Day Five–Trail Running and Salsa

Trail Running
I woke up Friday morning with a desire to hike. Biking, not hiking, is usually my bag baby, but a short hike takes less time and less wear and tear on the body than a mountain bike ride. Plus, I needed to save some energy for my salsa class that evening.

I decided to hike at nearby Mt. Galbraith in Golden. Mt. Galbraith is part of the Jefferson County Open Space program, which has some of the best free parks in the nation. The mountain biking in JeffCo is superb and ridiculously close to Denver. Some of my favorites include: Matthew Winters, Dakota (aka Dinosaur) Ridge, Mt. Falcon (we usually ride it from the bottom), Three Sisters, Lair of the Bear, Apex, Deer Creek, and Pine Valley Ranch. For more information check out JeffCo’s website.

I like Mt. Galbraith because it’s short and steep. This trail is also hiker only, so I needn’t be on the lookout for rogue mountain bikers.

Funny. When I was mountain biking 3-5 times a week, I used to resent the hikers I had to share the trail with. They interrupted my rhythm and glared at me as I glided by; they got in the way while I was climbing or navigating technical sections; and since mountain bikers yield to all other trail users (hikers and equestrians), I often felt like they purposely took up the entire trail so I would have to dismount.

But when I suffered some nerve damage in my right arm a few years ago and was forced to forgo mountain biking for a few months, I became an avid trail runner. By avid I mean once a week. By trail running I mean hike up the mountain and run down it. I learned early on that hiking along with mountain bikers was no fun for anyone. But all us (hikers, bikers, and equestrians) have the same goal: enjoy the beautiful, sunny Colorado weather and get some recreating in. Yet kind, amiable folks turn into territorial monsters when forced to yield or share the trail, myself included.

So Mt. Galbraith it was, where within a mile and a half you ascend over 500ft along the Cedar Gulch trail. It’s a shame, I told myself, that this trail wasn’t open to mountain bikers because at just under a foot wide, the trail could make for some sweet singletrack.

The only problem with Mt. Galbraith (and other Open Space parks in the JeffCo system) is that it is entirely exposed, leaving few trees for shelter and shade. After hiking up the 1.3 miles to where Cedar Gulch meets both the Nightbird Gulch and Mt. Galbraith Loop (the only other two trails in the park), I decided to turn around and call it a day. When I turned around, I began trail running.

Trail running is much more enjoyable than running on pavement. Although the trail is off-camber and littered with rocks, the soft dirt is ultimately easier on the knees, shins, and other body parts. Plus, trail running is like a video game: navigate these rocks, hop over these tree trunks, turn this switchback. And trail running gets you down the mountain much faster than simply hiking. At the end of the day, I’d rather be mountain biking.

I was exhausted from my 2.6-mile jaunt, so I lay down for a little while.

~~~~~naptime~~~~~

Salsa Dancing
I’m no expert at Salsa Dancing, but I am a big fan. For the past six months I’ve been dancing at least twice a week. I dropped eighty bucks at Steve Madden for a pair of sweet dancing shoes that are fashionable yet comfortable, had a slick bottom and a skinny heel suitable to turning, and made of soft leather to hold my wide Flintstone feet. Voila! The Steve Madden Clasikal.

After a bit of research, my friend and I decided on the salsa night at Mi Casa. La Rumba is the most famous club in Denver, but on Fridays it does a techno thing and has been known to be pretty crowded. As this was my friend’s first foray into salsa dancing, we wanted something a little more chill.

For six bucks you get a one-hour intense lesson and a few hours of dancing. (Mi Casa does not have a liquor license so for $10 it’s all you can drink. We both went for water.) Our instructor’s name was A.J. Washington, and he wore an aerobic instructor’s headset with which he led the thirty of us (all ages but many from the under under 21 crowd, I was surprised to notice) through the basic salsa steps, turns, sliding, and moving diagonally with our partners. He had us switching partners every minute or so. We practiced with different partners, forcing us to focus on our footwork. I liked that.

After about an hour and a half, I noticed my partner in crime was missing. Getting the basic salsa steps down takes more than twenty minutes, and this class was suitable for beginners but not first-timers. I promised to go over the basics with her in my basement. I don’t own any salsa music but Comcast has a salsa and merengue music channel. I’ve been cleaning to it.

This Wednesday night I’m forging out alone to the Denver Turnverein for more salsa. Click here for more info about salsa dancing in Denver.

The next five days: more yoga, mountain biking, and bowling(?)

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