Here in this county, like everywhere, we have our own shorthand. We know what is meant by "the North Highway", "the canyon," "the Devils", or "Housewife Beach." So it is with the "Green Gate." A mile and a half in which you gain 800 feet, it should not be that hard to run–but it is.
I should stop here and note that the area this run goes through is not public land, but many of us hope it will someday be. It is through the grace of the current owners that we are allowed to access it. You can read more about the effort to preserve this area here.
I like to run in the winter, and trails are few and far between that are not shrouded in snow. This moraine trail does get covered eventually, but in late fall it is a good place to go. I stare it down–the hill begins immediately without much of a break. You might not think it is that bad until you reach the switchback, where the true climbing begins. My pace slows. I pass a hiker, and have to struggle to stay far ahead of him–I can probably walk this almost as fast as I can run it. Some hikers coming down say to each other: "See, I told you people run this!"
No way I can stop now. I glance back: the hiker is fading into the distance. Ruby is out ahead, tail flopping. She loves this run. Sometimes, there are cows.
People ride bikes up here too, but that is unimaginable to me. I'd be hiking a bike, for sure.
Once, a bear ran across the trail ahead of me, but today there is nothing but the unrelenting climb. Why do I do this? Every time I run this route, I wonder if I will make it to the top without walking. I usually do, but I doubt myself. Never has a mile and a half taken so long to run. When I run down, I can do it in half the time. Still, it feels good to try.
Ever since my Grand Canyon trip, I've been in sort of a slump. It's been hard to summon the enthusiasm for exercise. The cold I have been suffering since the plane ride doesn't make it any easier. Usually if I go, I feel better, so I do.
I break it down into small sections: the first side trail, then the second one. The white rock. Where the trees end. Huffing and puffing, I finally reach the top. I've made it, one more time.
The view from the top, though:
I've run the Green Gate one more time, but I wouldn't call it "conquering". Maybe surviving?