About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Monday, December 21, 2009

South Franklin Peak Run

Last month I ran and hiked to the top of South Franklin Peak (6,791 feet), the second highest in the Franklin range. The Franklin Mountains are in El Paso, Texas and encompass a 24,000 acre state park which is the largest urban wilderness park in the US.

My adventure actually started several weeks before, when I tried to find a route up the west side of the mountain near the red rock formation known as the Thunderbird. After bushwhacking through the prickly vegetation up to the T-bird’s right wing I was turned back by rugged terrain strewn with many boulders. I learned the hard way that Lechuguilla or Shin Dagger as it is known in the desert really does a number on the shins.

The next week I explored another route along a beautiful trail which runs along the base of the west side of S. Franklin Mountain. I had heard of a trail that connects to the Ron Colman Trail which is the easy route up to the summit. I followed this trail for a while, but came to a dead end in a canyon. There must be another way. After turning around and running down the mountain, I could see the trail that led up to the RC Trail.

Eventually I ran into a mountain biker who told me where to turn to catch the correct trail. I took the trail up, but it eventually ran out at a mountain highway. I remembered seeing a very overgrown and rugged trail straight up the mountain face about a mile back. I backtracked and started hiking up this trail. After this trail also ended I decided to go for it through the brush. I finally made it to the RC trail, but was too exhausted to go for the summit. I ran down the RC trail to the mountain road and made my way back home.

The next week I decided to run and hike to the summit of S. Franklin Peak since I finally figured out the way from the west side of the mountain. I left early knowing that I would need roughly six hours to complete my round trip. The weather was beautiful so I took my camera along to record my adventure. I stopped at the Thunderbird for a few shots and continued along the rugged trail which has many steep up and down sections. I stopped at a trail crossroads to take a picture of some pretty yellow flowers known as dog weed and took my favorite running hat off. This is the last I remembered seeing it.

I continued up to the straight up section of the trail and started to bushwhack to the Ron Colman Trail. I was afraid that I might not be able to make it back down on this section, so brought my GPS. When I made it to the top of the ridge I was greeted by a friendly dog and several hikers who asked, “where did you come from”. I told them how I ran and hiked from the west side and was now going for the summit.

After continuing for a while I came to the famous Mammoth Rock, which is a formation complete with a hump and trunk. I continued on until I finally made it to the summit. The only down side to this hike is the radio/TV towers on top of the mountain. The views are spectacular though, so I took a few photos of the East side, Ft Bliss, and Mammoth Rock. Time to head down.

The trip down was uneventful until I started to bushwhack and look for the rugged little trail that leads down. There are many rough and rugged spots full of prickly vegetation. I remembered the GPS and retraced my steps until I found the little trail. Soon after as I was again running down the trail I twisted my ankle and ended up on the ground. After screaming a few expletives I got up and put some weight on my foot. It didn’t feel too bad so I continued on and finally made it back down the mountain. The entire trip took five and a half hours and only cost me my favorite running hat and some ice for a sore ankle. I was back on the trail a few days later.

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