It's my family's tradition to get a live farmed tree on the first weekend of December and hang every single ornament we own, some of them 40 years old, on it along with some big ass LED lights in primary colors. The effect is sentimental and chaotic and we love it.
Thanks to heavy snow on October 25 and cooler weather, the Cameron Peak Fire is 92% contained and continues to cool down. People are returning to their homes, CO 14 is open again between Fort Collins and Gould, and crews are beginning the work of retiring fire lines to mitigate erosion and runoff before the winter snowpack forms. The nearby Mullen and East Troublesome fires are also quiet. Air quality has been good and I've returned to running semi-regularly. On November 1 I ran up to the top of Lory State Park to get a view of the burn. Crews stopped the eastward run of the fire at County Road 25E, which runs along the base of Buckskin Heights.
If the fire had started a week earlier, or if the snow had arrived a week later, we might have lost the forest in Lory. It was a close call.
On November 8, I ran at Red Mountain Open Space for the first time. The trails are smooth and very runnable and there are some Triassic and Jurassic sandstone formations reminiscent of those you'd see further west on the Colorado Plateau. It's a bit of a drive to get to the trailhead, but I'll come out here again, for sure.
To survive the election and the vote count I made a huge pot of Alsacienne soul food. First, I did a quick cure of some pork belly to turn it into petit salé.
On election day I sauteed onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaves, and simmered them with homemade sauerkraut, adding the petit salé, ham, kielbasa, and boudin blanc at the end.
This kept me well stressed-fed through Thursday. Friday we had kimchi and cheddar cheese quesadillas and some sparkling wine from California as Biden and Harris neared victory.
Saturday morning? I don't remember what we ate. I don't think I needed anything after so much choucroute garnie the week before and after the good news. I took a bunch of backlogged junk to the dump, which seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Trump's loss.
I don't have too much to say about the election. It was dramatic and stressed me out quite a bit. I'm extremely relieved that Biden and Harris won and can't wait to see Trump and his band of racist crooks and incompetent toadies leave. It's perplexing that so many Americans voted for this cruel, narcissistic clown. Only 71 more days. I hope he spends all of them golfing instead of doing more damage.
Here are a couple pictures of frightening characters I found in an alley in Montpellier's Boutonnet neighborhood four Halloweens ago.
I'm indulging myself in a look back at my first trail race in France, the 2016 Trail des Calades in Saint-Jean-de-Cuculles, a village in the Pic Saint-Loup wine region just north of Montpellier. The town and its église de la Nativité-de-Saint-Jean-Baptiste are a nicely preserved minor medieval site. We ran out the ancient fortified gate of the town to begin the race. I never tired of the palpable history around me while I was living in France. Maybe the feeling wears after a while and you just want to replace it with some kitsch?
I went back to the race website and found a photo of myself on a particularly steep part of the course. The Trail des Calades climbs (and descends) 650 meters over 16.5 kilometers, an average grade of 4%. The segment in the photo was closer to 15%.
The black soil of the Combe de Mortiès is Toarcian marl containing lignite and fossils from shallow seas of the early Jurassic. Ammonites are common in this formation and images of these ancient molluscs are used in local brands.
Sadly, it seems that the 2020 edition of the race was cancelled. I hope that it will be back next year. Hang in there, organizers and supporters.
The Cameron Peak Fire began two months ago and is the largest fire recorded in Colorado. It has burned over 167,000 acres (67,000 hectares). 30,000 acres burned on Wednesday in a 15-mile run that appears as an uncontained eastward-stretching red lobe in the map below.
The limber pine groves around Signal Mountain and Donner Pass that I ran through on June 7 burned on Wednesday. I know people who are getting evacuated near this new run. Horsetooth Open Space and Lory State Park are closed. High winds are expected again today and according to the incident commander more crown fire runs may be possible. It's a bad situation.
I cancelled a rare run with an actual human friend tomorrow because of the smoke. Hopefully early next week will be a little better.
We're experiencing another episode of poor air quality in Fort Collins due to the Cameron Peak and Mullen fires. The graph below is from a monitoring site near my house.
I ran for 5 hours during the Saturday-Sunday dip but haven't been on the trail yet this week. I'm getting tired of this crap.
I enjoyed reading the race director's recap today. My friend and former neighbor, Steve Wood, won the men's 60+ division with a time of 2:20:52 and Janelle Lincks destroyed the women's record. Her time: 1:36:26. Check out the linked post for great photos of runners on the course.