Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Giant wind turbine blades

On my run I saw a train carrying what looked like enormous white rockets -- lots of them too. I stopped to watch them for a while. Each one was longer than a single train car, so they were somehow carried by two (flatbed) cars each. The attachment system on the second car must have allowed some lateral movement, otherwise cornering would be difficult. I noticed a GE symbol and a marking GE48.7xL. They looked like this photo, but maybe bigger. Or maybe they just looked bigger in person. The 48.7 is their length in meters -- 160 feet long!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

TTs in town

Dave, Melissa, Sid and Bella came to Colorado for the week and stayed with us for the weekend. They sure kept us busy! We had two very full weekend days -- checking out Chautauqua, a few playgrounds, Pearl Street, swimming, tubing on Boulder Creek, checking out the fish in the creek, going up to Walker Ranch at night to see the starry skies, ... (and a ton of other things I can't remember 6 weeks later as I'm writing this!)

Sid heading up Rock Island

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dirty Bismark run

Laurel was going to do a short Marshall Mesa run on her way to work, so I joined her. I ran the Dirty Bismark loop (15 miles) in 2h33m and then biked home. It's a nice easy run, not too hilly or technical. Very helpful that Laurel was able to stash water for me at about the halfway point at the Coalton trailhead!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Big Boulder bike ride

We hopped on the mountain bikes today and did a huge loop around most of Boulder. Literally, around, about 28 miles and lots of ups & downs (1500' total).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Long runs

Laurel and Tanya did a big run up most of Mt. Evans on the Chicago Lakes trail. Tanya turned back after the lakes, Laurel continued up to Mt. Warren, doing around 16 miles and 4000' gain.

Meanwhile... I did my own sort of big run on the Mesa trail, about 13 miles and around 2200' gain. It was HOT and I got dehydrated with only 1L of water.

Later on we met Donna, Ann, and Sean at the outdoor theater to see Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dowdy Draw / Springbrook trail run

I got up early Wednesday to run with Laurel. We started at the Marshal Mesa trailhead and went SW towards Dowdy Draw. Laurel turned around at a bridge but I kept going, eventually misreading a map and adding miles to my route. I ended up on the Springbrook trail which was new to me and very beautiful. By the end I had run almost 11 miles in 2 hours.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Romeo and Juliet

Donna and JJ moved to Boulder this week! We invited them to see Romeo and Juliet at the Colorado Shakespeare festival. Fun time.

Sourdough Trail

On Saturday Dan and I headed up past Ward to the Brainard Lake winter closure gate parking lot From there we ran north on the Sourdough Trail. We made a nice lollipop by running up to Beaver Reservoir and then eventually back to the Sourdough Trail Total distance was about 10.5 miles on awesome (though at times rocky) single track.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Green Mountain evening hike

I met Laurel at Chautauqua for a slow evening hike up Green Mountain. It was nice to hike for a change instead of running -- we got to take a good look at the backsides of Saddle Rock and the 1st Flatiron, and found a neat side trail leading to an overlook of Flagstaff and Gregory Canyon. We had the summit of Green to ourselves and hiked back to our bikes as it was getting dark. By that point we were pretty hungry for dinner so we stopped at Beau Jo's on the way home for pizza.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Flatiron

On Sunday we climbed the Fandango route on the First Flatiron. It was really, really hot on the face. Dan led 4 or 5 pitches until we got to the North Arete. There was a beautiful, gusty wind until the summit. Dan led another 4 or so pitches and then we hung out at the summit. It was difficult to set up the rappel ropes because the wind was blowing so hard. We shared a rope with another climbing party after they were on the ground, but when I rappelled the ropes were still swinging so much that I had to keep pulling them from the side.

Some fun scrambling

Look, you can see our house! (almost)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"Triathlon" day

Today was HOT. Laurel and I went for a short run in the morning on the Bobolink trail. Since it was so hot we thought it would be better to go tubing instead. That certainly cooled us off! Laurel reluctantly got into the cold water and even went over some rapids. Later in the evening I biked out to Munson's farm to get some corn and peaches. If you count tubing as a sport, that's my kind of triathlon.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Queen Anne's Head Climb

So, since we cut our backpacking trip short, we decided to do some climbing on Tuesday since Dan still had the day off. Dan picked out a great route he wanted to try on the First Flatiron. We were psyched to be able to give it a shot on a weekday where there would be fewer people.

On our way out the door, we thought to check the weather. We seem to be in a bit of a wet pattern and the forecasters were predicting rain and thunderstorms at noon and then all afternoon. Great. Dan's plan of 4 pitches plus another 300ft wasn't really going to work. On the way to Chautauqua we discussed alternative climbs and decided on the 4-pitch route up Queen Anne's Head, a pinnacle next to the Third Flatiron.

After quite a bit of bushwhacking off the Royal Arch Trail, we finally found the bottom of the climb. We set off at 10:00 with blue skies. Pitch one was great and even included a tricky traverse move without handholds. Dan found a great, flat(!) belay spot and then went on up. The second pitch was also a lot of fun and ended in yet another flat(!!) belay spot. We were both loving the climb. Then, as Dan was heading up pitch three I asked him if he felt the rain drops. Nope. As he built the anchor and I climbed up, I asked if he heard the thunder. Nope. When I met him at the third belay there was a big crash which he then recognized as an oncoming storm. It started to rain a little more. And the thunder sounded closer.

Well, we were 80 feet from the summit and going down was really not an option. Dan led the pitch very quickly and started to set up the rappel as I was climbing up. The rain was still dropping intermittently and the thunder was getting closer. He was incredibly chivalrous and let me rappel down into the 1911 gully first. I found a safe spot and quickly got off the rope. He rapped down and we were both safe on a few boulders.

However, the adventure did not end there. The book described a few options for the descent. One included rapping down to where we were and then climbing up the last few pitches of the Third Flatiron. Dan went to check it out. It was not going to be easy and the rock was getting wetter and wetter. The other option was to walk and rappel down the gully. Based on the conditions, we decided that was our best option.

Dan slung a boulder for our first rappel which got us into a field of ferns. Well, ferns and gigantic poison ivy plants. They were waist-high and soaking wet. It was also hard to see what we were stepping on--dirt, rock, or oblivion. We made it to a big tree with a rope--evidence that someone else had rappelled from the spot. We backed up the rope and set up another rappel. There was one steep rock, but then the rest of the descent was like going through a jungle of brush. We reached one more big tree with another rope and set up our final rappel. It was about 40 feet and on regular-old-rock. It was nice to be on the ground again. Throughout the entire descent the thunder stopped and the rain really didn't come down hard. We were actually able to follow a climber's trail back to the Royal Arch Trail.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Mummy Backpacking

Well, we tried to have a nice backpacking trip. Our plan was to hike a bunch of peaks in the Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park and spend two nights along the way.

On Sunday, we hiked up the Lawn Lake trail until shortly after a set of switchbacks. From there we headed off trail, ascended rough terrain to a saddle, and picked a route up Bighorn Mountain.

The Diamond face of Long's Peak

Given the name of the mountain we were hoping for sheep. No sheep. It was a nice summit anyway, but we didn't stay long since the clouds were starting to get pretty dark.

Tileston and its "bump" in the midground; Mummy Mountain on the horizon

Back down to the saddle and then up towards Mount Tileston. There was a bump along the way to Tileston so we hit that first. As much as possible we tried to stay in the trees. From the bump summit we had a good look back at Bighorn; from the Tileston summit we could see Potts Puddle and imagine our campsite not too far beyond it.

Bighorn Mountain

Potts Puddle just above Laurel's head

Heading down Tileston we came across a smaller lake that we had to hike around. We meandered back to the trail and found our campsite. Expecting rain any minute we thought it wise to set up our tent and a tarp lean-to to protect our bags. Just as we had everything set up it started to rain, so in the tent we went.

Roaring River's path of destruction from the Lawn Lake Dam failure

About an hour later, after a break in the rain, we decided to make dinner -- got the stove lit and dinner cooking and it started to rain again. We had rain jackets on but it was pouring so we sheltered under a tree. Then the thunder and lightning started again, and close by -- 5 seconds between lightning and thunder. Our stove, dinner, and a measuring cup were still out in the rain. The storm stalled directly above us: heavy rain and small hail. There was one enormously loud crack of thunder simultaneous with a flash of lightning. By the time the worst of the storm had passed the measuring cup had an inch of water in it. We ate dinner under the tree in the rain and went to sleep. Our tent was fairly dry but some rain had splashed in under the fly and through the mesh.

The "privy"

We had plenty of excuses to cut our trip short: the same lousy forecast for Monday night, a twisted ankle, a non-functioning water filter (at least we brought it this time!) So we dried out and packed up Monday morning and had an easy hike on the trail back to the car.

View Bighorn-Tileston in a larger map