High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Friday, July 25, 2014

Week(s) in Review: June 16 – July 20—Where Did the Last Month Go?

Week in Review: July 14-20

Monday, July 14th
AM—12.1 Miles—2:58—2,800’—Colorado Trail and Point 12,849’
I headed up the CT for about a mile before heading straight up some grassy slopes. There are a few unnamed 12ers to the southwest of Grand Turk. My goal was to summit Grand Turk, but a few snowy gulley crossings turned me around after summiting only one 12er. I made my way back to the CT then cruised along it for a few miles before turning around back towards the Taco.

Tuesday, July 15th
PM—6.7 Miles—2:32—3,000’—Hogsback (x2) and Perins Peak (Durango, CO)
From Leyden Street TH. I ascended via Browns Ridge, descended Hogsfoot, ascended Hogsfoot, and then spent a few minutes hanging around the summit. From there, I decided to do the steep slog up to Perins Peak. Loose, steep trails and hot temperatures made for quite the exhausting ascent. En route to the summit the only thing I could really think about was water. I was pretty happy to get back to the Taco.

Wednesday, July 16th
AM—16 Miles—6:07—5,500’—North Twilight Peak (13,075’), Twilight Peak (13,158’), and South Twilight Peak (13,100’)
Lightning, thunder, and hail. Oh my! This is a pretty easy route—first and second class all the way. After a 5.5 mile approach from Andrews Lake to Crater Lake I ascended a rib up to about 12,800’ to gain the main ridge a little east of North Twilight Peak. A short ridge run to the west saw me on the summit of North Twilight. From here, it was talus hopping southward to the summits of Twilight Peak and South Twilight Peak. By the time I reached South Twilight Peak I had already been hailed on three times, but they were all brief. Gloomy clouds were present all morning long even though I was up on the ridge by 9am. Somewhere between Twilight and North Twilight all hell broke loose. More intense hail and rain started pummeling me, thunder sounded like explosives being set off somewhere nearby, and the lightning was much too close for comfort. Rather than stay on the exposed ridge for another quarter-to-half mile and return via the same route I decided to dive straight off the ridge. This ended up sucking. A lot. Ultimately, I traded a 1st/2nd Class walk down for a 3rd-to-5th Class shitty downclimb on loose, wet rock while being pelted with hail. Ugh. Eventually, I made it back to the Taco. If I would have returned via the same route my day would have easily been an hour, maybe an hour-and-a-half, shorter.

Thursday, July 17th
AM—6.4 Miles—1:57—2,300’—Engineer Mountain (12,968’)
After an easy few mile running approach I leaned into the steep stuff as I made my way up to the ridge. A little ways up the ridge the trail made its way up between two rows of towers. The trail looked like it went to the end of the towers then exited to the right. I stepped out of this section, looked around for a few minutes, and didn’t like what I saw—an increasingly narrow, super exposed ledge that disappeared in the distance. Keeping in mind that a friend told me the route is pretty much 2nd Class all the way up I assumed that this wasn’t the way. So, I returned to the trail between the towers and exited to the left. This looked much better—on par with the 3rd Class sections just below the summits of Pyramid or Wetterhorn, but with a nice crack going up the middle of it. After this 40-feet section or so the rest of the route was a walk up. Once off the ridge the descent was basically just an obstacle course of out-of-shape tourists. The flowers at the base of the peak were some of the best wild flowers I’ve ever seen.

PM—11.2 Miles—2:56—3,800’—Kendall Mountain (13,066’)
I spent several hours in my truck waiting for the temperatures to drop a little. It was hot this afternoon. I finally took off up the road to Kendall Mountain—not really intending to summit. My legs felt crappy at first, but felt slightly less crappy by the end of the day. Sunset was pretty spectacular this evening, but I left my camera in the Taco. Figures. I just trotted back down the road with slightly limited visibility in the fading light.

Friday, July 18th
AM—10 Miles—4:20—4,800’—Island Lake, Grant Swamp Pass, V2 (Point 13,309’), Ice Lake, and Unnamed Point 13,333’
When surrounded by scenery like this words seem to fail me. This is probably one of the top three most beautiful places I’ve ever been. From Grant Swamp Pass I did a quick 2nd Class walk over to V2 before returning to the pass and descending to Island Lake. I quickly made my way over to Ice Lake where I sat for a few minutes to empty my shoes and take in the views. I looked up and noticed Point 13,333’ (I can’t find a name for this one) and decided to charge up to the ridge and see if I could find my way on top of it. Near the top the mountain quickly turned into a chossy pile of crap with several loose gulleys to choose from. I chose to scramble above the gulleys most times. This increased the difficulty to mostly 4th Class with a few 5.easy moves here-and-there, but it also increased my comfort level significantly. I eventually reached the summit and lingered around a few minutes before beginning the shit show of a descent back to Ice Lake. From there it was a few easy miles back to the Taco. The biggest obstacle in those last few miles were the hordes of tourists.

Saturday, July 19th
PM—4 Miles—0:30—400’—Silverton Highway 110
Pretty easy road run after volunteering at an aid station for the Kendall Mountain run all day. About half paved and half dirt road.

Sunday, July 20th
PM—6.1 Miles—1:17—1,900’—Bear Creek Trail (Ouray, CO)
After spending the better part of the morning hungover and most of the afternoon waiting on storms to pass I decided to start the drive towards the Sawatch. Once I got over Red Mountain Pass it seemed that the weather finally cleared up a bit. So, I stopped at the Bear Creek Trail on my way down into Ouray. This is yet another gorgeous section of the Hardrock 100 course. One of these years I’ll run HR…

Weekly Totals
Time— 22 hours 41 minutes
Elevation Gain— 24,500 feet

Week in Review: July 7-13

Monday, July 7th
AM—8 Miles—2:41—3,500’—Mount Sneffels (14,150’)
Same exact route as yesterday. Only 52 minutes faster. Yesterday I lost my Mountain Hardware windshell somewhere on the mountain. So, my main goal for today was to find it. I didn’t find it…I had no problems with route finding on the SW Ridge this morning and cruised right up to the summit. En route, I passed a couple. The woman was hit in the head by a falling rock, but appeared to be alright. For some reason they decided to descend a somewhat steep, loose section of small boulders rather than dropping down below them where the footing was a bit more stable. I hit the snowy upper gulley of the South Slopes early enough that the sun hadn’t softened up the snow yet. With a pair of Microspikes I was able to run down this stretch rather quickly. I even kept my spikes on for the scree field descent, which proved very efficient at keeping me from busting my ass like I usually do on this stretch.

Tuesday, July 8th
AM—6.6 Miles—2:32—1,550’—Highland Mary Lakes Hike
Easy hike with Gerber, Kari, and Eric. We just appreciated the flowers all day, basically.

Wednesday, July 9th
AM—9.6 Miles—2:44—4,600’—Handies Peak (14,048’)
Up/down from Grouse Gulch. I was a bit surprised at how much snow was still in the American Basin. I took the day pretty easy both on the ascent and descent. On the way back out of American Basin some crazy lady thought I was Tony and wouldn’t believe me when I told her I’m not.

Thursday, July 10th
AM—6.9 Miles—2:11—3,800’—Kendall Mountain (13,066’)
I decided to head up the avalanche chute. It’s steep; ascending 3,800’ in less than 1.5 miles (these numbers tend to vary). Not too long into the grunt I hear “well, hello” from behind. I wasn’t surprised at all to turn around and find Tony enjoying the steep stuff. Above treeline, I was suffering pretty good. I haven’t been at elevation much this summer and haven’t fully acclimatized yet. Near the top I heard a “wahoooo!” as Tony glissaded down a short snowy section. I opted for a road descent since I actually wanted to sneak in a little bit of running today.

PM—1 Mile—0:11—0’—Silverton Beer Mile
My first ever beer mile. I ended up finishing 4th with a time of 11:40 (min:sec). Honestly, I was surprised that I could even drink four beers in less than twelve minutes. I’m too old for this shit…

Friday, July 11th

Saturday, July 12th
PM—3 Miles—1:17—1,500’—Kendall Mountain Bailout
Dan and I got a late start up the avalanche chute on Kendall. Common sense told us that we would likely end up bailing on the route since gloomy clouds already filled the sky. We got almost halfway up before booming thunder turned us around. It was a bit of a shit show for me since I accidentally put on a pair of 110’s with enough wear that the tread had been essentially removed to expose the rock plate—not much traction there…

Sunday, July 13th
OFF—Hardrock Hangover

Weekly Totals
Time—11 hours 40 minutes
Elevation Gain—14,950 feet

Week in Review: June 30 – July 6

Monday, June 30th 
AM—8 Miles—1:59—1,700’—Crow Peak
My legs are still pretty tired from Saturday’s race. It’s hard to call this a “run” when it took almost twice as long today as it did the other day.

Tuesday, July 1st
AM—6 Miles—0:51—250’—Spearfish Canyon Road
Easy road run on still tired legs.

Wednesday, July 2nd 
Climbing in Spearfish Canyon
I led a few routes today and top-roped a few routes. I led the 60’ 5.8 route Sylvester Sidewalk (also top-roped this route), the 30’ 5.6 chimney Ghetto Toes, and top-roped the 100’ 5.9+ Lost Ninja. I’m still trying to figure out if these are sandbagged ratings or if my legs are still tired from Saturday. 

Thursday, July 3rd
PM—7.7 Miles—2:12—3,000’—Mount Sanitas (x3)
Mark invited me to tag along for some sort of tempo/interval (I’m not sure what the difference is) workout on Sanitas. So, I joined. We topped out on Sanitas in an easy 25 minutes or so before heading over the west side of the mountain on some more runnable trails. Then we turned around and headed back up to the summit again. After a casual descent on the south side of the hill we parted ways and I headed back up for another summit. Pretty mellow day after spending all morning driving.

Friday, July 4th
AM—4.4 Miles—2:06—3,000’—2nd Flatiron (x4)
I set off this morning with the intent of doing a few laps on the 2nd Flatiron. I didn’t really think I’d do four laps. I slowly made my way up the first lap in 18:xx minutes and trotted back down to the bottom. With a little more confidence, I shimmied up the second time in 11:41 (a new PR). My third lap was 13:xx. I stopped about halfway up to chat with Cordis, who was downclimbing. When I reached the bottom of the 2nd I spent about five minutes waiting for Cordis to get down. Then we started hauling ass one more time. Near the top, some guido guy who looked straight out of Jersey Shore was resting. Cordis had a 5-10 second lead on me where the guido decided to jump in between us. This pissed me off to no end. I used a more runout section and got my heart rate redlining to sneak around the douchebag. I may have let lose a few profanities. Shortly after I passed the jackass he had to stop for another rest. I guess that’s what he gets for trying to keep up with us. When I reached the top of the Freeway route (not the true summit of the 2nd) I hit the lap button on my watch. To my surprise, I just knocked out a 9:33 lap of the 2nd. I was almost certain that trying to sneak around the frat boy was going to ruin my PR attempt at the last pitch or two of scrambling.

Saturday, July 5th 
AM—10.8 Miles—3:52—4,450’—2nd Flatiron, Green, Bear, South Boulder, Bear
Today I got congratulated for my recent win a Lavaredo. Goddamnit…Pretty epic bonk on the way up South Boulder had me debating which route to take back to Chautauqua: down Shadow Canyon where there’s a potential water source or back over Bear and down Fern Canyon for a shorter return trip. When a random hiker offered me a drink of water that little sip was enough to make me choose the shorter, waterless route.

Sunday, July 6th
AM—8 Miles—3:33—3,500’—Mount Sneffels (14,150’)
Must have left my route finding hat in the Taco this morning. I started around the Imogene Pass turnoff, ascended via the Southwest Ridge, and descended via the standard South Slopes. The SW Ridge is cruiser 3rd Class if you’re not an idiot like me. I found myself climbing up 4th/5th Class choss piles only to realize that I had to downclimb the damn pile on the other side. There were a few little snow stretches that were mostly avoidable. The notable exception was a snowy gulley just below the Pinnacles. When dropping to bypass the Pinnacles it was necessary to get on the snow for a few steps. A slip here would likely have been a very long (fun?) sled ride down to the bottom of the East Pinnacle Bypass. The upper gulley on the South Slopes was completely snow-filled. Given my lengthy ascent the sun had already softened the snow to the point that it was an interesting descent. After the shit show bald scree field descent I trotted back to the Taco.

Weekly Totals
Miles—45 Miles
Time—14 hours 35 minutes
Elevation Gain—15,900 feet

Week in Review: June 23-29

Monday, June 23rd
PM—15 Miles—2:52—3,700’—Bighorn 100 Course
My legs didn’t seem to have an extraordinary amount of pep in them today. I started heading out from the Bighorn 100 start line, which has about 1.5 miles of mellow dirt roads before it hits singletrack. This gave me a little opportunity to loosen things up a bit. After about a mile or so of trails I noticed that the course markings were still out. So, I just started following them. Around 7.5 miles (1:44 hours) into the run I reached a high point where the trail began a descent. This seemed like a good place to turn around. On most days this would be a quick descent back to the Taco, but my legs weren’t feeling terribly solid on the downhills. So, I took it pretty easy and covered the 7.5 miles back to the Taco in 1:08. I’ve seen about half of the Bighorn 100 course and it’s quite impressive. I think next year I might sign up to see the rest of it…

Tuesday, June 24th
PM—7 Miles—1:06—1,500’—Crow Peak (5,760’) in Spearfish, South Dakota
I stopped at the rest stop/tourist office on I-90 as soon as I crossed into South Dakota. The ladies recommended Crow Peak when I told them I wanted to find steep and challenging trails. The run is comparable to running up Flagstaff in Boulder, but noticeably easier. I started running up the hill on smooth singletrack. The trails remained fairly smooth up to the summit with only a few scree crossings. I covered the ~3.5 miles and 1,500’ to the summit in 0:36. Pretty sure I could go under 30 minutes on this ascent with a moderate effort and not hitting the trails immediately after a 3.5 hour drive. Easy effort on the descent since I still seem to have shaky descending legs.

Wednesday, June 25th
AM—6.7 Miles—1:07—1,100’—76 Trail, Roughlock Falls, and Dirt Roads
I started off with an easy effort up the 76 Trail, which provides a panoramic view of Spearfish Canyon. I knocked out the 700’ over 0.7 miles in 11 minutes. Next, I ran up the one-mile long crushed gravel trail to the Roughlock Falls. After adding on a few miles of dirt roads I headed back to the Taco. Nice, easy day.

Thursday, June 26th
PM—10 Miles—1:32—1,100’—Tinton Trail
I spent the morning at Crow Peak Brewery watching the US World Cup match. A guy there recommended the Tinton Trail to me. This ended up being a great run. Any elevation gain was mellow and the surface was almost always smooth. My legs took a few miles to feel good. I ended up running up 5 miles and ~900’ in 0:50 before turning around to head back to the Taco. The descent was gradual enough that I was able to finally get in some quicker downhill miles than in the past few days. I still wasn’t running fast by any means, but quicker than in previous days. I made the return trip in 0:42 and reached the sanctuary of the Taco just before the skies opened up.

Friday, June 27th
AM—5 Miles—0:50—500’—Iron Creek and Big Hill Loop D
I got out on the trails somewhat early this morning—around 6—to maximize rest time between this run and tomorrow’s race. My Achilles’ were both a little stiff, but loosened up quickly. I just putzed around slowly on the trails today to work out any kinks in the legs. After the run I headed to Sturgis for packet pick-up and the pre-race meeting.

Saturday, June 28th
AM—50 Miles—9:13—9,050’—Black Hills 50—3rd Place
Muddy, shit-show. I think I’ll do a little write-up for this one. Eventually, maybe…

Sunday, June 29th
AM—4 Miles—0:36—100’—Sturgis Bike Paths
It took a while to get going, but once I did I was able to hit 8:30 pace briefly. My Achilles’ are both super tight.

PM—2.3 Miles—0:30—200’—Iron Creek
Slow run to see how my legs felt on trails. They were predictably crappy feeling.

Weekly Totals
Time— 17 hours 49 minutes
Elevation Gain— 17,250 feet

Week in Review: June 16-22

Monday, June 16th
AM—10.5 Miles—4:16—4,500’—Mount Meeker East Summit (13,911’)
I ran into Derek Brooks at the Longs Peak TH yesterday and we made plans to get up Mount Meeker. We went up/down the Iron Gates route to the east summit. Terribly high winds had neither one of us daring to venture across the knife edge ridgeline over to the west summit. We hit the Chasm Lake junction in a mellow 1:09. Shortly after the junction our progress slowed significantly as we began the more vertical part of the route. The altitude seemed to be affecting Derek a little. Fortunately, I was finally able to cruise up a high mountain with relatively little altitude problems. We didn’t linger too long on the summit due to the high winds. The descent to the Chasm Lake junction was a fun mix of talus hopping, scree surfing, and sweet glissading down a snow field. Once back on the singletrack we began pushing the pace for our descent. Just above treeline I slightly tweaked my right ankle and decided to slow the pace for a while to determine any potential damage. It didn’t take too long before we picked the pace up again. I even ended the day with some 6-minute pace in the last mile or so of the trail. Great day on a great mountain with great company.

Tuesday, June 17th
AM—14.5 Miles—5:18—5,100’—Longs Peak (14,255’)
Up/down the Keyhole Route from Longs Peak Trailhead. I may have been overly cautious in preparing for this route, but since it was my first real snow climb I figured I’d play it safe. I loaded up my Osprey Rev 6 pack with an ice ax, crampons, helmet, a water bottle, two wind shells, two pairs of gloves, and a puffy jacket. Fixing the ax to the pack was a bit tricky since it doesn’t have an ax loop, but with a little work I got the pack to ride smooth. Conditions were nice and warm from the TH to the Keyhole, but I knew that would change as soon as I crossed the Keyhole to the shady, windy west side of the mountain. The first mile or so kind of sucked as I tried to get my breathing in rhythm—easier said than done with a full bag of gear on my back. Once I settled into a rhythm the approach run got significantly easier. I reached the Chasm Lake junction in 0:58 (versus 1:09 yesterday) and went on to hit the Keyhole in 2:02. On the boulder field side of the Keyhole I could hear the wind whipping and knew I had to put on some layers. I put on a windshell, gloves, and my puffy jacket in anticipation of the cold I’d encounter on the shaded side of the mountain. I also put on my helmet and got my ax/crampons ready for action. The helmet might have been overkill, but I did actually see some rockfall during the day. Plus, it was my first snow climb so I wanted to protect the ol’ noggin’ should I go sliding down the snow. I was able to skirt around most of the snow on The Ledges without using crampons with the exception of one or two patches. I opted to put on and take off my crampons as I went from snowy sections to rocky sessions versus keeping my crampons on throughout. This was mainly because I was wearing minimal trail running shoes that didn’t fit very well in the crampons. So, my toes kept sliding out of the toe clip. Once I hit The Trough it was snow all the way to The Narrows. I took my time on this stretch since some of the snow was solid enough that I could only get a few inches of my ax into it. The Narrows allowed me to remove my crampons again and move a little quicker. The Homestretch provided one more section of uninterrupted snow before reaching the summit. Again, I took my time here due to some small patches of solid snow and ice. It was a glorious day on the sunny summit of Longs! The sun was shining and the wind started to die down a bit. It was impossible not to enjoy the solitude of being the only person sitting on the summit of Colorado’s most trafficked 14er. I reached the summit in a sluggish 3:19 from the trailhead, but enjoyed every step of the way. Descending The Homestretch and The Trough proved to be much easier than the ascent. The snow softened just enough that I could almost run down these sections. Once on the boulder field side of The Keyhole, I spent about ten minutes shedding layers and re-strapping everything to my pack. It took some finagling to get the crampons, ax, and helmet back on snuggly, but once in place they ran smoothly. I took most of the descent pretty easy, with the exception of the last mile or so. Here, I decided to push the pace to see how much bounce I would get from my loaded pack. Surprisingly, the pack handled 6:40 minute/mile pace like a champ. It was great to finally get out and see what the big deal is about the Keyhole Route. I’d love to be able to do this route in summer conditions and not see anyone on it…

PM—Two Hours of Acupuncture

Wednesday, June 18th
AM—2 Miles—0:38—700’—Amphitheater
My legs felt horrible after yesterday’s acupuncture session. I planned on heading up Green via the front side, but decided to call it quits at the top of Amphitheater. Ran into Peter and Buzz as they were descending. Seems like I’ve been running into those guys a lot lately.

Thursday, June 19th
AM—7 Miles—1:04—850’—Big Horn 100 Course
David and I decided to get out for a little run on the first few miles of the Big Horn 100 course. After cruising along 1.5 miles of mellow dirt road we reached the TH for a few miles of nice singletrack. If the rest of the course is anything like the first few miles then this is going to be one beautiful course…

Friday, June 20th
PM—18 Miles—6:18—4,800’—Bighorn 100 Pacing
The plan was to pace David for the last 70 miles of the race. After waiting at the Footbridge aid station for what seemed like forever Shad finally came in saying that David blew up and had plans to drop when he got to the aid station. I checked with race officials to see if I would get him DQ’ed by running up to check on him. With their approval, I took off with hopes of getting the idea of dropping out of his head before he arrived at the aid station. We probably spent a solid 30 minutes at the aid station getting him cooled off and guzzling Coke. I convinced David that we at least should push on towards the turn-around point at mile 48—so he got up and started moving. This 18-mile stretch was hit-or-miss for David (mostly miss)—he would run strong on uphills for 5-10 minutes only to resort to walking the flats. We played cat-and-mouse almost the entire way with Shad, Hawaiian Shirt Ray, and part of the way with Kari and Gerbster before they left us in the dust. Kari was on a mission those last 60 miles and she kicked ass every step of the way (even dropped her pacer). David and I took our time in aid stations and even sat by the fire several times. I didn’t really object to him sitting by the fire since the aid stations were out in the middle of nowhere. So, regardless of whether or not he wanted to drop we would still have to walk our asses out of there. It was a surprisingly pleasant night considering all the warnings I’d heard about how cold it gets on the course at night. I put on arm sleeves, a jacket, gloves, and a hat, but likely could have just got by with the sleeves and gloves if we were moving a little quicker. A short misting of rain made the last few miles to the turn-around a little chilly since everything got wet and the wind started to pick up a little. A considerable stretch between the last aid station and turn-around was a muddy slopfest. I enjoyed this, but had I already covered ~45 miles and felt as shitty as David I would have been frustrated to no end. I certainly would have exhausted every use of the “f” word. Eventually we hit the Jaws aid station at mile 48. This place looked like a MASH unit. I’m assuming this is what Fish Hatchery inbound looked like the year I ran Leadville, but I was far too gone mentally and physically to have even noticed. We were a bit surprised to see Aubrey still waiting for us at the aid station. Thankfully, she got a message that we had Gerber send her about how late we would be. So, she could worry slightly less, maybe. This is where the Bighorn 100 ended for David—at mile 48. Still an impressive day, especially when you consider that he felt like absolute shit from mile 10 onward. I’m glad that David decided to cover those last 18 miles to at least give things a chance to turn around for the better. Unfortunately, things never did turn around. It happens…He’ll crush Run Rabbit Run in September.

Saturday, June 21st
OFF—Didn’t really feel like getting out today

Sunday, June 22nd
OFF—Just being lazy today…

Weekly Totals
Time— 17 hours 36 minutes

Elevation Gain— 15,950 feet