running on mountain tops

Running on Mountain Tops (Ten Mile Range Traverse)

I recently survived running on mountain tops. The objective was the Ten Mile Range traverse from Frisco to Breckenridge, Colorado. The result was over 7000 feet of elevation gain and bagging 9 out of 10 peaks before the rain washed us down the mountain.

I’ll tell you this: it wasn’t pretty. Well, the views were breathtaking and life changing. The sunrise was the kind of light-play that heals the ache in your heart.

But yeah, I only barely made it to the top of each peak without quitting, cursing, or telling my “running” partners what I really thought of them. I mean, I had a lot of time to think about it while I huffed and puffed my way to one false summit after another. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty.

When you climb ten summits you have to prepare for there to be a heck of a lot of false summits.

Why isn’t everyone a mountain runner!?

Wait, who put that question mark there? I’m pretty sure it should be a statement. It should be the beginning of a thesis.

10 Reasons Why Everyone isn’t a Mountain Runner.

I’m not sure how many mountains you have to stumble down before your ankles and knees get strong enough to actually take it. There’s some supernatural kind of stubborness involved in the process.

At one point in the morning, which was mostly steep scrambling up and down over 3rd and 4th class terrain, Ian mentioned that we were trail running without the trails and without the running.

By mid-morning, because we started at 3am, even my running partners who have been doing this for years were, “feeling the hurt.” But if that’s true then what I was feeling was way beyond hurt. It was next level.

But in a weird way you can’t be mad because you chose this.

you chose this

Write that again… you chose this. You chose to wake up at 2:45am, wake-up being inaccurate working seeing as though I’m pretty sure you never actually fell asleep. You shoes to hike, climb, nay “run” up 3000+ vertical feet before even the sun deemed it late enough to rise.

And you chose to keep going even after everything was starting to hurt.

Why? Because something about it feels so good. Maybe it’s the power, the strength, and the proving that you can.

Not that you have to prove it to anyone. No one really cares actually. They all just think we’re a little stupid because that is what we do for fun, on our one precious day off in what feels like months.

I exaggerate. But hey, that’s what it’s all about right? Extreme ups and downs: literally, emotionally, spiritually.

ten mile range traverse

The objective was the 10 Mile Traverse from Frisco to Breckenridge, Colorado. We wanted to run across the Ten Mile Mountain Range, but first we had to get up there. The first half of the day was more climbing than running including some technical 4th class route finding.

As an experienced rock climber, I felt at home on the rock minus a few key points.

  1. The rock was wet and slippery from the rain that had been pouring all night which mandated that we move slowly and methodically.
  2. I knew that the technical sections were likely not going to be the hardest aspect of the day, I was more concerned about endurance.
  3. We had a fairly hard time window because the rain was going to come around noon or 1pm and there was a long way to go so speed was important.

I mean, look at that ominous sky!

9 outta 10 ain’t bad

I think that when an objective is so intense, it’s fairly easy to keep expectations in check. It’s hard to be on the ridge between peaks 9 and 10 and make the choice to head back down. At the same time, it’s an easy choice when it’s dumping rain, you’re exhausted, and you still have to get back down.

running on mountain tops

If the main goal was running on mountain tops, we succeeded. It felt pretty otherworldly to prance across a ridge bagging peak after peak after peak.

Typically, as a climber and photographer I don’t move at such an aggressive pace. I always thought that it was a waste, why not slow down and enjoy the views. Now, I’m not sure how I feel because I also recognize the advantages of being able to cover more ground in less time.

Running on mountain tops makes you feel like a bird. There’s a sense of freedom and release. You’re traveling across the top of the world by the power of your own two feet.

But first you have to get up there.

And have enough energy to run.

Then you’re reminded you only have two feet with skinny ankles.

Lastly, you realize you still have to get back down.

But yeah, I guess it was fun.

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I am Brenda Bergreen. I’m a writer, photographer, and storyteller alongside my husband and adventure parter Marc. We specialize in mountain lifestyle photography and adventurous wedding photography. Above all our philosophy, love. adventurously. is the guidepost for everything we do.

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