Saturday, June 30, 2012

Square Top Mountain

I hiked Square Top Mountain with a CMC trip. This is the first CMC event I've done since the Barr Trail over two years ago. It was a fun mountain and a nice hike. The trip leader, Marland Billings, hiked at a good pace and was a good navigator. There were two other women on the trip who knew each other from WTS. They hiked on the slow side, but we all had a good day.

We drove to Guanella Pass and started on the Square Top Lakes Trail opposite of Mount Bierstadt. After visited both lakes, we headed off trail up the nice ramp that led all the way to the summit. As you can imagine, the top was large and relatively flat. Apparently, when viewed from the north and south, it looks like a giant square. We started on the trail just before 7:00 and summited as a group around 10:15. The clouds were quickly building even at that early hour. We began our descent down the east ridge and tagged the summit of an unnamed, but labeled 12,000 bump. Then, instead of continuing along the ridge, we dropped down to the lower lake to try to avoid any potential lightning. We got a little bit of hail and rain before getting back to the car shortly before 1:00.

Just at that time, a helicopter was flying low around Bierstadt. It landed on the flanks of the mountain just above all the willows. There were emergency and rescue vehicles at that trailhead. Nothing has been reported on the news yet, but users who were there say a teenager fell, hit is head, and was slipping in and out of consciousness. I hope he's OK.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Boulder Fire

Lightning struck back behind Bear and Green Mountains yesterday afternoon and sparked a fire. Smoke is billowing over the mountains down Dinosaur Mountain, NCAR, and the Shanahan Ridge neighborhood. The fire has engulfed 230 acres. It's really scary and sad to see the flames and smoke. Here are some pictures from the end of our street.



(Dan): We walked to the end of the road a few times tonight to check out the flames. There are spots on the NE face of Bear Pk. and along the ridge to the south. While looking through a small monocular I saw a fairly large flame burst into existence along Bear's N or NW ridge and within a minute die down again -- I imagine it was a long-dead tree igniting.

Mt. Lady Washington

Today I ran up Mount Lady Washington. I left the Longs Peak Trailhead at 7:00 and headed up the trail. That early it was already overcast and there was a slight chance of thunderstorms. I kept an eye and ear out for thunder, rain, and lightning, but I never saw or heard anything.

I got up to the Chasm Lake overlook (about 3.5 miles in) in just under an hour and a half. There were a couple people on the trail, but not many. I did pass some other trail runners already on their way down. Very cool!

I started to head up towards Granite Pass, as my plan was to run to the Boulderfield and summit Lady from the west slopes. However, due to the iffy weather, I decided the quickest way up would be to hightail it up the northeast slopes rather than running the extra mileage. I got to the summit at 9:15. There was lots of nice scrambling on class 2+ terrain to the top. Again, because of the iffy clouds, I took a couple of quick pictures and then began my descent.

I started going down the west slopes towards the Boulderfield because it was only 500 feet of scrambling as opposed to 1500 on the other side. I figured once I got to the trail I could run pretty fast back to treeline. I descended about 400 feet and then decided to contour along the base of the mountain to hit the trail higher up. After side-hilling for a bit, I scrambled down another 100-200 feet and met the trail right at Granite Pass.

From the pass, I decided not to summit Battle Mountain because the weather was still not clearing. I ran right back down the trail (stopped at the loo at the Chasm Lake Overlook -- what a luxury when spending an entire morning in the mountains!) and got back to the car at 11:00 on the dot. A fabulous day! Overall: 8-11 miles (wish I had the GPS), 3800', 3:56.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Triathlon Training

Week in review:

Cycling: 77 miles
Swimming: 2.4 miles
Running: 18.5 miles
Climbing: 3 hours
Hiking: 7 miles
Yayog: Week 3 complete!

One more big mileage week, then on to taper! Woo hoo!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mt Bierstadt with JJ

Laurel took JJ on his first 14er hike up Mt. Bierstadt. See more pics from JJ.

View of the Sawtooth from the start of the hike

Looking west from the start

JJ on the way up

JJ exploring the summit and start of the Sawtooth traverse

The Sawtooth

Looking far west from the summit

Looking back at the Sawtooth on the descent

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Triathlon Training

So, the Boulder Peak Olympic-distance Triathlon is in three weeks. I signed up a week and a half ago. Though I "train" year-round, it is nice to have a clear goal for my workouts. Here are last week's totals:

hiking: 10 miles (3500')
cycling: 71 miles
swimming: 2.7 miles
running: 18 miles (2400')
climbing: 1:40
yayog: week 2 complete!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pawnee Peak

Yesterday I ran up Pawnee Peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. I drove up to Brainard Lake and got to the trailhead at 7:15. The 4.8 miles to the pass were absolutely gorgeous -- wildflowers, waterfalls, rugged peaks in the distance -- picturesque Colorado summertime in the mountains.

The first two miles were very flat up to Lake Isabelle. As I started to climb up to the pass I could start feeling the gusty wind. There were a few snowfields to cross, but they were soft and well-trodden. I bumped into some other trail runners and a couple of hikers who had spent the night on the other side of the divide.

At the pass, the wind was blowing a steady 30mph, with gusts definitely at 40. I decided to push on to the summit which was only a 1/4 mile a way. There were times I was getting blown off balance. The shelter at the top was a welcome sight. I had a quick snack and then headed back down, as the wind felt cold when I wasn't moving.

As the morning got later and I got lower, I ran into a lot more people. In fact, by the time I got back to the parking lot at ten of eleven, it was jam-packed.

Stats: 9.6 miles on trail + summit excursion, 1:34 to pass, 1:50 to summit, 3:36 overall. 2400' gain.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Flatiron wandering

While Laurel was hiking a 14er I wandered around the 1st Flatiron, scrambled up around the backside of it to look out at town, then scrambled up a bit of the Sunset Flatironette to look out at the Indian Peaks and the smoke from the Ft. Collins wildfire, then over to the 2nd Flatiron where I scrambled to the summit of the South Block and enjoyed the views for a while.

Mt. Columbia

Ann and Laurel nearly summited Mt. Columbia.

Horrible scree slopes to the ridgeline

Birthday Peak off in the distance

On the way back down

Someone else's trip report on has a picture of Ann and Laurel on their descent (you can barely see them way off on the right edge of the photo).

(Laurel) Let me fill in some more details: Ann and I started at the standard trailhead at 7:00am. The first two miles snaked up along a creek and got us to the middle of a huge bowl amongst the surrounding peaks. The trail was very moderate, but over 50-downed trees certainly added to the adventure. I think we add another half mile going around, under and over them! We passed the camping area where many parties stay to launch an early start.

At this point, we were looking for a turn-off that would take us up the west slopes of Columbia. Now, most people follow the main trail to Harvard and then walk the 13,000ft ridge over to Columbia and then descend the slopes. However, being that we were driving from Boulder and it was our first 14er of the season, we wanted to go with the 10-mile option rather than the 12-14 mile one. So, up the trail we went. About fifteen minutes later we found a very distinct trail that sent off to the east. It snaked through some other campsites, but then popped us out onto the western flanks. We followed some cairns and a path up a descent scree slope. Then, the slope got steeper and the scree got looser and looser. It truly felt that for every step we took forward, we slid back two feet. I decided to go explore a rocky outcropping to the right to see if it was any more stable. It turned out it was, and Ann followed me up.

At this point, we got on the grassy west slopes. We took some bearings and decided to change our descent route so we could stay off the loose crap. We followed the slopes to the ridge that appeared to have a great line to the top. Now, this all sounds pretty easy and straightforward, but I assure you, it was anything but. The wind was blowing a steady 20-25 mph and there were stronger gusts. Since the time we left the shelter of the main trail, we were completely out in the open. Secondly, the cairns and the path disappeared. We were navigating our route by the map, our surroundings, and what we knew of the supposed trail. Fortunately, the weather (aside from the wind) was clear and we weren't being threatened by thunderstorms. We continued to crawl up the ridge for over two hours. At that point, we wanted to know if what we saw as the summit was the true summit or a false one. Once again, I scrambled up above Ann to see what I could. Our summit was false and the true one was another 500' vertical above. We had had it. The wind, the slow progress up the scree, and the route finding did us in. We decided to turn back.

A huge success of the day, though, was our teamwork and route-finding. We were able to get down the nicer slopes (there was still some loose scree lower down, but nothing like the ascent) and find our way back to the trail with our excellent skills. We were very grateful to get back on solid ground again. It's always a bummer when you spend a whole day driving and hiking to not summit your goal, but it was definitely the best choice that day. Next time, Columbia!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Twelfth Night

We saw Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the outdoor theater on campus. Fun time!