Friday, October 31, 2008

The Week in Review

We did get to see Obama speak. Perhaps I should rephrase that, we heard Obama speak from massive speakers. It was very difficult to SEE him because there were 50,000 people there. It was still neat, though, to be part of something that big and exciting.

On Monday and Wednesday I did some substitute teaching. Yup, I was a sub. Monday went well--it was a half day with some middle school orchestra kids. They were a lot of fun and well behaved. On Wednesday I was at Boulder High School for the afternoon. That, as you could imagine, was a different story. The Concert Choir was a rowdy bunch but I survived and no one got hurt or sent to the office (can you even do that in high school? I'm not sure).

What else did we do this week? Hmmm... Monday night we saw "Burn After Reading" with Brad Pitt. It really wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. Thursday we went to an avalanche safety seminar at REI. It was very interesting and now we know what to look for come the snowy season.

Friday night we did a long bike ride into the canyon. On the way back I almost hit a duck. Then we hit Pearl Street for dinner. It was really fun watching everyone in costumes walking around. Unfortunately, we didn't stay late enough for the Naked Pumpkin Run that started at 10:45. Maybe next year...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quiet Weekend

Unfortunately, my knee is still pretty nasty. The gravel I feel on really took two big chunks of skin out and these spots are taking a long time to heal. So, this weekend has been very quiet. Yesterday we took an hour walk in the plains (no elevation gain because stairs and hills are hard for me) near the Heatherwood area. The little mini-hike had beautiful views of the snow-covered rockies with colorful deciduous trees in the foreground.

After returning home we decided to walk to Target to get Dan some new sneakers. On the way back we stopped in the parking lot of the Whole Pets Store to observe a Halloween pet party. About 25 dogs were dressed up in costumes being paraded around by their owners--often in costumes themselves. It was quite a show. We grabbed hot dogs of the grill and just watched the show.

Dan had to work in the afternoon and I was confined to the couch to rest my knee. To pass the time I tried my hand at watercoloring painting the beautiful scenes we had witnessed earlier in the day. I figure my attempts were about as good as a 10-year-old could do. Let's just say that this is not a viable career change option for me!

Sunday morning we went for another walk in the plains. This time we were walking around the Walden pond and marsh area. It was considerably colder and windier than yesterday, but still pretty. Right now Dan is working on his bike at Community Cycles and then the plan is to drive up to Fort Collins to try to see Obama speak. Right now he's in Denver and they estimate the crowd is about 80,000 people. Hopefully, it will be a little less crazy north of here. When I saw Michelle speak three weeks ago here in town there was quite a turn out. I don't remember how many people they estimated, but it was in the thousands.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Jump move

Yes, people really jump! Scary. Can't imagine doing that with rope attached and a 10 pound rack.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Little Bike Ride

On Sunday the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so we decided to take advantage of it and go for a long bike ride (in a couple of weeks I don't think we'll want to get on bikes much!). There is an area west of the Flatirons/Green Mountain called Walker Ranch that we wanted to check out. On a hike in Eldorado a few weeks ago we ran into the Walker Loop Trail and it looked like a lot of fun. So, this was the day to check it out!

We hopped on our bikes and headed for the hills...literally. To reach Walker Ranch we needed to bike 4 miles to Chautauqua Park, then another 4.5 miles to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain, then another 3 miles to the trail head of Walker Ranch. Chautauqua was no big deal--about 25 minutes most of week was up a decent hill. Flagstaff proved a bit more difficult. The 4.5 miles is up a mountain, so we gained a good 2,000 feet over the next 35 minutes or so. Reaching the Summit Road (a spur that gets you to some hiking trails, an outdoor amphitheater, and some great views) we thought we were done with the elevation gain. Haa! The next part was even more treacherous. The road was so steep (>7.5 degrees) pedaling in the lowest gear was really, really hard. We both fought thoughts of getting off and walking, but we didn't! The next parking area, Stevens Gulch, offered great views and a chance to stretch. The road kept heading up until we got behind Green Mountain. Then we finally enjoyed a couple of downhills before the final descent to Walker Ranch.

Now, if you're a regular reader of the blog, you know we've done some mountain biking out here. Most of it has been a lot of fun. Sure, there's been a few technical spots where Dan attempts to ride and I just walk my bike, but it's been quite doable. Walker Ranch was not all that doable. I swear, someone needed to mark this trail as difficult and the others as easy or novice. The majority of this seven-mile loop was insane. It was steep (both going up and down), it was rocky, there were sharp turns and switchbacks, and there was even about 1,000 feet where EVERYONE (even the REALLY good people) had to carry their bikes because there were stairs cut into the side of the cliff. Let me tell you, walking your bike up steep hills is not a lot of fun, carrying your bike down a cliff is even less fun. All in all the 7 miles took us almost 3 hours to complete. Crazy!

After a snack, we were ready for the ride home, or so I thought. We were headed down the long, loose-gravel driveway back to the road and I slid off my bike. Yup, I was going too fast, tried to slow down, and then ended up in the middle of the road on all fours. I gouged a good chunk of skin out of my knee and arm and thought I needed stitches. Very fortunately, a ranger was passing by a few minutes after the accident. He had a first aid kit (ours was at home in the climbing packs...stupid us!) and a nice big pick up. Though I could have ridden home (it would have been a long and rather painful ordeal) the ranger offered us a ride. Thankfully, I didn't need stitches but I still did a number on my left limbs. After a few days of R&R I'm sure I'll be fine for next weekend's adventures. I better be!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2nd and Sunset

Laurel and I did two big climbs today. First up was a route on the Second Flatiron called Freeway. It was an interesting climb, especially when we got to the part the guidebook author describes as:

Jumping may be the easiest way to overcome the gap. Jumping, while not a recommended climbing technique, seems innocent and safe enough at this notch.

Well we got to that point and wasted almost an hour deciding how to get down, because jumping looked like a sure way to twist an ankle halfway up this 800 foot climb. There was no easy way to downclimb (this was supposed to be a Class 4 climb), so instead of the jump move we did an interesting 10 foot rappel. The picture shows where the jump is supposed to happen -- from that piece of rock sticking out on to the slab.

On the climb we were met by 3 guys free soloing. It probably only took them an hour or less to do the whole climb unroped. We did the climb roped in 6 pitches, in about 6 hours.

Our hope was to head over to the Sunset Flatironette next, since it is somewhat behind the Second Flatiron. We weren't sure if there would be enough daylight to finish the "Chase the Sun" climb (it was almost 4pm), but it looked like there were good escape points along the way if we needed one, so we gave it a shot. This climb follows a ridge for 600 feet and had some 30' runouts. It was an interesting climb, but parts of it felt tougher than the 5.4 rating -- there was lots of lichen and loose rock in places, as this is not a very frequently-climbed rock.

Before we started we decided that at 6:30 we would bail so we weren't climbing in the dark -- but around 5:30 we were nearing the end of the climb so we just wrapped it up. By the time we got our sneakers on and started to hike it was very dark. It was about an hour hike back down to our packs at the base of the Second Flatiron and then to the car. Definitely worth it though -- the sunset was beautiful (see all pics).

In all, we climbed 10 pitches today, covering about 1400 feet of climbing. We left the car a bit after 8am and returned a bit after 8pm.

When we got to the parking lot, there were a few news crews and park rangers. During our "Chase the Sun" climb we had seen a rescue team off behind the South Block of the Second Flatiron. Apparently someone had fallen and died "between the 2nd and 3rd Flatirons" but given the location of the rescue/recovery team it appeared to us to be closer to the 2nd. Could have been one of the freesoloers we saw. So far no details, but it sounds like the person didn't have any safety equipment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Snowy Nederland

As expected, Boulder didn't see any snow. But, we decided we would go chase it because, you know, there's nothing like freezing temps in and white stuff in October. We didn't need to go too far to find some. By the time we got to Boulder Falls in the canyon (about 8 miles from town) there was snow on the branches of the evergreens. Once we got to Nederland there was a dusting on the ground. We drove a bit west and south of town to the Eldora Ski Area where we parked at an elevation of 9,200ft. Our hope was to hike the Jenny Creek Trail to Guinn Mountain at 11,200ft. We did get more snow as we ascended the trail and at times there was enough to try out our snowshoes. However, once we put them on, we would quickly take them off again as parts of the trail were rocky and windswept which meant minimal snow.

The base of the trail was well marked, but when we were supposed to turn off the resort access road was not marked, so we hiked the road all the way to the top of the mountain--lots of steep switchbacks. After about 2 hours the road finally petered out and became a trail that followed a gas pipeline. After about a mile out of the ski resort the trail got very narrow and led us through some dense, snow covered pines. Here Dan saw some moose tracks (that's right, there was a big sign that warned us that many moose frequented the area). Eventually we made it to the summit of what we thought was Guinn Mountain. The visibility was so poor at this point (maybe 350ft) it was hard to tell. But, according to the GPS we were there. We promptly turned around and what took us 3.5 hours to ascend took 2 hours to descend. Needless to say after 5.5 hours of hiking in the snow we were cold, tired, and sore especially since the snow shoes were on our backs more than our feet! We got back into town and stopped at Sherpa's Restaurant for dinner.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Flagstaff Mountain and Viewpoint Trails

It misted and rained all day. Laurel says this is the 7th day we haven't seen any sun since we moved here. Didn't stop us though, we parked by the Amphitheater and hiked up and around Flagstaff Mountain. There were some neat rocks that we'll go back to boulder on someday. We also found a decent sized cave (50-100 sqft?) that had some neat problems on the ceiling -- looked hard!

Laurel got snowshoes, we may try them out tomorrow. Boulder shouldn't get much snow but up in the mountains I bet there's plenty already.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Map of our bike ride

9.5 miles biking on roads and paved paths to get to the Marshall Mesa trailhead
10.5 miles of mountain biking on dirt and rocky trails
4.0 miles to the Eldorado Canyon Visitor Center
7.0 miles hiking (round trip)
11.0 miles to bike home
42.0 miles Total


We got up today, had a leisurely breakfast, went to church, then to a greasy diner for lunch, and then sat on the couch and watched football for the afternoon.

Ha! Just kidding! That's what OTHER people do on Sundays...not us, we're crazy! We left the house at 9:30 this morning on our bikes. Our destination was the mountain biking trails of South Boulder. We arrived at the Marshall Mesa Trail around 10:30 and biked all over the mesa and then south of Eldorado on the Community Ditch Trail and Dowdy Draw Trail. We circled back to Marshall Mesa and then crossed the road to head to Eldorado State Park. Once at the park, we ditched our bikes and hit the trail on foot. We hiked the 3.5 mile Eldorado Canyon Trail out and back, occasionally coming across some rain. The trail ended at the Walker Ranch Loop and South Boulder Creek. The creek was beautiful and very fast moving. Hopefully next weekend we'll have a chance to do the loop and see more of the creek.

After the three and a half hour hike we got back on our bikes and headed home. When we walked in the door, it was 6:00, 8.5 hours after we left. What a weekend!

Climbing in Boulder

On Saturday we parked at Chautauqua and hiked up to the base of the First Flatiron. From there we hung a right and set up to climb the First Flatironette, a 300-foot slab in front of the bottom corner of the First Flatiron. We climbed along the ridge of the triangular shaped rock for the longest route--3 and a half pitches. The descent is a walk off and around--you walk off the back and then way around the adjacent rock (The Spy) and back to the base. We scoped out our start of the First Flatiron last summer and the Spy.

The weather seemed like it was holding so we decided to give the Spy a try. This rock is unique in that most of it is only about 5 feet wide. It's a very cool 2-pitch climb with some good exposure and views! As we were starting the second pitch it began to rain a bit. Dan let the pitch with some slippery rock, but by the time I followed the rock was dry again. After our walk off we hiked all the way back to the car. When the day was said and done we had been out and about for nine hours.