Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our first CMC trip

Today we went on our first CMC trip, led by Ricardo Peña. There were 8 people in our group total. We enjoyed hiking and talking with them.

The trip started at the St. Vrain Mountain Trailhead south of Allenspark and headed up the valley between Meadow and St. Vrain Mountains. Our aim was to summit St. Vrain for a 10-mile round-trip.

There was only a few inches of snow at the trailhead so we started off hiking. After a couple of miles we reached a point where there was enough snow to snowshoe. We geared up and headed off-trail. Parts were rocky and steep but we soon got to nice deep snow (with an occasional rocky section).

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We 'shoed on- and off-trail for a while to a saddle above the treeline, where we stashed our snowshoes and headed for the summit. Without the protection of the trees we were exposed to high winds -- some gusts were strong enough to knock us off balance. The pelting snow didn't feel too good against our faces. Of course the more Laurel and I tried to cover up the more our sunglasses fogged, so at times we were just following the blurry shapes in front of us. We definitely need better headgear!

Even without foggy glasses visibility was very poor. For a number of reasons we turned back about 500 vertical feet from the summit. The trip was a lot of fun despite the weather. (See our trek in Google Earth)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Vacation Part 2

On Thanksgiving Day it was overcast in Boulder. We were hoping to wake up to some snow, but no luck here in town. So, we decided to try our luck and hopefully our snowshoes in the mountains. I picked out a trail west of Nederland and a village called Eldora. We started at the Hessie trailhead and hiked the Devil's Thumb Bypass Trail. Parts were very pretty and went along a creek. However, the trail was very, very icy. There was only a little bit of snow, so we didn't break out the snowshoes and we kept wishing we had YakTracks. We stopped for lunch and a couple totally flew by us unaffected by the snow because they had the rubber contraptions on their feet. It was getting late and we were moving slowly, so we turned around before hitting Devil's Lake and made a loop with the Devil's Thumb trail. The picturesque Hessie Falls were totally frozen and covered with snow. We'll have to go back sometime to see them in their glory. The whole hike was only about 6 miles. We then headed home for some good 'ole Thanksgiving hot dogs and mac & cheese. Yum!

Friday was supposed to be a rest day. So, we had a leisurely morning and hung around the house reading and stuff. Around lunchtime we headed out on our bikes to do some errands. We rode about 5 miles down to Neptune's to pick up some things (we got cool MicroSpikes--better than YakTracks!) Then Dan wanted Arby's for lunch (yuck). When we finally got home it was getting cold and we both made chocolate chip cookies.

We did wake up to a little snow on Saturday morning--just a dusting. It was very pretty, so I decided to go for a little run in our neighborhood. A little later in the morning we went out to Betasso and hiked the 3 mile loop in an hour. After running a few more errands we came home for lunch and then I promptly fell asleep for two hours. After Dan woke me up we hit the rock gym for a while. Dan's reading a book about training for climbing so we each did four laps on a 5.9 for a stamina test.

Sunday is our big CMC hike/snowshoe day. The trip Dan picked is supposed to be 10 miles with 3500 feet elevation gain--two summits (Mt. St. Vrain and Meadow). This should be interesting...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Vacation

In Boulder the schools get the whole week surrounding Thanksgiving off. It's definitely a nice feature. So, I was trying to get Dan to take off work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so we could go somewhere south of here to climb. Our hopes were set on Moab, Utah where we could bike, hike, and climb. However, he had to work Monday and Tuesday so come Tuesday night when we checked to weather to pack for our trip, we learned that it was just not in the stars for us this week. There is a huge low pressure system moving through the southwestern part of the country. Many areas are getting snow and rain--everywhere from here to Moab to Joshua Tree, CA. Hopefully the weather will be better at Christmastime...

Monday I just hung around town, did some swimming and yoga, and went into school for a little while. Monday night we joined the rock gym for the winter. It took us a whole 10 minutes to walk there Monday night (it's only two blocks away!) and now we can go anytime we want. Disappointingly, the grades are sandbagged. After 8 months of working on 5.2-5.6 rock we were able to get successfully on 5.9s (or should I say 5.8s). It was still fun, though.

Tuesday I drove down to Colorado Springs to visit my friend Melanie and her 8-month-old, Josh (who is very cute). It was really fun to visit them.

Wednesday Dan didn't have to work so we had a fun vacation day in Boulder. For breakfast we went to Moe's, a bagel shop. Then I dragged Dan to do groceries with me and we spent twice as much as usual (lots of goodies for the week)! At lunchtime we decided to go for a short hike on Sanitas. It was beautiful and warm out--60s I'd say. Then we hit the rock gym and some 5.10 and 5.11 routes before I went for a run and Dan went for a bike ride. The day ended with a viewing of "Tremors." I'd never seen it.

Oh yeah, we also joined the Colorado Mountain Club. They offer a lot of local (and not so local) trips, outdoor schools, and social events. We signed up for a snowshoe trip on Sunday. It's supposed to be 10 miles with 3500 ft elevation gain. Hopefully we can keep up!

Happy Turkey Day Everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mallory Cave

Today we finally hiked to Mallory Cave. We have been meaning to for some time but kept getting sidetracked by other fun things to do.

The trail to the cave was a steep hike, especially at the end! Once we got back down we took this picture of two women scrambling up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Fun Hike

This morning we started at NCAR and headed to the Mesa Trail. After about 3 miles we headed towards South Boulder Peak on the Shadow Canyon Trail. We summited the 8,500 foot peak at lunch time. Though it was beautiful, warm, and sunny on the whole 5 miles to the top, it was very windy and chilly once we got there. After a quick bite, we traversed the ridge to Bear Peak at 8,400 feet.

My hope was to bag a third peak (Green Mountain) and rack up 15 miles on the day. However, it was getting late (now that the sun sets at 4:30) and we were getting tired. Once we completed the West Bear Ridge Trail (really neat route!) and the Bear Canyon Trail we were glad we didn't take the long way home. After nearly 7 and a half hours and almost 11 miles the car was a welcome sight!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dan's last big ride of the year

There probably won't be many (any?) days like today for the rest of the year. It was almost 70 today, so I took off on a long bike ride. In 140 minutes I covered 27.8 miles -- almost 12 MPH average, which isn't too bad considering I went up the big hill to NCAR!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

A tale of the route that Laurel and Dan climbed today that might be Hubris and/or Atlanta but may not be

The weather was forecast to be warm today so our plan was to get to Chautauqua early and climb a Flatiron. We picked two shorter routes in case it got cold. The first was East-facing for the morning sun and the second was South-facing for the afternoon -- by 1 or 2pm the sun isn't hitting the East faces any more and by 2 or 3 it's behind the mountain.

Finding the first route, Hubris, was a challenge. The book describes how to get to the start of the climb: "Start at the same place as Atlanta..." For Atlanta it says: "Start 230 feet southwest from the start of Baker's Way..." Baker's Way is described as being "...several hundred feet from the top of the Witch's Cabin..." Measuring these distances is near impossible, since 1) the trail switches back so much that you may hike 200 feet along the trail but only gain 20 vertical feet and end up 40 feet away, and 2) there are trees and rocks in the way, so you can't always see where you were.

We eventually decided that we must be at the start of the climb, even though the rock didn't match up with the description. In any case it seemed that a few hundred feet up we would meet up with where the route was supposed to go, and the lower section looked like easy enough climbing. The route was supposed to climb a "well-formed dihedral" but there wasn't anything in sight that I would describe that way.

In the shade the rock was cool but once we reached sunlight it was quite warm, especially with a heavy long-sleeved black shirt! I led up the rock as I have on any Flatiron climb: disregard any beta found in a guidebook. Instead, look for cracks that will take pro and aim for them. Runout the easy sections a bit. Tackle some harder sections if there's good pro. Eventually we made it to a large Juniper tree; from that point on we were no longer climbing what we thought was Hubris and had moved over to what seems to be Atlanta.

Atlanta tops out on the North Arete route. Lots of traffic today -- more than 10 people passed me while I was belaying Laurel up to that point. From there it should have been one short pitch to the summit, but since there were many people around we made it two really short pitches. The air was calm for a while but eventually the wind picked up, probably around 50 MPH. Laurel had a tough time rappelling with the wind blowing the ropes all around.

It was a fun day climbing the First, and unlike last summer's ascent, this time there were no thunderstorms (and I got to sign the register!). We didn't have time for the second climb -- we were pretty beat too. Maybe if the weather holds up...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bike ride, protest, hike

Saturday we went for a bike ride on the Cottonwood and Eagle trails, then pedaled down to Pearl Street for the Prop. 8 protest, then pedaled over to Chautauqua and hiked around the Woods Quarry area.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Look what Dan made me for breakfast! Moose cakes!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Royal Arch Hiking and Scrambling

We thought it might be too cold to climb today so instead we biked to Chautauqua with our rock shoes. We ventured off the Royal Arch trail in a few spots to explore some rock formations and catch a glimpse of the area where we were spelunking last weekend. At Sentinal Pass we stopped to scramble around the big boulders there. Calling them big is an understatement -- some were mini-flatirons!

Getting a little higher up allowed us to see the extent of rock that exists between the 3rd and 4th Flatirons. This mountain has enough rock to keep us busy for a looong time, even if we were to only do one climb on each rock! There were a few pinnacles high up on the hillside that were particularly appealing.

Eventually we made it to the Royal Arch. Since we had our rock shoes with us I thought it'd be fun to scramble up to the top. See me in the picture below?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hiking in Wild Basin, RMNP

Today we drove up to the southern part of Rocky Mountain National Park and hiked in the Wild Basin area. There was snow on the ground even at the trailhead, but once we got hiking it wasn't too cold. We hiked along the North St. Vrain Creek and then the Ouzel Creek, passing a few partially-frozen waterfalls on the way.

There were also a few boulders worth scrambling up and we could see Mt. Meeker for most of the trip (see photo below). At one point we passed by a cave that looked like it went pretty far back but couldn't scramble in too far due to a 10' drop.

Towards the end of the trail we had to decide whether to head to Ouzel Lake or Bluebird Lake. The day was getting late, the weather was getting cloudier, and it looked like there could be some snow coming, so we headed to Ouzel which was closer.

On the way back we passed by a few campsites. Could be a nice place to stay someday when it's warmer.

See all pictures.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election night

Last night after watching Senator McCain and President-elect Obama speak I biked down to Pearl Street to see what was going on. Big celebration. People were dancing in the streets (yes, literally).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spelunking, day 1

Today we searched for the McCarty Cave.

These were not the cave we were looking for:

One of the caves was very cool. It was big and had a few arches and windows:

I climbed out one of the windows and up into a higher vestibule. There was a mostly melted candle set in a depression:

See all pictures from today.

See pictures from yesterday -- we hiked the Niwot Ridge.