I didn't know it at the time, but the Northern Sangres ridgeline was one of the first above tree-line areas I saw outside of the Front Range after moving to Colorado in 2016. On my first weekend road trip further west, that scene when the view opens up on highway 50 travelling along the Arkansas was a welcome sight after winding through the canyon. I thought that the mountains towering above Coaldale looked pretty neat and, upon closer inspection 5 years later, they were in fact neat!
In an effort to find a near full day pursuit for the summer solstice, I scoured the FKT routes within close drive to Colorado Springs and came across this great submission from Jason Halladay.
Camped near the Hayden Creek Campground night before after stashing my bike by the route's finish line above Salida. After a 2:30am wake up call and couple mile hike up the dirt road, I started the official route just after 5am from Hayden Pass. Considering Jason's comments on his time and a long detour for water, I figured the FKT was within reach as long as I didn't get injured or do anything stupid. Minus a few talus stumbles resulting in minor cuts and bruises, the "run" went relatively smoothly, and water refill was easy to come by with some lingering snow to treat. Attempted to take splits at each peak for those in future efforts wanting to track whether or not they're on pace, but I may have missed a few thinking they were just high points along the ridge.
Mount Otto: 1:40:00 ish
Bushnell: 2:21:00 ish
Red Mountain: Just under 4 hours
Hunts Peak: 5 hours and 4-5 minutes
Simmons Peak: Just over 6.5 hours
Methodist Mountain: 8 hours and 10-15 minutes
Finish at Rainbow Trailhead: 9:03:55
Looking strictly at the elevation of each peak, it was easy to underestimate the Communication Tower and Methodist Mountain, but that final big climb after Simmons was probably the hardest of the day, and I think that would stay the case even if it came earlier. On the bright side, all of the downed trees were a great chance to work on my Steeplechase technique! Descending from Methodist, my route varied slightly from Jason's as I opted for more of the longer, windier road where he took steeper shortcuts. In the spirit of FKTs, I think it's perfectly fine for any future takers to choose their own adventure through that section based on their strengths and the state of their quads and knees! I was much too shot to take the direct line, so a few easy road miles were very welcome.
Upon finishing, I spent close to an hour eating, splashing off in the creek, and otherwise procrastinating the bike ride back to my car. Eventually, I got going and finished the day well after dark following a 5+ hour ride along the rainbow trail. In between spats of cursing the steep climbs and mosquitos, it was nice to admire most of the peaks I just traversed from a different perspective and seat of a bicycle.
Awesome Mark. I'm especially impressed with the bike ride back along the Rainbow Trail after your run. Very impressive!