Despite the rumors, I am not in fact, fearless. I'm afraid of approaching groups of strangers, who are probably talking about things more interesting than I. I'm quite fearful of drivers on cellular phones, who manage to pose great threat to me with little threat to themselves.
On Sunday, I decided to actually do the Grant Creek to Rattlesnake run. I checked everything up on a variety of websites. There's a trail that goes up Ravine... Trail, up toward Stuart Peak. The problem is that I couldn't quite figure out the distance looking at a collection of maps designed for bicyclists. I cannot be the only person who thinks it is more fun to hike / run from one edge of Missoula to another, but, looking online, it seems like the bikers outnumber the hikers, and there are few runners. Plus, who else wants to do a complicated point to point run that involves getting dropped off and heading over to another part of town. Okay, someone with someone who can drop them off, and someone who knows someone cool who lives up the Rattlesnake.
Fortunately, the night before I undertook this epic quest, it had snowed. Now, I hear a lot of opinions on snow, usually from people who don't spend much time in it. Since I spend a large amount of time outside, I think my opinions count for more. In my opinion, snow is great for trail running, because snow has a good slowing crunch.
I run into another runner who is planning on doing an out and back up Ravine Trail. I leave a few minutes before him. You see, despite the fact that it's wintertime, and I'm about to commit to a run with unknown distance and time, I realize that I've got to do this sometime. Plus, I've got nothing better to do on that morning; I've already committed to it. So, I bravely head up the Trail and into the unknown.
For the first half mile, I'm scrambling over ice with a snow layer. There's a few places where I get brought to my knees with the ice, which forms a huge sheet heading down the trail. But, then, something cool happens. I get past the ice, and into a nice collection of packed snow. It's absolutely amazing, tromping over packed snow. And, roughly two miles up (where the trail starts to split up), I get overtaken by the fellow runner heading back. I ask him about the trail, he says that I can go left, toward Stuart Peak, or stick to the right. I had planned on doing the left, and so I start to head down. And, I go from trail into three feet of snow, thrashing all the way. I remember hitting the turnoff for the out and back up Stuart Peak (which I had not planned on running) and thinking the best feeling in the world, which is that I knew exactly where I was at, and exactly how to get where I was going on the unfamiliar trail. However, at that point, I manage to get caught in the snow drifts, and flop into three feet of loosely packed snow. It's just too much fun.
I head down through the Rattlesnake, and start to see the capillaries of trails heading down toward the main trail. The heavy snow is gone, replaced with the light dusting that crunches and encourages speed. Eventually, I hit the main trailhead, and run from there the last three miles to my friend's house. Actually, that's a bit of a lie. Rather than take the direct route, I try taking a trail near the creek, and end up wasting a bunch of time and sneaking out through some citizens yard.
So, despite my hesitation about trying a totally new route, with unknown distances and weather conditions, it's the most fun that I've had out running in a very long time. This one's a good one!
Totals: 11.55 miles, and about two hours and forty five minutes of crazy fun running, stomping, pushing through snow, and the occasional slip and slide.