Last summer, I started trying to run Mount Helena. I never could get a good run up the whole thing, in fact, I had a hard enough time getting up to the halfway point (which is the parking lot where most of y’all park). Having an annoying Lucy who put zero support into my running didn’t help. So, this year, I’ve been starting early at getting into the running swing, and trying to get over the nasty injury from Butte. Last Sunday, I ended up calling my planned really long run short, and had a miserable time bounding up the mountain, and a gimpy knee once I got down.
So, today, I decided to run through the Agrestic village, and up the Prairie Trail. It was an amazing evening to run, with the sun safely behind Mount Helena, and a nice Westerly breeze at the start. I remember struggling by the time I started up the roads through Agrestic, and now I powered through the shallow slope toward the trailhead.
Once I hit the trailhead, I went up Prairie, and kept the strong pace. Hitting Prairie is nice because the trail starts to have a bit of roll, in the sense that some of the trail has more uphill slope, and some of it has less uphill slope. It’s about a half mile (and another 300 vertical feet) before the trail finally crests. It then hits a set up actual roll (uphill and downhill) before heading into the junction with Direttissima. I love the Direttissima jaunt, it adds some distance, and avoids the nasty switchbacks of the Swaney trail. It was heading downhill where I felt something that I haven’t felt in a long time while running.
To begin, any downhill running is well earned. Anyone who says that uphill and downhill balance out is an ignorant fool who probably has never run up more than a mere hill in their entire life. Uphill running is a body pounding endeavor, which forces every muscle to propel uphill. Unfortunately, most downhill running is difficult in its own way, as the body has to strain against gravity and one bad footfall results in disaster. But, if there is just the right angle of downhill, and the least amount of rockiness, the body floats down the trail. Running becomes effortless, and one feels propelled by forces from beyond. It’s an absolutely amazing feeling.
Once I hit that on the lower part of the Swaney and North Access trail, I floated on down to the Tubbs trailhead. From there, I headed back along Le Grand Cannon on back into town.
So, the biggest change is how I feel from last year. Last year, I could do the run, but I felt like I was struggling through way too much of it. Now, I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing, and I feel like I should be doing this and more. It’s going to be a fun summer!
Total: 5.62 miles, 00:52:28, 1058 feet of gain, and 1020 of loss