Monday, September 27, 2010

La Plata Peak

Ann and I had a great time in the mountains yesterday. I invited her to try La Plata Peak with me because the drive and the hike seemed pretty straight-forward. It was also in the neighborhood of other Sawatches, which I had climbed this summer.

We got off to an early start. At 7am it was probably 30 degrees at the trailhead, especially since we saw frost on the ground. Early on we also saw a huge bull elk munching on breakfast. The changing aspen were beautiful and we loved seeing the sun hit the golden trees more and more as the day went on.

We were told by other people and guidebooks that the ridge is longer than you think. They were all right. The ridge went on FOREVER. Plus, we got into snow at 12,500. Not a lot of snow, but enough that it made things slick.

We made it to the top at 11:15, had a beautiful, sunny, windless lunch and then headed back. The hike down was long, but uneventful. We got back to the car around 2:30 and through we’d make it back home before dinner. Ha! We got stuck in tons of traffic and didn’t make it home until 7:00. Even so, it was still a great day.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

33% Complete!

Today I summited my 18th fourteener, La Plata Peak, with Ann.  It was a gorgeous day and we had a great time.  More tomorrow...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yay! Climbing!

I got to climb today!  Yay!  I haven't climbed since my accident in June, so it was so much fun to get on the Second Flatiron today.  It was very chilly this morning, so we had a late start.  It wasn't a problem, though, as the temps warmed up to over 90 degrees today and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Before we even started the climb, we saw a busy woodpecker right next to the trail and we saw a humming bird at the base of the rock.  The route we were attempting today was called the South Sneak, as we were sneaking around the South Block formation.

The first two pitches were pretty straight forward, but then we were supposed to somehow get on the face of the South Block.  We didn't.   Dan led us through weaknesses in the rock on the third pitch, but we couldn't find a way to the summit.

We ended up scrambling back up to the trail and then hiked back to the car.  My shoulder feels tired, but good.  Hopefully more climbing is in my future!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Running in the Rain

That's right...there was some rain today in Boulder.  Well, perhaps I should say mist and fog.  But, it was very damp and very humid, no matter what you call it.  Good thing, too, because another fire started in Nederland, and yet another in Rocky Mountain.

Dan and I had planned to climb today, but the Flatirons were covered in fog, so decided to try a bike ride and run.  We rode 2 minutes and decided riding in the rain wasn't fun, so we headed back out to the house.

I was already suited up for a run, so I drove up to Heil Valley Ranch to run up there.  I ran about 9 miles in 2.25 hours and had a great time.  There were a few bikers out on the trail, but they were few and far between.  The trees offered good protection from the rain, so I stayed pretty dry and enjoyed taking in all the scenery.

We had a quiet afternoon and then headed down to Tim's place for a party.  It was a lot of fun and we got to see a lot of hiking buddies.  I see many more great outdoor trips in our future!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Flattop/Odessa Lake

After a week of breathing smoke, I wanted to head for the hills.  I also wanted to get in a good trail run, since I've been afraid to do much running outside this week.  So, I convinced Dan to try to run up Flattop Mountain with me in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Surprisingly, he was game and we headed up after a leisurely morning at home.

We started at Bear Lake around 11:30 and ran up the Flattop Mountain Trail for about 45 minutes.  As we were nearing the treeline, the wind was really picking up and it was cold.  I was running slowly and Dan was walking at this point, so we decided to turn around and explore other trails that were more sheltered from the wind.  We turned off to head towards Odessa Lake.  The trail was really pretty and wound it's way through pine forests.  The soft pine needles made for good running!  Near Lake Helene (where Dan practiced using crampons at a CMC class in June) the trail cut through bands of rock clifs and descended to the lake.  We arrived at Lake Odessa 2 hours after we started our run.  We stopped for a quick lunch and then went to explore around the lake.

Dan found some big boulders that he played on for a bit.  I found a small trail that led to a sandy beach on the far side of the lake.  It almost looked like a sand bar.  We continued on a faint, but distinct trail probably a mile north of the lake.  It disappeared as we got to the talus fields, but there were still a few cairns marking a route.  We heard two climbers in this gully, but we couldn't see them anywhere.  We explored a bit further on, but set a time limit as we were in our running clothes and didn't have full packs.  Our highpoint revealed two lakes and more steep gully beyond where we stopped.  We decided to head down the talus and then cut over to the east back to the trail.  It took about half an hour, but we did it and soon we were on our way back to the car.

We passed a few people on the way down and then stopped at a trail junction where some backpackers were looking at maps and appearing a bit confused.  We stopped to talk to them and learned they were from Miami and New Orleans.  Very cool.  Then, two of the hikers we had already run past, met up with us.  I looked down and saw familiar leather gloves on one guy, just as he said, "Hey Dan, how's it going."  It was Dan's friend Dan Adams from the bike shop who we hiked up South Arapaho Peak with last September.  He was the one we heard climbing up in the gully.  We walked down the rest of the trail with him and his roommate and caught up a bit.  A fun day of Colorado adventuring!

Fall in Colorado

I think fall is my favorite time of year in Colorado.  I do miss the bright foliage of New England, but other than that this time of year is just gorgeous out here.  First of all, the weather is awesome.  It's dry, it's sunny, and there are very few thunderstorms.  The evenings and nights are getting cold (even down to mid 40s), but the days are still in the upper 80s.  The colors here are amazing, too, even though there aren't bright red maples.  In the high country, aspen are turning bright yellow and small tundra plants are changing to red, rust, and brown.  Juxtaposed with the green evergreens, it's beautiful.  In town, grasses are turning golden yellow and the foothills have a bright, earthy tone to them.

Unfortunately, this very dry, sunny weather and yellowed grass creates high fire conditions.  The last week over 1,000 firefighters from 20 states have been fighting the 4-mile fire just a few miles west of us.  Dan has posted some pics of the smoke, which has been terrible this week.  At this point, 73% of the 11-square mile fire has been contained.  169 families lost their homes and the Rez (Boulder Reservoir) has been turned into a firefighters' tent town.  It's been a rough week in Boulder for all those poor families and hardworking firefighters.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bouldering around Crown Rock

I convinced Justin to stay a bit longer Wednesday morning so we could do some bouldering. Made sense -- we had already climbed trad, sport, and top-rope in the previous two days. We rented a crash pad at Neptune and headed over to Flagstaff Mountain.

The Crown Rock area seemed to have a good selection of problems so we parked there and explored the rock a bit. We ended up at the Beer Barrel Boulder and a few other rocks west of it. We worked on a good lieback problem, then a thin problem that Justin completed but couldn't top out on (and I couldn't even start). Then we found a nice traverse that took the rest of the morning. Justin finally sent it after we took turns figuring out the right sequences.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

North Table Mountain

After a day of climbing trad it was time to hit some sport routes. We had a recommendation to check out North Table Mountain in Golden -- supposedly a great beginner sport/TR area. The internets indicated that Brown Cloud Crag would be a good starting point.

Going to Golden was a good idea -- much less smoke, but still a little haze from the Fourmile fire. We found the crag pretty easily and Justin started to lead up a route that was supposed to be a 5.7 warmup. Turns out the picture in the book was labeled incorrectly, so we were on a 5.9+ instead. We ended up top roping that route, then found the correct route a few towers over.

Since it was only a 5.7, and we were pretty sure of that now, I led this one. When I got to the top though, the anchors freaked me out a bit. The bolts were in a hunk of rock that looked solid, but not really attached to anything.

I was in an awkward place to lower off so I rigged the toprope and walked off the top. Justin climbed the route next and didn't like that hunk of rock too much either.

Next up was an unbolted dihedral. We set up a top-rope on this one and each climbed it twice. Good route with a couple of tricky sections.

The climbing was fun, but the whole area stank of the Coors Brewery and the sewage treatment plant right next door to it. And it was very hot -- the guidebooks recommend climbing there in the winter since it gets so much sun.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Flatiron with Justin

Justin's in town! We climbed the Spy today. From its summit we hiked uphill a few hundred yards to the start of a climb on the First Flatiron called the North ArĂȘte. We climbed that route to the summit of the First Flatiron -- mostly easy climbing.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but there was a lot of smoke from a fire that started in Fourmile Canyon.

At first it seemed like the fire was just southeast of Sugarloaf Mountain. There were very strong winds today which spread the fire. Initial reports were 200 acres but now there are 3500 acres burning.

Towards the end of the day the wind shifted and we could see that there were flames much further east than Sugarloaf. Eventually the winds died down enough and tanker planes came in. Sounds like it will still take a few days to get the fire under control.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eldorado Mountain

Last night we were talking about what to do today and Dan suggested Eldorado Mountain.  Not wanting to drive anywhere this weekend, it was the perfect idea.  Eldorado Mountain is the high point just south of Eldorado Canyon.  It is not a pristine mountain, as there are radio towers and a building at the top and railroad tracks and tunnels through it, but it is quite a hike.

We hopped on our bikes this morning around 9:30 and rode to the Ashram trailhead just outside of the state park.  We hiked up the Fowler trail about 2 miles into the park.  We turned off to the Rattlesnake Gulch trail and hiked it to the Crags Hotel ruins.  It was really neat to see the site of a luxury hotel that was open before World War I.

We continued on the trail for about half a mile and then followed a faint trail to the railroad tracks.  We scrambled up a very steep ridge and walked over the tunnel to the north ridge.  It was slow and difficult through the brush and over talus fields and large boulders.  We reached a high point on the ridge around 1:30 and stopped for a snack.  We weren't quite on the summit yet, so we continued along this ridge until we met the summit ridge.  Here, we were able to move more quickly to south and to what we thought was the true summit.  It was hard to tell where the highest point was because the mountain was so flat on top.  We got to the radio tower and called the highest rock around the summit.

We decided to try our luck descending the northeast ridge.  It looked less steep, though it was a bit longer.  There were beautiful views on the way down and there was quite a bit of talus that was stable enough to hike down.  We finally returned to the trail at about 4:30 and then hiked back to bikes and rode home.  All in all, it was a nine hour day.  We figured we hiked about 10 miles and we biked about 20 miles.  It was a very hot day, but a good one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Big ride on the "new" bike

I fixed up my bike this week -- new front wheel, new brake pads, new bottle cage, new chain, new freewheel. It rides like "new" again!

Laurel went out for a bike ride / trail run this morning. She ran up Flagstaff. Just as she was getting home, I was getting ready to go out for a ride. With no destination in mind (other than getting to the bank eventually), I headed out for a 23 mile ride. At one point I found a new trail over by Mt. Sanitas so I ran a mile loop.

After going to the ATM I headed home. On the way I ran into Laurel, who was going out to the Farmers' Market. So I turned around and joined her. We got good stuff and went home.