Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Week in Florida

Sunday: We flew into Miami and it was cold! Well, cold for Florida anyway. It was probably 60 degrees and sunny. Mom and Dad picked us up and brought us straight to the Dania Beach before heading to their place for a tasty home cooked meal. Then we went over to Adam's for the night.

Monday: After a nice run over to the airport greenbelt park, Mom took us to a scary grocery store called Penn Dutch. In the afternoon we bundled up for a walk on the Hollywood Broadwalk. Another tasty home cooked meal followed!

Tuesday: After a morning rollerblading trip (L) and run (D), Mom and Dad drove us down to an area outside of Homestead called the Redlands. We stopped at many roadside farm-stands and tasted fresh picked strawberries, tomatoes and even got some boiled peanuts. Then we drove down to Everglades National Park and did some walking around. It was pretty and very cool to see the natural side of Florida. Adam cooked duck for dinner.

Wednesday: Beach day! It was finally warm enough to head to the beach. We hopped on our borrowed bikes and rode down to the Dania Beach. It was too windy for good sun-bathing, but it was nice walking along the water. We rode our bikes down to Hollywood, rode the whole Broadwalk and then rode to Mom and Dad's. We spent the afternoon hanging out at the pool. We got back to Adam's and watched Rogue -- a stupid movie about a 2-ton Australian crocodile that lives in a tree-cave and eats people. Then we went to watch Adam at his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practice.

Thursday: Adam took us for a boat ride in the Everglades. We saw tons of alligators on the canal banks. There were lots of birds, too. In the afternoon Mom and Dad came over and we made lots and lots of pierogies. Yum!

Friday: We ran in the morning with Adam, went to the beach twice, rollerbladed, and had a Christmas feast.

Saturday: Race day! Yes, we found a 5K in Fort Lauderdale. We all ran it and Dan and I got PRs. Well, I guess Adam did too, since it was his first race. Dan ran it in 22:30, Adam came in at 23:59 and I finished at 26:03 (it was a fun run and not officially timed). After lots of free munchies we crashed at Adam's for a bit before heading out to kayak 5 miles in West Lake Park. Then it was back to the beach for an evening walk.

Sunday: We met Mom and Dad on the beach for breakfast after rollerblading a bit. After eating we bladed some more and walked on the beach a bit. Then we headed back to Adam's to pack and say goodbye. Mom and Dad drove us down A1A to Miami where we walked around on Lincoln Street. It was like a huge Pearl Street with shops, cafes, restaurants and vendors everywhere. Very fun!

We had some time to kill at the airport, so Dan read about half of the Foreverglades text engraved in the floor of the J concourse.

Back to Denver and the cold.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Exploring Shadow Canyon

We had an adventure today.  Our plan was to hike up Shadow Canyon, summit South Boulder and Bear Peaks, then return via different trails.  Part way up the Shadow Canyon trail, we saw an unmarked side trail.  It took us to a clearing with great views and from there we could see this great looking rock (we didn't know it at the time, but the rock was probably The Matron).  We decided to hike up the big hill to check it out.

The hill was steeper than it looked.  Once we got up it, there was a scree field preventing us from getting over to the big rock, so instead we continued up along the ridge thinking we could cut across above where the scree began.  The higher we got the more we realized it would be difficult to get to the base of the rock.  We scrapped that plan and instead decided to try to gain the south ridge of Boulder Mountain and traverse north to South Boulder Peak.

The snow was getting deeper and eventually the boulders were too big to navigate.  We dropped down into the trees -- not much easier since half of them were laying down.  We tried to parallel the ridge we had been following as best we could.

Eventually we made it to the south ridge of Boulder Mountain.  There was no trail in sight, and our "summit" didn't look anything like South Boulder Peak.  We spent a little time looking at our map (for the first time since leaving the trail) and realized we were too far south.  Making the mile trek north to get to our intended summit was going to be impossible due to steep cliffs.  Our only option was to retrace our steps back to the trail.  Fortunately the way down was easier going.

Looking at the topo at home tonight, it seems we gained 1000' feet after leaving trail.  To get to our intended summit, we would have needed to gain another 1000'.  Regardless, the view from 7570' was pretty good! Click a pic to see the rest.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sandbeach Lake

Dan snowshoeing down the trailOur original plan for the weekend was to snowshoe out to the Guinn Mountain Hut and overnight there Saturday. When we checked the weather though, the low was predicted to be very low and the wind very windy.

We skipped the hut and instead did a 9 mile snowshoe in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park. We followed the Sandbeach Lake trail to ... take a guess ... Sandbeach Lake. On our way up the trail we ran into three guys returning to the trailhead. They said they broke trail to Hunter's Creek and turned back there. Breaking trail beyond that point would be fun.

We had a late start (10 AM at the trailhead) and we had made a few detours along the way. First, a big rock not too far off trail. Second detour: Hole-in-the-Wall Campground. A bit before 1 PM we were still on our way up and wondering if we would even reach the point where the other party had turned around. Very soon after we found the Creek. There was a split-log bridge going over the frozen creek. Just in case the creek wasn't frozen enough to cross, we took the bridge.

Needle rock formation
Sure enough, there was the end of the broken trail. Beyond that point was fresh snow for us. We stopped for a bite to eat before continuing on.

Not two minutes after we stopped, a train of 12 CMC snowshoers approaches across that fresh snow we were eying. So much for breaking trail! As the last of the group was passing we hear someone say, "Is that Laurel and Dan?" It was Adam from WTS! We only had a minute to chat before he had to continue with the group.

By then it was 1:30 and we weren't sure if we'd make it to the Lake. Or if we did make it to the lake, if we'd make it back to the car before dark. We decided to give it a shot and turn around at 2 PM.

Sandbeach Lake
Snow stuck to trees from strong winds blowing off the lakeThe trail from that point on was very steep. By 2 PM we were still climbing and were not yet at the lake. We took out the topo to try to figure out how much further it would be. The trail had just started to level out a bit. It didn't seem like there was much left to go so we continued. Sure enough, about 5 minutes later we were at the lake.

It's called Sandbeach Lake because there is a sand beach, and there is a lake. Honest. There was also ice and blowing snow. With nothing to block the wind we didn't want to stay long.

It only took us half as long to get back to Hunter's Creek, so we were feeling pretty good about getting back before dark. Sure enough, with no detours and most of the way downhill, we made the trip back in only two hours.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Skiing out the front door

Cottonwood rail
It snowed again last night, so of course my skis were begging to get out. Despite the 15-degree temperature I pulled out my boots, poles, and skis and headed out the door. I skied the Cottonwood Trail. Click for pics!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Colder Boulder

We were invited to run the Colder Boulder on CU's campus today because we had qualifying times from the Bolder Boulder in May. Dan and I ran in the same wave and he kicked butt! Despite the 20-degree temps and the icy course, Dan ran 23:17. I rolled in a few minutes later with 27:13 (four seconds slower than the Turkey Trot). Yay Dan! Official results here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Green Mountain

We went for a hike up Green Mountain today.

Night was falling as we hiked the last part of the trail back to the car.

This was our fifth time up Green Mountain. We like it a lot.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Eldora Nordic Center

Dan still wasn't feeling well (and was trying to beat Metroid on the OLD Nintendo), so I went up to Eldora to do some cross country skiing. They've got a ton of trails, most of which were open today. They're all deep in the woods, so they're weren't many views of peaks or anything else besides trees and more trees. I still had fun and it was nice to get a way for a couple of hours. Pics are here.

Trail at Eldora

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day

Happy Turkey Day everyone! We made the mistake of running a 5K today after skiing all day yesterday. Yeah, not the best idea. We jogged to Research Park about 2 miles away to get our numbers and chips. It was really nice out and we dumped our fleeces and hats. Dan ran a good race at 25:14 and I came in not too much later at 27:09. We walked/jogged home and got ready for turkey! See results here.

Ann and Sean came over for dinner. Unfortunately, Dan got the stomach bug this morning that I had last weekend so he stayed in bed most of the day. Poor Dan. At least there's plenty of leftovers for when he's feeling better.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Gondola lift above the parking lot
Today we drove to Breckenridge for some early season skiing. The trails were in pretty good shape and we got quite a few runs in. Peaks 8 and 9 were open and there were plenty of greens and blues to play on. Dan tried the one black that was open -- it had some patches of thin cover to avoid. Fortunately, there were plenty of bumps and trees for him to play with on the easier runs.

When Breck closed down at 4pm we headed to the other side of the reservoir for night skiing at Keystone. It was beautiful watching the sun set as we climbed the mountain in the gondola. There were two long runs open (20 minutes each) and we had fun playing on them under the lights. On the second to last run of the night a snowboarder plowed into me and knocked me down. My neck still hurts a day later -- whip lash perhaps?

We had a blast skiing all day even if we didn't get home until late. We were so sore after sitting for two hours in the car that we couldn't move once we did arrive. More pics here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Very Boulder Day

There is still a bit of snow on the ground from last weekend, but the temperatures have been more seasonable as the week's gone on. Today it was in the 50s and we took advantage of it!

First, Dan and I both went running. I went up the Cottonwood Trail and he did some speedwork in the neighborhood. Then, we got on our bikes and headed to the south of town. We wound our way up to the Kohler Mesa and then up to Chautauqua. Since one can't visit Chautauqua without hiking, that's just what we did. Northern facing, shady bits of trail were very icy and very cold, so we didn't make it to the Royal Arch, but we managed to do a nice loop. Dan even did a couple of moves on the Second Flatiron as we walked by the base. Then we hopped on our bikes and headed home.

Today we also got season ski rentals so we're ready to hit the slopes this winter! Yay!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I went for a walk down the Cottonwood trail. At 2am. Cold.

A mile and a half from home I stopped to look around. Unsure which way was east and unfamiliar with the Leo constellation, I figured my chances were slim of seeing any meteors.

A few short streaks caught my attention but by the time I turned to look they were gone. Was my imagination playing tricks on me? Or my eyes?

I had given them time to adjust. It was dark enough that I could see more stars than usual, but the airport was only a mile to the south and its revolving beacon would occasionally escape from behind the trees to hit me in the face. Certainly not ideal conditions.

A train went by. Somehow the noise made it harder to see meteors. I'm sure of it.

I had walked and watched for about a half hour each and had only (maybe) seen four short streaks. Standing still on a snowy path in 25°F air isn't much fun so I turned to head home.

A car came down a nearby road with high beams so I faced back towards the north to avoid getting blinded. Figured I may as well look up while I'm waiting... WHOA!

That was definitely a meteor! It looked like a narrow airplane contrail, two or three times as long as the shorter streaks I had seen. Unlike the others, this one lingered in the sky for a few seconds before fading into the black.

I saw a meteor!

It was still cold so I was still heading home. I kept my eyes on the sky as I walked. Another questionable mini-streak heading towards the handle on the Big Dipper.

The path curved and I was facing almost due west. The foothills were faint in the distance, only visible by their snow cover. I saw a very bright mini-streak that looked like it was going directly down into the mountain. I thought they were supposed to be coming out of the east -- did this one make it all the way to the other horizon?

Continuing on I saw another streak, leaving the front of Orion's belt, heading diagonally down and away from the hunter.

At this point I had seen streaks in all parts of the sky. Not at all what I had expected but definitely a good show. In total I saw 9 streaks: the one long-lasting one, the bright one in the west, another shorter in length but longer in duration, and then 6 other minis.

When I got home I spent some time in the planetarium before heading to bed for a few hours.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Flatironette

We had another great weather forecast for Sunday (and more time since we didn't have dinner plans), so we went back to Chautauqua to do some climbing. On the way up the trail at about 11:00 we saw some other climbers coming down the trail. I commented to Dan, "Early birds, huh?." We thought we were smart by waiting for the sun to warm things up in the later morning. The early birds actually had it right...

We decided to try the ridge of the First Flatironette to see if it would be a good climb for Donna and JJ when they visit (if we got a good weather day!). The first pitch was fun and relatively warm. By the time we got to the second and third pitches the sun starting moving behind the foothills and it got much chillier. At the top of the third pitch, I asked Dan how many pitches we had left. He thought there were two and we both were getting very frustrated. He went over the next bump on lead and realized that we were actually at the summit! He untied from the rope, I coiled it up, and walked off the belay station.

The 60 degree rule has now been amended: It must be 60 degrees AND SUNNY on the rock in order to climb!

Spelunking, day 2 -- Bat cave!

Saturday was going to be our climbing day, but it turned into our sleeping-in day. Since we had dinner plans that night we decided to just go hiking for a few hours, maybe check out the Fourth Flatiron.

Halfway up the Royal Arch trail we found the turn-off to get to the "Eyes of the Canyon", a rock formation described in the climbing books. We headed off trail for a while. I'm not sure if we ever made it to the "Eyes". There were a ton of rock formations and caves that we explored along the way -- a continuation of the spelunking we did last November. One cave in particular had a surprise for us:

The cave was spacious. There was enough room to stand up, and there was another section higher up that you could get into. From there though, it seemed like the end. There was a skinny vertical tunnel but I couldn't see where it went. It seemed barely wide enough to squeeze through, and there wasn't any light coming from it, so I assume it didn't go anywhere.

We found a few more caves and tunnels of sorts as we hiked up the gully. It seemed like we could have kept going to the top of Green Mountain, but we were running out of time. We'll have to explore that area more someday.

Dinner with Tim and Jill that night was delicious!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

North Sourdough Trail

Laurel needed a mountain fix so we headed up to the Indian Peaks for some snowshoeing. Even though most of the snow had melted in Boulder, and even though the temperature was already in the 40s in Ward when we checked this morning, we figured there would still be snow in the mountains.

Instead of going to the Brainard area we headed a little farther north to county road 96. We found the Beaver Reservoir trailhead, which is the northern terminus of the Sourdough trail. There was no parking area so we pulled off on the side of the road as far as we could.

The snow was wet, sticky, and heavy. Our snowshoes would get clumps of snow stuck to the bottom and occasionally snowballs would collect on top too. It wasn't long until we reached a portion of the trail that had not yet been traveled. That increased the difficulty -- every step we took we sunk in a foot. And unlike the light fluffy snow on Thursday that we could plow through, in these conditions the only option was high-knees all the way.

Our goal was to go along the trail for almost 2 miles to a loop, but we didn't even make it to the loop today before we decided to turn back. It was nice to be able to retrace our path and not break trail the whole way back.

Click a pic to see a few more.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chautauqua Snowshoeing

Boulder didn't just get a lot of snow for October, it got a lot of snow period. Almost two feet, more in the foothills. We went to Chautauqua this afternoon to play for a few hours.

We started up the "ski jump" hill and just plowed through the snow up towards the First Flatiron. Lots of people were sledding and riding, some had shovels to make jumps.

Pretty soon we were past the crowds and had the forest to ourselves. Since we know the area well we wandered around off trail for a while -- we only saw one person in the next 2 hours of trekking. Occasionally we would come across one of the official trails or a social trail made by a hiker, snowboarder, or snowshoer. Followed some, abandoned others.

At one point we were trying to follow a ridge and we got cliffed out. We couldn't go any higher so we had to traverse sideways, which took us into a snow-covered scree field. Not much fun to get out of. The snow was bubbling like a lava lamp here:

Once in a while we got a glimpse of a Flatiron. This is the Third:

We found the First Flatiron access trail and took it to the end of the Spy access trail. Didn't see the buck that usually hangs out in that neighborhood. We checked out the base of the First and then headed back on trails. Some of the snowboarders had constructed a pretty good ramp.

Once we got back to the ski jump hill we started running to see who could manage to fall the most (least?).

It was a lot of fun to get outside in the snow today. Next week it should be back up in the 50s-60s and we'll be on bikes instead.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Day!

Yes, that's school today! It's been snowing almost 24 hours straight and we have about a foot of snow outside. I went skiing up at Chautauqua this afternoon and had a blast! Click here for more pics.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The skiing better be good this year...

because yesterday was the second time we've gotten snow in October. And I don't mean just flakes. When Adam was here we got 3 inches the day he arrived. Yesterday it snowed on and off all day and then we woke up to a pretty substantial dusting and 27 degree temps.

The good thing is that the mountains are blanketed in snow. Ski resorts have already opened a couple of runs and I have a feeling most resorts will be almost 100% operational by Thanksgiving.

The down side to having snow one day and 60 degree temps the next is that everyone is getting sick. Kids at school are coughing and sneezing all over the place. I'm pretty sure I had the flu the beginning of the month and Dan and I are both still fighting a cold of some sort. Fortunately, Dan hasn't had the 101 degree temp that I did.

Like I said, the skiing better be good this year!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Skunk Canyon

This afternoon we explored Skunk Canyon. We rode our bikes to a trailhead halfway up the NCAR hill, then hiked up the Skunk Canyon trail to meet up with the Mesa trail. There isn't an "official" trail that goes into the upper part of the canyon, it's more of a social trail that is overgrown and hard to follow in places. Probably much worse in the spring when it is full of skunk cabbage. The attraction is (what else?) some neat rocks up there. We ran into a couple who told us about some of the good soloing routes on the various slabs. Laurel and I only had sneakers so we were just exploring today. We found a cave that it looked like you could probably crawl up through and out with rock shoes, but there was another way around to the top too.

Pictures of our home

Laurel took some pics of our place this morning. Take a look.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2nd Flatiron with Nick

We finally got to climb with Nick! The three of us have been talking about it since we were in WTS together in the spring. We met at 8am at the Chautauqua ranger cottage and started up the Second Flatiron at 9am. Our aim was to climb the Free For All route -- one we're familiar with and one that has some good climbing on it (5.6 on some pitches). The picture on the right is Nick a few hundred feet up the climb (click it to see the whole album).

We hadn't given Nick much warning about this climb -- in particular, that we'd be out on the rock for probably 6-7 hours! Oops. Instead of climbing the last few pitches we bailed into the gully (which probably had harder climbing in it) and then finished up less than 100 feet from the summit.

The day went well except for one glitch. After traversing under a roof and then climbing up around a corner, the rope got stuck behind Nick. He had to downclimb 30 feet to get it uncaught so that once he was at the top of the pitch Laurel could be belayed up. Epic averted!

The hike down and back to the car took almost an hour. We headed home and had BeauJo's pizza (yum!) that Ann and Sean brought over. Good WTS-themed weekend!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pettingell Peak

We couldn't have had better weather for our WTS reunion hike. Adam organized the trip to Pettingell Peak, an 13,500+ foot mountain not too far from Denver. There was a good amount of snow once we got into the higher elevations, but the temperature stayed high and the wind was fairly calm. We hiked up the Herman Gulch trail to Herman Lake, then headed off trail towards the summit. The last stretch of the hike, and returning on the way down, was treacherous. So much loose rock and scree mixed in with the snow made every step uncertain. You never knew where you might posthole up to your knee. It took us almost 4.5 hours to get up and then about another 3 to complete the 8.5 mile round trip.

Click pic to see whole album.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adam's Visit

Still snow on the ground. I was sick, probably from standing outside in Denver all day. Adam and I did a short hike at Chautauqua on trails where bears had been recently spotted. For dinner, Adam cooked some wild boar that he killed in Florida.

Dan and Adam went to Mallory Cave. For dinner Adam made alligator.

After work we all hiked up the First Flatiron. For dinner, there was elk stew and elk roast. We found a butcher in Boulder that sells elk. Adam wants to hunt elk next fall.

All pictures here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


There's still snow and it's still cold. We bundled up and headed to Denver for our first trip to the Mile High City. The Pats had an awesome first half, decent second half, and then the Broncos got the ball first in overtime. They won with a field goal.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It snowed last night. There are three inches outside. It's freakin' cold and Adam's flying in from Florida this morning.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weekend Update

So, we haven't replaced the camera yet, so there are no pics. This weekend we spent Saturday playing in the new house--unpacking, moving furniture, all those fun things. We took a break to ride to the Farmer's Market which is always fun.

Sunday we hit the Third Flatiron. Rather than starting at the East Bench, we bushwhacked to the bottom of the rock (1 hour from trailhead) and starting climbing up with our packs (very wise decision to NOT go back to base of rock). After only 3 pitches we bailed because it was getting colder and colder. It's amazing how warm the sun actually is when it's not blocked by clouds!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We bought a house!

Yay! We're Boulder homeowners. Pictures coming soon... (once we get a new camera and unpack some boxes).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Third Flatiron

We finally made it up the Third Flatiron! Our previous attempts were hindered by automotive troubles and bad weather. We climbed the East Face North Side route today, under and then to the left of the 'U' in the giant "CU" painted on the rock. There were a bunch of other people on the rock, but like any Flatiron, it's such a huge rock that there's plenty of room to spread out. The weather was gorgeous and we had a really great climb.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

South Arapaho

One of our goals this summer was to hike the Arapaho traverse: from the Fourth of July trailhead up to South Arapaho peak, across a class 3 ridge for about a half mile to North Arapaho peak, and back. Snow was not in our plans.

On Saturday we (Dan, Laurel, Evan, Dan) headed out in Evan's astro-van to attempt the traverse. We knew there had been some snow in the mountains this week but I didn't expect such deep drifts. They seemed worst over the trail so we headed off trail straight up a broad gully towards the ridge. The hike was tough. Where we could, we rock-hopped on scree exposed above the snow. At times though, there was just snow, and no telling how deep beneath the surface the next rock might be.

We summited after four hours and decided to try the traverse another day. Running down through the snow was much more funner than the hike up. Aside from the smashed knees and shins.

The other thing that got smashed was our camera, so not too many photos.