High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week in Review: January 20-26—Vertical is Exhausting

Monday, January 20th
AM—8 Miles—2:03—3,200’—Bear Peak
My legs felt a little sluggish this morning. I headed up the Mesa Trail out of Chautauqua; digging deep for some energy to get up that first climb. I was content to just do a short out-and-back on the Mesa Trail and call it a day, but my legs started to feel a little better. I hit the junction for Fern Canyon in around 30 minutes and started the haul up the hill at a casual pace. In 1:13 I was lounging on the summit, enjoying t beautiful sunny day. I decided against heading over to Green and opted to descend the same route I ascended. From the summit of Bear to the saddle was slow going due to the mixed rock, snow, and ice terrain. I left my spikes on for the rock sections so I just walked those sections in an effort to keep them sharp. A moderate effort on Mesa got me back to the Taco in a hair over two hours. 

Tuesday, January 21st
AM—6 Miles—4:14—3,100’—Horsetooth Peak (10,344’)
David Ponak and I headed out to the trailhead somewhat early in hopes of bagging Mt Meeker. However, relentless post holing slowed our pace enough to make us satisfied with simply standing atop Horsetooth Peak. The winds were fierce at times. The snow was up to my hips sometimes—up to my knees all the time. It’s been over two years since I’ve tried moving around in snow like that; I forgot how exhausting it can be. It took us almost 1.5 hours to cover the second mile of the day. Deep snow has a way of making you feel like you’re learning how to walk all over again. 

PM—5 Miles—1:46—2,400’—Green Mountain
After dropping David off at his house I headed back to Boulder. Naturally, I drove straight to Chautauqua and shed my warmer clothes from the earlier outing. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I wanted to get out and do something. So I just started running with the idea of a Flatiron access trail loop or something simple. Instead I headed up the icy front side of Green without spikes. I reached the summit rock just before the sun fell behind the mountains. The dim, icy descent was taken at an overly cautious pace. Slow outing all around. 

Wednesday, January 22nd
AM—13 Miles—2:19—3,250’—Mesa Trail Out-and-Back
All I really knew going into this run was that I was going to run to the South Mesa Trailhead. From there I would figure out the rest. I kept the effort easy-to-moderate all day long; never really getting out of breath or anything. There was a decent amount of ice and hard-packed snow covering the trails, which helped keep the effort in check. The first few climbs kind of sucked with my legs being anything but well-rested, but eventually the climbs got easier. I reached the South Trailhead in a casual 1:08 before turning around to grunt out the two mile climb from the trailhead. Surprisingly, I was able to keep my easy pace and top out on the climb in about 20 minutes. I cruised the rest of the Mesa back to Chautauqua for a 1:11 return trip. Nothing impressive. Just an easy day with a few mellow climbs here-and-there. 

Thursday, January 23rd
AM—7 Miles—2:51—2,600’—Green Mountain
I began the day slogging through some ankle-deep snow with Andrew Skurka. It didn’t take me long to realize that my legs were toast. About 10-15 minutes up Gregory I told him to go ahead and drop me. Then I enjoyed a leisurely hike to the summit of Green; taking lots of photos along the way. I ran into Fred coming off the NE ridge route and joined him for the remainder of the trip to the summit. I decided to walk the descent to avoid any potential ankle rolls on the snow-covered rocks. Little-to-no running done today. 

Friday, January 24th
AM—9 Miles—2:40—2,800’—Green Mountain
The initial climb out of Chautauqua almost killed me. I reached Bear Canyon in about 0:35 versus the usual 0:25. My legs did start to pep up a little heading up Bear Canyon. I was able to run every step up to the West Ridge trail junction before falling into a hike to the summit. I ran into Fred along the way and chatted for a few minutes. I intended to descend the NE Ridge, but an abundance of ice and a lack of Microspikes turned me around for a front side descent. I walked down most of the ice-covered front side. 

Saturday, January 25th
AM1—2 Miles—0:20—200’—Sourdough Snowshoe Race DNF
First time ever putting on snowshoes. I’m not quite sure if I had them on right, but I’m leaning towards “no.” Less than a mile into the run my feet felt like they were being crushed. So, I shed the shoes and jogged back to the trailhead with my tail tucked between my legs. I’m planning to get back out for some easy outings in the snowshoes to get them figured out. 

AM2—11 Miles—3:00—4,250’—Flagstaff Mountain and Green Mountain
With the snowshoe race debacle behind me I headed back to Boulder to soak up the sun of a beautiful, warm day. I ran up Flagstaff from Ebin G Fine, descended Gregory Canyon, ascended Green via the front side, descended Gregory Canyon, and finished off the day with a climb up-and-over Panorama Point. My legs were tired so I pretty much power hiked all of the climbs. Ran into Peter and William on the initial ascent of Flagstaff and chatted for a few minutes. 

Sunday, January 26th
AM—8 Miles—1:26—2,000’—Walker Ranch Loop
Woke up this morning with a slight hangover. I’m not sure what lured me to Walker Ranch since I’ve never actually ran that loop before. I ran the loop counter-clockwise—coasting the descents and leaning into the ascents. At about the 3-mile mark I started having some stomach distress (likely due to the previous nights’ beer and junk food). I’m looking forward to getting back out here sometime soon and giving the loop a decent effort.

Time— 20 hours 45 minutes
Elevation Gain— 24,000 feet

I decided to stay around 65-70 miles this week in an effort to give my legs a chance at recovery. It seems that the cumulative effect of the last few weeks is starting to reveal itself in the form of constant exhaustion. I keep trying to remind myself to ease back into things. I can’t run all of the miles and all of the vertical every day. I’m debating implementing an “active recovery” day every week (at least for the next 2-4 weeks) where I simply go out and hike with little-to-no running. We’ll see if that happens. 

A snowy slog up Green Mountain

Another Green Mountain summit shot

Walker Ranch Loop

Sunrise in Nederland, CO

Looking at Mt Meeker from Horsetooth

Fresh powder

View of Green Mountain from upper Greenman

Theater at the Nederland Rec Center

Snow-dusted Flatirons

Another morning in the mountains of Boulder


  1. You sure missed out on the Sanitas conga line...definitely a grunt saving it for last.

    1. I wouldn't say I "missed" out on it. I think the last time I did a complete Skyline it was a pretty nasty day so I missed out on the extreme conga line. It's always a kick in the balls saving that one for last...