Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday, 10/26/13 Monster Dash

There was a little Halloween race in downtown Louisville, so we decided to go check it out and enter the Spooky Sprint, the shortest of the race options (10k, 5k, 1/2 mile, 1/4 mile and 1/8 mile).  Amelie and Isabelle wanted to go dressed as Snow White and Cinderella, but miraculously, I was able to talk them into Tinkerbell and Fairy costumes, on the grounds that these costumes were faster.

We biked the 1.5 miles into town, got registered and then were told that the Spooky Sprint started on main street and headed back to the start/finish banner.  This was surprising to me, so I checked with the announcer at the start finish (which he confirmed) so with plenty of time to spare, we walked up toward Main Street to watch the 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile races go by.  After the completion of those races, we heard the announcer assembling the Spooky Sprint racers and I was struck at how few of us there were and was surprised that none of the nearby marshals were lining us up despite the fact that the countdown was on.

The start horn blows and we immediately realized that the race indeed started at the start line and we were starting from the turnaround cones.  Oops.  We, along with several others who had asked me where the race started, ran toward the oncoming rush of racers in our race, made it to the start line, where we saw some friends we knew and finally got our race officially started.

I don't think the girls ever really knew the difference as to what was going on vs. what was supposed to happen, but I was a little annoyed by the screw up by two different race officials.  I have raced enough to know that races usually start at the start line and finish at the finish line, so I was skeptical right away, but figured since this was a short kid's race, things might be different.

Either way, the girls were much more determined in this race than the Taste of Louisville race back in June (where they were tied for last), and they held their own here, mid pack roughly.  This race ended up being way too short and I should have signed them up for at least the 1/4 mile if not the 1/2 mile.  Next time, we will sign up for a longer race and be more sure of the start location.

Either way, we all had a great time.

Race Video: ( Password:  Sierra )
MVI 4380 from Jeff Valliere on Vimeo.

Heading to where we think is the start line.

Pre race jitters and fueling

Spectating the 1/2 mile race

The race is finally underway

Well placed at the turn around as I encourage them to rally for a negative split

Pushing hard

In the finish chute

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, 10/19/13 Buffalo Peak (Lost Creek Wilderness)

Buffalo Peak, 11,589
TH: Stoney Pass
Partners: Allison and Sierra
8.46 miles (starting from Wellington Lake)
3,755 vertical
6:43 Round Trip (~4 hours moving time, yeah, we stopped a lot)

Having made an attempt at Buffalo in May, 2008, I was simultaneously eager to get back there and finally make the summit, yet not too excited, knowing how slow and tedious the terrain is.

Allison and I had a full day and a half without the twins, so we were eager to get out to Lost Creek Wilderness for a hike and maybe catch some waning Fall foliage. We initially were set on a repeat of Bison/McCurdy, but after spending Friday afternoon/evening transporting 3 tons of crushed stone and a massive pile of woodchips to the back yard, along with all the associated landscaping work, I was too exhausted to even think about packing, getting up early or doing anything physical.

After 9.5 hours of solid sleep (amazing how well one can sleep without kids in the house), I felt refreshed, so we packed quickly and were out the door a bit after 8am. We still had no idea where we were going in LCW, we just headed up 285 with Roach book in hand. We narrowed it down to Windy (new for Allison, but a repeat for me), or Buffalo, which would be new for both of us and soon committed to Buffalo, as it is only 5.2 miles.

A few miles down Park County Road 68, South of Bailey we started to encounter snow and ice on the road and I suspected that we would not be able to make it to the trailhead on the steeper, North facing Stoney Pass. Just beyond Wellington Lake, there was a reasonably deep creek crossing, followed by a steep icy grade where I would have no momentum to even have a chance, so we turned around and parked, which would add an extra 3 miles to our hike. The walk up the road was a pleasurable warm up in the warming sun and led us through some brilliant aspen groves. The road, as remembered got steeper and as expected got icier, which validated my decision to park where we did. AWD and studded snow tires or chains would have been a must on this morning.

A beautiful start to the day

Some lingering, but very limited Fall foliage

Once at the pass, as Roach states “the hike is completely off trail and stark in its simplicity”.  “Bushwhack 2.3 miles SW up unrelenting slopes to 11,400, then it still does not relent”.

Having been here before (but only to 10,000 feet) we knew what we were in for and the fresh snow added to the challenge.  This route required constant attention to keeping on the proper track on a macro level and continually trying to find the path of least resistance over the continuous deadfall and at times thick trees and bushes.  There were numerous false summits along the way and we were constantly wondering where the heck this summit may be.  Though on paper the route is quite simple, it is almost entirely in the trees with very few line of site opportunities.  We did not have a map or GPS, so I was relying on my memory from 5 years ago and a good bit of dead reckoning/terrain reading.

Sierra sporting her finest Winchester hunting vest (yes, it is hunting season and we heard a lot of distant gun shots, but fortunately nothing close)

Looking North toward Mt. Evans with the Castle and Wellington Lake in the foreground

"Spiking up" on the ascent (Microspikes went on/came off numerous times on the up due to varying snow quality)

Starting to look like Winter

Almost there

Progress was slow and combined with our 10:08 am start, casual breaks and approaching turn-around deadline, I was starting to think we may not make it, but the prospect of having to come back for a 3rd attempt at this peak was gnawing at me.  At 11,400, there is a large meadow where we took a break to get a bit of energy and assess.  I knew we had to be very close, as we were just 100 vertical feet from the summit and the distance on my Garmin watch further hinted at this.  Sure enough, after pressing on for a few more minutes, the Eastern summit appeared and we were quite relieved.  The true summit though is the Westernmost of the twin summits, just a few hundred yards away, with a bit of a dip.  A few minutes of careful boulder hopping and scampering got us there and the views did not disappoint.  It was a perfect fall day and we of course had this remote and difficult to access peak to ourselves, spending 15 or 20 minutes enjoying the views.  At 2:25pm, we figured we should get boogying, as we knew the difficult terrain would be slow on the descent as well.  Microspikes helped tremendously and the descent went easier than expected, as I could follow our ascent tracks and just cruise on auto pilot.

Looking SE toward Pikes  

View to the South

The West (true) summit from the East summit (Windy Peak just beyond to the left)

Looking back at the East (lower) summit from the West summit

Looking NE with Wellington Lake far below

View to the West

Windy Peak ~4.5 miles away

At 2:25pm, we figured we should get boogying, as we knew the difficult terrain would be slow on the descent as well.  Microspikes helped tremendously and the descent went easier than expected, as I could follow our ascent tracks and just cruise on auto pilot. 

Buffalo is a bit of a challenge, but is really fun if you enjoy steep bushwhacks, routefinding and log hopping.  Was thinking it would be a blast to put together a Windy/Buffalo link up with a car shuttle someday.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday, 10/10/13 South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak

9.8 miles
5,645 vert.

Got out this morning for my first run/summits on open trails post flood.  Was quite happy to learn that Bear and SoBo opened yesterday morning via Fern and Shadow, accessed only by the Shanahan Trails, so I was eager to head over, since I had not yet seen Shadow Canyon.  Put in a moderate effort up Shanahan, South on Mesa, up Shadow to SoBo, across to Bear, down Fern, then back up for another dose of both peaks.  Steady pace today, not really pushing at all, just enjoying the freedom of moving along on open trails, without the worries of the only one new, human initiated post flood threat.

A few random thoughts.

  • I am stoked to be able to legally access Bear and SoBo, this is a huge step.  Although I think it took them a few weeks to long, I am glad those trails are now open, so moving on.
  • Moving on...  onto the still closed trails.  It makes no sense at all to have them still closed.  Shadow Canyon is very rough and eroded post flood and based on OSMP standards for safety and user friendliness, I am a bit surprised they opened it.  I personally do not mind at all though, it was fine before and though different now, a bit more technical, it is fine now.  I prefer technical trail over the buffed wheelchair accessible trails like they created on the new (last year) Green/Bear connector.
  • Regarding Shadow, I am not sure whether it being open now inspires confidence that the much less affected trails on Green and elsewhere will open soon, or if it being open now erodes my confidence that those making the decisions do not really know what they are doing.  Seems as though there is no rational consistency here.
  • Was thinking a bit today, with a chainsaw, some flagging and a pick/shovel, I could re-open Amphitheater/Saddle/Greenman AND Gregory/Ranger in a day, maybe a day and a half tops, by myself (taking into account that I have never performed trail work before).
  • Thinking about comments relayed to me from the OSMP Council meeting last night, I am a bit disturbed by much of what I heard, but two things jumped out at me, that were cycling through my mind today while running.  They say they are not sure what to do with the huge washout on the dirt road the connects Realization Point and the Ranger Cabin that comprises part of the Gregory Ranger route up Green.  Not sure why this is so tough, and again, I am no expert, but it seems very simple.  Route the creek back on it's original path (currently it is flowing through the washout where the road/trail once was) and get the dump trucks of dirt rolling.  No biggie.  OR, they could leave it as is, create a trail on the hillside on the North bank of the washout/creek and have it be foot access to the cabin.  Not sure why it is essential OSMP trucks need to make it there.  They could also re-locate the outhouse to the Realization Point lot, where it could be more conveniently utilized by more people, or just scrap the outhouse altogether.  BUT, that is all no reason to keep it closed to hikers, as it is all easy to bypass.  Another option would be to temporarily use the old, still in tact trail that begins at the top of Gregory Canyon that ends just above the Greenman/Ranger junction, which would avoid damage entirely and enable a complete undamaged route to the top of Green.  This could happen right this minute with no work.
  • One of the Council members last night mentioned that some trails may never re-open because of "fissures".  What are these "fissures"?  Where are we, Hawaii?  Vesuvius?  The San Andreas Fault?  I have no idea where they got this and why they would even embarrass themselves by saying such an ignorant comment.  It sounds as though some of these stiffs have never set foot off of pavement and these are the people representing our best interests?  Quite disturbing.
  • I wish I had the time and skills to help fight the good fight like Buzz and Peter have been doing for so many years.  A huge thanks to them for all they do/have done.  I for one really appreciate it, these guys are heros.