Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, 12/22/09 South Boulder Creek Trail

Planned on meeting Dave M for Sanitas, since he is in town visiting for a few weeks, but plans changed last minute, so I met him in S. Boulder where he is staying and we ended up running the S. Boulder Creek Trail/Buffalo Ranch. Went super easy, just catching up on all kinds of things (plus the trails are a real mess).

~6 miles
~1 hr

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday, 12/21/09 Sanitas

Up 19:29
Down 17:00

Easy with Sierra.

Saturday, 12/19/09 Mount Sherman (14,036), White Ridge (13,684)

Mount Sherman (14,036), White Ridge (13,684)
~9 miles RT
~3,350 vertical
TH ~1 mile below Leavick Townsite
Start: 7:45am
Finish: 2:00pm
Participants: ~15 Winter Warriors

Stevo proposed a trip up Sherman earlier in the week and the idea blossomed as the weather forecast looked great and a great group took shape. I needed Sherman for a December grid slot, but more importantly, I wanted to tag nearby White Ridge, one of the few peaks in that area I have not climbed.

Allison and I left Louisville at 5:21am on what seemed to be an especially dark morning. I was in a bit of a hurry, sure that I was way behind as many were planning to meet in Golden at 5am. We arrived at the TH in exactly 2 hours and only saw Steve Cassin. Thinking the others were certainly ahead of us and had chanced the snowy road ahead, I drove through ever deepening snow on fresh tracks (Steve’s from earlier), then stopped where he had, as it was evident nobody had gone further recently. After backing up for ¼ mile and parking, the remainder of the group all started rolling in.

Preparation was quick and the early morning temperatures were cold, many with thermometers in their cars reported temps well below 0 in South Park.

Everybody started up the road in groups of 3’s and 5’s, so I never got a true head count or even got to talk with everyone. Though we were split up along the road, numerous stops allowed the group to balloon periodically to near maximum size.

Near the Hilltop Mine, I was getting a bit cold in the wind, so I put on most of my layers in anticipation of colder conditions ahead. Ironically, minutes later, we stepped into a nice wind shadow and I felt as though I was in a sauna. Allison indicated that she was not too interested in Sherman and might just climb White Ridge. Since she was unsure and I did not want to miss out on either peak, I upped my pace a bit (trying to ride the line of going quick enough to make good progress, but not get too sweaty) to the saddle, where I ditched my pack. From there, it was only 10 minutes to the top of Sherman at a steady pace.

The wind was fortunately mostly at my back and I welcomed it, as I was a bit over dressed. I made the summit at 11:12am, took a round of pictures and started the 5 minute jog back down to the saddle, hoping to meet Allison there in time.

She was feeling a bit better and for sure wanted to go over White Ridge and make a nice loop back to the car. We casually strolled the wind scoured ridge, stopping often to track the progress of the remainder of the group. Soon, we noticed that Dave, Emily and Steve Cassin were catching up, so we took a long food break so we could re-connect.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the group were quite spread out and the wind made conditions cold just sitting for a period of time, so we decided to move on, just the 5 of us and 4 dogs. I hope we did not come across as anti-social, it was certainly not our intent, it just sort of panned out that way. I was regretful to not have had the opportunity to talk with everyone as much as I would have liked.

White Ridge summit was a lark, but the views were spectacular and the gentle ridge back to the car was a pleasurable stroll. A few short glissades were managed by Dave, Steve and the dogs. Back at tree line, we postholed without snowshoes a bit getting back to the road, but was no big deal, certainly not worth having carried them all day, so the choice to leave them behind was a good one (Microspikes were very helpful on the ascent, but not needed on the descent). We arrived at the road a few hundred feet West of the cars at 2pm.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, 12/18/09 Two Laps on Green

It was a nice day and I did not have a lot to do, so I figured I would take advantage and get out for a lap on Green before I was to meet Brandon and Aron at noon.

1st Lap:

40:54 up
21 down

Went up/down Amphi/Saddle/Greenman. The trail is extemely icy all the way to the
1st Flatiron turn, then nice packed snow above that. The Microspikes came in extremely handy and I got great traction the entire time. I felt surprisingly good, but went pretty easy for the most part, since I pushed a little yesterday and was going to do a second lap afterwards. Made the summit in 40:54, turned around and made very quick work of the nice packed upper section and really enjoyed just flying through the woods. I was a bit more cautious on the lower icy sections though, as it would be a bit easier to make a mistake. 21 minutes back to the Gregory lot.

I spent about ~20 minutes or so in my car, refueling, changing into a dry shirt/jacket and generally warming up with the heat on.

Brandon showed up a bit before noon, then Aron. I spent a few minutes setting up his shoes with a few screws so he could get traction on the ice.

Lap 2:

Up in ??:??
Down in ??:??

Headed up Gregory/Ranger to get a little sun/warmth (the first lap was shady/cold the entire time 10:30am-11:30am). We went really easy on this lap and I had forgotten that I had done a lap previously, which was a good thing.

On the upper section, I could tell Brandon was raring to haul ass and Aron was taking it a bit easier. I encouraged Brandon to go ahead while I hung back with Aron. Near the top, we bumped into Tony again and his girlfriend Jocelyn. We exchanged introductions and chatted with them for a bit, before heading to the top.

Spent 5+ on the summit, before heading back down the way we came. At times we went pretty fast just for kicks. Good stuff.

Topped the day off with Smashburger in Lafayette. Great day with great friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday, 12/17/09 Green Mountain

We had limited time this morning, so Allison sent me ahead up Gregory/Ranger to tag the summit, then I would backtrack and she would turn when I met her.

There were a few dry patches on the initial sections of the Gregory Canyon Trail, but before long, the trail was continuous snow/ice packed. Even with the studded shoes, I slipped and slid a bit, but it was certainly better to have them than to not and I was impressed with how nicely packed the trail is right now. The sun was shining bright and warm and there was no wind, a perfect morning.

Effort was easy moderate to start, just getting into a groove and enjoying the morning completely. I felt particularly good today and movement seemed to be effortless and natural. I had it in my mind that I wanted to break 40, so I continually upped the effort, going hard, but never really digging too deep either, just cruising and made it to the top in 39:54.

Conditions were pretty good for a fast descent, so I cranked the upper 3/4 of a mile in about 6 minutes and met Allison and Sierra ~750 below the summit somewhere along the NW ridge. She decided that she wanted to go to the top as well, so I hiked up with her and Sierra and we all jogged down together. Bumped into Tony as we neared the trailhead and chatted with him for a while.

Almost went back out for another round this afternoon, it is so nice out and I feel so good, but figured I better get some stuff done at home, it is December afterall. Maybe tomorrow I'll go out for a few laps on Green or Bear.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday, 12/16/09 Sanitas

18:49 up
16:45 down

Today was a little warmer than yesterday, but I was not sure how the snow/ice conditions would be, as half the trail yesterday was bullet proof ice. I wore screw shoes just in case and dressed much lighter. I did not have hopes of going too fast, as I was with Sierra, so I started off pretty easy while she sniffed around and did her business. Once she lightened her load so to speak, this gave her a significant boost in energy and she was running ahead of me. I bumped up the pace to match hers and before I knew it, we had a good thing going. What was ice yesterday, was softened snow today and though traction was not necessarily better, it just seemed a bit more friendly. Went on the high side of moderate with a few surges of easy hard and made the summit in 18:49. I took it easy on the down due to the studded shoes (I have to re-arrange some screws near the toe as I was getting poked and jabbed). Nice evening.

Tuesday 12/15/09 Sanitas

Felt lazy about getting out, but got dressed up and headed to Sanitas anyways. Of course it was freezing cold where I park (causing me to overdress), followed by a 10-15 degree rise in temperature just 100 feet off the valley floor. I started off walking and easy jogging with no real agenda and started ditching layers about 1/4 of the way up. Once I pocketed hats, gloves and tied my jacket around my waist, I felt a bit renewed and bumped up the pace to moderate. The trail kind of sucks right now, plenty of bulletproof ice to require studded shoes, some mud, but also plenty of bare rock for the studded shoes to scrape and scratch on which gets quite annoying and even uncomfortable at times. After a few trips last week busting ass in the snow and barely cracking 21, I wanted to get in under 20, which is normally a given with just a little effort. Once I knew I would break 20 (an arbitrary goal), I backed off for the last few minutes and ended up at 19:29. I took it easy on the down (16 minutes) due to the crappy trail conditions and not so optimal studded shoes.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday, 12/12/09 S. Boulder and Bear

Sierra and I met Homie at S. Mesa TH, took it pretty easy for the whole run/hike. 1:22 up S. Boulder, just under 3 for the entire trip (did not look at the watch). Was a very nice day, much warmer than the previous week +. A good bit of snow on the trails, especially up high. At bit breezy on the summits.

Friday, 12/11/09 Sanitas x 2

Seeking sun, warmth and lesser snow drifts, we opted for Sanitas again. Same route as yesterday, only I was 6 seconds faster on the ascent. Conditions were SLIGHTLY better, but my legs were feeling a little tired from thrashing in the snow the past few days.

20:49 up

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, 12/10/09 Sanitas x 2

Conditions today were lousy, the wind overnight really drifted the snow onto the trail and made for some piffy slipping and sliding in the unconsolidated snow. There had been some foot traffic, but not enough to pack a trail, just enough to break up the crust and create a bunch of deep footprints and chunky snow. Though my effort should have equated to an ~18ish pace, I felt as though I was going nowhere and made the summit in 20:55, 14 seconds quicker than the day before where I went much easier. I bolted down the East side to the head of the valley trail in about 7 minutes where I met Allison and Sierra who took it easy up Dakota Ridge. We hiked together back up to the top and then down the S. Ridge. I was impressed by the HUGE tree that fell across the trail about 1/3 of the way up overnight and had already been cleared from the trail with a chainsaw. I had built up a good sweat on the first ascent, so I was absolutely freezing by the time we finished (~10 degrees or so).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday, 12/09/09 Sanitas

Got out with Sierra after work for a trip up Sanitas. Took it fairly easy on the up, not wanting to suck in too much cold air. It was a degree or two below zero and the wind was whipping pretty good on the upper half, creating some drifting snow and low visibility at times, but I was dressed well and was surprisingly warm.

Made the summit in 21:09, about a minute of that was waiting for Sierra while she pooped, peed and barked at deer (luckily I had her on leash during this time). Took the descent pretty mellow, as it was still somewhat light, but contrast really was terrible and it was hard to tell exactly where I was stepping (drifting/blowing snow was not helping). I eventually busted out the flashlight which helped bring out some definition in the trail.

Probably for good reason, I did not see another person the entire time. This might be the first time this has ever happened.

21:09 up
14:10 down

Tuesday, 12/09/09 Sanitas

After being scared off by the cold on Sunday and Monday, I figured I should muster up the enthusiasm to get outside, regardless if it was only in the low single digits. I had sent out an invite to Aron in the morning and was surprised in the afternoon when he replied, eager to join. By this time, I had lost some enthusiasm, but now felt committed. We started at 4:30pm and after a few minutes, I started to warm up and actually felt pretty good about being out. It was good to have company, so we took it fairly easy, talking about many topics, including Aron's appearance on the Today show that morning.

30 up (S. Ridge)
30 down (East Side)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, 12/05/09 Cameron Cone

Cameron Cone (10,707ft.)
Englemann Canyon/Southeast Slopes Route
~8 miles
4,000 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave Hale, Dave “Hoot” Gibson, Gerry and Jennifer Roach, Sierra, Shep, Kiefer and Sophie
~9 hours RT

We have been talking about getting together for a trip up Cameron Cone for a few years and it finally came together on Saturday. We carpooled to the Barr Trailhead and met Dave and Hoot a little after 7:00am and were on the trail by 7:30am. We pretty much followed this route for the most part except for a few variations. The first variation was, instead of climbing the initial section of Barr Trail as described, we descended from the parking lot down to Ruxton, then took a right up the hill (this saves a bit of distance/elevation gain/loss). At the double gate, we took the right fork then ~5-10 minutes of walking gets you to the natural bridge beyond the fence as described.

After we crossed the creek and the tracks, we went up the very steep hillside for ~50 or so vertical feet until we intersected a narrow and seldom used trail (as indicated on the SP page). We followed the trail above the tracks for a ways and eventually (after some routefinding and swichbacking) intersected with a wider, much more frequently traveled trail that eventually brought us to Magog Rock. The trail was coated with a dusting to a few inches of newish snow which made things a little slick for those without Microspikes. Near Magog Rock, a short scramble is required and was a little tricky in the snowy conditions. Dave, Hoot, Gerry and the dogs scampered up the slippery rocks, while I led Allison and Jennifer through a low angle chimney to ascenders left with some nice bush belays. Neither option was very difficult, but can be a little tricky when snowy.

Once past Magog rock, the views opened up nicely along the ridge, high above town and way below Pikes. Gog rock was interesting and the going was easy along the snow covered dirt road beyond Gog rock. Before long, we started up the trail to Cameron Cone proper and this is where the real fun began. The snow got ever deeper, knee deep at times and following the trail was not always guaranteed. The North facing slope steepened considerably and the route seemed trail like at times where our route finding was aided by surveyors tape. We eventually lost the ribbons and due to the snow, it was hard to tell where the trail was, so we headed straight up the fall line to the ridge. This included some very steep trail breaking over rocky terrain littered with deadfall and progress was slow and tedious, inspiring a bit of language.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally gained the Eastern summit ridge, ~600 or so feet below the summit which was more open terrain with less snow. It was after ~12:40pm and there was some hesitation about whether or not we would have time to get to the summit and back to the trailhead before dark. We eventually decided to go for it since we were so close and were ultimately very glad that we had made that choice. I topped out at 1:00pm and the others trickled in shortly after, where we enjoyed the views, took some pictures and Jennifer left a new register, as the old one was a bit tattered.

We started down a few minutes after 1:30pm. Instead of following our tracks exactly, we descended the East ridge to a few hundred feet below where we gained it and found the proper trail which quickly led us to our ascent tracks, bypassing the most difficult section. Once on our ascent track, we were able to cruise on auto pilot and made quick progress on the descent.

As we descended and got closer to the tracks, we decided to continue down the wider, more well worn path and see where it lead us. The trail dumped us out on the tracks a few hundred lateral feet below where we had crossed in the morning and if I were to do this hike again, I would certainly make the correction of ascending our descent route exact. With a ~2 hour drive on each end and very little daylight, it seemed like a bit of a long day, but we had an awesome time with great friends and we were thankful that we could join. All in all a satisfying and rewarding day.


Friday, 12/04/09 Green Mountain

Hiked Green with Allison and Sierra. Snowy, cold, windy. ~55 up, ~45 down.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, 12/03/09 Bear Peak

Debated getting out today, but after I finished my chores and errands, I decided I would get out and play in the snow, at least for Sierra's sake.

Started from Cragmoor. Put on the Microspikes at the car and wore them the entire time. The trail was well packed to Mesa, packed OK into Fern, then was less consolidated and deeper as the trail climbed higher. Though the Microspikes were helpful at times, snow conditions all around sucked, as it is so cold and it has not had a chance to consolidate yet. Given the conditions, I walked a lot and only ran a little, going pretty easy on the up and down.

Made it to the summitpost after 51:10, carefully negotiated my way to the true summit, then broke trail down the other side with plans to head to S. Boulder. The trail in that direction had not yet been broken, so I decided to save it for another day.

Went easy on the down, as conditions were especially tricky.

51:10 up
36:02 down
1:27:12 RT

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday, 12/01/09 Sanitas

18:43 up, moderate effort. Caught a runner near the top going pretty casual. He started the descent ~10 seconds ahead of me and I figured I would just pass him before long, but he kept up a pretty fast pace and I had to work a bit to catch up. Once I got close, I did not have to push too hard to keep up and was just kind of coasting at times, but it would have been more than I wanted to bite off to pass, especially in the fading light. I was being cautious to not do anything stupid, but I noticed he had a few potentially serious stumbles and I winced thinking he would eat it, so I suspect he was pushing himself to the limit. To my surprise, we made it down in 10:30, which might be a descent PR for me in dry conditions. I offered up a "nice job, great pace" or something to that effect and did not get much in return, he looked pretty worked over from the effort. Either way, he pushed me to a faster than normal descent. Hats off to whoever that was.

Monday, 11/30/09 Sanitas x 2

First lap (18:33) felt like I was going on the easy side of moderate, never pushing. For a change, I was chasing Sierra the entire way up, not entirely sure what was up with that, but I suspect it had something to do with getting her tail slammed in the back door of the Element, eliciting ear piercing shreiks of pain and an anal gland mess all over herself and the ground. It was a complete and honest accident. After careful examination (and profuse apologies) I have determined that luckily her tail was not broken and I am positive that just her long fur at the end of her tail got caught. I felt absolutely aweful though and almost just went home without running.

To top off the excitement, I got reprimanded by a grouchy old bearded dude for "going off trail", though I was only taking the more direct line of trail where the trail splits around a pine tree, totally well travelled and legit, I do it every time I run Sanitas up and down, 50+ times per year and half the other people I see do the same (the tree at the top of the second to last steep pitch).

I paused, not believing what I was hearing, especially since that by his definition, he was even more "off trail" than I was on the same side of the tree. What a dick I thought as I continued the few minutes to the top, only in Boulder. He should have seen the deer skip across the trail just a minute prior, it went WAY off trail, imagine that.

I came up with all kind of snappy remarks to give him when I would surely pass him on the descent, but when I casually confronted him, acting like I did not hear what he had said, his tone changed and he was very friendly. I respectfully disagreed with his opinion and pointed out the fact that he too was "off trail" by his definition. I thanked him for his concern and was on my way. I'm rarely a jerk, unless myself, wife, dog or others I am with are threatened, so I just counterattacked with kindness, yet was not going to agree with him. WTF?

As I neared the bottom, I bumped into Scott E, so I turned around, just planning to walk with him for a ways, but ended up doing a whole second lap with him, as it was great to catch up. On this lap, I realized (confirmed) that my little flashlight sucks and I need a new one.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday, 11/28/09 S. Boulder and Bear Peak

Thought I would spice things up today and go up S. Boulder Peak first, then Bear from the S. Mesa TH with Allison and Sierra. The trail is mostly melted out to the saddle, then Microspikes were helpful to from the saddle to the summit of SBP. Made SBP in 1:15, Bear in 1:30, took a ~10 minute stop here before heading down. 2:46 total at a casual pace.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, 11/27/09 Door Bustin' Bear and S. Boulder

~7 miles
~3,500 vertical
42:11 Bear
54:54 S. Boulder
1:29:07 Total

I just can't get enough of Fern Canyon lately or this warm weather, as it must have been around 70 today and I was comfortable in shorts and a T.

Started from Cragmoor. The ice on the lower section is slow to melt, so it takes a little finesse to work through the initial ~3 minute connector trail (if it is not ice, it is sloppy mud). Hit the Mesa trail in 10:20, Slab at 14:4?, Saddle in the mid 27 range, where I sat for a 30-35 second Microspike installation break. The snow on the upper section was nice and tacky, coupled with the Microspikes made for magic grip. Tagged the post in 42:11, took ~20 seconds to remove the spikes and clip them to my HPL-20 pack and kept rolling over the summit, making a quick tag without even looking at my watch.

Did the short class 3 downclimb, and was cruising across the talus a ways when I looked at my watch again, 44:15. At the Bear/SoBo saddle, I once again sat for ~30 seconds to put on the spikes. Took off running (mostly) to make the summit in 54:54 and did an immidiate U.

Back to the saddle in 3:??, removed the spikes again for the trip to the Bear post. Once there at mid 1:03s, I sat again for a rushed but sloppy spike install job, so it took me a while to get them fixed up and secured properly, as I would be heavily relying on them for the steep trip down the N. ridge (I did not get moving again until 1:04:3?).

This was by far my favorite part of the day. I was jacked on adreneline, it was warm and the snow was mostly perfect for a fast descent. I ran as fast as I could safely go, contemplating my conversation with Homie last year about a helmet being a good idea for certain descents. I deliberately pinballed and swung off and around various trees, skipped over rocks, scratched down bulletproof ice and cruised to the far side saddle in 7:55, where I made my last Microspike stop for the day (~20 seconds to remove and pack away).

The remainder of Fern was pretty quick, but I really slowed to a crawl on the most treacherous bobsled ice sections. The run back to the TH seemed fast, but the time did not reflect it, mostly I think because of the ice in lower Fern and the ice/mud over the last stretch to the TH. Definitely one of the most fun runs in a while.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday, 11/27/09 Bear Peak

Met Brandon for an early morning run up Bear before I had to head into work. We went a fairly casual pace, which was great, as my legs were not feeling much zip after going a little hard yesterday. I'm totally digging the uppermost section of Bear right now with the Microspikes, as I can cruise faster than I can in the summer (well, maybe I don't have the fitness for the up, but the down is very fast and fun). I would love to get conditions like January 2007, the perfect packed trough with the Microspikes, I think I could set a descent PR, hopefully we get a few good storms to make that happen.

Up in ~53, hung out on the top for a bit, then took it mostly easy on the down for a total of 1:37 RT (total, not stopping the timer). Thanks for getting out Brandon, it was great to have company this morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday 11/25/09 Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak

~8 miles
4,500 vertical
42:43 up Bear
2:59 total

Got out with Allison and Sierra today for a trip up Bear/S. Boulder from the Cragmoor TH. Went my own pace up Bear and made the summit in 42:43 which I was happy with considering the time of year, my fitness (lack of), trail conditions and I was not putting too much into it (steady tempo, but not really digging).

There was some ice dodging/negotiating between the start and the saddle, but conditions were mostly good. At the saddle, I put on my Microspikes, as they make a HUGE difference on the completely ice covered upper section and are way better than screw shoes in those conditions.

After topping out, I turned around and put the Microspikes to the test, making it down to the saddle in 7 minutes, where I met Allison and Sierra and went back to the summit with them. Allison topped out in 1:12, we took a break on Bear, enjoying the views and the sun, then headed over to S. Boulder, and then back the way we came.

After just one flat run, it felt great to get back onto my home turf. Even running flat stuff with friends, I feel very little motivation or enthusiasm for it. No surprise there, it is no mistake I gravitate toward the steep and technical trails.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, 11/24/09 Flat Run

~12 miles
90 minutes

Ran with JP and Brandon from S. Public Road TH, through Louisville, out to McCaslin Blvd. on the far side of 36 and back (Coal Creek Trail?). Pace was moderate mellow, but I was having a tough time seeing at times and was pre-occupied as my stomach was upset and I needed an outhouse (that I could not find). I think the chicken chile and fresh salsa we made last night was not sitting well. Though not my type of running (flat/non-technical), I had fun running with these two. Once back at the TH, I sped home to the comfort of my own toilet.

Saturday, 11/21/09 Burning Bear Peak (12,070)

6 miles
2,575 vertical

Allison, Sierra and I were joined by Pete K, Dave and Emily, Shep and Kiefer for a mellow trip up Burning Bear Peak in(near) Mt. Evans Wilderness. The first ~mile was on trail, then was a fun bushwhack up the ridge to treeline in several inches of snow. I used microspikes as a convenience more than a necessity, but everyone else did just fine without. The dogs had a blast in the snow and the weather was perfect, warm, clear and sunny. For the 10 minutes to the summit from treeline though, the wind was howling and seemed pretty bitter. I toughed it out to the summit, then hid behind some bushes to put on a bunch of layers. Up in ~2.5, down in ~1.5 for a ~4hr RT. Easy pace with lots of breaks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, 11/20/09 Sanitas x 2

6.5 miles
2,600 vertical

20:08 Ascent 1
18:58 Ascent 2

Met Brandon today for two laps on Sanitas. The plan was for me to pace him to a sub-20 ascent, we came really close, I had him at 20:08 by the time he tagged the pole, which I think tied his PR, or was within seconds of it one way or the other. I think we went a bit to fast over the first steep section, hard to tell for sure. Good effort though, especially so soon after his 40 minute 10k PR.

We went pretty conservative down (19:45) the East side which was a bit icy near the top and very muddy down lower, taking no chances of a repeat performance of yesterday.

For lap two, I started off pretty moderate, then bumped into Adam Massey who was preparing to do some bouldering, so I stopped to chat with him for a bit. I then chased down Brandon who had got ahead and stuck on his heels for a while. I gradually upped the pace and made the top in 18:58. Brandon was not far back and we spent a few minutes on the summit before a casual descent of the S. Ridge (I did not get the time on the last descent, but I am guessing 17 or 18?). It was a nice, warm, sunny day and was a treat to wear shorts just a week before Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday, 11/19/09 Walker Ranch

11.5 miles
~2600 vertical

Allison, Sierra and I headed out to Walker for a lap. Decided for whatever reason to go clockwise, maybe thinking it would be better to ascend the steep section in icy conditions instead of descending it. Six of one, half dozen of another.

The trail was mostly dry for the first rolling section, but as expected, it became snow/ice covered for the switchbacking, North facing descent through the trees, so I put on the Microspikes which helped tremendously. Once down near the T junction, I removed them, as I knew they really would not be of much help for a while.

Here the trail became extremely muddy. Not the type that sticks to your shoes, but really slippery stuff, so viscous that it created an odd form of levitation unlike anything I have ever experienced and I could barely stay upright on level ground. I was tiptoeing gingerly, but still having a majorly tough time, so I decided to step up to the right onto the grassy buffer. In an instant, I was down on the ground, the wind knocked out of me with my shin smashed against the only substantial rock within a 100 foot radius. I was not even going fast, just gingerly making my way through, but I went down so hard and quick, like the guy on the "Wet Floor" sign, but sideways.

I let out a loud barrage of expletives and tried to shrug it off. I examined my shin and it was bloody and starting to swell instantly. For a moment I thought it was broke, but I knew better deep down. I paced for a bit, debating whether or not to keep running, wait for Allison and hike, or just make my way back to the car and lick my wounds.

Forward I went, at a slow and even more cautious hobble. Conditions improved, as did my leg, so I decided to not let it ruin my day. The remainder of the loop was mostly snow and ice, plenty of mud and a little dry ground. Microspikes went on/off several times as necessary to aid progress. The final climb back to the car was entirely dry, so I upped the pace from hard easy to mid moderate, finishing in a glacial 1:18:20. I then backtracked 2 miles (down, across the river and a good part of the climb back up to the far parking lot) to meet Allison and Sierra who were taking their time. By the time we got in the car, I was cold, hungry, beat up and ready to be done.

My shin is still throbbing as I write this. This was my first crash trail running in years and certainly my most painful. It was also probably the first one that nobody saw, as the few times I have gone down in the past were due to me being momentarily distracted by others on the trail.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday, 11/18/09 Sanitas

Went Sierra pace today, waited several times, bumped into a friend and chatted for a bit, even backtracked to make sure Sierra was still coming (she had made a doggy friend). The trail is melting out well though, any remaining snow/ice is not a factor on the up, but wet shoes slow things a bit on the down, though I was going slow anyways.

20:22 up
17 down

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday, 11/17/09 Sanitas

18:46 up
13:55 down

Still some ice/slush. More of an issue on the down, but should be gone in a day.

Monday, 11/16/09 Sanitas

Met up with Aron for a lap on Sanitas. Though he has run Leadville, he is not big into running, so we just hiked today, which was fine, as it was good to catch up (plus conditions were pretty icy in many spots). We spent most of the ascent talking about his upcoming movie. Sounds pretty cool, can't wait to see it.

Coming down, it got pretty dark on us, so we went slow and cautious as to not die on the ice. We did get to see a herd of deer on the trail which is unusual and there was hardly anyone out there which was cool. The view of the city lights was an added bonus. Time to start carrying the headlamp.

28 minutes up.
26 down

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday, 11/14/09 Green Mountain

Hiked Green with Allison and Sierra. 60 up via Gregory/Ranger. A little less coming down. The snow was picking up in earnest, making for a nice walk.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, 11/13/09 Flagstaff

Did a nice loop, up Flag, around the back and down Gregory w/Allison and Sierra. Jogged most of it, fairly casual. 55 min. Started to snow really hard as we topped out, then heavy snow all the way home to Louisville.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday, 11/12/09 Green

~14 miles
~3,300 vertical

What an amazing day, sunny, warm, perhaps a touch over 70? I really enjoyed that loop Brandon, JP and I ran last Saturday, so I loaded up my MP3 player, remembered my bottle of water this time and headed over to Chautauqua. Today was one of the best runs I have had in a long time, one of those days where everything just clicks, weather, energy levels, enthusiasm, cadence, foot placement. Though it was certainly not one of my fastest runs (I really don't have the fitness to expect much more right now and I am totally content with that for now), the feeling of moving efficently, almost effortlessly at times was there.

Started at Chautauqua and ran through the park toward the Gregory TH at a slightly quick "warm up" pace. Arrived at the far side of the Gregory lot at 4:45 and terrain then dictated pace up Gregory Canyon. Made the Ranger shack in 21:??, 4 way in 39:3?, summit (top of the rock) 43:34, then immidiately back down the West side, straight through the 4 way to the top of Super Flag, arriving there at 56:20. Headed down the road, hopped the guardrail on the outside of the first switchback and negotiated the informal trail that cuts off a short bit of distance. Turned off the pavement to cut down the backside of Flag at 10 even (1:06:20). Splits beyond here become fuzzy, as I quit really paying close attention to my watch and just cruised and enjoyed the views.

The fence ducking was executed without a hitch and I got less dirty than last time (not that I cared). I made quick work of Canyon and was tempted to just plod once I hit the dirt, but kept the pace decent and upped it some when I saw a fit looking runner ahead. I passed him and was surprised, I am sure he was taking an easy day, as I got a good gap as I passed. I'm sure he would have dusted me in most circumstances.

The grind up to Flagstaff road was a bit tougher than last time, but I was able to run all but a few steps. Once I topped out, it was a fast cruise back down to Chautauqua, where I really poured it on for the last few minutes, sneaking in at 2:08:59.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday, 11/10/09 Sanitas

Met my friend Wayne for a trip up Sanitas, then met our friend Steve near the summit and we all walked down together. Went up at Sierra pace, a very relaxed 21:54.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, 11/09/09 Sanitas

3.5 miles
1,300 vertical
24:53 up (Sanitas Valley/Dakota Ridge/East Side)
14 down S. Ridge to car at 4th/Mapleton

Went somewhat easyish to moderate today, up the valley to the first access trail to Dakota Ridge, up Dakota Ridge and up the East side. Took it easy coming down as it is starting to get dark at 5pm, enough light to see, but contrast is starting to get fuzzy. It will not be long till I need a flashlight for the descent. Hopefully the widespread paving/construction of all roads leading from work to Sanitas will end soon, I am counting daylight minutes now.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday, 11/07/09 Green

The weather is still unseasonably warm. It was tempting to go to the high mountains, but even more tempting to not pack gear, not get up early, not drive far and not hike in snow, so I met Brandon and J.P. for a local run from Chautauqua.

The warm weather has really put the melt on the snow, as the trail was mostly melted all the way up to the summit, with only some inconsequential patches to negotiate. From Chautauqua, we ran up Gregory/Ranger to the top of Green, then West to SuperFlag, down Flagstaff road to the Amphi road jct. and headed down the backside of Flag to Red Lion, bike path to Eben G, then up Flag to the jct. with the main trail and back to Chautauqua.

Went mostly easy to moderate pace, except for the beginning where Brandon took it out hard. I was having trouble with the liter of water I just drank at the car (forgot my hand bottle, so I carried it all in my stomach instead). Felt great to be out on such a nice day and was great to run with Brandon and JP.

Brandon's much better than mine blog post.

Friday, 11/06/09 Sanitas x 2

2 laps on Sanitas, 18:14 for the first lap, then hiked with some friends for the second. 2 extra miles beforehand.

8 miles
3,000 vertical

Super warm.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, 11/05/09 Bear/S. Boulder

Went casual today with Allison and Sierra. Amazingly warm, 77 degrees, shorts and t-shirt most of the hike, wore my Go Lite wind shirt up high as there was a bit of a breeze and still feet of snow in spots.

Started at the Cragmoor TH. The trail is mostly dry to the saddle, then above the saddle mostly ice and packed snow all the way to the summit of Bear and over to S. Boulder. Allison used studded shoes which worked fine and I opted for Microspikes on the upper section. Some sort of traction set-up is a must if you want to move efficiently and reduce your chances of a nasty spill.

1:10 up Bear
3:00 RT

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday, 11/04/09 Sanitas

After yesterday's hack and wheeze sufferfest, I decided to take it a bit easier today and promised myself that if I saw any competition at the start, I was going to ignore them and go my own pace. Luckily, I saw nobody and started up the trail very casual compared to yesterday, going on the low end of moderate until I got past the first steep section. I then slowly eased up the pace to moderate, then flirted with the high side of moderate over middle and upper section and felt like I was moving pretty well considering the comparable lack of hard effort. My throat felt a world better than yesterday and I never hacked, coughed or spit once. I was surprised to make the top in 18:23, a full 23 seconds faster at a much lower percieved effort. I felt like I could have held conversation most of the way today, whereas the day before, I could hardly remember my name. What a difference a day (and a reasonable start) makes. Went down the East side at a quick, but not too pressed tempo.

Up S. Ridge: 18:23
Down E. Side: 14:51

Tuesday, 11/03/09 Sanitas

Ascent: 18:43
Descent: 14:00

My plan was to warm up on the first section of trail and then go moderate, but as I got to the first trail junction just below the 2nd bridge, my timing could not have been more (less) perfect as I arrived there at the same time as a fit looking runner, going at a decent pace. If at work, I might have paused and said “no, you first”, but I decided to speed my stride and edge onto the now merged trail ahead of him.

Now I have committed myself and I up the pace a bit. I am going too hard for my planned “warm up” and feel as though I am really sucking wind. To make matters worse, this guy is matching me stride for stride. I almost said screw it and let him pass, but my ego would not allow it. We hit the steepest initial steps and I transition from running to long hiking strides, as is normal for about 10 steps in this section and he is now 10 feet behind and falling back a foot or two with every step I take. It is not long before I have him completely out of site, but I keep up the pace as to take no chances. Once I am sure my gap is in minutes, a fade a bit, semi deliberate, but mostly because I started off too fast and I don’t think my body was up for a real push today.

I make the summit in a disappointing 18:43, which seemed outlandish for the effort I was putting into it. My throat was also trashed, there was something about the air quality, dryness, temperature or something that has me hacking up a lung. It felt as though I was sucking on a metallic lozenge and it only got worse through the night, earning me a spot in the guest bedroom (it felt as though I was drowning when I laid down and I would panic myself awake gasping for air).

On the way down, I passed the guy who initially kicked me into gear after I had been descending for 2:30, so I am guessing he ended up being 5-6 minutes back.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday, Basic Boulder Mountain Slopfest

The snowy conditions deterred a lot of people, as there were only 25 or so runners this year. George, Homie, Brandon, Justin, JP, Bill (who I never saw), Ben, Adam all showed up, yet the rest I did not know. We scratched along sidewalks and road for a long time, taking it easy and chit chatting. Those of us in front all missed the cut off trail to get us over to Bluestem and got called back. Homie led the stretch through a field along the barb wire fence. No trail, just uneven bare ground, snow drifts, rocks and cactus.

Once on the main trail, Ben, Justin and I were running a comfortable pace, but were still slowly gaining on the remainder of the group. I stopped for a quick pee and Homie caught up, so I ran with him for a while as Justin and Ben creeped further and further up the trail. At the gate just before the turn up Bluetem, Justin had stopped to wait on the group, while Ben was long gone up the trail. We all mostly re-grouped, but just a minute of running and we were all separated again. Justin and I passed the remaining group who had gotten ahead of us while we were waiting and determined that we would turn on the gas a bit to catch back up to Ben.

I upped the pace a bit, thinking we would catch Ben sometime soon, but he had a pretty good gap and it took more work than I anticipated. The trail kind of sucked with all the snow, but was not too bad if you carefully picked you path.

I was surprised to have gapped Justin and was in no mans land between him and Ben. For a while, I went back and forth between waiting for Justin and the other guys and catching up to Ben. I ultimately decided to push a bit to catch Ben and see what happened. I figured Justin and some of the others would eventually catch back up on the (what I had hoped) well travelled Mesa Trail. I caught Ben on the climb just beyond the Bluestem/Mesa junction and was disappointed to learn that we would be breaking trail for a bit.

We took turns breaking trail for what seemed like longer than it was. The trail was variable, but beyond the Shanahan or Fern jct., the trail was better consolidated. We went fairly casual through here and I made it a point to eat a GU, some Chomps and drink some water, as we chatted with a fellow BTR runner who had joined us near Bear Canyon.

I had a feeling that I would not do much more than Green, so I ended up pushing a little up Gregory Canyon. I went fast enough to get a workout, but knew I needed to conserve a bit just in case I opt for more. When I arrived on Green, I decided that I would just wait for the group and see what the general consensus was. Ben arrived after 4 or 5 minutes and we discussed our options and ultimately decided to head down to the 4-way and hope we bumped into the group. We took another short break here and then decided we would head down Green/Bear and see how that went. I started down following a set or two of footprints, but it soon became obvious (as I expected) that it would be a rough time heading in that direction. I headed back up to the 4-way and reported my findings to Ben, where we both decided that we would prefer to run, rather than posthole for the afternoon.

After a few minutes of descending, we ran into the rest of the gang and I was surprised not to see George. Homie was looking strong and I had a strong feeling he was going to do the whole thing despite my poor conditions report.

The descent was interesting in the soft snow, footing was a bit tricky, but it was really fun. The Mesa Trail seemed to take a long time, especially with all the slush and mud. At Bear Canyon, we decided to head downhill instead of any more climbing, as we were both feeling as though we had enough.

Running the roads back to the start really sucked with the studded shoes and heavy legs and we just plodded along, finishing in 4:08. Since there was nobody around and we had no idea when anybody would return, we just split.

Although this year's edition of the Basic was not really competetive and the conditions were far from optimal, I had a great time regardless and it was fun running with Ben and getting to know him. He is a strong runner and made for good company.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Green Mountain, 10/30/09

We had an awesome time hiking Green today and there is quite a bit of snow on the trails as you would expect. Some trails are somewhat well trodden, but others have seen no traffic at all. We ascended Gregory/Ranger and the first half + mile was very slushy. The trail was reasonably consolidated for a bit before the ranger hut, then above that, it was mostly unconsolidated powdery snow. The wind has piled the snow deep along the ridge before the 4-way jct. and we took a few pictures of me wallowing in it (I deliberately got off trail). My inseam is nearly 35 inches and I was completely bottomed out. Sierra was going subterranean following my track.

I tried running some, up and down and it is somewhat slow and inefficent, so tomorrow should be a real workout (conditions are such that descending fast is a bit risky as each step is a mystery, a rolled ankle is a strong possibility if not really careful).

Not sure if I am going with my studded PI softshell Seek 3s, or my Gore Tex Sportiva Wildcats. I don't think any sort of traction will really help, but it might not hurt to have the studs as the shoes slide over snowy rocks (more of a controlled slide). Even though it is supposed to be warm tomorrow, I think pants would be prudent unless you don't mind postholing in shorts. Gaiters are a must.

1:30 up (going super easy and screwing around in the snow, taking pics etc...).
10 minutes on top
58 down

I took a bunch of photos, so I will them them continue the story.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

No running, but lot's of shoveling.

I actually like to shovel. I enjoy the fresh cold air, the snow, the exercise, and find it invigorating, but man, it makes my lower back and arms sore (especially when the bottom few inches are slush) using those infrequently used muscles.

I also have a sadistic side while shoveling, taking pleasure in shoveling in neighbors cars that park long term alongside our curb. It agitates me a bit that people use their garages as storage, then have 3, 4, or more cars and park them all over the street. Parking boats, RVs and trailers add to the mix and just further trash things up.

I like our neighborhood, it is relatively quiet, the people are nice, but long term street parking really gets on my nerves.

While shoveling, I wonder what brings people to the point where they have to store boxes and boxes of junk in their garage. How does one accumulate so much un-used junk? It looks like moving day when you walk by and see box after box piled to the ceiling(I am just itching for the opportunity to ask somebody if they are moving).

Several times per year, I systematically go through my belongings and assess what I use and don't use, will I ever use it? If I have not used it in a year, it gets donated or sold on Craigslist.

Now that I am at the point of my life where I have a garage, I don't take it for granted and enjoy using it. Less chance of getting broken into, less chance of hail damage and who wants to scrape ice and snow off their car at 5:30 in the morning before work?

Enough ranting, I will probably have to go shovel again in a bit

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, 10/26/09 Green Mountain

Felt somewhat energetic during the day, but once I started up the icy trail in the cold shade at 4:20pm, I had little motivation and almost bagged it after 5 minutes. Due to low motivation, I just walked most of the way up Amphi/Saddle/Greenman.

On the summit, I bumped into some friends who were starting down, so I ended up walking most of the way down with them and was glad to have some company. This is probably my last post-work trip up Green for a while, as the upcoming time change will eliminate that possibility.

Sanitas here I come.

Up: 43:55
RT: 1:21

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, 10/24/09 Kelso Mountain (13,164)

Kelso Mountain (13,164)
10 miles
3,400 vertical
5 hours RT from Bakerville (~3up, ~15 on summit, ~1:45 down)

Surprisingly, even though I have climbed Grays/Torreys nearly 20 times, I have never made it up nearby Kelso Mountain (even though we attempted it a few years ago but bailed due to weather/avy conditions).

We met Dave in Bakerville and hopped into the truck for the ride to the TH (or so we thought). When we rounded the first corner and the road gets steep where the bad rut used to be (the road is now perfectly smooth), we lost traction and begin to helplessly slide backward down the road, ending up with the back wheels in a ditch, perpendicular to the road with no harm done.

I jumped out, pushed the front end down the hill as Dave eased forward and we were back on track, however, we needed to figure out how to get back down the road without sliding off again. There was enough unconsolidated snow on the very far side of the road with some bare ground underneath, so Dave was able to make it down no problem.

We watched a Jeep lose traction and take a helpless slide as we did, as well as an Isuzu Trooper. As I waited for Dave and Allison to go park the truck and get ready, I figured it would be a good time to bust out my new Kahtoola Microspikes and the pair I got for Allison’s Christmas present and give them a shot. They were not entirely necessary, but were very helpful for the entire climb of Kelso and descent back down to the summer trailhead.

We hiked the normal summer path to about 12,000 feet and then cut right and directly up a grassy and slightly snow covered, East facing gulley/slopes all the way to the summit, which was surprisingly smooth and efficient.

Weather up high looked a bit windy and bleak, especially over Grays and Torreys, but we completely lucked out and had a nice wind shadow most of the time and even the summit was not too bad, where we lingered for a long time taking in the views. The snow is starting to accumulate, but as of Saturday, snowshoes were not needed.

The road to the summer TH is the smoothest I have ever seen it and would be a breeze right now with studded snow tires or chains, but I would not even bother to attempt it otherwise with the current conditions, as there is a high likelihood of sliding off the road (which many people had done throughout the day).

Since we only had time for Kelso, we were glad to have parked down in Bakerville, as Kelso would have been a lark from the summer TH and made for a bit more worthy hike.

As always, the dogs were happy to reunite and had a total blast.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, 10/23/09 Bear Peak

Allison, Sierra and I hiked Bear from Cragmoor. Slick snow/ice above the saddle. A bit cooler than yesterday, but still nice. Went super easy, just enjoying the day.

1:17 up
15+ minutes hanging out on top
2:40 RT

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, 10/22/09 Green, Bear, S. Boulder

Green, Bear, S. Boulder Peak
~15 miles
~4,700 vertical

0 Start from Gregory TH
35:4? Green
45:46 Bear Creek
1:12:13 Bear Peak
1:25 S. Boulder Peak
1:48 Bottom of Shadow
2:36:56 Finish

Started from the Gregory Canyon TH and went up Amphi/Saddle/Greenman. The trail was mostly free of snow (but wet) up to saddle rock, then it was mostly snow/slush/ice beyond to the summit. I went hard and felt awesome, but was still holding back some for the run over to Bear/S. Boulder and the snow/ice slowed things down in spots. I topped out in 35:4?. The trail was slick in spots down to Bear Canyon, but was more slush than ice like the N. side of Green. I ran quick yet cautious through here and because of the way the snow was melting/accumulated, it was easy to get off trail when going fast (which I did several times), but the mistakes were easily corrected.

I crossed Bear Creek exactly 10 minutes after leaving Green at 45:46 and started up the West Ridge. This is one of my favorite sections of trail and I dug in through here, taking short, fast, strong steps and was feeling on top of my game. The weather could not have been better, cool, yet the warming from the sun was soothing and therapeutic. The trees and scenery through here were beautiful and belied the proximity to a populated area.

The last push to the summit of Bear was pretty snowy, not too deep, but enough to be really slippery and complicate progress significantly. I topped out on Bear in 1:12 and made a U turn, being really careful on the upper section not to take a header. While I was focusing on going slow, I took the opportunity to eat a Clif bar and drink some water. I topped out on S. Boulder in 1:25, most of the slowness coming from cautious negotiation of the upper boulder section, which was absolutely treacherous being the first through ice and snow covered rocks. I took some significant slips through here, even going at a crawl, but luck was on my side and I managed to pull through unscathed.

I took it cautious back down to the saddle, then tried to open it up a bit through Shadow, but it was a bad idea, as the wet trail was super slick also. Not icy, but almost as slick because of the pine needles, so I backed off.

Arrived at the mouth of Shadow at 1:48 and stayed straight/left on the connector trail to Mesa. I considered re-ascending Green via Bear Canyon, but I was totally enjoying running fast and having a higher foot cadence for a change, so I just had fun cruising the Mesa Trail at a nice clip all the way back. There was plenty of sticky mud and puddles and after a while I gave up trying to avoid it which meant for muddy legs and heavy shoes.

Returned to the Gregory TH after 2:36:56, feeling completely energized and exuberant. A sharp contrast to the struggle I had a week ago. AWESOME!!

Wednesday, 10/21/09 Sanitas

12:52 down

Sufficiently refreshed after a day off, I contemplated another day off, as the weather seemed a bit gloomy and I had limited time after work, but I figured what the heck, why not take a quick trip up Sanitas on the way home.

After negtiating my way through the gauntlet of construction projects (WTF with all the road construction and paving as of late? It is like bears and squirrels kicking it into overdrive before winter or something....).

I started up the S. Ridge at a slow pace, then imperceptably eased into a moderately paced lope. I felt good, but still was not willing to push myself in lieu of a possible more concerted effort the next day. I was just over 15 at the (almost) eternal puddle dip (my only true time check). I upped the pace from here to the high side of moderate for 3 minutes, still not willing to dig in, then was surprised to see low 18s at the last turn, so I put in a little more effort and made the post in 18:57. I was hoping to be in the 19 range without pushing and I exceeded that by a bit.

The descent was wet and muddy and a bit slick in spots, but I managed to get back in 12:52 without rattling myself too much. My feet felt quick and accurate today, though my lungs were filling with mucus, so I hope it is just poor air quality and not a harbinger of things to come. (I feel fine as I write this the next morning).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday, 10/19/09 Green Mountain


41:25 up
29 down

Went super easy up and down, just wanted to get out and enjoy the warm day.

Sunday, 10/18/09 Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak

7 miles
3,500 vertical

My legs were feeling a bit tired and sore and I had intended to take the day off. I stepped outside for a weather check in the afternoon to confirm the 80+ degree temps and I was starting to change my mind. I got out of work and sped home to drop off Sierra and change into my running clothes and figured I would head to the Cragmoor TH with the intention of an easyish jog up Bear (is there such a thing?).

Though I was without the dog, I started off at doggy pace, 3:?? to Shanahan, 5:?? to doggy pond, 11:?? to Mesa, 16:20 to the slab. This was a very un-pressed pace, but I was certainly feeling it in my legs, most likely left over pain from suffering on Thursday.

For some unknown reason, I started feeling a bit better after klomping my way down the short descent after the Slab and starting up toward the Fern Canyon trail. There were a surprising number of people out because of the nice weather, couples, couples with dogs, a grouchy lady who should not have been wearing a skort descending on my side of the trail and seeming a bit annoyed at my passing. One lady voiced some encouraging words which helped bolster my pace.

I reached the saddle at an unimpressive 29:12 or so, about 5 minutes off PR (though I was not out for a PR, I always refer to those benchmarks in my head). I continued up toward the summit, running more than I had on my last trip, even if only baby steps and mixed in some hands on knees power hiking when necessary. About 1/3 of the way up, I notice a fleeting glance of somebody ahead and think they are descending. I look again and nobody. Where did they go? I continue on and get that competitive surge of adrenaline when I see somebody ahead moving fast.

Without pressing beyond my comfort level, I eventually catch the guy and am amazed that he has got to be at least 60. I say “hi”. No response. I then follow it up with something like “nice day!?”, “great pace” still no response, just a mummy like face straight off of Scooby Doo (“I would have got away with it if it were not for you meddling kids” kind of look). Oh well, if I can still more like that at his age, I will be super happy and might even reply when somebody says hi and gives a compliment.

I top out at the true summit in 42:5? Pause long enough for my watch to pass 43 and begin my quick but careful scramble down the rocks on the West side and make quick work of the trip to S. Boulder. I make the summit in 10 and change, do an immediate U-turn and get back to the Bear summit post in 9, skipping a re-ascent of the true summit.

Quick and cautious footwork sees me to the saddle in 10 and change, Mesa/Shanahan in 19ish, then back to the car for a 25 descent and a total of 1:29:52. Not super fast, but better than I expected considering how heavy my legs felt going into it. Felt awesome to push a little, even if only for a short bit.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday, 10/17/09 Mt. Logan (12,870)

Mt. Logan (12,870)
~13.5 miles
~4,400 vertical
Start from 3 Mile Creek TH
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Kevin Lund and Sierra
7:50 RT

Saturday plans fluctuated somewhat over the last few days of the week, but with such an awesome forecast, there was no way we could not get up to the mountains. Logan has been on my perpetual “to do” list and it fit the bill perfectly, as it was a short drive and somewhat easy.

Having been up the well traveled 3 Mile Creek TH several times before, navigation was a snap as we casually hiked up the sometimes narrow valley along the icy creek. The day was slow to warm, as we were consistently in the shade through the valley and did not reach direct, unfiltered sunlight until we reached a high, willowy, wide section of the valley at around 10,400 feet. Our pace was very casual and I was pleasantly surprised that there was just about no snow on the entire route, just the odd patch of snow here and there.

We continued on up the valley, where it soon started to switchback up the slopes of 12,574. Our initial plan was to contour over to Logan, but for kicks, headed directly up to Pt. 12,574, where we took a long break in the warm sunshine.

From 12,574, it was an easy stroll on gentle tundra and occasional stable talus over to the summit of Logan. As we neared the summit, we found the remains of a crashed US Army Helicopter that appeared to have been there for some time.

After another long break on Logan, we headed down and West toward 12,257 and then near the saddle, started angling NW down through the trees and re-joined our ascent route at the start of the switchbacks below 12,574.

The trip back to the car as per usual seemed twice as long as the ascent. An amazingly perfect day in the high country, as it was seasonally warm, calm and crystal clear, a stark contrast to last weekend.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday, 10/16/09 Sanitas

Allison, Sierra and I got out for a trip up Sanitas in between running errands. I felt surprisingly recovered, but to keep going in that direction, I hiking with the girls the whole way, until the last stretch where I looked at my watch and it read 27:14, so I kicked it into gear and tagged the pole 2 seconds faster than my trip yesterday in 27:49, though it seemed far more easy today. My 27:51 yesterday seemed much harder than my 16:23 last year, go figure.

We went down the East ridge and then took the Dakota Ridge trail instead of the valley. About halfway down Allison pointed out Tony running a fair distance below us. I figured he might be switchbacking up, but he was actually on his way down. I paused for a while, but Allison gave me the go ahead to chase, so I ran hard for a bit to catch him. We chatted for a short bit, I guess he had just run what I ran yesterday, although I am sure quite a bit faster (his split on Sanitas was 20 minutes).

Very nice day out, picture perfect.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, 10/15/09 Boulder Skyline Traverse

S. Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff, Sanitas
16 miles
6,250 vertical

Ran a 3:07 today from S. Mesa, over S. Boulder, Bear, Green, Flag to the top of Sanitas. I took 20 minutes off my PR, so I was a little happy with that, but felt surprisingly crappy most of the way and hoped to go faster, so I was not happy with that. I should have quit before going up Sanitas, but no pain no gain right? I ran out of water, struggled bad and was a total mess for a while after and it was a struggle to go retreive my bike and drive home. I might write more tomorrow.

Slightly Expanded version:

My old PR of 3:27 in May of 2005 was a bit soft. I have done this route many times, but always with a group, with the dog, with snow, ice etc…, so I knew I would be able to go much faster on my own. I parked my car at Sanitas and rode down to the S. Mesa TH in commuter mode (crappy town bike, bike path, civilian clothes/shoes) in 30 minutes. It felt like a good warm up and I was hopeful that I would have a good day, especially since my legs felt extremely springy in the morning when running up the stairs or whatever.

I felt OK for the first few minutes, but knew by the mouth of Shadow that I was putting too much effort into a slow time (21:20) at that point. As Shadow steepened, I knew I was in trouble. On the larger rock step ups, I just did not have the strength to power over them and I wavered a bit with each large step. I was 4 minutes ahead of PR at the mouth of shadow, but lost 2 of those minutes by the saddle.

Feeling better on the flats and downhills, I pushed a bit harder, but not really hard, just trying to be smooth and efficient. I knew I would come close to PR, but my plan to go under 3 was probably out the window. I mentally gave up a few times, but I had to get back to my car, so I just continued to plug away.

Coming off Flag, I finished off the last of my 3 x 7oz bottles and was really thirsty. At the base of Sanitas, I knew I should just bail to the car, but I got here at 2:40 and thought that if I really suffered and dug deep, I MIGHT be able to pull off a sub 20 minute ascent, which when I am fresh, I always do with hardly any concerted effort.

After a few steps, I knew that this was a pipe dream however and each step I took, I contemplated stopping. I pushed on though, thinking that to improve, you have to suffer along the way. My HR was through the roof, but I was hardly moving. I made it to the top with an abysmal time of 27 minutes for a total of 3:07:51, my slowest Sanitas trip ever, on my own, while trying to go “fast”.

Heading down, I had nothing and it took me 18 minutes back to the TH, then I was regretting parking at 4th and Mapleton, as it seemed like a monumental walk. I got in the car, rolled down the windows and began to drink the lukewarm water from my bottle, but I was hardly able to do it. I got out and laid down in the grass, panting in a fetal position, trying to get my wits about me so I could go get my bike and drive home.

Driving was a task and it was all I could do to stay awake going to the S. Mesa TH, where I took a short doze before loading my bike and continuing home. Once home I felt better after having lunch and dinner within the span of an hour. I guess I have a long ways to go fitness wise, much more than I was hoping. Not sure if I just had a bad day, or am that out of shape, or had a bad day because I am out of shape.

Either way, it was a fun run and I will probably do it again sometime soon and shoot for a better time.


Towhee/Dirt Road 13:55
Start of Shadow 21:20
Saddle 48:55
SoBo 55:45
Bear 1:06:16
Bear Creek 1:24
Green 1:43
Flagstaff 2:07
Boulder Creek 2:31
Start Sanitas 2:40
Sanitas Summit 3:07

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday, 10/13/09 Bear Peak

Another dog jog with Sierra. I work 10 hour days, so when Allison is working (she works 13 hours days), or out of town (like this week), it is easiest for me to bring Sierra to work and then include her on the afternoon run, which is fine, since I am in no hurry to get home, but the flip side is that she is never in a hurry on the run and I am forced to go her pace (a good thing sometimes).

Either way, we had a great trip up Bear (don't know whether or not to call it a run with a lot of hiking, or a hike with a little bit of running). We jogged easy into the mouth of Fern, then hiked all but a few steps to the saddle and then it was just a walk from the saddle to the top. On the descent, the trail was mostly slick just about all the way down to the mouth of Fern and I went slow and cautious.

Today was another inversion day, 48 at the Cragmoor TH, yet it was probably 10 degrees warmer from the saddle to the summit which made for a comfortable trip. The trail still has plenty of ice and slush, but is melting well and should be mostly gone tomorrow.


Mesa 11:55
Slab 16:45
Saddle 29:45
Summit post 44:19
True summit 45:01
Summit post 46:00
Saddle 56:05
Mesa 1:08
Finish 1:19

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, 10/11/09 Green Mountain

All day, the sky was grey and dismal looking with the temperature hovering right around freezing and I waffled several times during the day whether or not I wanted to go run. However, when I left work, the sun was shining in Longmont and it seemed as though the poor weather was finally starting to clear and I decided to go for it. My enthusiasm was short lived though, as I drove into Boulder, it was evident that the clouds were holding a tight grip on the foothills.

At the Gregory trailhead, I debated bagging the idea as it seemed colder than the 30 degrees on the car thermometer indicated, but I made the effort to change clothes and make the drive, I should at least go for a short while. Sierra and I headed up the Gregory Canyon trail and I was questioning my judgment on whether or not I should have opted for my studded shoes, but as I ascended, the icy trail slowly transitioned to very nice snowpack.

I had to do the usual tugging and towing of the dog through the leash required section of trail, as she has to sniff, sniff and sniff some more. This drives me nuts when I am trying to run, as I have to stand there and wait (not so)patiently. Once off leash, she can repeatedly sniff and catch up as I jog casually and periodically wait to be sure she is on track.

Once past the Ranger Cabin, Sierra decided she had gotten in enough sniffing and was sticking to my heels very well and even running 10 feet ahead at times. Traction was good and I felt great, so I upped the pace a bit just to test her. She surprisingly maintained her focus all the way to the top and we arrived there in 41:28, despite all the goofing around early on. I may have even set a PR (or came very close) from the cabin to the summit, but don’t have a split to confirm.

The real shocker of the day however was the change in weather as we approached the 4-way junction near the West side of the summit. Seemingly in an instant, we went from being engulfed in cold, dense gloomy clouds to brilliant sunshine, 50+ degree temps and melted out trail. We spent a good 10 minutes hanging out on the summit rock taking in the views of the surrounding peaks, while watching the thick blanket of clouds just below drifting over ridge tops and pulsing through valleys. I have been lucky enough to witness this several times over the years, but never has it been so beautiful or welcome.

Reluctantly, we started down, taking it easy at first on the steep rocky section, then really opening up the throttle all the way down to Gregory Canyon. This section was super fun in the snow, as traction was good and the snow smoothed out some of the roughness. Sierra was having a blast as she bounded next to me, stride for stride as I whooped and hollered, we were in complete sync and fed off one another’s enthusiasm as the snowy trail passed quickly underfoot.

Once into Gregory Canyon however, the trail became a bit treacherous as the ice became more packed and solid. I slipped and slid a bit, but was able to keep it upright by going much slower. We arrived back at the TH 25:20 after leaving the summit. This was certainly one of the best runs I have had in a long time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, 10/09/09 Pettingell Peak (13,553)

Pettingell Peak (13,553)
~8 miles
~3,200 vertical
Jeff Valliere, Aron Ralston, Sierra

Allison is out of town for a week, so I had 3 days to myself to do as I pleased. I was conjuring up all kinds of ambitious plans to jump in the car with Sierra and go climb as many 13ers as I could in 3 days, maybe work on my 14er x 2 list a bit, but as the time drew near, it was evident that weather and snow conditions were not going to be optimal, so I figured I would stick close to home and get in some “local” peaks (or at least a peak).

I sent an invite to a few friends with flexible schedules and Aron soon replied that he was in town and he too wanted to get out on Friday. We bounced around a few different ideas, but settled on Pettingell, as it is somewhat short and close to home.

We met at Neptune a bit after 7am and made decent time to the TH, arriving there in about an hour and eventually got going on the snow dusted trail by 8:30am. I was expecting more snow, but was pleasantly surprised that there was only a few inches at most along the trail through Herman Gulch to Herman Lake. The temperature was in the 20’s, partly cloudy and we could see that the wind was raking the divide, as evidenced by the swirling snow devils above treeline.

Sierra led the way up the trail, with her nose to the ground and tail in the air, sniffing out a fresh set of wild canine tracks as large as hers (large fox? Coyote?) as Aron and I lagged behind chatting it up, not too anxious to fight the wind.

At the last patch of trees, we took a moment to add some layers and eat some food before the real fun began. Above the lake, the route got a good bit steeper and the snow got deeper where it was drifted in the talus, which made for some tricky footing. The final 7-800 feet were a bit tedious, as the rock was loose, the slope steep and the wind was gusting hard enough to knock me down if I wasn’t working hard to maintain my balance. With temps in the 20’s, howling wind and blowing snow, I was thankful to have packed my winter kit, including goggles.

I think we topped out around 11:45am and spent ~15 minutes or so taking in the views and pointing out different peaks. Since we both had obligations in the afternoon, we made quick work of the descent, arriving back at the TH around 1:30pm for a 5 hour RT.

Although conditions were a bit chilly, it was a good shakedown hike to help get into gear for the winter season.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday, 10/08/09 Bear/S. Boulder

7 miles
3,500 vertical

With the weather today being in the low 30's and rainy, motivation to get out was quite low. In the mid afternoon, the rain transitioned to snow, which made it not seem as bad, so I figured what the heck, better start getting used to cold and snow. I initially debated bringing Sierra, as I knew she would really get mucked up, so I put her harness on, changed my mind again, took it off and ultimately put it back on again as I could not bear to leave her after all the build up.

We went up Shanahan/Fern on the easy side of moderate, which was fine after going somewhat hard the past 2 days. The higher we went, the trees and grass became pasted with ice and I continually bumped my head on low hanging icey pine branches. Once into Fern Canyon, the trail became mostly snow packed, 1/2 inch to an inch at most, just enough to make things a little slippery and very pretty.

We topped out at the post in 48, then another minute to the true summit. Negotiating the summit pitch and then the class 3 shortcut was interesting as the rocks were mostly wet and icey in spots. I proceeded at a cautious pace over to S. Boulder, arriving there in 12 minutes, then 12 minutes back to Bear. From the summit of Bear back down the steep trail to the saddle was an accident waiting to happen with the snow, ice and crappy traction shoes I was wearing, so I went super slow and easy.

Although I normally have to wait for Sierra, she was running circles around me on the upper mountain, sprinting around in the snow at mach speed with a huge smile on her face, making gleeful grunts and noises. This alone made the entire trip worth it. Though the day looked crappy at first glance, it was an awesome day to be out and I am thankful to have had the opportunity.

Wednesday, 10/07/09 Green Mountain

Since I got out of work a bit early and it was such a nice day, I blew off Sanitas in favor of Green. I felt much better than the previous day as I had a somewhat light and healthy lunch, one of those days where I felt light and agile instead of bulky and bloated. My only problem was that my legs were feeling the previous days efforts (though not too bad). To be on the safe side, I did not push crazy hard, just a steady tempo, focusing on fluidity instead of brute force.

I made the Amphi/SR jct in 6:47, was around 12:50ish (I think) at the 1st Flatiron cutoff, then I diverted up the NE ridge and just hiked a good part of that. Made the summit in 34:54 and immidiately turned around to cruise the descent. I felt great going down and made quick work of the trail and the NE ridge. Just I was thinking I was nailing it, I took a minor slide, but pulled out of it with no consequence aside from my confidence being slightly shaken.

Up in 34:54
Down in 20:23
RT 55:17

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday, 10/06/09 Green Mountain

Met Brandon for Green today at 4:45 and ran up Gregory/Ranger and back down the front side short route. Started off moderate to easyish and after 12 minutes, Brandon encouraged me to go ahead, as he was not feeling super. I bumped it up a notch or two and was glad to find that my foot was feeling pretty good, but I was feeling a little crappy from not having run in a week, or more than a few times in the past few months, not to mention the bagels, donuts and cheesy pasta I ate today.

Despite all this, the trail was passing by reasonably quickly and I topped out in a surprising 37:56, only two minutes off PR. I made a u-turn to meet Brandon and he was not far back and moving well.

Up in 37:56
Down in 27

Monday, October 5, 2009

Saturday, 10/03/09 Road Ride

24 miles

Rode to Eldo with Allison on the road bikes easy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday, 10/02/09 Pancake House, REI, S. Boulder Peak and Bear Peak

Slept in today (6:10am), putzed around for a bit, then we went to the Original Pancake House in Boulder. If you have never been, go soon, it is the best breakfast joint around, seriously. Went to REI afterwards and I picked out the ultimate winter pack, the Osprey Stratos 40, which is now on my wish list.

Spent 3 hours this afternoon taking a casual walk up S. Boulder and Bear with Allison and Sierra. It was pleasant in the sun, but the shadowy Shadow Canyon was chilly and had that fall bite.

8 miles
3,200 vertical
3 hours

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday, 10/01/09 Biked SuperFlag

28 Miles
1:40 RT

Had a great ride up SuperFlag despite the wind and cooler temps. 31:59 up SuperFlag, felt pretty good.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, 9/29/09 Green Mountain

Met George, JT and Brandon for a trip up Green. Took the bushwhack route up past the 1st Flatiron, went fairly easy, topping out in 47:22. I then opted for the short route down (standard) and got back to Chautauqua in a really slow/cautious 32. Great day, really warm.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday, 9/28/09 Green

Super easy "dog jog" up/down Green via Gregory/Ranger. Felt good, but was happy to go Sierra's pace and enjoy the perfect afternoon.

49 up
39 down

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, 9/26/09 Belford, Oxford and Pecks

Mt. Belford, Mt. Oxford, Pecks Peak (13,270)
~11 miles
~6,000 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Dave and Emily Hale, Sharon Hale, Kevin Lund, Ken Nolan, Jean Aschenbrenner, Sierra, Shep, Kiefer and Sophie

Although Allison and I have climbed these peaks before, we decided to join Dave and Emily for Belford/Oxford, as Oxford was one of Emily’s final two Sawatch 14ers and I had not hiked with them for over 3 months. As usual, Kevin was game for anything and a last minute e-mail to Ken revealed that he and Jean were considering this combo to fulfill grid requirements. A great group formed in an instant and I was very much looking forward to catching up with good friends on a bluebird day in the high mountains.

We got started from the Missouri Gulch TH a bit before 7am and made good time to the cabin at treeline. After a short break, we continued up the trail for a few hundred feet and then left the trail to engage the steep but grassy West slopes of Pecks peak, just for something different. The slopes were mostly dry, save for a thin, but crusty and inconsequential dusting of snow higher up.

The summit of Pecks seemed very much like the insignificant bump on the ridge to Belford that it is, but was enjoyable regardless and the dogs had a blast chasing one another and wrestling in the drifted snow.

Belford still looked surprisingly high and distant, but turned out to be a quick and easy walk up steep, snowy (but solid and intermittent) talus and tundra. The summit of Belford was a bit breezy, but just ducking down a few feet on the South side made for a warm and toasty spot for another long break.

Eventually, we mustered up the motivation to get off our lazy butts and head over to Oxford. The initial descent to the saddle had a good bit of snow in spots, or at least enough to make things a bit slick. Oxford, though distant looking, comes up quick, as the terrain is mellow and the walking fast and easy.

The summit of Oxford seemed a little busy with another group of 5 and some others crossing back and forth between the two peaks, but I guess busy is relative and I found it somewhat enjoyable to see others on the trail/peaks for a change.

Ken, Allison, Dave, the dogs and I made a 2nd visit to Belford, while the remainder of the group headed down in the general direction of Elkhead Pass. They had quite the jump on us, but we boogied hard to catch them and did so easily once they plopped down for break.

The walk out the valley was surprisingly long, but incredibly scenic and enjoyable, enhanced by the perfect weather and great company. Leisure was the theme of the day and we made it back to the TH around 4pm. A perfect day in the mountains with a great group.


Friday, September 25, 2009

"Race Across the Sky" (Leadville 100 Movie)

I meant to post this sooner... "Race Across the Sky" starring Lance Armstrong and JV (hobbling along as a spectator) will be showing on October 22 at theaters nationwide. Tickets go on sale today, looks awesome!

I am going to the showing at Westminster 24. Feel free to join us.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday, 9/24/09 Green

Started at Chautauqua as a rain squall was moving through. Undeterred, I continued on as the rain moved passed and headed up the trail between the 1st and the 2nd Flatiron, of course realizing before long that I was again over dressed. At the back of the 1st, I took the little shortcut up to the NE ridge. Made the summit in 41:30 and decided to head down via W. Ridge/Long Canyon. Jogging easy, I made it to the top of SuperFlag at 55, back to the car at Chautauqua in 1:28. Took it very easy on the down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday, 9/23/09 Sanitas

Plans changed at the last minute from Green to Sanitas, as I needed to get home a bit sooner than I anticipated. I wanted to go "fast" because I was in a hurry and because I was slowed down so much by the dog yesterday, but unfortunately I was not feeling nearly as peppy. I went about as hard as I could muster, but I was a bit bloated from lunch and feeling generally tired, not to mention I was a bit over dressed, wishing I was in shorts and a t-shirt instead of long pants, thick wool socks and two warm shirts. I just zoned out listening to my walkman, not really paying attention to time and ended up making the summit in 18:20. I turned tail and made the descent in a semi conservative 13:40. Not a bad run all things considered, lots of room for improvement.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday, 9/22/09 Sanitas

Today was the first day I felt truly good about running uphill since sometime in May, long before I broke my foot, as I had been struggling for some time. Unfortunately, Sierra was not feeling as eager to go fast and I ended up having to stop, wait, encourage and backtrack as to not completely drop her. We ended up making the summit in 23:28 which was a little bit of a downer considering how good I felt. I am certain that I would have been good for at least 5 minutes faster. Took it easy on the down, 17ish.

Despite this being a "dog jog" as GZ would say (more like dog walk), I felt awesome about being out and was encouraged with how well my foot was feeling.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, 09/20/09 Bear Peak

I was planning on a bike ride, but when I got out of work it was cloudy and really windy, so I called Homie to see if he was game for a trip up Bear Peak and he was game. We started around 5pm from the Cragmoor TH and it was actually quite nice out, surprisingly little wind. We took it fairly easy, conversation pace the entire way as we always have lots to talk about. Made the true summit in 51:29 and then took it slow and easy on the down. 1:32 RT.

Friday, 9/18/09 N. Twin Cone Peak (12,323), Mount Blaine (12,303)

N. Twin Cone Peak (12,323), Mount Blaine (12,303)
~11 miles
~2,800 vertical
4.5 hours
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

On our way home from a few days in Fairplay, we decided to stop on Kenosha Pass for a short walk to enjoy the fall colors. We started walking at a fast pace along the road toward N. Twin Cone Peak at 10:30am with no real plan, aside from taking some pictures and enjoying the warm sunshine.

Before we knew it, we were well on our way to the summit of N. Twin Cone Peak. We had climbed it before in December, so it was nice to climb it again under more pleasant conditions. I had hoped to take a long leisurely break in the nice warm sun to soak up the views that we sacrificed on our previous trip, but as soon as I took a picture or 3, Allison pointed toward Mount Blaine and suggested we head over.

From N. Twin Cone, Blaine looks very close, 10-15 minutes maybe? We reached the saddle quickly on the dirt road, but the trip to the summit of Blaine from there was a little slower than expected as it is all uneven grassy mounds, rocks and willows. Normally it would be no problem, but since I am still favoring my healing foot, I was being slow and cautious as to not tweak it on the unstable footing.

Eventually we made the summit and were surprised by the jumble of huge boulders which made for an easy, but very fun rock hop. The weather and views were great and I was pleased to get an unexpected new LCW peak.


Thursday, 9/17/09 Mt. Evans B (13,577), London Mountain (13,194)

Mt. Evans B (13,577), London Mountain (13,194)
~11 miles
~3,200 vertical
5.5 hours

After climbing Decalibron the previous day and a great night of sleep in the cabin in Fairplay, we headed over toward Mosquito Pass for a few new 13ers. In this area, Mt. Evans B and London were on my unclimbed list (as well as Pennsylvania, but we decided to save it for another day).

We parked below the London mine, walked past the mine and headed directly up the hill to cut off a little walking on the road. Once on the road, it was smooth sailing up to the pass, where everything was covered in a layer of rime ice. It being a Thursday, we were surprised to encounter a Jeep on the pass. The guys were quite friendly and we chatted it up a bit, mostly about the poor little dog that had been lost up there a few weeks prior on Mosquito Peak as indicated by the signs posted throughout the area. I hope he was eventually found and maybe the posters just had not been removed?

The stroll along the ridge was pleasurable as the day warmed the views to the West opened up. The summit of Mt. Evans B was enjoyable, but somewhat unremarkable (except for the views of course).

On the way back to the car, we took the little side trip up London Mountain. Though not much vertical is gained, the initial section of the ridge is a bit scruffy and requires a little route finding to keep it at class 2+. After the scruff, the ridge rolls for a long time over several false summits before topping out and took a surprising 25 minutes from the road at a not too fast hiking pace.


Wednesday, 9/16/09 DeCaLiBron

7 miles
3,600 vertical
~5 hours
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

To celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, a co-worker friend of Allison’s loaned us their cabin in Fairplay for a few days. We do this annually and climb local peaks, enjoy the fall foliage and have a nice dinner in Breckenridge.

Allison came up with the idea of climbing Decalibron, as she had climbed them all before, but never all at once. The weather report looked iffy and our somewhat late 9am start was no guarantee for success, but our plan was just to keep an eye/ear on the sky and be willing to turn back if things looked bad.

Not much to say about the route, as it has been recited many times before. I will say that this was my first time up the entire trail leading to the summit of Democrat and was impressed with how nice it is. In the past, I have always taken different routes, or deviated from the main trail on snow or talus. I think next time I run this loop, I will stick to the trail exactly and save some time.

It was a nice change of pace to interact with others on a mountain, as we have been climbing obscure 13ers on weekdays as of late and never see anybody. We exchanged hellos with 5 people descending and passed two others on the way up and on the summit who we spoke with a bit. The first was Joe from NC, who was on his 3rd 14er (after summiting Grays/Torreys the previous day). Joe was planning on the whole loop as well, but we never saw him after Democrat, so I am assuming altitude got the best of him.

Also on the summit was a 75 year old gentleman from Kansas who drove out for what I think he said was his 10th 14er. We were impressed and gave him kudos and encouragement and remarked that we hope we are still as fit at that age.

Although there was a fair amount of fresh snow, it added to the enjoyment, especially for Sierra who was rejoicing that winter is on it’s way (Allison was not so pleased with the snow on the descent of Bross).

Crossing from Cameron to Lincoln, we were walloped by a quick moving snow squall which forced us into all the warm clothes we had and reduced visibility greatly. Since there was no thunder or lightning and I am very familiar with the route, we thoroughly enjoyed the short winter preview.

All in all a great and somewhat leisurely way to spend the first of our 3 days in the mountains.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday, 9/13/09 Sanitas

Got out with Brandon for a trip up Sanitas this evening. It was starting to rain and there was some thunder/lightning threatening to the SW, but since I talked Brandon in driving down from Longmont, I did not want to bail. It was actually really nice out despite the threat of electrocution. Went fairly somewhat easy and felt good despite not having run in 2 months. Up in 21:28, 45 for the RT.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday, 9/12/09 A soaker of a road ride.

All week I was hoping to bike a 14er or 3 as I had the day to myself, but last minute changes in the forecast had me scrambling for a plan B. I went to bed with my only plan being to sleep in and see what the weather does. Sleeping in for me today was 6:45am and views of live Breck cams showed sunshine. Should I chance it? I was skeptical that the weather would hold, so after conversing on the phone with Kevin, we decided to stay local and ride the road bikes.

Had Kevin not driven up from Lakewood, I certainly would have scrapped any outdoor plans, but since he made an effort to come up, I was committed.

After passing time watching Youtube vids of the Leadville 100 MTB race and drinking coffee, waiting for a break in the drizzle, we finally got on the road. It was cool and cloudy, but the roads were dry at least. Within the first mile or two, the coffee and Lucky Charms were making me a bit dizzy, so I quickly downed a Gu and ate a Clif Bar. This made me feel good enough to suggest heading NW to Old Stage instead of South to Eldo. Big mistake.

Once on the top of Old Stage, we went zipping down the other side toward Lefthand as the rain began to fly. Occasional drops turned into a steady downpour and the temperature was hovering around 50 or less. I was somewhat dressed for the occasion, but was still soaked and water was beginning to slosh in my shoes. I cranked down Lefthand and did not slow a bit for the turn onto 36.

With Kevin in tow, I got as aero as I could and just hammered back into Boulder, going between 28-36mph most of the way, only dropping into the low 20's on the little hill just before Broadway. Kevin hung on for the most part, but drifted off a few times and I waited for him to latch back on before I ratcheted up the pace again. This went on all the way out Jay to 75th, then the rain subsided and thus the pace. Though cold as could be, it was exciting to hammer through the rain, imagining I was leading a Spring classic..... Only in my dreams. We managed 37 miles in crappy conditions and it made the long hot shower and relaxed afternoon in warm clothes feel well deserved.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday, 9/11/09 Green Mountain

I joined Allison and Sierra for a trip up Green today, started off hiking, going slow up Gregory (for the sake of Sierra's sniffing needs) and looking for the bear we heard down in the bushes (did not see it). Near the Ranger hut, we started jogging a bit, which felt good. I pushed a bit over the last 10 minutes, not hard, but not too slow either. Took the descent super easy.

53 for the up
50 for the down

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday, 9/10/09

80.2 miles
~6,500 vertical
5 hours

After being a bit lazy and scared off by lightning on Tuesday, then doing my civic duty participating in the trash bash on Wednesday evening, I wanted to get in a good ride today. Allison wanted to join, but I wanted to get in lots of miles and vertical, so I sent her along in the car to the mouth of Lefthand and boogied over there on my bike to meet her. I got a bit of a head start and she passed me on Jay road near Diagonal. I thought I would be chasing up the canyon, but arrived at the Lefthand/36 junction just as she and her friend Jen were about to start. I rode with them for the first 8 miles, then upped the pace a bit and continued all the way to the Brainard gate. At the gate, I sweet talked the nice older lady into letting me through without paying and she even gave me a People magazine to keep me warm on the descent. Things were quiet at the lake and I took my time riding around it, soaking up the awesome views. I really love this spot, especially when it is vacant.

I cruised back down at a quick but safe pace, met up with Allison and Jen at the general store in Ward, chucked my People magazine in the trash and coasted down the hill to fill my bottles with spring water. While there, I glugged a full bottle, re-filled then joined the girls for the effortless descent. I felt good and considered biking through Lyons and Longmont to get 100 miles on my odometer, but then decided to go up the backside of Lee Hill to run an errand in Boulder.

By the time I got into Boulder, I was too worked over to run the errand I went there for and knew I was on the verge of bonking. I had eaten 3 Gu's, 2 packs of Shot Bloks, a sample size Clif Bar and drank 5 bottles of water, but was bird fooded out and just needed some serious food. I worked my way home, realizing I would only get 75, so I looped around through the neighborhoods to make it over 80, which is a high for the year I think. 100 would have been easy if I had stuck to the flats, but with all that vertical, it was not in the cards for me today.

As I was churning along nearing home, I was thinking of some of the tougher stages of the Tour and could not imagine still having to cross the Galibier or the Tourmalet. Ughhh, I'll just leave that to Lance.

Weighing in at 140 lbs today, but will work to counter that with non-stop eating tonight and the Pancake House in the morning.

Monday, 9/7/09

56 miles
~5,500 vertical

Allison and I drove to the mouth of Lefthand, parked then got on our bikes for the trip to Jamestown. I rode with her all the way, then on the way back down, I decided to head up to Ward. I was considering Brainard, but opted not to since the sky was getting dark and I needed to be home by 4pm for company. Made it back at 4:03.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thursday, 9/03/09-Saturday, 9/05/09 Twining Peak, PT. 13,500, Sayres Benchmark

Twining Peak (13,711), PT. 13,500
Thursday, 9/03/09
~4.5 miles
~2,300 vertical
3 hrs RT
From Independence Pass
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere

After setting up camp at the base of Graham Gulch (there is some great informal camping there), we drove up to Independence Pass to poke around and see if the weather would cooperate for a hike of Twining Peak. The sky looked a little iffy, but the dark clouds to the West looked somewhat benign and it was sunny overhead, so we started up the well worn trail to the North at 3pm and made our way up Pt. 13,500. We were making good time, but as we neared the summit of Pt. 13,500, the sun went away, almost as if somebody flipped off a light switch and suddenly it was dark, cold, windy, snowing and there was somewhat proximate thunder and lightning.

I have a mild case of PTSD when it comes to lightning after a frightening experience 12 or so years ago, so I immediately wanted to turn tail and run back to the car. In a complete role reversal, Allison suggested we wait it out for a while under some nearby rocks and see what happens, as the danger did not yet seem imminent. We hunkered under some very sheltered and protective rocks (protective from the precipitation, not lightning) for nearly 40 minutes, as wave after wave of graupel passed overhead, until we were assured that conditions were safe enough to proceed upward.

We found if most efficient to pass directly over Pt. 13,500 en route to Twining, then drop the ~350 feet to the saddle. The remainder of the climb from the saddle was straight forward and we reached the summit of Twining around 4:45pm. The sun was out and the conditions were pleasant, so we hung out for a while enjoying the scenery.

Before long, a bolt of lightning several miles to the NE forced us into gear, where Sierra and I were nearly running back toward the saddle with Allison in hot pursuit. There were a few more rumbles, but fortunately, the micro cell moved away from us. Again, we were in a nice calm weather window, so we took a nice long (relaxing this time) break on Pt. 13,500.

We arrived back at the pass at 6pm, as the weather was clearing and headed back to camp for a warm meal and s’mores. An interesting afternoon.

Sayres Benchmark (13,738)
Friday, 9/04/09
~10 miles
~4,000 vertical
5 hrs RT
Sayres Gulch TH
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere, Kevin Lund

We met Kevin at the La Plata TH and he drove us 2.7 miles up the South Fork Lake Creek Road to the head of Sayres Gulch. After a minor route finding snafu (vague and/or out of date route description) and a return trip to the car for a forgotten burrito left on the roof, we were finally on our way up the twisty and now defunct dirt road up toward Sayres BM at 8:35am. If I had to do it over again, I would just head directly up the ridge and skip the road for the most part, as it is ridiculously circuitous and gradual, but if you are looking for a casual walk, the road is a refreshing option. Finding the road requires close attention early on, as we walked right past it and fortunately realized the mistake within a few minutes.

The easiest way to find the proper road is to take a left at an obvious junction 2.6-2.7 miles up the road where there is a sign for Sayres Gulch. Immediately, there is another junction, choose the left option and the road soon comes to a dead end at a foot bridge. Park where the road ends, cross the bridge, walk for a minute or two until the trail intersects with a road and go left. This is the 4wd road that heads South into Sayres Gulch and you have to look for a locked gate immediately on the left, where on the other side is the proper road that ascends the NW ridge of Sayres. This gate is set back a bit and easy to miss if not looking closely for it.

There are a few minor junctions along the way as you ascend the road, but if you pay attention to the map, it is easy to follow. At around 12,500, there is a junction where you have to make a choice. You can keep climbing the road that ascends almost to the false summit of 13,430, or you can take a right on a spur road that drops a few hundred feet and ends below the Sayres/13,430 saddle, which is the option we chose on both the ascent and descent. I had hoped to catch 13,430 on the return, but threatening weather ruled that out. Either way, there is extra elevation gain/loss involved.

The ascent to the saddle is steep, but for the most part, it can be done on solid ground and minimal scree negotiating is required. From the saddle, it is a straight forward class 2 climb on the ridge to a false summit, then a short, but steep and loose climb to the summit (class 2 moving sidewalk scree/dirt).

We arrived on the summit at 11:15am, just as a storm was brewing over La Plata. We did not delay after the first crack of thunder and scampered back down into the basin from which we came to access the mining road, where we had to climb ~300 feet before our final descent back to the car. Although there were storms on either side to scoot us along, fortunately, neither one caught up to us, as we again lucked out upon a near perfect weather window above us the entire time. We arrived back at the TH around 1:30pm for a 5 hour RT.

After lounging around at camp for a while, we decided to head down the road to track down Jason who was supporting Bill and John for an attempt to run over all the Sawatch Peaks (except for Holy Cross). We contacted him by two way radio at the Echo Canyon TH waiting for Bill and John to come off of Elbert. I headed up trail for a ways until I met them, then accompanied them all the way to the La Plata TH. I was gung ho to join them up La Plata, but since I had no gear with me, nor had I eaten yet, I passed on the opportunity. Once darkness fell, I was pleased with that decision.

Pt. 13,198 Attempt
~5 miles
~1,500 vertical
2 hrs RT
From Independence Pass
Jeff, Allison and Sierra Valliere, Kevin Lund

I guess this is hardly worthy of being called an attempt, but since I tried to get there, then perhaps it qualifies? Our original plan was to head up Lackawanna, but some niggling pains for my partners and my foot not being 100% healed, we decided to head up to the pass again for something easy and see how far we could get heading South.

From the pass, it appears that it is possible to get all the way to 13,198. There is a nice double track trail that rolls across the tundra, eventually turning to single track and picks up some (to the best of my knowledge) un-ranked and un-named 12er bumps along the way. On the highest bump, the character of the ridge changed from grassy tundra to volcanic towers, blocks, then loose choss.

The ridge down to the 13,198 saddle is a steep series of steps with lots of loose rock. I did an exposed class 3 down climb to the bench below and walked over to peer off the next step, which was longer, steeper, looser and more exposed than the one I had just negotiated. Turning around was a no brainer, so I headed back up to meet Allison, Kev and Sierra.

Again, we took our time on the summit and getting back to the car. On the drive home, I was shocked to see so many cars headed up I-70 so late in the afternoon (2pm-ish), it was nearly a parking lot, bumper to bumper and just barely moving. Everyone getting a late start on the 3 day weekend I guess. We had 3 days of near solitude and were thankful for that.


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