I went for a run at SSSP today on my lunch. As I drove in, I could see that barriers were up across the entrance to the picnic areas.
I parked near the Baths, and then ran down the hill (the gravel road). I was mindful to avoid places where I could create postholes, but there really wasn't anything to worry about. The entire road and the other roads throughout the park were covered in shallow boot prints, dog prints, tire tracks and even kid's sled markings. The latter often seemed to be running in to a ditch. In a few spots I saw bike tracks and what might have been snowmobile tracks. Only rarely did I see ski tracks.
When I got to the bottom of the hill, I saw that a good portion of Geyser Loop Road was free of snow and ice. I instinctively went for it, and opened up to a pace that I couldn't sustain (7:30-8:00). It felt wonderful. I eased off the throttle so that I wouldn't crash and burn, and continued on to the end of the road. When I got to the end, I was going to go left on to East West Road, and head back to my car, but I decided to go right, instead. The road to the right rose immediately, and I wanted to go up it.
I had seen, as I passed through the picnic area, that my return was going to be over snow, but for the length of the East West road, I was on pavement. It was great to run along these empty roads. I ran past the Peerless Pool, and got to the top of Geyser Loop Road, and started the return to my car. The entire length of Geyser Loop Road was covered in snow, and in some places ice, but I was able to run it without too much trouble. The GEL-Scouts I was wearing do very well on slippery terrain. They breathe really well, too, which is great for running through shallow snow, but horrid for walking through it.
I was pleased to see that the Coesa Spouter was still going strong as I passed by. I almost took the (potentially) easy way back to my car, through SPAC, along level terrain, but I decided to go for the extra descent and ascent, and stayed on the Geyser Loop. I ran past the Island Spouter, which was also going strong, and then made my way back up to my car using a different set of pavilion roads.
All told I did 2 miles, which is my current target for these midweek runs. It's tough for me to get out in the morning due to familial obligations, and I have no desire to run on winter roads at night. So, it was a good run. I was happy to have gotten out, and happy to have been able to run on a track I can't normally run on, through the woods, and faster than normal.
One final thought: as I was running up the Geyser Loop Road at the start, John Krakauer's ruminations in Chamonix about "whether I might, given my limited talents, ever rise above the life of the terminally banal" echoed through my head. I had just cut back on the throttle because I had been running way too fast (for me) and I was wondering if I'd ever get to the point where I could cruise long and fast. Then I remembered that I was running through freezing air, over a road that by all rights should have been covered in black ice and impossible to run over at all without traction aids, and that I won't know how much my pace and stamina have actually improved until the springing of the year. I think it was this thought process that pushed me to go up the hill instead of taking the easier route. The climb, at the very least, had the effect of focusing on the run and letting my worries fall to the wayside. By the top of the hill, I was enjoying the run again.