Friday, January 4, 2008

Ringing in the New Year on Rosedale

Rosedale Peak (11,825)
~10miles RT/~3,000 Vertical
From the “Not Camp Rosalie or Elk Creek” TH
Partners: Jeff and Jean Kunkle, Dave Hale, Dave “Hoot” Gibson, Sierra, Denali, Scooby, Shep

Indecision, combined with commonplace high wind weather reports, once again had me waffling on my plans for New Years day. After weighing my options, Jeff’s offer to join he and Jean for Rosedale quickly became the frontrunner on the Eve of the New Year. I of course invited Dave, and he invited Hoot. I had never even heard of Rosedale, but what the heck, sounds like fun. The day was set.We arrive at the trailhead under perfectly clear skies, no wind and a -9 temperature reading. It felt cold , but we were grateful that the wind has finally taken a break. We start off wandering a bit through the woods, but a few quick glances of the map and GPS gets us on the correct track. Speaking of tracks, we are fortunate to have a nice packed track all the way to the summit, compliments of the Bershaders, Dawson et al. Thanks again, your efforts made our day much easier .We follow the well packed trail along the hillside parallel to Elk Creek, up into a nice willowy valley. Soon the handiwork of the previous day’s winds becomes evident and the trail instantly vanishes. We wander a bit, trying to find it again or decide which of the many route options would be best. We ultimately decide to get out of the willows and do a bit of an ascending traverse.The snow becomes steep and deep and we are missing the nice track we had been following. Secretly, I was enjoying the added workout of wallowing, but fortunately/unfortunately, that quickly ended as we re-discovered the nice packed trail.From here on, it was an auto-pilot cruise to the ridge above tree line. From the ridge, the views finally opened up and we were treated to a picture perfect winter scene. The wind scoured ridge prompted some of us to remove our snowshoes for easier walking. Without the hinderance of the snowshoes, it was only a few minutes of the most enjoyable and easy cruising to the summit.This was a great vantage for viewing Rosalie, Evans and the surrounding area. It was surprisingly calm and relatively warm compared to the recent spell of challenging weather and we were all reveling in the scene. We lingered here for a bit, eating, laughing and taking pictures.The trip out was especially easy and took about half of our ascent time. It got quite warm as the day progressed and I was now itching for something cold to drink, as opposed to my scalding hot chocolate.What a great way to welcome the New Year. Great friends, great weather, great outing. The day could not have been better (OK, it would have been better if Allison were not working and had joined). If this trip was a harbinger of things to come, 2008 is going to be a great year!Pictures:

S. Boulder Peak Run, what a great way to end the year!

South Boulder Peak (8,549)
~8 miles RT
~3,000 vertical
1:30:38 RT

Having been up S. Boulder Peak twice in the past few days (Wednesday and Saturday), I took careful note of how nicely the trail has been setting up and is now absolutely perfect for going fast if you have some sort of shoe traction. It is just a perfect packed trench except for the last 2 switchbacksbelow the saddle, the stretch to and across the saddle, and thenfrom saddle to the summit where the wind is constantly replenishing the snow drifts.My primary goal was to beat my ascent time of 1:22 from last Weds and my RT time of 2:14. I knew that I would for sure beat that without waiting for the dog to sniff things etc.... as I left her home for this outing, so my real goal was under 2 hours. Within about 5 minutes after starting, I wasthinking I may have a shot at sub 1:45, as I was feeling surprisingly good and was enjoying the warm sunshine on my face.My first time check (where the Towee trail ends at the dirt road), was a reassuring 14:07, more than 5 minutes faster than Wednesday, but 3 minutes slower than PR. I plug along and cross the creek at the mouth of Shadow just as I see my watch nudge past 22 minutes. From here to the saddle, I mostly run, but revert to short stretches of power hiking when necessary as it is steep and the studs in the shoes are not quite enough to provide a completely sure grip. Time goes by quick, and my watch seems to take off at a seemingly much quicker pace than the numbers I am mentallyshuffling in my head.I make the saddle in 51:36 and am not entirely pleased with the post holing, but I was fully expecting it. The wind is picking up and I fumble a bit to swap to my wool beanie in place of my ball cap . I ditch the sunglasses too, as the are fogging immensely. I really put my head down and giving it all I have to break an hour for the ascent. Much to my surprise, I succeed with 22 seconds to spare and am amped by this fact. I do an immediate u-turn and make quick work descending the summit boulders. Last Wednesday I broke trail on this stretch in fresh, powdery snow and it took about 4 minutes to negotiate the final boulder section (each way!). Today, I do the RT of this stretch in under 2 minutes.Now I am starting to think about breaking 1:30 for the RT. That is still 13 or 14 minutes slower than my best lap on this course, but I just have it in my head that 1:30 would be a solid winter accomplishment. Descending is my weakness, so I know I really have my work cut out. I take the upper section fast but cautious and still manage to perform a great imitation of superman while high speed post holing below the saddle . The snow is soft and I bounce out of it with style, but still do a quick look around to make sure nobody witnessed it. I ripped down Shadow Canyon (for me), it was really a controlled slide for the most part (studded shoes worked well), using trees and boulders when convenient to aid in turning or checking my speed (somewhat like high speed pinballing). Made it back to the creek crossing at the mouth of Shadow in 1:16 and knew it would take all I have to get back in 14 minutes. I kept my cadence up on the flatter sections and just let my feet fly the best I could. Made the Towee turn at 1:21:?? and was sure I could get down in less than 9. I was going hard, but started to rest on my laurels a bit, as I thought I had it in the bag (OK, I was hurting). In the final 1/4 mile, my watch was really turning up the heat and I was sprinting for all I was worth, zig zaggingaround people on the now crowded area near the trailhead. They must have thought I was nuts as I huffed and puffed my way past as though I were running for my life. I hit the final cement bridge nearest the lot and stop my watch at 1:30:38 and stagger gasping for air.I am very happy with my run, but am just ever so slightly peeved not to have gone under 1:30, but I don't really care that much, it was just a completely arbitrary goal. So close, maybe next time..... All in all an awesome way to finish off another great year!