Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday, 08/11/13 Vacation

Allison and I dropped off the kids at the grandparents house for 4 days/3 nights and headed up to the Aspen/Snowmass area for a little time to ourselves.  We debated camping, but the forecast was pretty miserable, so we figured a hotel would be preferable and the Stonebridge Inn in Snowmass Village had surprisingly reasonable rates (for the area) and was quite nice.

We got out for some great hiking every day, visiting Capitol Lake on Tuesday (13.5 miles from almost the trailhead).

On Wednesday, we hiked from Maroon Lake, past Crater Lake and part way up the lower slopes of Maroon Peak.  We had no plans to summit, as the weather was horrible and we were not prepared for it on this trip, but I was interested to check out the improvements the CFI was making.  The wildflowers were good and it was a bit of an introduction for Allison to the route of one of her 5 remaining 14ers.  It rained hard the entire time we were out and much of the trail was several inch deep water.

Wednesday afternoon, the weather broke for a bit and I got out for my only run of the trip, a run from our hotel at the base area of Snowmass at 8,500 ft. to just beyond the ski area boundary above the Cirque at 12,687 ft.  I started off sluggish, but soon got into a steady groove up the steep grass and wildflower covered ski slopes.  I had no idea where I was going, I glanced at a map earlier and knew the general direction I needed to trend, but it was fun just exploring the ski hill, with my hands on my knees pushing hard.

It took me 1:20 to reach the top of the highest surface lift at a decent effort with a pee stop and some wrong turns and willow bashing, then 4 more minutes to where I turned around beyond the boundary.  I was severely tempted by the rolling ridge and un-named gentle13er summits just beyond and I practically spun circles debating continuing on. BUT, this run was conditional on me getting back before too long and I reluctantly had to turn around.  My legs and coordination were feeling pretty good, so I got after it pretty hard on the downhill, mostly just following the steep fall line as if I were skiing, generally sticking to the line of the chairlifts and occasionally jumping on the access road when it seemed necessary or like it might get me to where I needed to go.  I typically estimate my descent to be 2/3 of my ascent time, but was surprised to cover the 4 miles and 4,100 foot vertical drop in 34 minutes for a RT of 1:58 over the 8.5 miles.  I was on such a massive high for long after the run, it was such a blast.

Thursday morning before heading home, we headed back up the ski hill, as it was a simple plan and I was anxious to take Allison back up there.  My legs were a little beat from yesterday's descent, but we made decent time, until we discovered some nice wild raspberry bushes which we spent a long time wiping clean.
We were not moving for long, then we discovered an entire ski slope of ripe blueberries, which once again delayed us for even longer.  Then we found the strawberries above that.  Slow going.  I tried to convince Allison to continue on to the 13ers I missed the previous day, but she wisely turned us around, as we needed to get back and pick up the girls.  I would later be thankful of this, as it all turned into a long day with the drive home and then dealing with tired toddlers.  Even though my legs were sore, I would run ahead of Allison on the descent, going fast, then waiting, only because it is just so dang fun.

All in all a great trip, it was nice to not parent for a few days (as much as we missed them).

Next up, Pikes Peak Marathon in one week.  Hard to believe.  Some days I feel very ready, other days I question that, but either way I will give it my best and just have a good time with the race and hanging out with good friends.

The aspen groves in the area are just nuts, need to go back in late Sept. some year.

We opted for the ditch trail, which was all slick mud and cow $hit.  I made the mistake of wearing my worn Hoka Mafates which levitated on the mud like a hovercraft.  Allison wore her Salomon Fellraisers and had not trouble at all.

Capitol Lake and Peak.  This was my 4th trip here, but my first without climbing intentions and it was really fun to not have the pressure or carry gear.  As nice as it was though, I really wanted to climb to the summit.

The wildflowers were a bit past their prime, but still pretty good.  Unfortunately, the columbines were long gone.

The calm before the storm.

Messing with the camera settings.

Socked in.  Many of the 14er summits got a good dose of snow.

Trying to re-create a picture I took of my buddy Ken on the same tree in July, 1998.

Pouring rain and although we wore our good jackets, our hands, feet and legs were soaked and cold after a few hours out.

Ziegler Reservoir above Snowmass Village (Capitol and Daly in the background).  This is the lake where they unearthed thousands of Mammoth and Mastadon fossils.  More info:

Hiking up Snowmass on the last day

Great wildflowers and berries all the way up the mountain

We saw a herd of large bucks at the top of the ski area.