Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rattlesnake Gulch hike with JJ

JJ and I headed out for a hike this afternoon in Eldorado Canyon State Park. It was packed but we found a place to park and headed up to the Fowler trailhead. Laurel and I have hiked the Rattlesnake Gulch trail twice before -- once in 2008 when it was very icy, and another time when we climbed Eldorado Mountain. But we never had a chance to explore the area very much, so it was neat going out with JJ.

The first thing we found was a huge concrete tunnel suspended 10-15 feet above a small valley. We climbed up top and found a USGS-style bronze survey marker that said "DMWW", so probably this was part of the aqueduct system. There was a metal "smokestack" coming out of the concrete pipe that allowed us to hear the water flowing.

We spent some time checking out the old hotel ruins. Great views of the Indian Peaks and Continental Divide too. Then we noticed a small side trail that went up a ridge to a high point. It didn't seem like the main trail went there so we checked it out. But of course, once atop that ridge we saw another point we wanted to check out.

We went back to get our packs, which we had left on the main trail, then continued along the official trail. There was another way to cut over to the high point, and from there we found a very faint old trail that took us down into some unknown valley. In a few places the ground looked like it had been leveled for a cabin foundation, but there was no evidence of any building materials. It could be that people working on the railroad had set up temporary housing down by the creek. We also found an old bird skeleton and some feathers (probably a crow).

After all this exploring we were ready to head home. We got back to the car before the sun set on the valley.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mesa Trail run

Laurel and I wanted to take it easy for the two weeks prior to the marathon, so for our last big run one week before the race, we decided to "just" do the Mesa Trail. Last summer we considered the Mesa Trail a very long run (13 miles) that we'd like to be able to do someday, including biking to the trailhead from home. Funny how perception changes.

I woke up later than Laurel so she got a head start out the door, biked to the trailhead, and was running by 8am. I was half an hour behind but it worked out well since we finished within a few minutes of each other (2h47m and 3h13m) and got to ride home together.

After resting in the afternoon, we headed out to TEDx with Ann and Sean.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bike Ride with Donna

Today we rode with Donna. From our house we rode down South Boulder Trail to Bobolink. From there we continued on down to the end of South Boulder at Marshall Road. It was a beautiful day and Donna was up for more riding so we rode south to Marshall Mesa. We decided to ride east as far as we could and then turn around when we got to the big hill, as this was a technical trail. Donna did great and made it up the long, steep hill so we made a loop and continued on the mesa trail. On the descent Donna slipped and took a spill, scraping up both knees. A true trooper, she washed them off with her water tube and road all the way back to our place. Dan made yummy smoothies to celebrate the 18.5 mile-2.5 hour ride.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Laurel's Big Run

While Dan was off running around Boulder, I drove a bit north of town and completed a 20-21 mile route up at Heil Ranch. I started at 7:30 and ran the Lichen Loop to the Wapiti Trail. From there, I veered left to the Ponderosa Loop, but continued on to the Wild Turkey Loop to pick up Picture Rock. To this point I probably ran about 6 miles and gained about 1,000 feet. Then I headed down Picture Rock to Lyons. At the trailhead I took a little break, and turned right around. This entire spur was 11 miles. Then I completed the Wild Turkey Loop and headed down Wapiti. I got back to the car at 12:30, making this a five hour run.

Dan's Big Run

Since I had never run longer than 18 or so miles (and even that entailed a bunch of walking), and since the marathon's two weeks away, I wanted to do a longer run. At least 20 miles. I thought including the Mesa trail would be race-appropriate training with all of its rollers. So I half-baked this idea of running the whole Front Range of Boulder.

After having lunch with JJ one day, remembering a picture of a mountain he posted once from France with a caption of "I hiked here from my house", and remembering how that inspired my desire to say the same thing about Green Mountain, I continued baking my idea for this run.

This is what I did:
  1. Put my bike in the Echo and drove to the South Mesa trailhead (20 minutes).
  2. Left the car at the trailhead and biked back home (35 minutes).
  3. Ran the Cottonwood trail and a few roads towards the Boulder Reservoir.
  4. Ran past the Rez to the Eagle trailhead.
  5. Ran the Eagle, Sage, and Cobalt trails to the N. Foothills trailhead.
  6. Ran the N. Foothills trail to the Lee Hill trailhead.
  7. Ran the S. Foothills trail, Wonderland Lake trail, and a footpath to the end of Spring Valley Road.
  8. Ran down the road, crossed Linden Rd., and picked up footpaths to the Goat trail.
  9. Ran up the Goat (OW!) and down Dakota Ridge to Sunshine Canyon.
  10. Ran the Red Rocks trail to Settlers Park.
  11. Ran under 119, along the Boulder Creek trail for a bit to pick up a dirt road providing access to the Viewpoint trail.
  12. Ran to Panorama Point on Flagstaff and continued to the summit of Flagstaff (had to walk some).
  13. Ran down the Ute trail to Realization Point.
  14. Ran up the Ranger trail to the summit of Green Mountain (walked most of the way).
  15. Took a 10 minute break to enjoy the summit.
  16. Ran down Green Bear and Bear Canyon to the Mesa trail.
  17. Ran and walked Mesa trail and Big Bluestem trail to the South Mesa trailhead.
  18. Drove home.

All that running -- about 25 miles total -- took me 6h24m. And now I can say that I ran up Green Mountain from my house!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Boulder Run/Bike

We were both beat from our long run at Golden Gate. So, we rode our bikes to the Cottonwood Trailhead and ran a very slow two miles to loosen up our sore muscles. We were both hoping to bike a bit more so we pedaled to the Valmont Bike Park and tried our luck on some trails. Luckily this time Dan managed to stay on his bike!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Golden Gate State Park Run

Golden Gate has been on my list for a long time, so I was excited for the chance to run up there. The park is south of Boulder, about halfway to Golden, but then you travel west and up to about 8,000 feet. There are many campgrounds and dozens of trails. The area is famous for trail running as it hosts the annual Golden Gate Dirty Thirty, a 30-mile, 7000ft run each June.

Dan and I planned to basically run the circumference of the south side of the park. With all our little route-finding escapades we managed to cover 18-20 miles of trail. At the end, Dan ran ahead and did a bigger loop back to the car than I did. So, he was on the upper end of the estimate for sure! It was a gorgeous day and we had a lot of neat views of the Mount Evans area. Many sections of trail were very steep. Overall I think we climbed 4,000-5,000 feet.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Flattop, Hallett, Otis, Taylor

Today we headed back to the mountains, but this time we drove up to RoMo for our long run of the week. Hallett, Otis and Taylor have been on my list for quite a while, so I was hopeful we'd be able to summit all three. We parked at Bear Lake and ran the four miles up Flattop Mountain. Dan flew up to the flat summit in an hour and twenty minutes. I was less than 10 minutes behind.

From there we headed south to our next objective. The final few hundred feet up Hallett were quite steep and rocky, so we hiked the whole way. There were gorgeous views, but we didn't stay long. A man on the top told Dan that it was really cool to hike down the ridge and see the thousand foot cliffs that were often climbed. So, we did just that, and he was right. The sheer faces were stunning, but this jaunt added over an hour to our day.

We headed back up Hallett and skirted the summit while headed further south to Otis Peak. Here we had the tundra to ourselves and we enjoyed route-finding through the talus slopes. As we scoped out our next destination, we noticed there were three lesser summits on the way. Of course, we had to visit all of them as well.

We traversed the ridge and finally got our first view of the Taylor Glacier where a good friend of ours lost his life almost a year ago. It was sad to think of his fatal fall and the danger of our beloved mountains. But, it was also a time to reflect on Jim's positive impact on so many adventuresome hikers and climbers. He is definitely still missed. Needless to say, summiting Taylor Peak was bittersweet, but again it was a glorious day and the views were stunning for miles around.

Use scrollbar to view the entire panorama, or click for larger view

The hike back took us on the Continental Divide Trail and back over to Flattop. Dan was able to run the slightly-angled trail but I was too tired. I hiked quickly behind him. It was nice to finally get back to Flattop and follow the trail downhill to the car. Overall, we ran/hiked 17 miles and gained 6000 feet. It took us 8 hours.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Audubon and Paiute

Dan's boss, Dave, invited us to join him, his wife and some co-workers on a hike up Audubon. Then the four of us would proceed to Paiute. Though Dan and I had a long run planned that day, we decided we couldn't pass up an attempt to summit Paiute, as we've tried twice already and been turned back by weather.

It was a gorgeous morning at the Mitchell Lake trailhead. In all, there were eight of us heading up to Audubon. For two members of the group, this was there first hike up a real mountain, so we knew it would be slow going. It was a fun, social pace and we all reached the summit by 10:00.

After a leisurely snack, Dave, Maureen, Dan and I trekked on toward the ominous ridge connecting Audubon and Paiute. It was a blue-sky day. We scrambled down to the saddle and then up to the summit of Paiute, which greeted us much sooner than we had expected. Dan and I were both elated to have made it up this elusive summit. We took some pictures and relished having the top to ourselves for quite a while.

On the way back, we decided to take a scree-filled gully down to the Blue Lake basin. It was slow-going and took a while to finally make it to the actual trail, but we had no threat of thunderstorms and great company. We got back to the car around 3:00 and then headed to the Sundance Cafe south of Nederland for some good eats.