Saturday, August 25, 2012

USA Pro Challenge

The USA Pro Challenge is a multi-day cycling race in Colorado, covering nearly 700 miles and 42,000 vertical feet. We caught the second-to-last stage, which started in Golden, rode through Boulder, then up to Nederland and Lyons before finishing back in Boulder on Flagstaff Mountain.

Donna and Rachel joined us to ride downtown. Lots of people out on bikes, Pearl St. was closed off for blocks for a cycling expo -- it was a zoo!

We all watched and cheered as the riders zoomed down Spruce St. (There were as many support vehicles, cop cars and motorcycles as there were cyclists!) Then Laurel and I headed up to Chautauqua for a hike. We hiked up and over the First Flatiron to the Gregory trailhead and then headed up Flagstaff Rd a bit to watch the end of the race. There were a LOT of people, probably 10s of thousands of people on Flagstaff, some in costumes, lots of cowbells.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I want to believe

Aliens are invading Boulder. With lasers.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scrambling around Seal Rock

We were going to hike up Fern Canyon to Bear Peak but got sidetracked by hiking up to the Harmon Cave area and exploring a bit. There were some climbers starting up Seal Rock. We headed off to the right to see what we could find -- perhaps a way up to the Fern Canyon trail.

Seal Rock's north face

We hiked to the south end of Poot Ridge (or Gnome Rock?) and scrambled up for a view before continuing up and southward.

The west side of Seal Rock was impressive. We continued past and ended up stuck somewhere around the East Ridge of the Nebel Horn. There may have been a way around but we were running out of time so we turned around and headed back.

west side of Seal Rock

Saturday, August 18, 2012

St Vrain Run

On Saturday Laurel ran up St. Vrain Mountain.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dinosaur Mountain

Laurel and I parked at NCAR and started towards the Mallory Cave trail, as we did 10 days ago. At that time the goal was to reach the Square and Babyhorn rocks -- an easy 2-mile round trip; today we continued past our previous turn around point up the steepening trail. Following the guidance of Gerry Roach's Flatirons Classics, our objective was to worm our way through the tiers of rock scattered on Dinosaur Mountain to its summit.

Not far into the hike a huge snake crossed the path between us. Either I unknowingly stepped right over it or it hadn't yet entered the path when I crossed. Laurel cried "S-S-S-NAKE!!!" and made a mighty leap back 20' off the trail. We let it slither through the grass before continuing on.

Shortly after hiking around behind Der Zerkle we left the main Mallory Cave trail and started up the even steeper climbers' access trail. It brought us to a junction where the trail broke left and right. We arbitrarily chose the right branch which led under the summit of another rock. The trail faded but there looked to be good scrambling around the northeast side of this rock.

We found an exposed traverse to the east face of the rock and attained a sub-summit perhaps 20' below the true summit. Those last 20' looked like a bad idea in sneakers with no rope so we were content to look out over Boulder from this perch.

summit of The Box

From the pictures and description in the Roach book we discovered we were sitting on a rock called The Box. To the west were Fi, Fo, Fum, and Dum, forming the third tier of north-south ridges of rock. Knowing our exact position helped, since the book described a scramble over the third tier just west of The Box.

Fi and Fo


Before attempting that scramble, however, we checked out the west-side sub-summit of The Box, where I knocked my noggin pretty hard on an overhanging rock blocked by my hat's visor. The scramble up this hunk of rock was described as class 3. Perhaps if I had rock shoes on I could agree with that assessment!

The scramble through the third tier was straightforward; it brought us to a steep hunk of rock that we suspected was the summit we were looking for, but we decided to explore around its backside to be sure. Around back we discovered it wasn't the summit; we also found a neat tabletop rock perched on two others, forming a tunnel. Then through the tunnel...

Dum's tunnel

... and atop the rock, which was a gigantic surface, perfect for laying in the sun. This rock was the summit block of Dum. Lunch.

Dinosaur Mountain's summit was just another few hundred feet west, and a pretty simple scramble. From the ground we couldn't tell which rock was the actual summit. Laurel found it first while I scrambled up a northern sub-summit.

Double-exposure of Laurel summiting Dinosaur Mountain

Dan summiting Dino Mtn

Incredible exposure to the west -- the summit looked down into the huge bowl below South Green Mountain that drains into Skunk Canyon.

After a short break in the shade we hiked down the Bowling Alley to a break in Dinosaur Mountain's summit ridge. Scrambling down the west side of the ridge brought us to a steep meadow that we followed all the way down to the Bear Creek trail. Along the way we found a few antlers and a praying mantis crawled around Laurel's pants.

We got back to NCAR 4.5 hours later, completing our 4.7 mile hike. Elevation gain was around 1700'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mount Audubon Moose

For my last day of summer vacation I decided to run up Mount Audubon. To my surprise and absolute delight, I came across some moose on my drive to the trailhead. As I approached Brainard Lake I noticed a whole bunch of cars on the side of the road. Thinking it was odd, especially at 7:30 on a weekday morning, I slowed down to look a little closer. There they were... 3 HUGE, munching moose. They were just standing there eating the bushes. I parked the car, grabbed the camera, and jumped out to snap some pictures. Though there were two very brave photographers not 20 feet from bulls (and one on a ladder), I was not that brave. I got as close as I felt comfortable, took some more pictures and noticed a fourth moose even closer to the lake.

I finally drove up to the actual trailhead for the start of my run. Fortunately, there were no moose up there. The morning was gorgeous and the run fairly uneventful. I saw plenty of marmots, pikas, and even some ptarmigan. I ran up in 1:34 and down in 1:10. Then it was off to school for a leadership team meeting.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Harvard and Columbia

Ann and I drove to Buena Vista Saturday night so we could camp at the trailhead and get an early start in the morning. We found some pretty good pizza in town for dinner and then went to set up camp. Despite there being a lot of other cars and a lot of other campers, it was a quiet night. Of course, I didn't sleep much though. I don't know what it is about the first night in a tent. Had we camped another night, I would have been dead to the world for sure. Oh well.

Sunday morning we got up a bit after 4:00 and were hiking by 5:00. We knew the bottom part of the trail well, having been there in June. As we got to the Columbia cut-off trail the sun was lighting the way. However, today we continued on the Harvard trail to attempt Colorado's third highest peak. The trail was well-built and the scenery was beautiful. We hiked through some willows, reminiscent of Mount Bierstadt. Then the trail snaked through lots of rock. It seemed to go on forever, but finally after nearly 5 hours we were at the base of the summit block. After a couple of neat scrambling moves we were on top.

It was now 10:00 and clouds were starting to form in the Colorado blue skies. The route to Columbia was 2 miles away on top of a rocky ridge--a long way from treeline. We decided to hike down the ridge for 20 minutes and re-evaluate the weather and terrain.

Twenty minutes later we decided the best course of action was to turn around and descend. We were moving too slowly to safely traverse the ridge so we backtracked to the trail. Nine and a half hours we were at the car. Thought there were dark clouds all around, we never got rained on or hard thunder. Better safe than sorry!