Saturday, May 31, 2014

5/27 to 5/31

5/27, Tuesday - Mt Sanitas, 1:30:56, 5.5 miles, 1,800ft
I brought my friend Nir out to a Mt Sanitas run - his first mountain run (excluding a textbook sufferfest up Bear Peak where little running was done), however short Sanitas is. Definitely got him to the "I cannot run, I cannot go faster, I can't do this" for the last 300 vertical feet, but he did really well nonetheless. We started from Canyon and 6th so we got in a bonus climb of the Red Rock fins as well. After the 3 days relatively off (I went whitewater rafting in Utah), my legs still felt sore walking around for reasons unknown, but they bounded well up the hill when the command was given. The heat finally seems here to stay now, which simplifies what to wear immensely.

5/28, Wednesday - South Boulder and Bear Peaks, 2:31:35, 9.2 miles, 3,400ft
Finally got around to checking out Shadow Canyon after work and physical therapy today. It started off very well, running the first 1,000ft continuously...then came the canyon. Shadow Canyon is truly a gully akin to a creek bed full of basketball sized loose rocks. Its not quite as steep as Fern, but since they both start and end at essentially the same altitude there isn't much besides their scenery by which to distinguish them. Personally, Fern Canyon is the most aesthetic route to the summits of Bear and South Boulder Peaks - though Shadow Canyon seems a bit more runnable. Hit South Boulder Peak in 1:18 and got over to Bear Peak in 1:33, not a time to be super stoked about but also not one to be disappointed in. I hit a major bonk while heading back down to the South Mesa trailhead. I had probably eaten like 500 calories and about 2 gulps of water throughout the day (Strava says I burned 1,200 calories), I had to take some hiking breaks on spots I would normally have higher expectations - even on some downhills! Finished up under a picturesque sky sparsely spotted with clouds accentuated by the setting sun - really, really, really regret not bringing a camera on this one (or food and water).

5/29, Thursday - Boulder Canyon, 1:15:05, 9.2 miles, 450ft
Up and down the ol' Boulder Canyon again, trying to go fast. Started off with a 15:00 2 mile, then jogged easy until I hit the canyon where I did my best to hold sub 8's on the way up before rocketing down at 6:30 with a guy I later found out runs D1 somewhere in Connecticut. The same guy also said that based off of how we were "comfortably at 6:30 pace" I should have a 5k of 15:00. I'll be sure to keep that in mind next time I run 18:30! Dropped another 7:30 before settling into my warm-down slog back home. I'm still not satisfied with the type of paces I've exhibited lately, but I suppose patience and persistence will be key to changing that.

5/31, Saturday - Mt Quandarry, 3:54:51, 7 miles, 3,500ft
Woohoo, back up to 14,000ft! This was the definition of a slog, Mt. Quandary's East slope is truly a steady ramp all the way to the summit. Started of at 6AM from the winter trailhead... only to find out later that the summer trailhead is passable now. Oh well, only half mile farther roundtrip.
Early morning sun on North Star Peak (I think its that one at least)
The night's freeze allowed me to coast through the trees pretty easily. Finally being borderline underweight pays off, as I only broke through the crust only every 30 steps or so. I passed a couple groups and then it was me leading the charge up from treeline.
Couldn't ask for better weather
A big ol' ramp!
Temperatures were pretty stellar most of the time, I was perfectly comfortable in my running tights and t-shirt nearly all day. I was trying to break 2 hours on the ascent, I thought I was close to getting it, then I crested a ridge and saw another 500ft left to go and abandoned that idea. Most of the climb consisted of kicking in steps into the windswept snow. Grabbed the summit in 2:30. The summit was a different world from the climb, gusting winds prompted jacket, gloves, hat and well, things you would normally wear on a snowy climb.
Summit post. Finally.
The wind wasn't strong enough to stop me this time!
Always worth it
I didn't linger long up on the icebox summit; I snapped a few pics and started running down. I should be clear that on the ascent I ran I think the first 0.2 miles of dry trail and then walked. The run down was an absolute thrill, total freeform downhill running. I saw the next group behind me around 12,800ft, a lady asked if I was training for the Hardrock 100. What!? Yeah, okay, probably not, though the question was a compliment in itself.
This was the view I had while running back down! Unbelievable!
From about 12,000ft down to 11,000ft the snow was steep enough and hard enough that I was able to get some sweet glissading (I think thats what you call it). Basically you run and then slide on the snow like your skiing so you only take like 3 steps every 30 ft. Only fell once, though when you fall you just find yourself sledding. Getting back to the trailhead was borderline miserable, but I was so pleased with the day nothing could dampen my high spirits. I postholed up to my waist probably 10 times - that is really annoying. Anyhow, made it back to the car most pleased.

Friday, May 23, 2014

5/19 to 5/23

50ft of gain was about as much as my poor legs could handle. Parked at the East Boulder Rec and did an old high school cross country loop. Oh, the memories. Hip felt dangerously good. I felt like I was pushing the pace a bit before I slowed down for a fairly long warm-down, but I was only really at 7:30 pace - though I think my leg muscles weakest link today. I think I'll do flat all this week, despite my fear of pavement.

5/20, Tuesday - Flat, 48:34, 6 miles, 200ft
After an amazing physical therapy session, I jogged out of the office and set out on my feet for good 6 miles. Felt way better than I did yesterday despite going a smidge faster. 7:30's felt about perfect today, though I feel like my pace is wildly erratic. I often surge down to 5:50 for 100m then fall back to 8:30 for the next 100m. I suppose my lack of traditional running as of late has taken its toll.

5/21, Wednesday - Boulder Canyon, 1:25:41, 9.5 miles, 500ft
Great to be back on what last year was the equivalent of my current 2nd Flatiron jaunts (i.e. I ran it near obsessively). Ran to Eben G. park where I met up with Elliot. He joined me from the mouth of the canyon to the end of the path and back, at which point I finished up back to my apartment. Pretty easy paces the entire time until the last two miles where I split two ~7:00 miles before waddling an actual glorified walk the half mile back home. Apparently I also ducked under a huge rainstorm while I was up in the canyon which was convenient.

5/22, Thursday - Around, 30:35, 4 miles, 125ft
Blah, Blah, Blah 30 minute jogger literally around with my buddy Nir (pronounced "near"). I ran with last year and he just about died. This year I noticed he's improved significantly and thus mandates him accompanying me on an adventure!

5/23, Friday - Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain 3:11:18, 12 miles, 4,100ft
Did I really think I would stay on flats this whole week? Pish-posh and up I go! I've been curious to link a Walker Ranch loop in from Chat, as well as ascend Shadow Canyon so did. As a preface, this Walker Ranch "loop" I did was but a miniscule segment of the ~9 mile loop itself. General plan was to start from the Shanahan Ridge Trailhead, summit Bear Peak (maybe South Boulder Peak), descend west and link Walker Ranch to Eldorado Canyon and then in near certainty hike Shadow Canyon whilst drying tears from my eyes before returning to the car. That's a mouthful of words, but how did it really happen?

Work was a half day in honor of Memorial Day, so I had a sizable chunk of time to work with. "How about I do something borderline irresponsible" I thought. I ran the approach to Fern Canyon casually but still somewhat deliberate in my effort. Climbing Fern Canyon and I didn't even bother wasting my time trying to run - I can't run more than 10ft before needing to stop here. Summitted Bear Peak in 59:45 which I felt was pretty solid for me. I got too caught up in a conversation with another fellow on the summit to remember to take pictures today, but with the murky skies, its no matter. Decided to skip out on South Boulder for the first round of peaks. I nimbly descended Bear's west ridge cutting through the burn scar from two years ago. I reached my turnoff to go to Walker Ranch, where I was met with a sternly worded sign strung onto barbed wire - shucks.
Bear Peak hiding behind a tree as I work on my next objective: Green Mountain. South Boulder Peak is just out of sight at the top right.
Not a "summit selfie" but a seflie nonetheless. Yay or Nay on the hair spilling out the backwards hat with the shades?
This but the kabosh on the loop, as it would push things to 20+ miles and 7,000ft of vert which is too much right now. My detour sent me plodding along up Green Mountain's Southwestern gently sloped trail. I was able to maintain a run until it joined the steeper ridge and thus its switchbacks chiseled with tall rocky steps. Green was nice, but it appeared I had a bit more time before the weather turned to sour.
I'm no floral expert as my mom, her sisters and their mom are, but if I'm not mistaken this is a blue-ish purple-ish flower
Dancing down Greenman, I met a fiendish little winged fellow at the Saddle Rock trail junction. He seemed very curious - too curious. Then I realized he had me cornered on the switchback. He was noticeable aggressive, letting out bursts of squawking as his dark eyes met mine. As I moved around I lured him to one side of a tree and tore down the trail. I glanced over my shoulder: its Usain Bird, the thing is near as fast as me! I cranked up the speed and didn't look back for another 100 yards or so, he was gone now. Now I've been within 30ft of a bear, 5ft of a moose (stressful), but I think I can say with complete confidence I have never been as scared as when this satanic bird charged me. I talked to a ranger I met a mile later, the bird was displeased with him as well - at the same place. We came to the conclusion there must be some sort of nest nearby it was protecting.
Storm clouds rolling in off of the Continental Divide as seen from the summit of Green Mountain
Anyways, I proceeded over to Flagstaff for my 3rd summit of the day and seemed markedly more tired than everyone else up there - probably because they drove! I looked over at Sanitas, pssssh. Not feeling it at all. Probably could have if I really cared to utterly drown myself in suffering, but today was not that day. Descended to Eben G. park and hopped on a bus.
This deer seemed a bit proud of its fanny and posed as such
Le Tour de Chauatauqua going from left to right
So wow, yeah, that was near 50 miles this week (including Torrey's Peak from my last post) even while taking Saturday off (posting this on Friday but I'll be on the road all tomorrow). Maybe not a good thing to ramp up, but in terms of time on my feet and perceived effort it didn't feel too out of place. Amazing how much easier the miles come on the flats, and to my surprise not too much at the sacrifice of a good time. If you haven't noticed, I've made each day's subheading "click-able" if you care to nerd out and see my GPS route. If you do I fully expect you to comment that I exaggerated a mileage or vertical by rounding up a smidge to make aesthetically nicer numbers. Next week I'll look to tone down a bit so hopefully by the weekend I'll be strong enough to get up 14er (all the way up!).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

5/14 to 5/18

Took the first half of this week mostly off and the second half mostly not off, Sunday probably could have been its own post but its not.

5/14, Wednesday - Half Sanitas, 1000ft, 32min, 2 miles
With work now underway I was up at 5AM which will likely become commonplace this summer. Biked to Settler's Park and started up the red rocks trail. Descended down to across Sunshine Canyon and grimaced as I attempted to make my way up the Sanitas trail. I felt pretty out of shape, going up especially. Lack of time mandated a pre-summit turn back, but sunrise views and just being on trails were enough for me this morning.

5/15, Thursday - 2nd Flatiron, Freeway, 1,250ft, 1hr, 2.5 miles 
Despite yesterday's meager distance, it made my hip sore, so I hiked today. Arrived at the base of the 2nd which is usually pretty quiet with 5 other people also at the base. I waited for the one guy already started to move off of my usual route and rocketed up in smooth 9:10 (PR). After some digging I've found that the fastest known time from Chautauqua to Chautauqua is "a hair under 33 minutes" by Stefan Gabriel (notably the Strava segment champion of Chautauqua) and Dave Mackey. I'd like to think I have a shot at grabbing this. Approximate splits would be: 11 minutes to the base of the 2nd, sub-10 minutes going up, 11 minutes back down totaling a hair under 32. Oh, and Anton passed me.

I like dis.
5/16, Friday - Flagstaff Mountain, 1:29, 2,000ft, 7 miles
I put in a practice hard effort to the base of the second in 11:15, on par for what would be needed for the fastest car to car time. Started going up in my brand new Altra Lone Peak 1.5's (awesome) and quickly realized the rock was a wet and slippery slab of doom so I made a detour loop before heading over to Gregory Canyon and got in a summit of Flagstaff. I felt terrific on uphills all day which was very reassuring after not being able to hardly even hike on Wednesday. This was also my first time at Chautauqua not scrambling since a New Year's Day hike with my mom. It rained (fun, and unusual for Boulder) and my Indian food lunch was uncomfortably  present (bad).

5/17, Saturday - Bear & South Boulder Peaks, 2:25, 3,300ft, 7 miles
Woke up and saw a picture on social media of another runner from Boulder above the clouds and immediately headed out for Bear Peak. Started from the NCAR which I now know not to do because it starts with a downhill (which I do not like). I ran some but hiked most everything (not like I can run Fern Canyon). Around 7,700ft I began emerging from the clouds and I couldn't stop looking around at the beautiful scenery.
Some sort of Flatiron poking out of the clouds.
Just before I reached the summit Anton passed me (I haven't not seen him at Chautauqua in like a week).
Disregard the body-less backpack who found his way into this panorama.
I then meandered over to South Boulder Peak for good measure and to get the vertical over 3,000ft.
Looking South across an expanse of clouds.
Looking at the pictures, the clouds and their shadows really emphasize the shear scale of these mountains. Often living in Boulder their magnitude is discounted due to the fact that Longs towers 6,000ft higher relatively close by and is plainly visible from near anywhere in the Northern foothills. Looking to try and get into some "big boy" mountains tomorrow it was good to look over Longs and say "that looks as safe as eating a razor blade".
Summit of South Boulder inside the burn scar looking East.
Today more than I think any day every I realized just what sort of athletic wealth and appreciation for all things natural is contained in Boulder. Runners, Hikers, Climbers, Bikers - everyone seemed to be outside on this glorious day, whether on the streets or the trails. Even further, you can expect to greet everyone you pass with a "hello" and smile. I feel pretty privileged to live in such an amazing town.

5/18, Sunday - Kelso Ridge Sufferfest,  6:18, 3,100ft. 10.2 miles
First venture back into 14k territory since bailing on Quandary and here I am again dropping off a ridge heading back to the car without a summit (either one). Started off from the winter Gray's Peak trail-head with Andrea (who brought his stellar camera, so any picture that looks good is his) -  it adds 1,500ft and 3 miles which is just great. Our plan was to summit both Gray's and Torrey's peak by means of the Kelso ridge. Hiking up an iced over road is something I would not complain about if I didn't have to do again.
This abandoned cabin is right alongside the trail  (photo by Andrea)
So it started perhaps not perfectly, but as time progressed a wonderful sunrise slowly illuminated the surrounding ridge lines still very much draped in snow. We paused briefly at the summer trailhead to take in the surroundings.
Sunrise or maybe closer to sun has risen (photo by Andrea)
Sunrise (photo by Andrea)
Where did that glowing ball of fire come from?
Snow shoes weren't necessary until about a mile later when the icy crust finally gave way to the morning sun, though following ski tracks served for some time until then.
Andrea appearing underdressed, though temperatures were around 50 all day
Reaching the Kelso Ridge turnoff, we made the decision to give it a shot. First obstacle was to ascend a short and steep snow field capped with a small  cornice. It proved to easier than it appeared as we hope the grim looking ridge would also be.
Working my way up (photo by Andrea)
We traversed across lose rock and wet snow until we reached a crux in which neither Andrea nor myself felt navigating in the horrendous conditions in stiff snow/hiking boots. After some deliberation we made the call to backtrack to the standard route and abandon the perilous/fun route.
Galloping in extreme places (photo by Andrea)
On the "easy" part feeling not too confident (photo by Andrea)
"I hate this, this is the worst, I want mommy" we said in unison after trying to find a route through slop city.
No regrets here, under the right circumstances this ridge would be great line, but today it was like walking up a water slide covered in sharp rocks while you can't breathe. At the top of the original snowfield from which we began our traverse, a careful descent was in order - or rather rocketing down on my bum, great fun. We re-joined the standard route already depleted and exhausted with still plenty of ground left to cover. How much vertical had I done already this week? Who cares, my legs feel like sacks of burnt peanut butter begging for mercy. Andrea didn't feel much better and views of the summit -  while as close as they ever got -  still appeared crushingly distant. At this point we made call number two to bail - shucks. We were still pretty happy with the experiences of the day and were satisfied enough to turn our backs on the pair of 14ers.
Even less than ideal days are pretty good sometimes
Going downhill the first thought was immediately "We should have brought skis", you could fly back down relatively effortlessly and in style. Well, we tried our best to enjoy our long quad-killer snow shod descent back to the car with reasonable success. Next mission: Beau-Joe's Pizza (and/or a bathroom). This is one route I'll certainly be back for when this pesky precipitation magically disappears.

I'm tempted to say "good enough" but in reality it was "good", even maybe "really good". Funny how pleasure can be found on the most peculiar of days like this. Its also days like this where you remember that the Earth was not sculpted for humans (by humans perhaps more recently), we are guests and contrary to what popular childhood play date beliefs suggest, the guest doesn't always get what they want.

What a week, despite opening with 3 days off, a demolition of Cordis's legs appears to have taken place. Rest? I don't need any stinking r...-
I'll be asleep.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

5/5 to 5/10

5/5, Monday, 1st & 2nd Flatirons, 2.5 miles, 1,500ft, 1:54
North Arete route on the 1st in 41:06 (which is quickly becoming my new favorite), then down climb the 2nd in 31:22. My strategy of wearing flip flops on approaches so I won't run is decidedly dead today, after I clicked off a 7:51 mile in the flip flops. Thinking about a pair of Lunas now!

It was exactly one year ago today I made my first run up Green Mountain (my first actual summit, unless you include being driven up Mt. Evans). I still see that day as a pivotal moment in my life as the day I discovered something I truly enjoy.

5/7, Wednesday, AM - Marshall Mesa Bike, PM - 2nd Flatiron Hike
Good adventures with friends today. Started off with a mountain bike ride. I feel very much competent on my own two feet, but to put it truthfully, I'm terrible at biking. Its mainly fast downhills that freak me out for some reason, probably based off of numerous bonks on skateboards during high school.

We headed up to Chautauqua after a bite to eat and I guided a quick tour up the 2nd Flatiron before an all out sprint back to the car whilst being pelted with hail. "Hail" of time.

Pretending to be good. Photo by Elliot
5/9, Friday - Mt. Sanitas Hike - 3.6 miles, 1,300ft, 1:31:43
Only done this once before, its an awesome easy hike with a summit view. Enjoyed the scenery and just escaped the afternoon showers with some friends.

5/10, Saturday - "Cinco de Caturday" 3.2 miles, 3,100ft, 2:53:58
To cap off a great week I did five flatiron climbs this morning. Started with the freeway on the second in 10:06 (had I known I was going that fast I would have pushed it to break 10!), followed by the First (PR of 26:34) with the diving coach to my high school swim team, then downclimbed the 2nd in 18:19 (surprised myself how fast I could do that), followed again by up the First (30:47) and back down the 2nd (22:37).

Top of climb #4 atop the First Flatiron
My semester goals had their time come to a close this week:
  • 30 Summits: 10 total (3 Bear Peak, 4 Green Mountain, 1 South Boulder Peak, 1 Flagstaff Mountain, 1 Sanitas)
  • Second Flatiron Freeway in under 25 min: 10:08
  • 1st Flatiron: Success
  • Winter 14er: Can't say I didn't try!
  • A few others that would be foolish to even mention considering injuries (7 days of Green, three 20-milers, etc.)
I suppose its time to chalk up some summer goals:

  • Pikes Peak Marathon: Not the actual race, but I'd like to treat it like one regardless
  • Cables on Longs: allegedly a 5.4, a direct line to the summit
  • Longs Peak Duathlon: Bike from Boulder, Climb Longs, Bike back
  • Pawnee-Buchanan Loop: Last year I didn't do the whole loop (26 miles), yet I ran ~28 miles because of parking at the wrong parking lot and a lost iPhone. This should be merely a formality.
  • Devils Thumb - Mt. Jasper - Mt. Neva Traverse: A wonderfully isolated route following a route of largely my own creation consisting of ~4 miles of scrambling and ~16 miles of running.
  • Ten Mile Traverse - 12ish summits in 10 miles full of scrambling and alpine meadows? Yes, please.
  • Sniktau to Grays - This fiendish route I based off of a hiking guidebook and added some more peaks. 8,000ft of vert over 12 miles at an average elevation of 13,000ft.
  • Arapahoe Traverse - I see it every day I go to class, its taunting me - for now.
  • "Hard 14er" (Capitol, Pyramid, Maroon Bells, or Crestone Needle) - At least one of these more difficult 14ers.
  • Mt. Vesuvius: Yes, I am talking about the Italian volcano :)
Granted, this is a lot, but assuming I stay healthy through October, there is a large window for completion. Most appealing to me is the Devils/Jasper/Neva Traverse.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

4/26 to 5/4

4/26, Saturday - Green Mountain Hike, 7 miles, 2,500ft, 3:30
Wonderful night hike up Green Mountain. Started with of course my favorite, the 2nd flatiron then made my way through the sneak route to the summit.
Sunset over the northern peaks of Boulder
Somehow I got a really good time up the mountain (57 minutes), while strictly hiking the same time. I suppose the cool night weather paired with a "lucky" day in which my legs had some serious kick simply struck at the same time.
Green's summit marker illuminated in the darkness
The descent back down took excruciatingly long, I've never walked the whole downhill before. Each time I hit a landmark I was struck by how much time it took to reach it. I passed the time by singing, as I often do on such lonely and isolated adventures - the woods aren't so critical of poor singing as people are.
Standard sight on the descent, white branches lit up by my headlamp contrasted with the black beyond
I returned to my bike at the trailhead around 11; I was pretty hungry, having been out for around 3.5 hours and brought no food or water as well as having yet to eat dinner. Zipped back home for some scrumptious nutella!

4/27, Sunday - Creek Path, 3 miles, Very slow
My roommate's snoring was akin to a Harley Davidson engine so I woke up around 5 (about 4 hours of sleep) and jogged a quick 3 miles before returning to subsided snoring and finishing my slumber. Legs felt like stone from the 5,000ft of vertical the past 2 days, and my mind was still very much in dreamland throughout the jog - on the plus side the hip felt descent and I got in my first run in almost a week.

4/28 - 5/2,  "Off"
Finals studying, robot building and late nights. Did some stuff but nothing worth talking about

5/3, Saturday, 2nd Flatiron, 2.5 miles
Up at 6AM, biked to Chautauqua, power hiked up in flip flops. I watched a video of Anton (who passed me this morning) doing the 2nd Flatiron, and noticed his starting moves are totally different and way faster from what I normally do, I tried the new route. New PR of 11:06. I had a lot of goals this semester, nearly all of which fell by the wayside due to injury and the weather on Mt. Quandary - all besides the 2nd Flatiron that is. My original goal for this was to break 25 minutes, this goal has been solidly crushed I will very happily say.
Morning reprieve from studying atop the 2nd Flatiron. Also not that shorts are present at the bottom right!
5/4, Sunday 1st and 2nd Flatirons, 4.5 miles, 2:36:22
Yesterday I studied from 8:30AM to 4:00PM and then took a 2.5 hour final exam, all while fueled on crap food and caffeine; when I woke up I drank no water and ate no breakfast (poor planning). Oddly enough I also chose today to actually run instead of hike. I love running! Half-ran half hike to the base of the 2nd. I wanted to try and push it, but within about 45 seconds I knew that wasn't going to happen, so I took breaks and enjoyed the sunrise to finish in a lazy 23:14. Climbed the back of the 2nd and the back of the 1st before...oh yes, running the entirety of the downhill. Hip felt very good, about as close to good without being good as far as descriptions go. Stood at the base of the 1st for a while before deciding to do it. I did the North Arete route this time which skips the friction dependent smooth slab at the beginning, I felt totally comfortable in my heavily worn running shoes the whole time and made it up in 41:04. At the summit I was feeling the symptoms of my dehydration and lack of calories. Ran all the way back down to the Chautauqua trailhead with a smile on my face but seriously in need of some water and food. I love running. I love running. I love running.

On a completely different note, I finished building this treasure this week: