Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chasm Lake

For various reasons, Laurel and I have failed multiple times to hike to Chasm Lake:

She was pretty beat from our Gibraltar Lake mega-hike yesterday, so I went hiking with JJ. We got to the Chasm Lake overlook and stopped for a bite, then continued towards the lake. The trail was in great shape with little to no snow. The last section before the lake had some fun scrambling opportunities. We hung out at the lake for a bit, took some pictures, and retraced our steps. Round trip was 8.5 miles and just over 6 hours.

Chasm Lake

The 2000' face of the Diamond

JJ was pretty excited about seeing snow in September

Clouds rolling in on our descent

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gibraltar Lake

At the west end of the Camp Dick / Peaceful Valley campground, the Middle Saint Vrain Road turns to 4WD. We hoped to drive 4 miles to its end and start our hike towards Gibraltar Lake from there. Unfortunately, the entry to the 4WD part of the road was more than we were prepared for. We watched a couple of guys arrange rocks so their truck wouldn't bottom out. It looked treacherous so we decided to hike in from there. For the most part, the road wasn't too bad but there were a few dicey 4WD areas and some muddy flooding. The guys driving it weren't going much faster than we were on foot.

After 4 miles on the road we began the hike we intended to do. Blue sky day, Aspens turning yellow, lots of walking. We took the Buchanan Pass trail to the St. Vrain Glacier trail to a point where it wasn't clear where the trail continued on. It probably crossed the creek but there were some cairns on our side of the creek that led into a talus field.

The talus was rough going. We took a break for lunch on a bit of a plateau, then decided to head south and down off the talus, into the valley, to try to find the trail. Soon enough we hooked up with it, crossed the creek one or two times, and made it to a lake. Whether that was Gibraltar Lake or not, we're not sure -- some of the terrain didn't look as expected based on our map, so we may have been at one of the other nearby lakes.

The Elk Tooth was to our north. Its steep sides are loose and crumbly but it looked like the ridge could be a good scramble someday.

After a short while at the lake we turned and tried to take the correct trail back. It stayed on the south side of the creek for a while and then we lost it somehow. A bit of off-trail hiking, a bit of figuring out where to cross the creek safely, and we were back on trail, avoiding the nasty talus. It was a long day in the woods -- 16 miles total in 8 hours.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mount Neva

Laurel and I wanted to do some kind of mountain run... we got that and more! We were considering South Arapaho but since we had hiked it before and there were other trails in that area to explore, we thought they could be fun. Before we left I discovered there was a 4th class scramble up Mount Neva's north ridge -- that became our objective.

From the 4th of July trailhead we ran up to Arapaho Pass, took a look at Lake Dorothy, then headed off trail to Neva's north ridge. From there the scrambling began -- mostly easy but a few tricky spots where you really needed some rock climbing moves. There were a few downclimbs along the way...

... and some fun places to horse around like the diving-board rock.

We got to a point where it seemed forward progress was blocked. To the left was a sheer vertical face. Ahead was chunkier but it seemed like it would get steeper the higher you'd go, plus it seemed like if we got to the top we'd have to then descend the other side. To the right were a few pillars and even further right was a drop-off. It seemed like we would be able to follow a ramp up and left for a ways, then cut right to go around or behind the pillar to a weakness in the rock that we hoped would take us to more passable terrain.

For the most part our plan worked. On the other side of this hump of rock there was a gentle rock gully. Just a few sketchy traverse moves and we were at the bottom of the gully, which took us up to the ridgeline. From there we could see the way to the summit.

The ridge continued a bit to a large flat rocky place. The sky was a bit hazy but to the southwest we could vaguely see the Winter Park basin and even see some of the ski slopes. To the northeast along the divide was Navaho and Apache, with Dickers Peck in between.

From the flat area we hiked up a gentle alpine slope to the summit of Neva, stopped for food and photos, then continued south to the saddle between Neva and Jasper Peak (which would have been a fun continuation if we had the time). From the saddle we headed east down a scree slope towards a few unnamed lakes.

The scree turned to larger talus with some intriguing colors, textures, and shapes -- white, black, pink, swirled, speckled.

After the talus field we came to a meadow that was swampish in some areas but we tried to find the high ground back to the trail. This took surprisingly longer than expected even though for the most part we avoided the willows. Finally we traversed and hiked up a steep bank to the trail.

The clouds were getting dark but we were OK for the run back down the trail to our car, and only arrived 10-15 minutes later than expected.

In the parking lot we met a girl named Yulia who had flown in from New York for the weekend to hike and camp up at Lake Dorothy. She had taken a bus from the airport to Nederland on Friday, then walked 8 or 9 miles to the trailhead to start her hike!! We gave her a ride back to Boulder so she could catch the red eye and be back at work the next day.

And then we got home in time for Donna and JJ to come over for the football game.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Imogene Pass Run!!

17 miles, 5300' vertical from Ouray to Telluride, gorgeous mountain views the whole way! The last 2.5 miles to the top hurt, but the 7 miles down were awesome.

Didn't take any pics during the race but here are a few from after.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bear Peak

On Labor Day we hiked up Bear Peak with Pete and Heather and her dog Bailey. It was a fun day out (and not too much music teacher talk :)

This is the first time we'd been up on Bear since the fire earlier this year -- from the summit you could see how badly South Boulder Peak got burned.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Colorado Mines Peak, Mount Flora

We drove over to Berthoud Pass to attempt to run and hike up Colorado Mines Peak and see which other peaks we could bag.

Colorado Mines Peak was a relatively short and easy hike. The summit has a bunch of radio towers and FAA radar equipment -- not the type of stuff we usually find on summits!

We descended from the peak a bit then continued on for an hour to Flora, whose summit was large, flat, and rocky. From there we had good views of Ethel Lake and the terrain ahead.

The north ridge of Flora descends gradually then turns NE and steep! We followed this route to the saddle between Flora and Witter, where the earth smelled of sulfur and a small snowfield was melting away.

The clouds were coming in so we decided to turn back, back up steep slopes nearly all the way back to Flora's summit. This was my first outing at any significant altitude in a few months and I was noticing it!

Beautiful Autumn colors in the alpine terrain


Great singletrack running

US-40 winding towards Winter Park

Clouds really coming in now

By the end of the day we had covered 9 miles and 2500' vertical in about 3h50m, and didn't feel any rain until the moment we stepped foot in the parking lot!