Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mount Helena City Park

This past week, I got to travel to Helena for work. Just for fun, Steve and I drove down a day early so we could play in the park. For those who have never explored the area, Mount Helena City Park (picture above) is basically a mini mountain within city limits. You can hike to the top of Mount Helena at 5460 feet. There are several trails that are easily accessible and interconnected so you can get in a long, short, easy or tough workout. Steve hiked while I spent an hour attempting to run the snow packed Prospect Shaft, Dump Out, and Hanging Draw trails. At least those are the ones I think I explored. Although I've been on these trails before, they look completely different in the winter.

After spending each day absorbing work related information, I was eager to get outside. Unfortunately, Monday and Tuesday brought on a horrible sinus infection (it had been coming on for some time - I just chose to ignore it until my teeth started to hurt). I ended up on antibiotics and had to spend my leisure time resting. It wasn't too bad considering the temperatures dropped to -30 windchill. I did manage a couple shorter easy runs during the week which took me on an interesting tour of Helena's not so finest areas.

On Friday, I was "released" early and headed to the park again for a long workout. The run started out beautiful - sun shining, warm temperatures, no wind. This time, I took the Prairie Trail up and around the mountain to the West End and Backside trails. With all the new snow and high winds we'd had earlier in the week, it was a game just trying to locate the trails. At some point along the Backside trail, I came across a section that was completely covered by snow. I tried to navigate it, but the snow came up past my knees. At this point, I was getting tired, and even with snow gear, I feared getting wet with a lot of traveling yet to do, so I turned back. On the way back, I wanted to take the Ambrose trail around to the car. I ended up on the Swaney trail, which takes you down to another parking area. By this time, the clouds were rolling in and the wind had picked up. Instead of going back up, I ran on roads for another 45 minutes until I reached my car. I ended up getting a 2:15 workout, and was exhausted. I was reminded again of how unpredictable weather can be, especially at above 5,000 feet. The following pictures are from my car at the end of my run - dark clouds, wind and blowing snow.
Double click on each picture if you want to experience the weather more clearly!


Danni said...

Awesome! (Not the sinus infection). Helena is so great. Are you around this weekend?

Iris said...

You would have enjoyed the adventure. Yes, I'll finally be around for a weekend! Are you running Saturday or Sunday?

Danni said...

I'm running both days but thinking of snowshoeing in the park Saturday. Any interest? I'm going to call Jandy for an opinion first on snowshoeing up to Sperry Chalet. Then running down.