minutes, which required only one episode of 'shwacking down the hillside back to the trail. Thankfully, it was just some grumbling and no lightning to be seen from my vantage point. 
Folks thought it was 5 miles to Engineer... what's 4 extra miles, right?
Going up the shale switchbacks
Bear Creek Canyon

Bear Creek
Crossed this twice!
The falls above the prior crossing
This is typical on the HR course. Feels good, actually.

Engineer Pass

Wheelbarrow cairn
Looking back
Cairns mark the game trails
Turnaround point
View back to treeline (dark clouds on either side)
Oops... that's the wheelbarrow cairn down below
Found the HR markers on my return trip
I did a lot of praying on this run. Worship is an automatic response in the midst of such majestic beauty. I'm so grateful legs that work and eyes to see the beauty of God's creation. I'm always reminded that a God that's wise and powerful enough to form and sustain the natural world can be trusted with the details of my life that I can't understand or control. As C.S. Lewis has famously said, "He whispers to us in our joy..." and I hear Him talking in places like this -- loud and clear -- and find peace flowing like a river in my soul.

I was good and tired after my 14 mile hike/run. I needed to rest because I'd planned to get my iconic Island Lake picture the following day. Meghan and Doug joined me the next day as we hiked up the 4 mile Ice Lake trail to the top of Grant-Swamp Pass.

The must-have snapshot of Island Lake
Joel Zucker died just days after running his 3rd Hardrock in 1998
Looking at Oscars Pass from Grant-Swamp Pass

I spent the rest of the day breaking down camp, moving to Silverton (where I took my first shower in four days!) and checked in with Dale and Lois regarding any help needed. They needed help with merch set up, so that's what I did for the remainder of the afternoon. Since it was late in the day, the bulk of the work would happen in the morning before runners began check in.

It felt good to be in Silverton as things begin to heat up in preparation for Friday's start of the run. Stay tuned for days 5 and 6 coming up next...

Happy Trails,



  1. Great photos - especially of the waterfalls! We drove through Silverton and Ouray on our way to Durango not long ago. Wish I could have run or at least hiked near the course.

    1. Hi Tina, the Bear Creek Trail is about 5 min outside of Ouray, just after one of the tunnels. Definitely worth the stop to climb up into the Canyon and enjoy the views!