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.