Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wednesday, 12/31/08 S. Boulder, Bear, Green, Flagstaff, Sanitas

~16 miles
~6,250 vert

Homie, Sierra and I completed the skyline traverse, South to North from the South Mesa TH, over S. Boulder, Bear, Green, Flag and Sanitas. Went pretty casual for the most part, 3:50 to the summit of Sanitas, 4:19 total. Great day, sunny and warm, great way to wrap up the year with a great friend.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday, 12/30/08 Sanitas

3 miles
1,300 vertical

I was hoping to get out this morning for a lap on Sanitas, but 100mph winds thwarted those plans. The winds finally calmed in the afternoon and the warm sun and calm air proved irresistable. I started sometime around 3:30pm and still had plenty of sun once I got up on the ridge for both the ascent and descent. I felt surprisingly good after my 3 day "off season" and my legs felt strong and springy. The trail on the S. Ridge is completely melted out and it was great to not be wearing scratchy/heavy studded shoes. I went moderate for the first 1/3, then upped it to "hard moderate"/"lower end of hard" for the upper 2/3 and made the summit in 18:31. I certainly felt as though I had more to give which was encouraging, just no sense going too fast right now. I went quick on the descent, but certainly did not feel as though I was pushing and was surprised to be down in 12 minutes for a 30:31 RT.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday, 12/26/08 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vertical

Conditions were bare ground or ice (mostly ice) up to the saddle, then frozen granular to the top of Bear. I was in a bit of a hurry due to time constraints and wanted to go quick, but after 4 or 5 strides, I knew I would not be going quick today. Dull studs on ice further complicated matters and I made it to the summit post in 50 and a half, then 51 and change to the true summit. It was annoyingly windy and I headed over to S. Boulder, getting there in 1:04ish, back to Bear in 1:14, then took me 30 minutes from the post to the car going quite cautious, with many slips and near falls. Ughh. We need more snow or a week of 80 degree weather. 1:45 RT.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day, 12/25/08 Green Mountain

5 miles
2,400 vertical

Amphi, Saddle, Greenman
Great morning outing with Allison and Sierra.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday, 12/24/08 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vertical

Homie joined Allison and I for a trip up Bear and S. Boulder from Cragmoor. Was a great day, but of course a bit cool and breezy on the upper ridge. Made the true summit in 58:??, traipsed over to S. Bo, then back. Great way to work up an appetite for a Christmas eve dinner. 2:3? RT. Sierra was sporting her finest Christmas outfit, a red bow, a tree ornament and her usual bell.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday, 12/23/08 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vert.

Conditions were prime this morning for a quick trip and my legs felt better than they have in a while. I went reasonably hard and made it to the true summit of Bear in 45:31, carefully picked my way down the back side and headed for S. Boulder, arriving there at 56:37, turned tail and was back on the true summit of Bear at 1:06:?? I changed into a dry hat and was on my way. Made the saddle at 1:15 and carefully pushed the down, hoping to go under 1:30, but fell short at 1:31:37. I was reasonably happy given the conditions and my lack of speed right now, but was hoping for 5+ minutes faster. Oh well, it is the "off" season.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday, 12/21/08 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vertical

It was a touch cold today and I was tempted to stay home. Feeling a bit of guilt after indulging ourselves at Gateaux Bakery in Denver (11th and Speer, I HIGHLY recommend it), I felt the need to burn a few calories more than anything. We started from the Cragmoor TH, Allison and Sierra were going a good pace and the trail conditions are perfect right now, well packed snow and very little ice. Minutes into Fern Canyon, we bumped into Kevin, Nico and their friend, so we stopped and chatted with them for a bit. I was fearing wind on the upper ridge, but fortunately it never materialized and the trail conditions to the summit remained perfect. I think we made the summit in 1:05 including stops. We continued to S. Boulder without pause and soon bumped into Dave and Travis, so we spent some time chatting with them. It was surprisingly pleasant on S. Boulder with a warming sun and calm air, so we relaxed for a bit. As soon as we started down, it seemed really cold again, but fortunately we were well prepared. Spent more time on Bear, then chatted with several people we crossed paths with, I think everybody is getting into the holiday spirit. Back at the car after 2:54.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday, 12/20/08 Flagstaff

4 miles
1,700 vertical

Went up Flag with Allison and Sierra and was cold, tired and not that into it. Allison was going pretty fast and I kept having to surge to catch up, then fall behind. We tried to descend Gregory, but there was police tape and wildlife closure signs, which required some extra to get back to the car.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, 12/19/08 4 laps on Sanitas

10 miles
4,200 vertical

Twas a warm and sunny Friday, trail conditions were slushy in spots, dry in others, yet ice and snow packed also, a bit of everything. Made a new pair of screw shoes this morning with only 11 strategically placed studs per shoe to keep me on track, yet not be scraping on the rock as much as with my usual screw shoes that have 23+ screws per shoe. Went super easy, 23:05 up the first ascent, down the East side to the sign, but did not bother following the canyon down to Hawthorne as it is very mucked up now, the type of mud that piles up inches thick on the bottom of your shoes. I backtracked to the car, had a snack and drink, then did it all over again, 22:06 up, then 1:05 for the RT (4 minutes faster than the pokey first lap).

Baaaaad Squirrels!!!

Sierra loves to look out the back door and keep tabs on the deck and back yard. Occasionally she just goes ape sh!t and nearly goes through the glass as a particular squirrel will sit on the deck or railing and just flick it's tail, seemingly just to taunt the dog.

Here is a somewhat mellow example of this comical interaction.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday, 12/18/08 Green, Flag and 2 laps on Sanitas

14 miles
5,300 vertical

Met George for a great run up Green from Chautauqua and went up in 51 yapping the whole way. It was great to have company and go a mellow pace. On the way down we bumped into Brandon, his wife Kim and a friend of theirs. Nice to finally meet Brandon, as we have "known" each other through the Blog world for some time. We added Flag on the way down for kicks. 1:40ish RT not stopping the timer at all.

I then drove over to Sanitas for 2 laps. It got colder as the day went on and I was absolutely freezing, especially since I was damp from the first run. 1:26 for this segment.

Wednesday, 12/17/08 Sanitas X 2

6 miles
2,500 vertical

See yesterday. Although today I had Allison and Sierra for company and it was nice and warm.

1:35 total

Tuesday, 12/16/08 Sanitas X 2

6 miles
2,500 vertical

Ho hum, another trip up the S. Ridge, down the East side and then back the way I came. Cold to start, but warmed up nicely.

1:20 total

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, 12/15/08 Sanitas X 2

6 miles
2,600 vertical

Headed out the door at 8am and the thermometer read -13 (after dipping to -18, a new record for this date). I totally spaced it when I got up and did not notice the negative sign in front of the number and thought it was warmer than it was, but after walking the dog, I knew something was not right since my nose was about to fall off. Despite having studded snow tires and AWD, S. Boulder road was a parking lot, so I gave up and went home. I sat it out for an hour hoping all the 9-5ers had made it in to work and gave it another go, but it still took me an extra 20 minutes to get to the TH.

The trail had seen a good bit of traffic and was nicely packed if a bit icy, but perfect for a sharp pair of studded shoes. I went quickish, but did not want to suck in too much cold air or break a sweat so I never really pushed too hard. There was a major inversion today and the upper half of the mountain was actually quite warm (relatively). On the second lap I was even carrying my mittens, as my hands were just too warm.

Lap 1:

Up in 23:37
RT in 37:47

Lap 2:

Up in 23:32
RT in 37:37

Saturday, 12/13/08 Bear/S. Boulder/Bear

9.5 miles
3,600 vertical

Allison and Sierra joined me for a stroll from the S. Mesa TH. Went pretty easy for most of the way, until I got clearance to cruise ahead once we were half way up. Allison was just going to do S. Boulder, but at the last minute decided to add Bear, so I ended up chasing her for another lap on Bear. Great day to be out. 2:38 RT.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, 12/12/08 Sanitas X 3

9 miles
3,900 vertical

Hiked/ran the first lap with Allison and Sierra, 26 up/20 down as we met a friend who we walked with. I did the final 2 laps on my own, listening to great archives of the Competitors on my Mp3 player, very good stuff for multiple laps on Sanitas. Conditions were mostly dry and it was sunny and reasonable. I really wanted to do another lap or two, but had to get home.

Lap 1:
26 up
20 down

Lap 2:
19 up
14 down

Lap 3:
22 up
14 down

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, 12/11/08 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vertical

Allison and Sierra joined me for my almost daily trip. The trail up Fern is well packed all the way to the summit now. Had a near fatal mishap with falling ice (missed us by inches) that got our adreneline up. Very windy above the saddle, pretty cold too, I guess it really is December. The trip to S. Boulder was the usual slog, all evidence of my trip yesterday was mostly wiped out. The trip down was a blast on the packed snow.

1:10 up Bear
1:33 S. Bo
2:58 Total

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, 12/10/08 Bear, S. Boulder, Sanitas

10 miles
4,800 vertical

The trip up to Bear saddle was an easy cruise on packed trail. Above that, it was a complete wallow fest even though the trail had seen a few recent visitors as the wind was creating some impressive drifts. The trip to S. Boulder was tricky and laborious taking 20 minutes to get there and a little less to get back. I had originally planned on doing this twice, but the snow conditions above the saddle eliminated that possibility, so I moved on to the warmer and sunnier climate of Sanitas for one lap.


Bear: 1:05
S. Boulder 1:25
Finish 2:20


23up/17 down

Tuesday, 12/09/08 Sanitas X 2

6 miles
2,600 vertical

Started at 7am, lots of slipping and sliding in the fresh snow despite a set or two of footprints to chase. Even though I put in an effort on the high side of moderate both times, I was only able to muster a 26 minute ascent each time. The first descent was 23 minutes and then I cut 5 minutes off the next time down. Fun day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, 12/08/08 Sanitas

3 miles
1,300 vertical

Went easy with Sierra.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday, 12/07/08 Grays and Torreys

Grays and Torreys
15 miles
5,060 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Ken Nolan, Steve Hoffmeyer, Dwight Sunwall

Ken sent out in invite earlier in the week for a Sunday climb of Grays and Torreys and since I had not yet climbed either peak in the month December, I eagerly agreed to join. Even though Steve and I had just climbed Grays and Torreys a few weeks prior, I was looking forward to getting up high again and testing some new gear (La Sportiva Ultranord GTX trail running shoes, Tubbs racing snowshoes), along with spending some time in the hills with good friends, getting some exercise and enjoying some fresh air.

We met at the Bakerville winter TH at 7am and were hiking up the road by 7:15am. Even though it looked brutal up high, the wind was mostly non-existent and the temperature was reasonably mild. Around the first corner, we find a Tacoma stuck, sideways across the road with 2 guys working their tails off to shovel out, good luck with that!

The trip up the road to the summer TH on packed snow seemed to go quickly as we conversed about many things related to mountains and 14erworld of course. From the summer TH to the Kelso turnoff, snowshoes were helpful, but not entirely necessary as the snow was sporadic and not very deep. We stopped at the Kelso turnoff to stash snowshoes and add layers, as the wind seemed as though it would soon be a factor. Due to time constraints, reluctantly I had to bid my adieu and move ahead. I started off a bit fast, but of course the wind was not what I had prepared for and I was getting warm. I decided to back off the pace a bit as to not get too sweaty, but soon after, the trail turned from nice hard packed snow and bare ground to some knee deep postholing/sidehilling which certainly slowed things down and heated things up for a bit.

Around 13,000 feet, the wind picked up a bit and the trail became consistently hard packed as I followed a family of goats. I actually somewhat welcomed the wind as I was a bit overdressed as calling the weather from minute to minute was nearly impossible. I was thankful to have my Kahtoola running crampons which made the going much smoother and almost seemed like cheating. I reached the summit just as the sun made a very brief appearance as the upper 500-800 feet of the peaks were mostly shrouded in cloud. I spent 8 minutes here eating and making some clothing adjustments, then quickly set off for Torreys.

The trip down to the saddle on well consolidated snow was surprisingly quick and easy, but the trip across the saddle and up Torreys seemed to take forever, as the snow was not as neatly packed, not to mention the colder and now pesky headwind/crosswind. I arrived on Torreys summit and did an immediate u-turn. I went somewhat slow and cautious back to the saddle, then worked my way a little beyond the summer cutoff as the snow looked a little better a bit higher. This is where I was very thankful to have some sort foot traction, as the slope seemed steeper than I recall without a packed trail and the snow conditions were variable. Adding to the excitement, the wind was blowing hard down the hill, forcing me to think about each and every step, as the consequences of a fall would be bad news. I felt reasonably safe though as long as I went slow and always had 2 poles planted along with at least one foot on the ground at all times. Without crampons on my feet, I would certainly have re-ascended Grays to avoid this section.

After the “crux”, the going was generally smooth and fast. Once back at the snowshoes, I stowed my crampons and put on snowshoes for faster travel back to the summer TH which was definitely more efficient. The trip back to the car was uneventful and I was surprised to pass crowds of people who had only gone to or near the summer TH, but we saw nobody above all day. I was pleased to avoid ski traffic and made it home at the hour I was shooting for.


7:15am start Bakerville
~10:30am Kelso Turnoff
11:37 arrive Grays Summit (8 minute break)
12:15pm arrive Torreys Summit
1:45pm arrive Summer TH (5 minute break)
2:25pm Finish Bakerville

7hrs 10 minutes total.

Saturday, 12/06/08 Sourdough Trail

7 miles
800 vertical

Got out for a snowshoe "run" today with Kevin, Allison and Sierra on the Sourdough Trail. This was more like a walk, avoiding patches of bare ground, generally flat with some rollers. It was windy, but fortunately not too cold. Either way, I was not at all inspired.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday, 12/05/08 Green Mountain

5.5 miles
2,400 vertical
Allison, Sierra and I

Cold, surprisingly high wind, deep snow drifts, stumbling, falling, trudging, postholing, slipping, wallowing.... the occasional swearing. All fun though.

1:07 up Gregory/Ranger
1:02 down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday, 12/04/08 Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak

7 miles
3,500 vertical

The Pikes Peak Ascent in August prepared me for this day and winter in general....

For some reason, I thought this would be fun in the snow. Fun?.... maybe, but difficult, slow and tedious would be better descriptions. The snow that fell/is falling during this storm is super light and fluffy and it was surprisingly deep at the Cragmoor TH and only got deeper as I went higher, ankle to shin deep most of the way.

I was only able to run the smoother section of Shanahan Trail, but aside from that, this outing was a careful hike. There were some faint footprints as I went up Fern, which helped marginally at times. Near the summit I bumped into Scott E's friend Kevin and we chatted for a bit, mostly about foot traction and what Scott might be up to. Kevin's tracks ended at the summit signpost, so I forged past to the summit. What seemed slippery yesterday, required full on undivided attention today as there was so much pillowy snow covering everything and I was on all 4 most of the time, a touch exciting I must say as I cleared snow to expose steps and ledges that I knew were hiding beneath.

The trip over to SBP was tedious to say the least, as the deep fluffy snow was always providing surprises. I just never knew whether or not I was going to step on solid ground, glance off a rock, or drop off a step. Crabwalking/crawling were frequent means of locomotion, along with some minor galumphing at the summit of SBP. Sierra hung in there like a trooper, she was even having an absolute blast. I took things very cautious on the way out, as the descent off Bear was very difficult, literally every step to every other step resulted in a stumble, slide, twist or near fall as all footprints were now long obliterated. The snow at the base of the slab was chest deep from all the mini spindrift avys collecting at the bottom, very interesting to walk through.

1:07 up Bear
1:29 SBP
2:38 total

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday, 12/03/08 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vertical

Had a very enjoyable and leisurely jaunt up Bear and S. Boulder today in the snow and sub 24 degree temps. I felt awesome physically and mentally, but still took things pretty easy as I was trying (without success) to not sweat too much in the cold, plus the fresh dusting of snow (maybe and inch?), made things pretty slick (although not quite set up for studded shoes yet). I took great care to travel very slow and deliberate over the summit scrambles/talus fields and the last bit on Bear seemed truly alpine with the fresh snow and low visibility as the thick cloud ceiling seemed to be hovering aroun 7,700 feet or so. Again I was the only human making footprints between Bear and S. Boulder, but followed the footprints of what I guessed to be a fox most of the way. I felt very solid on the descent, but again went cautious as to not eat it.

49 Bear Summit
1:02 S.B.P.
1:14 back at Bear
1:47 finish

Tuesday, 12/2/08 Sanitas x 2

5.5 miles
2,500 vertical

The wind had me up most of the night and also had me up early as I thought the roof was going to blow away. It was 55 degrees on the thermometer, so I figured what the heck, i'll head to Boulder and see how it goes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was completely calm. Went up the S. Ridge super easy, hiking mostly with some light jogging in 21:55. Went down the East side to Hawthorne, then retraced my route, 18:04 back to the summit.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday, 12/01/08 Bear Peak, S. Boulder Peak

7.5 miles
3,500 vertical

Started from a new TH today (Stoney Hill Road?) that starts between the Bear Creek Trail and the Cragmoor TH. It is a little longer in my opinion than starting from Cragmoor, but a refreshing alternative regardless. Jogged easy on the lower sections, hiked even easier on the upper sections. 54 up Bear, 1:10 to SBP. Went super easy on the down, as I had 2 left feet and zero coordination today for some reason. 1:58 total.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, 11/30/08 2 Laps on Sanitas

5 miles
2,200 vertical

Headed up S. Ridge at a moderate pace. Legs were not all there, so I resigned myself to not pushing too hard and ended up going 19:07, about 20-30 seconds slower than I anticipated. Cruised down the East side to meet up with Allison and Sierra, then went back up and over with them.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, 11/29/08 Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak

7 miles
3,500 vertical

To spice things up today, we (Allison, Sierra and I) decided to go up Bear from Cragmoor. At the last minute, I decided that I had to run and was actually excited by the freshly fallen snow. The trail was mostly dry to the Slab and I made good time, very close to PR and was feeling great. As I went higher though, the snow deepened somewhat, but was not too slick and the footprints from people ahead helped a bit. I got to the saddle in good time and kept up a reasonably hard tempo effort up over Bear and then went cautiously quick over to S. Boulder hoping to get there and back to Bear by the time Allison and Sierra got there. The fresh snow on the boulders made things slick and a bit slower than normal, as I was breaking trail the whole way out to SBP. I made it back to Bear soon after Allison arrived (she went up in just under an hour) and we all walked down together. Great day out!


Mesa Trail: 10:09
Slab: 14:30ish
Nebel Saddle: 27
Bear Summit: 41:52
Bear/SBP Saddle: 46:30
SBP: 52:52
Bear the second time: 1:04
Finish: ~2 hours

Friday, 11/28/08 Falcon Trail, USAFA

~7 miles
~600 vertical

Hiked with Allison, Dave, Emily, Sierra, Shep, Sophie and Kiefer on the Falcon trail at the academy. Was a funtastic walk with huge amounts of Border Collie energy, chasing and overall enthusiasm. Was great to get out with them again. Hopefully Dave heals that foot soon!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, 11/27/08 S. Boulder and Bear Peak

9 miles
3,300 vertical

See yesterday, only a bit slower and with Kevin, Allison and Sierra. Had a great walk, super casual, about 1:30 up S. Boulder, a few long stops at the summits. It was pretty cold above 8,000 feet, maybe high teens, low 20's? It was also a bit damp, so it seemed even colder. 3 hours RT, great way to earn that turkey meal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday, 11/26/08 South Boulder Peak/Bear Peak

9 miles
3,300 vertical

Sierra and I got out for an easy run today. As per usual, she was being her slow and pokey self, had a false start where I had to run back to the parking lot to get her motivated. I only got her motivated enough to get up S. Boulder at a 1:06 ascent pace. Went over to Bear in 10 minutes, then made it back to the car for 2 hours RT. Either way it was a nice day out. Hoping to get up these peaks again tomorrow from the Cragmoor TH in order to earn a large Thanksgiving meal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, 11/25/08 Green Mountain

5 miles
2,400 vertical

Had a great run up Green today and was pleasantly surprised that I am completely recovered from Saturday's vertical fest. Went up the Saddle Rock Trail (instead of the usual Amphitheater start) which is a bit longer and adds an automatic ~2 minutes to the outing. I was feeling pretty good though and pushed at a high moderate pace, bordering on low end hard pace, just zoning out listening to my Competitors podcasts. Made the summit in 36:57 despite the longer route and was happy and surprised with that. I was quite overdressed, as I was cold all day, but 5 minutes into it, I was boiling yet did not shed anything and just got drenched.

36:57 up
58:24 RT

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday, 11/23/08 Bear Peak

6 miles
2,800 vertical

Got up Bear today with Nate and was good to catch up as it has been a while since I have seen him. We kept it pretty casual, more of an opportunity to get the dog out and work the kinks out of my legs from yesterday. I was a little tired on the up, but fortunately not really sore, I just did not have much spring in my step. I my quads were a touch sore on the down, but very manageable and I was able to run a bit.
1:03 up
44 down

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday, 11/22/08 Boulder Skyline Traverse (Less The Traverse)

South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain, Mt. Sanitas
Jeff Valliere, George Zack and Bob Sweeney
26 miles/10,700 vertical
5 hours, 12 minutes running time

George and I had tentatively planned to go run the double crossing of the Grand Canyon this weekend, but at the last minute I had cold feet and we scrapped those plans. As an alternative form of punishment, we decided to run our favorite peaks in Boulder, but instead of link them up, we decided to run each of them individually from bottom to top. We considered stashing water and doing this as a car shuttle, but decided that driving to each trailhead would be “easier” and make a bit more sense from a logistical standpoint (food, drinks, option to bail at any point).

We met at the S. Mesa TH, where George introduced me to Bob, who he had met 5 minutes prior (he heard about our run through the Blogosphere) and we were soon on our way up South Boulder Peak (we decided to go South to North so our climbs would get progressively smaller as we went).

I was feeling like garbage right from the start and even debated cancelling the previous night. I have a laundry list of excuses, but bottom line I was feeling a bit off and behind the 8 ball. I soon learn that Bob is not just any runner, but is on the 100k national team and has won the 100 mile national championships in 13 hrs and 5 minutes, amongst many other big league running performances. Very impressive, but this is very bad news for me, as now I have no chance of slowing George down.

For the entire ascent, I yo-yo off the back, gaining a bit of ground when it is really steep, and losing ground when it levels a bit. My lower back is killing and it hurts like crazy to run upright, yet it exacerbates the issue when I stoop forward. Ughhh. I surge a bit on the final push to the summit from the saddle and catch up. This is by no means a race, but I did want to keep up and put in reasonable times, as this was my idea after all.

George and I take the descent pretty casual and it is soon apparent that Bob is less practiced than us on the steep and technical descent. We wait for him once things ease up and we all jog out together back to the TH. 55:05 for the ascent and 1:36:44 for the RT. I have gone much faster in the past, but the effort today seemed like more than on my fastest day.

Next on the plate is Bear, from the Cragmoor TH. George takes off up the trail like he was shot out of a slingshot and Bob follows. Unfortunately, I had just stuffed 3 Cran-Razz Clif Shot Bloks into my mouth and would gag on them for the next 10 minutes to the Mesa Trail. I had them in sight, but there was a bit of racing going on between them, and even though I was playing things relatively conservative, I was very near PR pace crossing the Mesa Trail. I back off significantly, as I know that for me this pace is suicide. As expected, I nearly catch back on as the trail steepens up Fern Canyon.

Bob and I take turns behind George, as he is charging hard up the final 1,000 feet. We eventually top out and I am pleased to have this one behind us and waste no time starting down. My coordination is good and although not really pushing, I make very quick work of the upper sections of the most technical part of the descent. Once on easier terrain, I just casually cruise back to the car to refuel, half expecting the whole time for George and Bob to catch up. George is a few minutes back, and Bob once again had a tough time on the technical descent, then missed the final turn back to the car. Ascent time 45 minutes/RT time 1:11.

Next is Green. The pace is again high and I am again yo-yo’ing and suffering like a dog. The stinging pace setting eventually catches up with George and he lets us pass. Soon Bob lets me pass and even though I maintained the same effort, I was surprised to put a bit of time on them on the final push to the summit. The intensity, miles and vertical were all starting to take their toll on all of us. I trotted the descent, quick but never pushing, as my legs were starting to feel a little wobbly and I knew I was about to switch to damage control mode.
Ascent 39:25/RT from Gregory TH via Amphi, Saddle, Greenman 1:07:05.

Again, George and I waited for Bob, who struggled on the rough descent. Once we regrouped, Bob was smart enough to call it a day, while George and I soldiered on up Flag. Since we had parked far away, we did not bother to go back to the car to refuel (we should have, as we waited for quite some time at the Gregory lot), but anyways, we started up Flag at a quick walk and jogged the easier sections. Even though I was bonking, I got a second wind about half way up and was having an easy time of it. Eager to get back to food/drink quickly, I pushed the downhill a bit and was feeling surprisingly good. This would be the last time of the day that I would even feel reasonably good. Ascent 24:05/38:15 RT

Once at the car, George arrived a few minutes later and announced that he was done (after taking a few crashes). I could not blame him, as he has an important race coming up on Thanksgiving Day in which he hopes to do well. We enjoyed an extended, two person tail gate party, soaking up the warm sun and chowing on turkey sandwich and Extreme Cheddar Pringles. With my shoes off and feeling quite relaxed, it was somewhat tempting to call it a day as well, but Sanitas was calling.

I drove very slowly over to the TH, enjoying an apple and trying to put off the inevitable. Now that I had eaten and drank copious amounts of water and sports drink, I thought I was recharged (how wrong I was). I immediately attacked the steep trail, but after 30 seconds of this, my wobbly legs screamed out in protest and my stomach cramped up. I was hoping to go under 20 minutes, which on any other day is a pretty casual effort for me, but today I was wondering if I could even make it up at all.

I hobbled, bobbed and weaved my way up through the throngs of humans and dogs, once even bumping into a guy as I worked the crowd in my tipsy state. I apologized and fortunately he took it quite casually, as he was much bigger than I and today would have easily caught me. I topped out in 24:49, certainly my slowest ever time while trying hard. At this point, all I could think about was a big Chipotle burrito, so I turned tail and went down for all I was worth, making the RT in 39:02.

Although not the Grand Canyon, this was a great run. As always, it is always a pleasure to get out with George and push one another and it was great to meet Bob. Although not fast on rocky descents, he is a super strong runner and I hope to get out with him again as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday, 11/19/08 Grays and Torreys

Grays and Torreys
15 miles
5,060 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Steve Hoffmeyer and Sierra

I knew we were in for good weather this week and I was itching to get up high. Even though I have been up Grays and Torreys several times this year, I was eager to get up there again, as it is the perfect 14er standby close to home and I never tire of it. I know Stevo has Wednesdays off, so I sent him an invite and coincidentally, that is what he had on tap as well, PERFECT! Planning could not have been easier.

We met at the Safeway in Idaho Springs as has become the norm when meeting Steve and soon we were at the Bakerville exit. We had both heard that the road to the summer TH was still accessible and we were excited that we would not have to walk from I-70. Unfortunately, I failed to relay to Steve that I had heard that there was a very icy section after the first switchback and as such did not bring chains. We gave it an honest try, but with summer tires on his Jeep, it was never going to happen. It was steep enough and slick enough, that we were sliding backwards and any attempt to move forward only got us into more trouble. I jumped out and pushed and we were able to avoid any real mishap. Enough of that sillyness, so we went back down to the parking lot and called it good.

With chains or studded snow tires (along with AWD/4WD and clearance of course), this section could be negotiated as several vehicles proved. Once past this short stretch, the road has very little snow/ice beyond and made for easy walking. We made the summer TH in 1:10, going at a conversational pace and took a short break to add a layer and eat a bit.

Beyond that, the trail was in great shape with very little snow, and what snow existed on the trail, it was very well packed. Snowshoes were certainly not necessary, but if I were to go back any time soon, I would elect for some sort of traction on the shoes (crampons, microspikes or studded shoes), as the upper stretches of trail closer to the saddle were absolute bulletproof ice/snow and progress here was frustrating without traction.

Because of time constraints, Allison and Steve elected to head up Grays, while I wanted to add Torreys, so Sierra and I went ahead, summiting Torreys first, then met them on Grays afterwards. I was sucking wind a bit from not having been up high in so long, a heavy pack and I was also doing a bunch of slip sliding which was quite taxing. The fast mountain runs of summer wearing shorts and running shoes seemed like a world away.

We all arrived on Grays within 10 minutes of one another and lingered for a while, the weather was as perfect as any day, any time of year, hard to believe it is a week from Thanksgiving and we are basking in the warm sun at 14,270 feet! This was one of those days that if I were home, I would stare at the mountains and wish I were there knowing it is such a perfect day. I was so elated to actually take advantage of one of those days, absolutely outstanding. The walk back was a cruise and we were done by 3pm, for a 7:30 day. Great company, perfect weather and great conversation.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday 11/18/08 Sanitas/Flagstaff/Sanitas

~12 miles
4,450 vertical

Got out for a sweet run today, as it was nearly 80 degrees and I was struck with a major itch to get out and enjoy it. Started up the East side of Sanitas from the Hawthorne TH a bit after 3pm and jogged at a moderate to easy pace up the East side of Sanitas and topped out in 18:30. My plan was to go down the S. ridge and then backtrack, but instead I kept on going, over Red Rocks, through the tunnel to Eben G, used the bathroom and then kept on going up Flagstaff. It took 30 minutes to get from the bathroom at Eben G, to the summit of Flag going pretty easy. Jogged down at a casual pace and was really wishing I had water as it was so warm. I stopped at the bathroom again and scooped some nice cold water out of the faucet and splashed my face. Hard to believe we are a week from Thanksgiving and it feels like summer.

I debated taking the roads back to the car, as daylight was waning and I knew if I went back over Sanitas, it would get dark on me. Ah, what the heck, it is too darn nice and even though I am in shorts and a tee, I am completely comfortable still, even a touch warm.

Up Sanitas I go and it is surprisingly crowded, even though it is getting dark. The clouds were orange and pink to the West and the city lights were shimmering to the East. It was so peaceful and quiet, I was totally digging it. My legs felt good, but I was being cautious as it was starting to get quite dark by the summit and I made it up in 21:05 going pretty mellow. The descent down the East side back to the car was a bit interesting, as it was getting to be almost completely dark. I want to run to make use of any hint of remaining light, but running is a bit dicey as sometimes you put a foot out and you never know what you are really going to get, I just had to ride it out. Even though I regard myself as sucking in the dark, I got down in 17 with no trips or major stumbles and was able to jog most of it. It helped that I know the trail so well, it was quite intuitive. Finished at 5:28pm, total run time 2:20.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday, 11/16/08 Micky Mousing

5 miles
1,500 vertical

Allison and I ran up the approach trail toward the Micky Mouse Wall, crossed the track above Tunnel 6, scrambled, goofed around near the tracks watching trains pass through, then ran some of the new trails (Goshawk, not quite done yet). Awesome day, warm and sunny, near 70. We then went and checked out the new Soulpepper running shop.

Saturday, 11/15/08 Meridian Hill and 11,053

Pt. 11,053 and Meridian Hill (11,490)
From Meridian TH
~11.5 miles
~3,250 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Ken Nolan, Jean Aschenbrenner, Dwight Sunwall, John Prater and Sierra

Got an invite from Ken early Friday morning to go hike Meridain Hill and we were packed within 30 minutes. We were looking for something to do somewhat local and not too much above tree line this weekend, so this fit the bill perfectly. Ken and I have also been unable to coordinate for quite some time, so it was great to finally have the timing and location work out.

We met at the gas station near Crow Hill at 5:45am and then drove to the Meridian TH near Camp Rosalie where we eventually got going on the trail around 6:30am. There was hardly any snow in the area and it was great to still be able to leave the slowshoes behind.Since I had used this trail to climb Rosedale on New Years Day this year, I was somewhat familiar with the area, but it all looked drastically different with only a dusting of snow and we remarked what a great fall hike it would be with all the aspens.

The trail was smooth and easy to follow for quite some time and once near the Rosedale/11,053 saddle, we left the trail and bee lined up the gentle hillside to the even more gentle ridge to the summit of 11,053. After a short break, we then cut through the woods down to Mud Lakes, contoured around them heading E/SE until we were directly below the summit where we then headed straight up the hillside through the trees NE to the summit. From the Western true summit, we pondered going to the Eastern summit which is a little over 1/3 mile away.
Ken, John, Dwight, Sierra and I cruised most of the way over there to take some sight level readings to confirm that the West summit was higher and sure enough it was.

Back at the true summit, we were quite surprised to bump into a guy with a dog. Being on such an obscure peak, we initially thought that there may be a chance that we may “know” one another, at least through the internet community, but when we presented that possibility to him, he immediately said there was no way. OK. He only stated his first name (Steve?) and that he was “local”, “from Littleton”.

We made our way back down to Mud Lakes and then back into the trees contouring around the North side of 11,053 to the 11,053/Rosedale saddle. We took our time walking out, taking several long breaks as the day warmed dramatically, a stark contrast to the chilly, early morning start.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday, 11/13/08 Flagstaff and Green

8 miles
2,800 vertical

Got out with George this morning for a trip over Flag and over to Green. Was warm, but was super windy in spots. After freezing my tail off yesterday, I took no chances and over dressed. I was hot as all get out going over Flag, then felt like I was dressed just right on the upper parts of Green. George was really putting it to me today on the ups. He was trying to chat up a storm, but I could only mutter a one word answer here and there and was barely able to keep up. We did the loop in 1:28 which was not too shabby, no wonder I was sucking wind and having trouble sticking to a walk ;).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday, 11/12/08 Bear Peak

6 miles
2,800 vertical

Walked up Bear today, the weather was great from the car to the saddle, but above that, the wind was whipping from the West across the N. ridge and I was a bit underdressed wearing shorts, long sleeve and windshirt. The summit was nice, warm and sunny if you got out of the wind on the East side.

Up 49 minutes
Down 36 minutes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday, 11/11/08 Sanitas Speed Walk Part Deux

3 miles
1,300 vertical

After walking Sanitas yesterday, I was curious if I could go faster and still be able to do it on the standard S. Ridge route which is a bit longer and has a little more vertical than the East route I hiked yesterday. For added motivation, I was to meet Sierra and Allison on the trail somewhere, so I was cranking pretty good and walking seemed quite efficient.

On a few of the flatter sections, it was REALLY tough to keep my cool and remain at a walk, but I diligently persisted, taking long fast strides. My time checks were decent and for the entire second half, I was sure I could go under 20. I was happy to get in at 19:29, which was more than 2 minutes faster than the previous day. I bumped into Allison and Sierra near the top and we casually walked down together. I felt especially great today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, 11/10/08 Speed hiking Sanitas

2.75 miles
1,200 vertical

Sierra and I got out for a short walk up Sanitas today from the East side or the "Hawthorne" TH as we call it. We started off at a casual walk for the first 2 minutes and 37 seconds, until I saw a guy running high up the trail ahead. This of course sparked my competetive urges and I was itching to haul ass. I contemplated running, but I am trying to take some time off from running, yet still maintain decent fitness and have fun (we'll see how that really works). I upped my walking pace and nearly caught him as the canyon ended at the main trail, but unfortunately, he passed on the challenge and went left instead of up and right.

It was hard to draw the line between running and hiking fast, but I was able to keep one foot on the ground at any given time. I got surprisingly sore as I tried to go fast up the hill, my lower back and various leg muscles that were being used in a different way were noticibly taxed and I was kind of surprised by this, as I am not really out of hiking shape. As I went up, I started to think about going under 20 minutes, but I think I blew it with the casual start. I topped out in 21:49 which I was satisfied with (I think next time I can take it under 20 with a bit more resolve and focus).

My next goal was to try and get down as quickly as I went up without running a step. Sounds easy, but I knew it would be close for me. Again, the line between running and walking was tough to maintain, especially on the steeper upper sections where it is instinctive to hop, leap and bound. I made it down (walking every step) in a surprising 17:30, although I looked like one of those goofs walking laps around mall.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday, 11/09/08 Bear Peak/Green Mountain

~13 miles
~4,400 vertical

This morning was awesome, sunny, warm and calm and I was enthusiastic to get out for a few local peaks. I enjoyed yesterday's outing up Bear via Bear Canyon/West Ridge from NCAR so much, I could not resist heading up there again today, just a little faster this time. I went on the easy side of moderate most of the way, pushing myself occasionally to mid moderate exertion every now and then, making the summit in an hour even. From here, I debated going over to S. Boulder or going to Green, or doing them both. Since I did not bring food or water, I opted to compromise and zip over to Green as to not totally deplete myself. I was a bit sloppy on the technical downhill back to the West ridge for some reason and fumbled a few times but never fell, it was just one of those 2 left foot days. Made it to the jct. in 1:18:??, then plugged along up Green to the 4-way and then on to the summit. Topped out on Green in 1:34:5?, turned tail at 1:35 even and then dawdled my way back down Bear Canyon and over the rollers to NCAR, arriving back there after 2:14 of running. Another excellent day in the foothills.

Splits from NCAR:

6:?? Mesa Trail
13:50 Start of Bear Canyon trail
35 W. Ridge Jct.
1:00 Bear Summit
1:18 Back to W. Ridge Jct.
1:34:5? Green
1:44 W. Ridge Jct.
2:14 Back to NCAR

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday, 11/08/08 Bear Peak

9 miles
3,600 vertical

I felt much better today as the wind had calmed down and it was reasonably warmish. My legs felt better as well and my mind was totally into a casual hike with Allison and Sierra. We started at NCAR, headed to the Mesa Trail and then took Bear Canyon to West Ridge and down Fern. We went easy and took a few breaks, just enjoying the day. I think it took about 90 minutes up and less than an hour back.

Friday, 11/07/08 Flagstaff

5 miles
1,400 vertical

Allison dragged me kicking and screaming for a run up Flag via Gregory Canyon, did a loop at the top and back down Gregory. I fell asleep hard on the 12 minute drive to Boulder and was out of sorts the entire run. The howling wind and somewhat tired legs did nothing for my motivation and Allison took advantage by blowing my doors off the entire run as I was seriously dragging a$$.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday, 11/06/08 Brook Loop

6 miles
1,200 vertical
(stats include a short warm-up as the loop is 5 miles and 1,000 vertical according to Bill)

At Bill's BBQ last night, as I was saying goodbye, he suggested that I run the "Brook Loop" which is a loop that starts at the cement bridge at the S. Mesa TH, heads up Towhee to the base of Shadow, then traverses right along what he calls the "Bridge Trail" to the Mesa Trail, then N. on the Mesa to Bluestem, then back down to the lower section of the Mesa Trail and back to the bridge. He was thinking that I could break the record of 37:15 and after a bit of talk, I was convinced that I could and hoped to give it a shot soon.

I headed out there this afternoon, it was a bit cool, but not too bad. As I arrived at the S. Mesa TH shortly before 2pm, it was windy as could be and I was losing motivation. I lingered in the car as the wind howled, stirring up dust devils and eventually and reluctantly stepped out for a short warm-up. I jogged in my jacket with my hands in my pockets as I listened to the powerlines sing songs in the wind. I felt good, but not great and I knew I would be bucking a stiff headwind, so my hopes were not high.

From the bridge, I was cranking right off the bat, as this was a short run and I was putting a bit more into it than usual. I crossed the small creek on Towhee at 3:27, got to the Homestead jct in 10:08, then the next junction in 12:08. I knew I should have been faster than this, but pushing through that cold headwind was doing me no favors. Made the Shadow/Bridge Trail jct. in 18:35, good but not great. I sped through the short ups, leading to the long down pretty well, but as soon as I hit the down, I knew I had my work cut out, as my downhill muscles and coordination are not totally there after Saturdays run. Oh well, I just cruised it, going fast, but definitely not setting the trail on fire. Made the Mesa in 23:51, then the Bluestem in 25:09, back to the Mesa in 31:3? (I think), then the finish in 35:48. I beat the record, but was not at all satisfied, as I was thinking I would be 32 or 33 going good, or 34 at the worst. Oh well, I just really wanted to put down a baseline time for me and have something to improve upon. Great run though either way.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday 11/05/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vert.

Got out with George today for an easy run up Green. Started at Chautauqua, then went up Amphi, Saddle, Greenman while talking politics and aspects of running/training the whole time. We ended up walking most of the way up or easy jogging the flat sections. It was a bit chilly at the start, but the sun was shining on the summit and it was actually not too bad. I was glad to have a jacket to put on however and we did not linger for too long. We actually ran the down, but I have no idea how long it took.

46:50 up
??:?? down
??:?? RT

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday, 11/02/08 Green Mountain

5 miles
2,400 vertical

Nobody told Sierra about the time change, so she was up at 6am, hopping around squeaking her toys, tossing them in the air and giving all kinds of hints that she had energy to burn. I was feeling less than peppy, but figured I would take advantage of the extra hour of morning daylight and take her up Green. We went up Amphi, Saddle, Greenman at a very slow pace, it took me almost a full episode of car guys, 52 minutes from Gregory TH. Went down in an even more pathetic 40 as my downhill muscles were pretty tight.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday, 11/01/08 Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon

Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon
Green Mountain/Flagstaff/Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak
~22 miles
~7,000 vertical feet

Although not really a race, the Basic is a local rite of fall and attracts many of the region’s most notable and prolific trail runners to get together at an undisclosed location and run together on undisclosed trails that typically involve a variation of Green, Bear, S. Boulder Peak and Flagstaff in no particular order. This year we met at Bear Creek Park near Lehigh and Bear Mountain Dr. at 9am. There was of course a great turnout and there were many fast and experienced runners, many I knew and many I did not. No matter what, I knew things would get fast and competitive although in a very friendly, social and fun manner.

We started off at a mellow and conversational pace up the Bear Creek Trail and then to the Mesa Trail as we headed South. Soon, we started up Bear Canyon and the pace picked up just a touch. Justin Mock was leading it out and setting a steady tempo, followed by Dan Meehan, Andrew Skurka, Eric ?? and then myself. I just hung back about 10 feet behind these guys so I had a good view of the trail and made it a point to stay fueled, hydrated and not go too fast, as we had a long way to run. Luckily the pace was relatively mellow and coincided great with my intention to hang back and go somewhat conservative until the steep climb up Bear Peak via Fern Canyon that gains 2,100 feet in just over a mile….. my favorite.

We arrived on top of Green in 52ish, I scampered up to the summit boulder while Justin, Dan and Eric did whatever. I was not sure who was doing the short loop and who was doing the long, so I just kept rolling back down to the 4 way junction and down Ranger at a fast but reasonable speed. Dan and Eric soon caught up and I offered them the opportunity to pass, but they were content following me all the way to Chautauqua where we spent a few minutes refilling our water bottles (arrived there after about 1:30ish?).

As we were getting back on the trail, Justin arrived (not needing to fill as he would be pulling off early) and we were 4 again. A bit more conversational pace running, eventually led to Justin leading again at a steady tempo heading South on the Mesa trail. The pace was quick, but well within my limits and it was my goal just to run steady and always be close to the front.

Justin peeled at the Bear Creek Trail (thanks for the pacing!) and it was just Eric, Dan and I. They were both claiming to be tired, but Dan has dusted me up on Mt. Evans by a long shot and Eric is built like/looks like a very good runner, so I was not sure how things from here on would pan out. I led the way up the Fern Canyon Trail and started upping the pace, as I had been conserving for this moment and I felt great. Eric immediately popped on the steeper terrain and Dan fell behind and was soon out of sight. I was not sure if Dan had turned or what, but I kept up a hard pace, running when I could and power hiking when I had to knowing this was my opportunity to put it away. I got to the summit of Bear in 2:30-2:31 or so, tagged the true summit and scrambled back down the rocks to the trail. I did not look at time splits too closely after this point, but am assuming it was another 10 minutes or so over to S. Boulder.

Dave’s suggested route through the boulders that I was rehearsing yesterday worked out fast, smooth and flawless and I made quick work of it. I then started flying down the mountain as fast as I could go, as I was hoping to turn down Shadow before being seen, but I ran past Dan, Andrew and Joel (forgot his last name) about a minute before I made my turn. Seconds after passing them, I stumbled or slipped or something (I don’t really remember), but came down on a knee, ankle and hand. It hurt and I yelled involuntarily, but the adrenaline was so high, I shrugged it off quickly and started cranking down Shadow Canyon. Here I was starting to feel the effort, along with being a little shaken by the fall, I was not feeling at my best, but knowing I only had 7-9 minutes on those guys, I was running with reckless abandon (scared).

Coming out of the mouth of Shadow, I passed a hiker in white who knew my name, but I was so focused, I had no idea who it was. I knew the final miles back on the Mesa with the rollers were going to hurt, but I just kept digging hard and pushing the pace, always at or near my limit. If anyone was going to roll me up in the final miles, I was going to make them work for it. I passed Lisa and she offered up some encouragement which gave me a bit of a boost. I looked back on several of the more open sections expecting to see somebody creeping up on me, but I never saw anyone.

I was stoked to crest the final uphill and then gave it all I had on the down. My HR was completely pegged as I was leaving nothing to chance and I was at a near sprint for the final ~1.5 miles. Toward the end, I was starting to accept that I would not be caught and was starting to consider going under 3:30 (only because it is a round number).

As hard as I tried, I did not make 3:30, but was very happy to finish first at 3:34:05. Not that it means much, but I race so infrequently and when I do, I rarely do all that well, so I was fired up to have been able to run smart and strong today. Andrew ended up finishing second, 12 or 13 minutes back (I was surprised to have gained time), then Joel 6 or 7 minutes behind him. After that, I did not check my watch but Dan rolled in 4th, then Johannes, then George Zack, followed by Buzz.

All in all a perfect day of running. It was sunny and warm (but not too warm), I had a great run, saw many old friends and acquaintances and made some new friends along the way during the run and at the post run BBQ at Ryan and Lori’s house.

I was bummed that Dave could not make it due to a recently sprained ankle (even though his participation would have for sure set me back a place), as he is a great friend and also hands down the best at type of run. Many people commented on his absence. Wishing Dave a speedy recovery.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday 10/31/08 S. Boulder Peak

8.5 miles
3,000 vertical

What a great Halloween day. Normally it is snowy and cold on Halloween, but today was sunny and clear with temps in the upper 70's and not a bit of wind, absolutely PERFECT! Allison, Sierra and I got out for a nice leisurely hike up S. Boulder peak She was feeling pretty lousy, borderline sick, but mostly a bit jetlagged having just returned from 15 days in Spain and Portugal. We went pretty slow and stopped a few times, making the summit after 1:40, I think an all time record slow time (maybe we went slower once while postholing after a blizzard). Spent a long time on the summit as Allison and Sierra relaxed, while I rehearsed a new route through the rocks Dave showed me a few weeks ago that he claims saves 5-10 seconds........

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, 10/30/08 Sanitas

3 miles
1,300 vertical

Due to other obligations, I went short today so I could go easy. Headed over to Sanitas with Sierra and as is most often times the case was just a "dog walk" which was fine as I went hard on Mon/Tues. I felt it a bit in my legs today and mentally was not all that into being out. Went up in 20:15 which included about 90+ seconds of waiting for Sierra to dick around and sniff things. Felt particularly left footed on the descent and never really felt like trying to get in a groove so it ended up taking 17 to get down.

In the afternoon, I took my dad to the base of the 1st Flatiron, as I was expecting some friends to come running by. As if on cue, a bunch of friends came past and scrambled up the 1st, then over to the 3rd. I just happened to have my camera and took a few photos and went back down to the jct. to watch them run past. They never showed, as they took a bushwhack route I did not know about. We zipped back to Chautauqua hoping to see them finish their run/scramble. In comes Stefan, Charlie, Buzz, Bill, Adam and Dan, but NO DAVE! WTF! Guess he sprained his ankle, real bummer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday, 10/28/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vert.

Started at Chautauqua, went up the 1st Flatiron access trail to the shortcut. Was feeling great today and just cruising really. Noticed that with very little effort, my time checks were just barely off PR. I just kept a moderately brisk pace, not digging whatsoever, listening to Competitors podcasts in my own little world. Bumped up the pace for the final 6 minutes or so really going balls out for the last 90 seconds trying to sneak in under 37, but missed it by a bit, arriving at the summit in 37:04 which was surprisingly 18 seconds shy of PR on this route. I went cautious on the down as I was wearing road shoes and the steep sections of off trail running were slick with pine needles. Opened it up a bit on the lower sections, hoping to sneak in under an hour for the RT, but I lost too much time pussyfooting in the pine needles.

37:04 up
23:42 dwon
60:46 RT

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday, 10/27/08 Green Mountain

5 miles
2,400 vertical

Headed up Green this morning from the Gregory TH via Amphi/Saddle/Greenman. I was feeling pretty good today, but being late in the year, I was not really aiming to go hard. Just went out smooth and efficient, never really pushing and reached my time check at the Saddle/Greenman Jct. in 19 minutes, quite surprisingly about 30 seconds ahead of PR at that point. From here, I bumped it up a notch, but did not really seem to go too much faster. Toward the end, I was hoping to sneak in under 33, but finished at 33:19, a PR by exactly 30 seconds. Not sure what that was about, I have been taking it real easy lately, perhaps that was a factor? I was also wearing clunker shoes, pants, winter top layers, hat/gloves as it was 24 degrees when I awoke this morning, but I felt great afterwards having got a huge dose of runner's high.

Took it super easy on the descent.

Up: 33:19
Down: 25
RT: 58:19

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thursday-Saturday October 23-25th 2008, Canyoneering in Utah

Little Wild Horse Canyon, Bell Canyon, Crack Canyon
San Rafael Swell near Goblin Valley
October 24-25th, 2008

(sorry for the jumble ahead, for some reason when I copy/paste it messes with the format :(

My dad is visiting for 10 days and since he had never been to Utah, I figured a trip to canyon country was in order. Looking for some easier canyons to hike that would still give him a good taste of slot canyoneering, I sent out an e-mail to a few friends where Jason Halladay immediately replied with the recommendations of LWH, Bell and Crack Canyons and provided the necessary web links (thanks Jason!).

Kevin Lund coincidentally had just recently taken a trip to LWH/Bell and he too provided some great beta and suggestions. We would also have Sierra along as well, so that immediately ruled out anything in National Parks and whatever we chose needed to be dad and doggie doable. These canyons sounded great, especially since I had never been to this specific area and the trip was set.We headed to Utah Thursday on a perfectly clear day and dad was quite impressed with the drive, as he had never been West of Frisco on I-70. The roads were a bit sloppy near the tunnel and on Vail Pass from the recent snowfall, but the snow really added to the beauty of the drive.Arriving at Goblin Valley shortly before 4pm, we quickly found an awesome campsite just outside the park on the way to the LWH/Bell TH and set up camp amongst the piles of solidified mud that resembled sandstone monoliths. After some exploring, dinner and a great campfire, we settled in for nearly 11 hours of sleep.Friday morning, we were in no huge hurry to get going as it was a bit cold and our nifty little campsite was slow to catch the morning rays. We moved on to the relatively warm and sunny trailhead to cook oatmeal and prepare for the hike, I was quite anxious to explore these canyons and show my dad what Utah was all about.The LWH/Bell Canyon loop is quite easy by canyoneering standards, is a great beginner route involving some very limited and minor scampering and is a very scenic and worthwhile representation of Utah’s slot canyons. We decided to do this loop counter clockwise as described on the website and as suggested by Kevin. It sounds like it is best to go this way if there are any standing pockets of water, but when dry, I am not sure it really matters one way or the other.LWH Canyon was enjoyably long and offered a variety of features ranging from “narrow” (slightly more then shoulder width) slot canyon, to wide open wash with towering, sheer sandstone walls. The only obstacles of note were two short up climbs toward the upper end of the canyon that I would have hardly noticed had it not been for having to lift Sierra through as they were a bit awkward and overhanging. No problem for any moderately fit/agile human, but a bit tricky for a dog.Route finding on this route is quite easy, as all of the key junctions are signed and it is quite well travelled as evidenced by the multitude of footprints and shoe scuffing throughout the canyon. The descent down Bell Canyon was a bit shorter than LWH and offered a few more obstacles. Again, they hardly would have been of note, but a few required giving Sierra some assistance and coaching. Several times, she pulled off some pretty amazing moves where dad and I were quite impressed with her agility and problem solving skills. We only saw a few people the entire day, but I was surprised to arrive back at the TH to find the lot full and cars parked up and down the road. As it turns out, there just happened to be an ultra race taking place on Saturday, so that may have had something to do with it. Learning of the race, I immediately drove to the park to inquire whether or not they were allowing late entries, but the race had filled, bummer.

After another great campfire and 10 hours of sleep, we got up with plenty of time to eat breakfast and watch/cheer on the race as it happened to go right by our camp. I did not recognize any of the runners, but it was really giving me the itch to race, or at least go for a killer run, but I did not want to ditch dad. I was amazed that although we watched the runners go by at what I estimated to only be the 4 mile mark, there was a 45 minute spread between the 1st runner and the last runner? (two races of varying distances both started at 8am).It was roughly a 15 mile drive from camp over to Crack Canyon on good roads and although the guidebook describes being able to drive a ways down the wash, it hardly seems worth it even with 4wd, so we just parked at the small, but signed TH next to the smooth 2wd road.This canyon seemed a bit different than LWH/Bell in character. Crack Canyon starts off very wide open with towering sandstone walls and slowly narrows. The sandstone has been carved out and pocked by wind and water over time creating what looks like vast cliff dwellings in miniature. Eventually, the canyon begins to “slot up” a bit and there are a few minor down climbs that can easily be bypassed. As the canyon continues, there is a short subway section and some not too narrow narrows along with more wide open canyon strolling. Soon we came to several obstacles that required some passing of packs, spotting and Sierra coaching. This was all fun, but dad was starting to feel it, yet Sierra was just hitting her stride. She was pulling all kinds of stemming moves and watching her problem solve was really amazing. Her leaping and ricocheting skills were a sight to behold.Unfortunately, we came to a 10+ foot sheer drop-off that had us a bit perplexed. It was smooth, slightly overhanging and although there were a few footholds, it would require some tricky moves to get up and down. I really wanted to go, but I knew this was beyond dad’s abilities and certainly more than I would allow Sierra to attempt, especially since I knew there would be no way to lift her over it on the return trip. We scouted briefly, but unfortunately found no reasonable alternative and had to turn around.This was just as well, as the physicality of the two days out was having a cumulative affect on my dad who struggles with ongoing ailments from a car accident a few years ago. I was impressed with how well he did both days all things considered and we had a great time and had perfect weather while we were there.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday, 10/21/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vertical

Today I just barely snuck in a run between squalls of various precipition. I parked at Chautauqua and warmed up across the park to the Gregory TH. The small window of opportunity had me motivated to run fast, but my legs just were not there. Got to Gregory in 4:43, then headed up the Amphi/Saddle/Greenman route, sticking to the main trail, no shortcuts or NE ridge. Picked up my pace a bit over the last half as I was feeling a bit better and was motivated by the deteriorating skies. I was in shorts/tee and was fine until the final few hundred vert. where it started to get windy, the temp dropped dramatically and it began to squall some good snow.

Even further motivated by the snow, I cranked the downhill the best I could (without corrected vision as I was too lazy to put in contacts). I see OK, but with the dim light it was tought to focus too far ahead. The damp ground made footing nice and tacky, but caution was needed on certain rocks and I made good time on the down. Cautious but quick, I negotiated the technical sections of the shortcut down to the back of the 1st, then down the access trail (it is pretty much all a technical section) and when I hit the smoother section, I gave it all I had, knowing I was putting in a good descent (for me). Got to Chautauqua 22:30 after leaving the summit in a full on sprint, people on the trail were practically jumping out of my way as I huffed on through.

Up in 39:18
Down in 22:30
RT 61:48

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday, 10/19/08 S. Boulder Peak, Bear Peak (Bill Loop)

10 miles
3,500 vertical

Got out with Dave (Mackey) this morning for a great run over S. Boulder and Bear starting at the S. Mesa TH. It was a perfect day, warm, sunny, calm and the foliage is in full swing. Neither of us were really in the mood to go hard, so we just went at a casual and conversational pace, talking about all kinds of topics and having many good laughs. We got to the base of Shadow in 22, then 23 more to the saddle and we topped out in 52ish. Dave showed me a new route through the summit rocks that is more direct and might save 5-10 seconds next run.

We took it easy over to Bear, rolled over the top with hardly a pause, then went surprisingly casual down Fern (I was fearing he was going to dust me here). Both Dave and I ran into seperate friends along the way and stopped briefly to exchange pleasantries. We headed back S, on the Mesa trail, then down the Bluewhatever trail back to S. Mesa TH after 1:51 total.

Saturday, 10/18/08 Bear Peak in 4.5 hours

Bear Peak via the Keel and the South Wing
~7 miles
~3,300 vertical
Jeff Valliere and John Prater

Whenever I get off the beaten track (and even sometimes when I am on the beaten track) in Boulder OSMP, I often times marvel at how much adventure there is to be had in my own back yard. This most recent outing with John far exceeded my expectations.

John proposed scrambling some rock on the East side of Bear Peak, which on a day as perfect as this fine October 18th, I could not think anything I would rather do, so we started our adventure from the Cragmoor TH around 1:45pm. There are multiple ways to approach these rocks (all involving some bushwhacking and good route finding), but we decided to take the Shanahan Trail to the Mesa Trail, then South, crossed a minor drainage, up the log steps then departed the trail after we rounded the corner in the middle of a large meadow and made a beeline for the Keel. Once in the trees, it was tricky to find the actual base of the Keel as visibility is obscured and there is a LOT of rock that all looks appealing to climb once you get up in there, but John was well equipped with good beta and got us there spot on.

I put my climbing shoes on at the base and John just climbed in his running shoes and had no trouble. The bottom of the rock is a bit mossy and grungy, but all around not too bad. I would say the climbing is mostly high class 3, to low class 4 in spots for the majority of the way. There is some exposure in places, but there are multiple points to bail onto easy ground to the North (not that you really feel the need, but it is usually somewhat comforting to me to know the option is there).

The final 30-40 feet of the Keel is rated a bit harder (low 5th class we guessed, or very hard 4th). John easily scampered up and I attempted to follow, but the moves were a bit awkward and it was somewhat exposed, so he tossed me a rope and all of a sudden it became infinitely easier (amazing how much of climbing is mental). From this summit, the most logical way down was to down climb our ascent route. We observed the tree Roach describes in the Flatirons Classics book, but it seems to have deteriorated over the years as the branches on the lower half are sparse, thin and dead. The down climb was a little tricky, but I was glad to have John on the other end of the rope protecting my descent. Once I was down and in a safe position, he then put the rope around a flake on top where I then belayed his down climb and he of course made it look quite easy.

From the base of Keel’s summit block, it is an easy class 2+ scamper to the South to re-connect with solid ground. From here, we contoured South along the base of the North Wing, over a small indistinct ridge, then down toward the base of the North end of the larger South Wing. We put our climbing shoes back on and started up the rock that was covered with lichen, moss and algea. Immediately, it was obvious that this was going to be a test for me, as the climbing was certainly harder than the Keel and quickly became much more exposed as we gained elevation.
The Wings start higher than the summits of most Flatirons and by the top they are certainly by far the highest technical rocks around. Being so high on this rock is an amazing position to be in, especially free soloing. I did my best to just make very deliberate and cautious movements and tried my best to not look down between my feet, as seeing 1,000 feet of air makes me a bit queasy. John of course thought nothing of it and was talking my ear off the whole time, while I occasionally muttered out a requisite response.

I just followed John as he navigated the easiest lines and I took my sweet time. For the most part, holds were plentiful and the rock was good quality, but there were a few spots that certainly made me pause and think for a bit as the moves were a bit thin, or spread out, or the rock was a bit polished, or all of the above. Up, up and up we went, the rock seemingly continuing to infinity. There were a few tricky bulges where things steepened a bit and a few spots that required some reachy, stretchy lay back flake/crack grabs. 5 feet off the ground I would not have thought twice, but the mental hurdle to do that stuff as high up as a high rise building was a real psychological hurdle for me.

Eventually we topped out on the rock which was an easy walk off, maybe 100 vertical feet below the S. Ridge of Bear Peak, where we found awesomly unique views to the West of S. Boulder and the sun beginning to set over the divide. Although I had a very fun time on the climb, I was really excited to set foot on level ground. At about this time, a Fox News heli flew over to cover the Buffs game and circled around getting some footage of us. Not sure if it made the broadcast or not??

We continued on the ridge toward Bear, doing our best to stay on top. Most of it is class 2+ or 3, but some of the towers are 4th or 5th class, yet can be bypassed. We finally made the summit of Bear a few minutes after 6pm to watch the setting sun on this perfectly warm and calm fall evening. Bear had a whole new feel to it considering we travelled over roughly 2,000 feet of rock to get there (the Keel is roughly 1,000 feet, as was the S. Wing). It felt so good to put my running shoes back on and then be able to cruise the trail back to the car.

Technically, this was not that hard of a climb. John was speculating that the S. Wing was on average a bit harder than the 3rd Flatiron (aside from the summit pitch of the 3rd being a bit harder), maybe 5.0-5.2 sustained. He also thought it to be longer than the standard route on the 3rd , we were guessing that it was around 1,000-1,100 vertical feet of continuous climbing, but that is of course just a guess. It was certainly the most challenging and committing climb that I have undertaken. When I soloed the 2nd Flatiron last week, just about the time I was sick of the exposure, the route jogged right, got easier and the exposure relented. This climb however, just went up and up on steep rock and got really high really quick. Free soloing this stuff is very easy for climbers of John’s caliber, but it was a real mental challenge for me, it certainly is not for everyone, and I am not sure it is even for me.


Friday, 10/17/08 Green Mountain

8 miles
2,700 vertical

Went up Green, past the 1st. Up in 43. Came down in 28ish. Went fairly casual as I was still feeling my run from Wednesday. I then met George and ran easy with him for a bit as he was warming up for a harder effort. I started his 10 minute hard interval with him, but only lasted a few minutes as I was not feeling up to the challenge and wanted to stick to my "easy day".

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thursday, 10/16/08 Pt. 12,644 "Little Buff"

Pt. 12,644 (aka “Little Buff”)
~10 miles
~3,400 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Gerry and Jennifer Roach, Sierra and Charlie

I sent out a few e-mails to see who might be able to get up to the high country on Thursday and got a quick response from Gerry inviting me to join he and Jennifer on a hike up “Little Buff” to close out her 10 mile/Mosquito 12ers. This sounded great to me and plans were set. We had all climbed the Buffalo Peaks previously, but somehow we had all managed to overlook Little Buff.

We started from the “trailhead” off of 431 (mile 8.5) and followed one of the many old logging roads generally South and slightly West aiming for the general vicinity of the saddle between East Buffalo and Little Buff. Since it is hunting season, the three of us, plus the dogs, were adorned in an assortment of Elmer Fudd orange hunting caps, vests and flagging ribbon. We really looked like a rag tag group.

Of course we made one of the classic climbing “mistakes” that Gerry and I were recently discussing, cutting up too soon and were faced with either an unpleasant side hilling adventure across talus and unconsolidated snow or continue on our path up the fall line. Fortunately (and as we fully expected), we had not cut up toooo soon and we found an easy and more efficient route to the anticlimactic summit of Little Buff.

We took a long break on top as the weather was quite nice aside from a bit of wind, but was otherwise pleasant. For kicks, we descended to the Little Buff, East Buff saddle and explored the Lynch Creek drainage a bit, then did some extra credit bushwhacking/log road following making a perfect figure 8 and adding considerably to our “Roach Points” for the day.

All in all a great trip to the Buffalo Peaks area with great company, topped off by a stop at Coney Island for some well earned junk food.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday, 10/15/08 Walker Lollipop from Eldo

Walker Ranch Lollipop from Eldorado Canyon
~14 miles (plus an extra 2 miles RT for the approach)
~3,800 vertical

I’ve been wanting to run this route hard for a long time, after running it easy and hiking it several times. George's recent post renewed my interest in the area and I was eagerly planning it in my mind for the past few days. I parked where the Eldo road turns to dirt and ran in the back way via the Fowler Trail and got to the visitors center in 12 minutes going very easy. Used the bathroom and mentally prepared myself for the pain and suffering to come as I was not really sure how I would feel.

I paced myself pretty reasonably up the trail, reaching the park boundary in a little over 7 minutes and then kept up my effort through the technical sections and up and down the rollers. I was hoping to get to the Walker Loop in less than 30 to help build a little bit of a cushion (as I was hoping to do the entire run in 2 hours), but got there in 30:18, not too bad I guess, but I had my work cut out. Just to change things up, I decided to run the loop clockwise and made quick work of the steep “hike a bike” section, cresting the far ridge after 3 minutes on the loop. From here, I just tried my best to maintain a steady tempo on the gradual to rolling climb. I passed a mountain biker as I neared the far parking lot and was sure I would get re-passed by him on the downhill, but I was surprised to hold him off (or he took a break or got on the road).

I worked hard to maintain good turnover, which is key on this route, but I was quickly realizing that I was a bit na├»ve to think I would be able to run this whole thing in 2 hours, given the fact that I have not done any “fast” running with quick turnover in months, and even that was very minimal. It took me exactly 1:04 to run the loop, then 10 minutes to crest the ridge on the climb out of the canyon. I was really starting to hurt and I knew I would not make 2:00, but was willing to accept slightly over, no worse than 2:05 I was hoping. I kept repeating in my mind a statement George posted not too long ago: "This is a test of endurance, so endure dammit" or something to that effect.

I really pushed for all I was worth through the remaining rollers and technical sections and finished at 2:05:18.

I was a bit trashed afterwards, so I walked most of the way back to the car and just enjoyed the canyon and watching the climbers on the far wall. My legs are already a bit stiff, I think I might feel this one for a few days.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, 10/14/08 Shanahan Loop/Slab Recon

7 miles
2,100 vertical

Got out for 2 consecutive runs today (1 run with a 10 minute break?). Started from Shanahan at 4:30ish for Bear. Part way up, I changed my mind and decided to meet Dave, Stefan and Charlie for a run up to the Slab to recon for tomorrow's scramble. I ran something like 3 miles, mostly on trail with some off trail exploring. Met them a bit before 5 and we went easy up to the slab. They engaged the rock, while I went the more cautious and circuitous route to meet them at the short downclimb. The route through the woods was wet with patchy snow and extremely slippery. We all took it easy coming down, it was cloudy, damp and a bit chilly. Hopefully things warm up a bit and dry out for tomorrow.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday, 10/13/08 Bear Peak

6 miles
2,800 vertical
49 up
31 down

Got out for an easy but great run with Sierra this morning up Bear. It had snowed in Boulder and on the peaks and was amazingly beautiful. The snow increased as I went up, but was never more than an inch or two deep. It was surprisingly grippy too, like blown styrofoam. The summit boulders were treacherous though, took 6 minutes RT from the sign to the summit and back as I was being quite careful not to loose my footing. The descent was fun through the snow and Sierra bounded all over with a huge doggy grin, voicing her approval of these early signs of winter. The trees were encrusted with a shiny coat of crystaline ice, glimmering in the morning sun and the peaking aspen were especially brilliant with the added coat of ice. Great day to be out in the hills.

Saturday, 10/11/08 Flagstaff

4 miles
1,400 vertical

Allison, Sierra and I got out in the rain for a nice run. I was not eager to go out in crappy conditions, but once I did, I had a great time and was happy that I did. Just like at Pikes, I fumbled with my shell.... too hot, too cold, on with the hood, off with the hood, adjust pit zips etc.... Allison kept getting ahead and I would have to concentrate to keep up. It's a miracle I broke 3 hours at Pikes considering my mental state and lack of focus when it is that crappy out.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thursday, 10/9/08 Free Solo of Second Flatiron and Green Mountain

Second Flatiron
Freeway II, F3 *Classic*

For a long time I have been wanting to climb this route. The description in Roach’s Flatiron Classics book makes it sound so easy, but I was still a little apprehensive. Several days per week I have been running past it, carefully examining what I could see from the base and the walk off. Recently, I have been watching friends scamper up the Flatirons at a near run, competing with themselves for personal bests and course bests, making it look sooo easy.

I am not fooled though, these guys are some of the best climbers/all around uber fit athletes around and are infinitely more skilled and experienced than I. Even though this stuff is a cakewalk for them, it is tough and somewhat scary for me. The consequences of a fall would most certainly be fatal, or at least life altering.

This morning, at the last minute, I decided that today was the day I was ready to tackle the 2nd Flatiron via the 800 foot long Freeway route. I have climbed the 1st and 3rd before roped to competent climbing partners, but today I was all on my own.Allison and Sierra accompanied me to the base of the climb under cloudy skies and surprisingly cold temps. I changed into my climbing shoes at the base and immidiately began scampering up. I felt a little awkward at first and stayed left where the climbing seemed to be a bit easier.

My awkwardness was compounded by the fact that Allison was watching, along with a group of tourists, I felt a little silly. About 100 feet off the deck, the terrain started tempting me right and the air under my feet seemed to increase dramatically. Tied into a rope, I would not have thought twice, but I think I got myself into some harder terrain than necessary. Good hand holds and foot holds were minimal and somewhat spaced out, requiring some reachy moves and many friction holds where I had to fully trust my sticky rubber climbing shoes.

Several times my knees began to shake and I was questioning my sanity, it sure looks easier from the ground.Soon enough though, I reached easier and less exposed terrain with better hand holds as the route made a right turn along the ridge. I scampered up, tempted to go fast, but always playing it safe and making sure I had 3 points of contact and trusted my holds. Sooner than expected, I heard a whistle, and looked up to see Allison at the walk off point at the top of my route, just as I was approaching the jump across gap. I stood and contemplated it for a moment. It is not too exposed, but it looks like it would be a hard landing, so I opted to down climb and go around.

The remainder of the route got a bit steeper, but hand holds were plentiful and bomber, so it was a great way to finish. The sun came out on the second half and warmed things nicely, including the rubber on my climbing shoes. Sure would have been nice to have that extra grip in the beginning….At the end of the route, I received a hearty congrats from Allison and Sierra, changed into my running shoes and we continued on to the summit of Green Mountain.

It ended up taking me 40 minutes for the entire climb of Freeway, extremely pokey when compared to my climbing pals that do it in 10 minutes or less, but I just took it one move at a time and played it as safe as possible and had a great time. As far as rock climbs go, this is amongst the easiest, but it was certainly one of the hardest things I have accomplished without a rope and completely on my own. I can’t wait to do it again!

Wednesday, 10/08/08 Green Mountain

8.5 miles
3,460 vertical

Before spectating Bill's scrambling "event" from the base of the 1st Flatiron, I took a quick trip up Green via the 1st access trail. I felt great, but was building a LOT of mucus in my throat and lungs for some reason. Not sure if it was the air quality or what, but it was noticably dry and I was having a heck of a time breathing and I was very dehydrated, constantly licking my lips and such. Despite this, I still managed a 38:20 ascent and a 25 minute descent (6:13 to Bluebell Tr, 7:31 to 2nd Flatiron turn, 10:38 to base of 1st Flatiron, 20:45 topping out behind the 1st). I was going fairly hard, but never really digging too deep.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday, 10/05/08 Green Mountain

7 miles
3,000 vertical

Had a nice run up Green today, past the First Flatiron to the summit (40 minutes), then cruised back down (those new shoes hook up great on the loose stuff). I have never seen anyone on this "route" beyond the back of the 1st and today saw 2 people, imagine that! I then ran the trail past the 2nd, then up the 3rd Flatiron approach trail. I did some minor scrambling up/down/around at the base and am really itching to climb the 3rd, maybe without ropes?.....

Saturday, 10/04/08 Pt. 9,300 Lost Creek Wilderness

Pt. 9,300 in Lost Creek Wilderness
~10.5 miles
~2,600 vertical
From Goose Creek TH
Jeff Valliere, John Prater, Dwight Sunwall, Sarah Thompson, Dominic Meiser (for the climb)
and Allison Valliere, Dave Hale, Emily Hale, Sierra, Shep and Kiefer (for the hike).

Two years ago, John, Dave, Allison and I visited the Goose Creek area of Lost Creek Wilderness with John and I climbing unnamed Pt. 9,242, a technical rock climb overlooking the actual Lost Creek. We were hoping to also climb Pt. 9,300 that day, another rock tower to the North, but the ascent of this rock tower took longer than we had anticipated and we simply ran out of time..... fast forward two years.

During the week John and I had gone back and forth on a bunch of different ideas for the weekend, one of them being to go back for 9,300. John ran the idea by Dwight and before we knew it, we had a great group of 5 committed for the climb.We started from the Goose Creek TH at 7:37am, intending to meet Dwight, Sarah and Dominic at the trail junction for the shafthouse at 8:30am, as they had camped out the night before. As the hike progressed, we realized that we were not going to meet them on time, so I ran ahead to let them know we were running a few minutes late.

We continued along the trail for another 1/3 mile or so, then began the bushwhack toward Pt. 9,300. This involved some areas of dense bushes, circuitous loops around giants rock gardens and a short ford across Lost Creek. We made our way roughly 2/3 of the way up the S. facing gulley which involved some steep walking, some class 3 moves over/around boulders. We then went climbers right to a spacious bench on the ridge at the base of technical portion of the climb.We took a short break, geared up and got on with the remainder of the ascent. Dominic led, placing a few cams along the way and had just enough rope to get to the top. Aside from a low fifth class move near the beginning, the climb consisted of nice class 3 and class 4 grippy slabs. There was a decent amount of exposure though along the way and since we carried the gear all that distance, it was great practice.

We found no cairn or register on the summit, so Dwight placed a register, only none of us had a pen on the summit to sign in with. We rapped down to the packs, signed in and Dwight zipped back up to put the register back on the summit. On the descent of the gulley, we met up with Dave, then made the short descent back to the field near the beaver pond where Allison, Emily and the dogs were napping. We took a long break, looking back up toward the giant east face of the tower.

There were great patches of aspen, and we took our time on the hike out enjoying this great area. It was great to hike with everyone as always and great to meet Sarah and Dominic. Can’t wait to get out there again soon!

As an aside.... this was little Kiefers first backcountry outing. He is an AWESOME little pup and did absolutely great on a hike this long. He learned how to cross a log bridge across a creek, bushwhack and did some very minor scrambling. It is amazing how obedient and well behaved he is at such a young age and did a great job keeping up with and learning from the older dogs.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday, 10/03/08 Bear and S. Boulder

8 miles
3,300 vertical

Allison, Sierra and I got out for a great fall hike today up Bear and S. Boulder from the Cragmoor TH, going up Shanahan/Fern. Went up in 1:02 going pretty easy (moderately hard for Allison and Sierra, although we stopped a few times to let Sierra drink). It was a great day, warm but not too warm, just right really and we really enjoyed the day and each other's company. On the summit of S. Boulder, I was commenting to Allison that I have not tested any PI trail shoes in over a YEAR, the last pair being those WRX soft shells. Great shoes, but not suited to everyday running IMHO, kind of a niche shoe.

I arrive home and find an e-mail from Mike at PI, asking me to come in and grab a pair of their new (for 2010 or 11?) Syncro Infinity trail running shoes. I got a sneak preview a few weeks ago and was excited, now I finally have a pair and am looking forward to putting them through the ringer (and having a bit of traction for my daily steep uphill/downhill runs). I have not been this excited about a PI shoe since the Peak XC came out last year.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday, 10/02/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vertical

Sierra and I got out for a nice walk today up Green via the 1st shortcut. It was cloudy and the temperature got really cold near the summit. The distant rumble of thunder had me debating turning around, but I pressed on to the top and turned tail quickly, as it was coming in quick from the West and North. Soon the wind really picked up dramatically and it began to rain and hail. I wanted to move quick, but with slick road shoes, wet rocks/ground and waiting for the dog, it was not too fast. Dressed in just shorts and a tee, I was freezing on the upper half, and although wet, was comfortable on the lower half (only if I kept moving).

Up in 57
RT in 1:31

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday, 10/01/08 Green Mountain

~9.5 miles
~4,000 vertical

Got out for a run up my now usual route up Green. I was running tight on time, but did not feel like pushing. I just figured I would go up until my watch said 4:15pm, as I was to meet Dave at 4:45 at Chautauqua to run up to the 3rd to watch a few friends do some scrambling. I got to the summit at 4:18 and did an immidiate U turn (42:26 up), and then backtracked my ascent route and went a decent pace on the descent (as well as possible on loose dirt, rock and pine cones with slick shoes) and was back down in 23:?? for a 66 minute RT. I had just enough time to grab my camera, eat a Powerbar and glug half a liter of water before I joined up with Dave to run up to the 3rd. We went at a pretty easy conversational pace, I think it took us 18 or 19 minutes. Dave scrambled up, while I waited at the base to take pictures. I think there were 8 scramblers tonight, all moving fast and I got some cool photos and video. Great evening in Boulder.

Photos and Video:

Olympic Highlight

I really got a kick out of this race and especially the post race interviews.

I know nothing about these guys, nor anything about track, but Jeremy Wariner really came across as big time cocky and it was fun to see him get trounced by LaShawn Merritt. Love the comment 2 minutes into the video by LaShawn, good stuff! The dude diving for Bronze was great too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday, 9/30/08 Sanitas

~4 miles
~1,700 vertical

Allison and I got out for a nice hike/run around Sanitas, going up the East side, down the S. Ridge, then back up the valley trail before descending back to the car. The weather has been just so perfect lately and it is impossible to resist the lure of the trails.

Summed up my stats for September:

220.4 miles (PR)
84,170 vertical feet (PR)
45 Peaks

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday, 9/29/08 Green, Bear, S. Boulder, Bear, Green

~15 miles
~5,700 vertical

Got out for a run up Green today up past the 1st (again). At the back of the First, I was on PR pace, then a minute or two later I breathed in a bug which caused major coughing fits and cost me 3 minutes by the time I got to the NE ridge. I recovered and made up a minute and got to the summit in 38:28, scrambled up the rocks and back, then decided the morning was too nice, so I continued on to Bear. Got to the base of W. Ridge in 47:58, top of Bear at 1:13, then figured since S. Boulder was so close, why not? Got there at 1:23, back to true summit of Bear at 1:33, Green at 2:11 (yeah, I was starting to dog it), then took NE ridge route down back to Chautauqua, arriving there at 2:39:22. I felt great until I started the trip from Bear to Green. As I became increasingly tired, my coordination suffered a bit, and I started to cramp, as I brought no food or water. Still was a great run for a Monday.

Saturday, 9/27/08 LCW Peak Dash

~18 miles
~7,000 vertical

"Peak Y" (12274')
"Zephyr Peak" (12067')
"Peak Z" (12244')
Payne Benchmark (11780')
"No Payne" (11789')
Shawnee Peak (11927')
"X Prime" (12100')
"Peak X" (12429')

Participants: Jeff & Allison Valliere & Sierra, Dave Hale & Shep, John Kirk, Dwight Sunwall, Keith Bershader, Patrick Lilly, Jill Salva, Bob Dawson, Ryan Kowalski, Greg Hakes, Jeremy Hakes, Derrill Rodgers, and Kevin Baker

Got out with a great group of friends on Saturday for a jaunt in the Lost Creek Wilderness, starting from the Long Gulch TH, about 10 miles South of Jefferson near Kenosha Pass. Aside from hunkering down near treeline prior to our last two peaks due to a bit of lightning and graupel, we had great weather. Most of this was a bushwhack/tundra walk, but we did get a few miles of trail at the beginning and end which was nice. This was a very cohesive group in many ways and we really had a great time.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, 9/26/08 Green Mountain

6 miles

Again, the First Flatiron route to the summit. Took Sierra along, so things were quite slow. An hour up, and 35 or 40 down, did not even look. Great morning though, nice to slow down and soak it all in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday, 9/25/08 Green Mountain

6 miles

Went up past the First Flatiron again to the top of Green. Went pretty easy, going up in 42, down in 29. Awesome fall day, the colors are getting to be really nice on the mountain, but it was a little warm, felt good though.

Wednesday, 9/24/08 South Twin Cone Peak, LCW

~12 miles
2,420 vertical
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

Allison and I met her parents at the Fort and carpooled up to Kenosha Pass. We were hoping to do one of our favorite fall hikes on the Colorado Trail heading East through the HUGE stands of towering aspen. However, when we arrived at the pass, we noticed that our favorite stands were still green, yet the trees on the approach to N/S Twin Cone looked to be changing nicely.

We walked the extra mile from the pass along the smooth dirt road, to the 2wd TH described in Roach’s book, then past the gate and along the public right of way through the 1.5 miles of private property. The trees and willows through this stretch were stunning and I was snapping pictures like mad. The road switchbacks up the hillside through some great aspen that are now at their peak and we found an amazing rock outcrop over looking the valley to have lunch.

I did not intend on going up S. Twin Cone, but with it right there staring us in the face and the fact that we (I) intended to climb it 2 years ago when we were up on N. Twin Cone in the winter, I had to go. Allison and Sierra joined me, as her parents hung out and took a nap. We were tight on time, so we went pretty fast, doing some high speed bushwhacking through the trees on the way up, then some serious (but luckily not too long) willow bashing on the way down to regain the dirt road. It was a quick cruise out on the road and we eventually caught up to the rest of the group.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday, 9/23/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vertical
36:46 up (from Chautauqua)
23:38 down
60:24 RT

Wow! What a difference a day makes! Yesterday I busted my b@lls trying to get a PR on SBP and missed by 2 minutes. I felt like I had two left feet on the descent and was trashed all day, culminating with a splitting headache that made me sweat that evening, I could hardly hold my head up.

9.5 hours of sleep later, I felt great and busted my hump at work all day doing very physical work. All afternoon, I thought I would get done at a decent hour and have plenty of time to go run at a leisurely pace, but I kept getting set back, culminating with an error which cost me an extra 45 minutes, so I was running way behind. I got to Chautauqua and figured I would see how things went and started up my new favorite route up Green, going up past the 1st Flatiron and then bushwhacking to the NE ridge, then up Greenman. Fueled by the adreneline of not having much time, and an espresso (I don't really ever drink coffee), I was jacked and feeling good.

I made it to the Mesa trail in 5, bottom of the 1st in 10:37, top of the 1st in 20, NE ridge in 25:?? then the summit of Green in 36:46, my fastest EVER from Chautauqua by a lot (don't feel like investigating previous PR now), but by at least a few minutes. So much for my confession yesterday that I need to take things easy. Today I just felt absolutely on top of things and would have done another lap if I had time, I felt that good. Legs were unbelievably strong, lungs and breathing were hardly labored, my focus was absolutely intense and I was even listening to my MP3 player (Competitor Radio interview with John Howard).

I ripped the downhill (for me), sticking to the Greenman, Saddle, Amphi trails. 20:10 to the Gregory lot jct, then another 3:28 to the car. I was hoping to have done the RT in under an hour, but missed it by 24 seconds...... Dang. Oh well, maybe next time. It is runs like today that produce such a high, it constantly keeps me seeking that next fix to match it and cancel out bad days like yesterday that make you wonder how it is you can derail so bad.