Well I made it down to another IC run. This time I was smart enough to wear my screw shoes even though I didn't think that I'd need them. The route was to take the road (Lover's Lane) to Garden of the Gods, then hang a left on Rampart Range Road and climb that all the way to the radio tower. RRR is a dirt road that climbs with just enough steepness to make you feel it and keeps climbing long enough to make you want to turn around. Don't do it! If you can make it to the radio tower then a few meters past it you'll find a cairn on the left side of the road. There is a small trail there that will take you down into Williams Canyon. On this day the trail was just a few footprints in calf deep snow down a very steep slope. If this was my first time and I was alone I would have thought twice about following these footprints straight down, but I had been on the trail once before and there were others from the run with me so down we went. A few minutes of sliding with every step later we ran into Matt Carpenter chatting with a friend. This was the intersection where the people looking for a longer punishing run could take their leave from the standard route. I was one of those people. We let Matt lead the way since our trail went straight up from here. A few minutes later Matt was out of sight never to be seen again on this run. The rest of us were making an attempt to run, but with the snow and the steepness of the climb it was pretty much punching your toes into the snow to get a horizontal surface to climb. I made it to the Waldo Canyon loop ahead of the other two I had started this climb with and ran into two others that had passed me early on RRR. A short break to wait for the one guy right behind me and we were off again towards the trailhead for Waldo Canyon. This is where I think my screws shoes helped. There were plenty of icy patches on the descents where I probably would have been on my back if I didn't have the screws. I was still slipping some so it wasn't easy running by any means, but at least I was on my feet the whole way. At the trail head we crossed US-24 to pick up the Ute Pass Trail which is rumored to be uphill both ways. I had only gone the other way in the past, but I see what they mean. It is a series of fairly steep climbs and descents. Longer and steeper than I prefer, but not so long that I was cursing each climb. The snow was pretty bad on this entire section. The climbs were little more than a walk trying to find good places for your feet. The descents became ankle torture as the snow was frozen and uneven enough that every step would turn your ankle one way or the other. Surprising to me I pulled away from the rest of the group on this section, unfortunately that left me alone at a gate with a private property sign at what appeared to be the end of the trail. I had been on this trail from the other end before, but that was 2 years ago and I didn't remember this part. I could have gone between the fence and some bushes to the right, but that appeared to head towards a horse farm that was probably the owner of the private property and it didn't look like a trail, but I later found out that it was the right way to go. I waited a short while for the others, but didn't want to stand around too long since the time was already over 2 and half hours. So, I decided to cross the fence and follow the path on the other side that went to the left. This circled around a mountain and to another fence that let me out of the private property. There was somebody walking her dog here so I figured I must be on the right path. When I got dropped on to the road I knew that I wasn't on the right path. I followed the road down hoping that I hadn't made a wrong turn long ago and ended up in the wrong town. Nothing looked familiar here. I kept following the road looking for anything that I recognized. I saw a park that said Manitou Springs so I knew I was in the right town, but still didn't know where I was. At least the road kept going down so it was easy to follow and I had my cell phone just in case. Finally I came out on the main drag in Manitou, but I was way on the other side of town from where I wanted to be. Made my way back to Love's Lane and followed it to the car. 2:48 on my watch, but wait Kasey wasn't at the car waiting for me. She was going to do an out and back and I expected her to only be out for about 2 hours. I called her and she had to walk most of the way back due to IT band issues, but she was almost there.
Another exciting run under my belt. Oh, speaking of belts... I was trying out a new Fuel Belt on this run. The company had sent me a package with three different Fuel Belts, a race number belt, and some extra bottles. These were all the newer design that I had never tried before, but after having it on for nearly three hours I can say that they work as well as the old ones, but the pocket is much bigger. They put the pocket on the back of the belt instead of the front where it connects. I had my cell phone and keys back there and never had to think about them.