Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Few More Pics

Labor Day Weekend, Part 2

It was an early start today. The alarm went off and 6:00 and we were out the door before the clock struck seven. We were headed to our second fourteener; Mount Evans. This peak stands at over 14,264 feet and can be seen from all of Denver. To get to it, you must drive into the mountains on I-70 and then 10 miles on a scenic highway. At that point, you must head up the auto road that actually gets cars just shy of the summit. Looking for a good hike, we parked at Summit Lake and planned to go up Northeast Ridge to the summit, then, weather permitting, we intended to go across the famed Sawtooth Ridge to then summit Mount Bierstadt, another 14er. We would conclude the loop by going back across the ridge and head up to Mount Spaulding (13,842) and then back to the lake. In total, this was going to almost 12 miles.

We hit the trail at 9:00 which is a bit late for alpine hikes. The skies were clear and so we began our ascent from the parking lot at almost 12,400ft. There was no trail, so to speak, on the northeast ridge. The entire flank of the mountain was an alpine scree field. So, we made our own trail and rock hopped for the better part of two hours. Though it was a lot of work, this was good practice reading topo maps and we did get to the summit an hour shy of what the guide book said it would take. It was similar to Mount Washington in that there were cars at the top. It was still a worthwhile jaunt and the views were spectacular.

After a couple of photos, we started heading to the Sawtooth Ridge. By the time we got to the trail that headed over there, the skies were not looking so great. Gray clouds were accumulating and we opted to cut off the Bierstadt part (to both of our disappointment) and just head up to Spaulding. We hiked along a beautiful ridge that had a number of snowfields on the other side. The summit of Spaulding offered great views of the Mount Evans summit and the entire ridge. From there, the trail headed back to Summit Lake. We got back to the parking lot just in time, as the skies were really looking nasty and rain was starting to fall. Overall, it was a great 5 mile hike that took us under 5 hours to complete with lunch and all!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend, Part 1


Saturday we headed to the hills...we drove up to the Gregory Canyon area to try some climbing. After parking, we trekked up a bit on the Saddle Ridge Trail to what we thought was a cut-off trail to the Gregory Flatironette--our project for the day.

The guide book descriptions seemed clear enough, but on the ground proved very vague. "Hike 200 yds west of the Amphitheater on the Saddle Rock Trail for North Ridge Route. leave trail before it swings to the west side of the Flatironette. Hike up to the low point of the rock. Start at the lowest point of a scruffy ridge below the main piece of rock. Scramble 100' along this ridge. Without leaving rock, get onto main east face."

Yeah, let me tell you about scruffy ridges of rock in the foothills of Boulder. They're everywhere! We spent a good two-three hours scrambling around rock and trying to hike up steep, steep hillsides. We then got to what we thought was the main piece of rock and roped up. Dan led a for about 30 minutes and then decided to back off the route because there was just so much lichen and no clear route. So, again we took to hiking and scrambling. This got us back the same place on the rock, but still without a clear route.

We finally decided to get back on the hiking trail and see if we could get to the summit of the Flatironette and get our bearings. This, of course, led to more scrambling and hiking around. We found another ridge of rock that we thought could be the base of the scruffy ridge, but after some more investigation, it proved to just be a small ridge. After a bit more hiking we got to the true summit of the Flatironette. Dan scrambled along the top for quite a while. After he was satisfied, it was actually the rock we meant to find originally, we hiked back down to the car. All of this exploring took us over six hours in the hot sun. Though we didn't get any 'real' climbing in, we did have our rock shoes on and did get a lot of exercise!

Friday, August 29, 2008

This Week in Boulder

We've been up to quite a bit this weekend. At the beginning of the week, Dan's folks were still here. On Monday, they headed down to Golden again to check out more tourist attractions. On Tuesday Dan took them to Eldorado Canyon for a morning hike. Tuesday evening after dinner, we brought them to the bus station so they could catch the bus to the airport. It was a busy and fun time for everyone!

On Wednesday Dan and I went bouldering on Mount Sanitas after work. We rode our bikes out to Sunshine Canyon and hiked up the 12 minutes or so to the good rock. We climbed for almost an hour and headed home.

Thursday Dan worked as a volunteer facilitator at Community Cycles. He got to help other people fix their bikes and had a lot of fun. Afterwards, we headed out to Neptune to see a slide show about climbing in Verdon, France. It is a huge canyon with thousand foot blue granite cliffs. All the pictures were just breath-taking. The presenter and photographer were the subject of the cover article for this month's Rock & Ice Magazine. They were also handing out free beer, magazines, and stickers. Very fun.

On Friday after work we headed back out to Mount Sanitas for a little bouldering. We explored some other walls and then headed downtown for the CU Kick-off Stampede. At this pep rally before tonight's big CU vs. CSU rivarly game the marching band and football team walked down Pearl Street greeting their fans. The band sounded good and played throughout the mini-parade. The team just towered over everyone. I even got a mini-football with the CU Buffalo on it!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Weekend

On Saturday we took Dan's parents to Rocky Mountain National Park. We did a lot of driving, some hiking, and a lot of picture taking. Here are some of the highlights.

Sunday morning I ran 13 miles in 2:29!!!! I think I'm prepared for the half marathon on September 21st. See below for the bike ride that Dan and I did when I got home from running. For dinner we went up to Gold Hill. Yummm.

Lots to Catch Up On

So, you may have noticed there aren't any pictures up from RoMo last weekend. That's because it poured all weekend and we had to call off our camping trip. Saturday, though, it stopped raining in the afternoon enough for us to hike around Chautauqua a bit. We headed up between the second and third Flatirons to scope out the area. We made it to the top of the third (as high as you could get hiking, anyway) and back around the park. As we were heading back up towards the First, we ran into a small bear. When we reported him to the rangers we were told he was probably just over two years old. They then proceeded to put up a sign in the area that there was bear activity (we actually saw it the other day!).

Sunday I did a 12 mile run (2:18) and then Dan and I did some mountain biking north of town. There were some really fun trails!

Monday we both worked and I swam after school. Dan's parents arrived on Tuesday and Dan took them through the Canyon and downtown.

Wednesday we took his folks up to Chautauqua hoping to get to the base of the First Flatiron. Jackie and I turned back after about an hour, Paul and Dan made it to the top. For lunch we hit the Great Harvest Bread Company. Jackie and Paul then went up to Celestial Seasonings and the Leanin' Tree Museum. After some time spent on school work I headed out for a bike ride in Four Mile Canyon. I ended up doing about 17 miles and gained 1,000 feet in elevation. Coming down was a blast!

Thursday Dan's folks went out to Golden to see some tourist attractions. That evening we all headed to Ras Kassas Ethiopian Restaurant for dinner.

Friday Dan's parents went to NCAR, the Boulder History Museum, and they took a bike ride to Community Cycles on the Goose Creek Path. After work I took my bike and headed into the hills (Dan and I also went for a run this morning). I went up into Sunshine Canyon and then cut over to Fourmile Canyon.


Laurel and I went for a great bike ride -- the ride down from NCAR (around mile 11) was a blast! 30+ MPH, according to the speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Morning Run

Went for a run with Laurel this morning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boulder Happenings

On Monday we attended the Shakespeare Festival here in town. We saw a special, one night only performance of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare." It was hilarious! Three actors took two hours and touched on all 36 of Shakespeare's plays and inserted plenty of toilet humor, silly costumes, and physical comedy. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much.

That morning I did my longest run to date... 9.92 miles (yes, I later rode my bike along the route with my GPS) in 120 minutes. I know I'm slow, but I just keep going, and going... I've got five weeks until the Boulder Backroads Marathon and 3.108 miles to go!

Sunday night Dan brought home a bike from Community Cycles that he fixed enough to ride. As part of the earn-a-bike program he volunteered there for 10 hours and was then able to make a bike of his own. Though this one was pretty intact to start with, it's very cool that he knows enough to be able to fix it. Now he will be volunteering there as a facilitator (helping other people) every Thursday night.

But Tuesday, he got to take the bike out for a spin. We rode out the Boulder Creek Path into the canyon. About five miles from our place the path enters the mouth of the canyon and turns to dirt. Since Dan's bike is a mountain bike he was cruising on this part! It was a ton a fun and we're looking forward to doing a lot more biking in woods and open space around here.

What else? I've been interviewing quite a bit and it looks like I'll be work part time as an elementary school music teacher (yes, little kids---ahhh!) for the next year. I only need to go in three days a week so that will give me some time to try out other things. I'll also be teaching for the LifeLong Learning program here in town. It should be a different challenge to teach teachers.

Well, that's it for now. Tomorrow we're going up to RoMo (Rocky Mountain National Park) with Matt to camp and hike for the weekend. It should be a lot of fun, despite the snow in the forecast. Check pack for some pictures Sunday night! Then Dan's parents come for a visit starting Tuesday. It will certainly be fun to show them around town. Oh, yeah, school starts on Tuesday, too. They start very early out here but finish up by Memorial Day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Boulder Weekend Part 2


Sunday is climbing day. So, we got up this morning and went back to the Gregory Canyon/Amphitheater Area at the foot of Flagstaff Mountain. Dan led what we thought was a 5.2 route up the first pinnacle. It was not the route we thought it was, as most of the climbing was 5.6 or 5.7. Dan also had a difficult time with the route finding and really meandered his way up. The top of the pinnacle, about 110ft off the deck, was very pretty and offered great view of the surrounding rock.

We rappelled down the north side of the rock and tried to find another route to climb and then eventually get back to our packs. Unfortunately, our guide book sucks and we didn't find what we were looking for. Being that it was around 1:00 it started raining a bit, as it does every afternoon, so we decided to pack it up. We left the parking lot straight for Neptune's to pick up a much better book for the area. Hopefully next time we'll have a more successful day.

Boulder Weekend Part 1


The weekend started with a flick at the Boulder Outdoor Cinema. Every Friday and Saturday night in the summer, a parking lot downtown is roped off for great, classic movies. We went and saw The Graduate under the stars (and some clouds).

Saturday was our hike day. We decided to explore more in the Gregory Canyon/Green Mountain area right at the edge of town. We parked at the parking lot at the end of Baseline and hiked up the Saddle Rock trail. On the way up there were lots of ridges of good rock just bursting out of the landscape. We, of course, had to climb over many of them to test them out in our hiking boots. About halfway up the trail there was a junction marked for climber access. Again, we of course had to explore. After a very steep half mile or so, we found ourselves at the back of the first flatiron. We have tried several times to link up the first Flatiron with trails to the west of it, but we never had any luck. Now we know how it's done!

We hiked back down the trail to continue the Saddle Rock trail. From there we joined up with the E.M. Greenman trail to the summit of Green Mountain. We never did decide what formation Saddle Rock was. Perhaps that's a problem for another weekend...

The summit of Green Mountain was beautiful and there was a really cool marker at the top that identified over two dozen peaks on the horizon. At 8,100 feet this mountain is the highest around, at least until you get into the Indian Peaks Wilderness.

To make a circuit we hit the Ranger Trail back towards the parking lot. This trail then links up with the Gregory Canyon trail which goes around the back of the amphitheater (good climbing area). We decided to check out a spur trail heading up to Crown Rock. After another fairly steep half mile, the trail actually linked up to the Flagstaff Mountain road and subsequent trail. It was fun to take the Flagstaff Mountain trail back to the car because we've seen it so much from other vantage points around town.

Overall, the hike was 7 miles of trails, but we were out for the better part of day with all our scrambling and exploring. It was so fun to be able to explore so much right in our backyard.

For our evening's entertainment, we headed out to Longmont (10 miles away) to visit the Boulder County Fair. The cows were cool but it seemed that everything else was already closed up for the night.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Are you authorized to be here?


This week has been warm (90-100 F) so Friday we decided to go camping in the mountains. Easier said than done! The campgrounds were full (all of them) but one of the campground hosts said we might try hiking up a 4x4 road near the entrance gate to Pawnee Campground until we found a flat spot to set up a tent. Luckily (but I'm sure not coincidentally) there was an old campsite just a few hundred feet up the road. Although there was neither a "No parking" sign where we parked nor a "No camping" sign where we camped, it didn't seem like we were supposed to be there. We weren't sure if our propane stove was legal either.

Around 7pm we started making dinner (recipe: 1 can tomatoes & jalapenos, undrained; 1 can black beans, undrained; 1 can chicken, undrained; bring to boil and add 1/2 cup couscous). By the time we finished eating and cleaned up it was getting dark so we went to bed early. There were some funny noises, in particular a loud clap or snapping sound that I assume was a bear stepping on and breaking a branch. Later in the night some small critter brushed up against the side of our tent, right by our heads. I can't imagine what it's like to camp in that kind of environment with a simple tarp-n-stick kind of tent!

So we didn't sleep all that well, and it got chilly (40s). It was a relief to see the sun in the morning -- we didn't get eaten by a bear and didn't get kicked out of our campsite by a ranger.

Around 8am we drove up to the trailhead and started our hike up Mt. Audubon. Beautiful mountain with great views from the trail.

After the hike we decided to take a short walk (1 mile) to a nearby lake. It started to rain (and lightning and thunder) so we checked out the lake and turned back. We were prepared to camp two nights but rain makes that less fun so we went home.

This morning we climbed at Nip in Boulder Canyon. First a fun 5.9 finger crack that we top roped, then we moved the rope over to the arete climb. It took us a few tries but we both sent the crack climb. The face climb in between (5.10?) was tough, I didn't get more than a few feet off the ground.

As we're climbing a few guys walk by, heading up the gully to set up a climb. One of them asks "Are you authorized to be here?" I assume he's being a jackass so I reply assuredly, "Yeah, I think we are." He says, "'cause your shirt says 'Authorized personnel only'." Doh! Now who's a jackass...

Fun anniversary weekend... tomorrow it's back to the grind.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wed, 7-30 & Thurs. 7-31

Wednesday morning I took mom to the airport so she could go back to Florida. She had a hard time saying goodbye to the mountains.

When I returned, I rode up into the canyon for a while. Some day I'll make it to Nederland--it may take me a couple of years to work up to that point, but some day!

After Dan was finished working, he wanted to go bouldering. Rather than going back to Mount Sanitas, we thought it would be fun to go up Flagstaff Mountain. Well, on bikes it sucked. It was a really, really steep road up Flagstaff, nevermind the steep hill up to Chautauqua (Flagstaff is past Chautauqua). We did get a little bouldering in, but not as much as we would have like.

Thursday Dan completed his 10 volunteers hours at Community Cycles, so the next time he goes he gets to start building his own bike. We both went to Neptune to hear about climbing in RoMo. The presentation was really funny and the rock looked spectacular!

Monday 7-28 and Tuesday 7-29


Mom and I got up early and drove to Santa Fe. She has wanted to go ever since Dan and I went two years ago and brought her back turquoise jewelry. It's a 6 hour drive, but it's a pretty one and we broke it up a little bit.

Our first stop was the Air Force Academy Chapel. It looks scary from the outside, but it is actually quite beautiful from the inside. We also stopped in Raton, NM for a lunch of fresh roasted pine nuts (area specialty) and roadside fruit. When we arrived it Santa Fe it was off to Governor's Palace to see all the Navajo vendors and their jewelry. We also walked around the plaza looking at dozens of shops. Mom picked out two necklaces before it was time to clean up for dinner.

We stayed in a cute B&B just blocks from the center of town. The bedroom even had a fireplace in it! For dinner, we went to The Shed, a locally-renowned restaurant for their southwestern cuisine.

The next morning, it was more shopping and the Georgia O'Keefe museum. We left town before 11:00 to hit the high mountain road to Taos. The drive was gorgeous and there were lots of little shops with local weavings, pottery, and jewelry around the way. Taos was rather sprawling and much more urban than I imagined. We finally got back up to Boulder at 7:30 that night.

Sunday, 7-27


I got up early and did my long run for the week---8.5 miles according to my calculations. M&D went out for breakfast, and Dan hung out at home in bed :-) Mom and I went for a quick bike ride out to Wonderland Lake before we all went to Rock Island for some climbing. Well, Dan and I did the climbing, M&D just watched.

We also tried to go down to Eldorado State Park, but being that it was a very, very hot Sunday afternoon, we pretty much failed. At least M&D got to see the entrance to this huge canyon south of town.

After cooling off at home, we brought M&D to our favorite restaurant--the Gold Hill Inn. You may remember from last summer that this place is in the middle of nowhere up a dirt road to a little hippie village. I like to think of it as the Colorado historical equivalent to the Wayside Inn. It's a fixed-price 6-course meal which is out of this world!

After dinner we all watched a couple of Law and Orders and then dad drove back to the airport for the red-eye to NYC.

Saturday, 7-26


Today all four of us went to Rocky Mountain National Park. However, there was one stop we had to make on the way. 18 miles into Boulder Canyon is a little mountain town called Nederland (yes, think South Park). This weekend was Nederland's Mining Festival. So, there were cool mining events all day. We stopped to see spike driving and mucking. Tres cool! Dad even got a t-shirt.

We then drove the peak to peak highway up to Estes Park and RoMo. Dan and I drove mom and dad on the winding, dirt road through the park to Milner Pass. On the way, we saw quite a few glaciers and waterfalls. M & D just had to touch the snow in July. We then drove the Trail Ridge Road (with most of the other park visitors) back to Estes. Dad saw 5 chipmunks, a marmot, and lots of elk.

For dinner, we went out for sushi on Pearl Street. Then we came back home and watched 10,000 BC. It wasn't half bad.