With one week to go before the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, Christy and I wanted to get in one final long training day. We had a lot of ideas for fun new ways to log some miles, most involving high ridges and/or summits, but as the day approached, the weather once again made the decision for us. We would have to fall back on an old favorite— McNamara to Margy’s— in order to escape the snow and winds that were forecasted.
So we just put our heads down and cranked out the 23-mile loop in the bad weather, enjoying the quiet time out in the woods. It’s become a favorite training tour of ours, being able to start and finish right in Hunter Creek, and cruise along our favorite local trails that connect McNamara and Margy’s Hut.
The weather came in as forecasted. In true spring fashion, the snow squalls cycled through all day, snowing heavily, breaking, and repeating. We were pretty bundled up at times, and found ourselves breaking trail for most of the back end of the route. And surprisingly, despite it being Saturday, we didn’t see a single person anywhere, for the entire 8 hours it took to us finish.
From Hunter Creek head up through Van Horn Park to McNamara Hut. Leave the hut heading east along an old trail that eventually descends to Woody Creek (the actual creek, not the town) and follow the creek west, downstream. You’ll find a sign or two pointing to Margy’s Hut along the creek. Spruce Creek will come in from your right. Look for the trail that heads up the creek to the northeast, and follow it for a few miles to Sawmill Park.
Turn west (there’s a sign if you’re in the right place) and go another 1.5 miles to Margy’s Hut. Descend from Margy’s Hut along the Larkspur Jeep Road, and leave the road at Johnson Creek and follow the route all the way down to Lenado. From Lenado, find the old Tinpot Trail and take it back up to Four Corners. Descend from Four Corners back to the Hunter Creek Valley. Have a beer.
The Grand Traverse starts at midnight on Friday. It’s snowing hard right now and we’re crossing our fingers that the “Grand Reverse” course isn’t needed, and that we can start the race and make our way back to Aspen. You can follow our SPOT progress (if it works right) on the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse website here.
More on that later.