Sunday, August 31, 2014

8/25 to 8/31

8/26, Tuesday - Longs Peak, 15 miles, 5,200', 8:53

Up the Loft (new route for Cordis!) down the Keyhole with my friend Jon. We went quite leisurely, as I was still on haggard legs from Saturday. Surprisingly, the weather was beautiful all morning aside from being a bit chipper up top. Hopefully I can get back up to Longs once or twice before snow flies to work out the kinks in the Loft route, but it was fairly straightforward. The mountain was empty today, we had the summit to ourselves for about 20 minutes and were only seeing people every 30 minutes - unheard of on a popular Front Range Peak. I also brought a box of ~18 donuts up with me and gave them away to people on top and that we passed. Just for funsies.
The Ship's Prow from the Loft at sunrise
Enjoying one of my many donuts up top.

8/27, Wednesday - Boulder Canyon, 10 miles, 570', 1:05

Almost didn't go, but glad I did. My legs felt surprisingly peppy and I was able to crank out a 7:09 min/mile average (miles: [GPS could find signal for 1st mile], 6:44, 7:29, 8:08, 7:58, 6:17, 7:30, 7:08, 6:15, 6:32). Coming down the canyon in the rain, a double rainbow illuminated a beautiful bridge across the canyon's walls. I almost got a sub-6 mile in sandals too. Maybe its about time to give a crack at that sub 5 mile again...

8/28, Thursday - Creek Path, 7 miles, 200', 0:51

Sat down to do homework and couldn't. Went for a run to clear my head just as the sun was setting. The last 20 minutes were a bit sketchy in the near pitch black barely illuminated by my watch light. Solid speed again today (miles: 7:02, 7:18, 7:29, 7:44, 7:04, 7:46, 7:45), though my legs were certainly feeling the harder effort from yesterday.

8/30, Saturday - Mt. Yale (14,196'), 10 miles, 4,300', 2:45

Cleaning up a peak that would likely have haunted me all winter that I didn't summit last time. Opted for the full minimalist life today with no food, water or pack. Just a wind breaker tied around my waste (thankfully). Made it up in 1:48 going at a reasonably controlled pace. Pretty encouraging to cover that kind of vertical at that altitude at that speed. Went down with purpose but by no means with any serious effort for speed in 55:52. I like this one.
Top of Yale with Harvard and Columbia behind me.

8/31, Sunday - Mt. Shavano (14,229'), Tabaguache Pk (14,155'),  12 miles, 7,000', 4:21

What a day. Things started well enough, I thought I was going really slow, but in reality the trail was just stupid steep - I was still getting ~2.4k' per hour. The wind steadily built until I finally got exposure from the West and the constant roar nearly toppled over my svelte frame. I traversed over to the Southeast slope - somewhat out of the wind and made Shavano's summit in 2:01. The quick over and back from Tabaguache (Ta-buh-gwatch?) proved to actually be quite nice with far less wind - took about an hour to Tabaguache and back to Shavano. Finally heading back down I felt pretty tired. After descending about 2000' I decided on a whim to head back a few hundred more feet. On a totally unrelated note, velcro is not a sufficient securement for keeping your iPhone in your pocket. On another unrelated note, I currently am in possession of an iPhone. Now descending - for the last time - I passed some runners heading up who told me Gavin Makenzie and Brandon Stapanowich were on their way up Shavano for their last peak in Nolans 14! After I finally finished, I stuck around at the trailhead to watch them coast in - looking alarmingly well given their undertaking - with none other than Anna Frost! Crazy. Didn't bring a pack today either, but brough a heavier shell, gloves and a hat as well as two gels which I ate on the 1st and 2nd summits of Shavano.
Top of Tabaguache with Shavano behind me
Nolan's 14 finishers cruising into Blank Cabin TH.

Decent week considering the first few days were recovery from a marathon distance. Felt good doing Saturday & Sunday sans pack, going that light enables a lot of speed. Generally, just feeling good.

Week Totals:
Miles: 52.5
Vert: 17,286'
Time: 17:55

Saturday, August 23, 2014

8/18 to 8/23

8/18, Monday - Easy Bike, 15 miles

Actually put forth a concerted effort to not put forth effort. 

8/19, Tuesday - Longs Peak (14,255') & Mt. Lady Washington (13,281'), 15 miles, 5,700'

Hooray! Up and down the Keyhole with Andrea! Most importantly was that Andrea finally got to the summit after nearly 5 years of wanting it. We actually made pretty good time to the summit too, ~3:30ish - though Andrea was certainly fading at the finish. Given I overestimated the time we would need, I grabbed the summit of Mt. Lady Washington on the way down. The mountain itself is a bit too loose for comfort, and composed of a bunch teetering monumental rocks. The only actually commendable property of the mountain was the view of the East face of Longs from the summit (see picture). Nicked my shin while off balance but other than that it was just frustrating to have to go so slow - though I'm fine going slow if means not breaking my leg(s). Met back up with Andrea at the Chasm junction and we jogged it back down to the parking lot.
Basically a view of every feature of the East & North face of the massif.

8/20, Wednesday - High Lonesome Loop, 16 miles, 3,400', 3:17

This was a toughy after Longs. My first foray into actual "long" distance, high altitude mountain running was this loop a little over a year ago. This was Katie's last day in CO before heading back to the East for her school. Not feeling like dealing with a pack, we chugged a bunch of water before we left. I felt really good on the ascent, easily jogging up grades I normally hike. The weather started to turn a bit as we got to the Continental Divide Trail, high winds and low lying clouds. I gave Katie the windbreaker I brought since she had on only a tank-top; I was good enough in my long sleeve shirt - it was probably like 40 degrees and very windy. We made it across the divide and dropped back down to the warmer trees at King Lake. The descent was longer than I remembered and I started to fade a bit heading down, but I was determined enough to suffer through it and make it back to the car. Definitely riding the edge today in terms of going light, but I would make the same decision again. We also made pretty good time all things considered - then again, I don't think we ever stopped for more than a few seconds. I think with a bit of forethought and nutrition this could go in 2:45 for me - though I was disheartened to learn that the FKT is 2:10(!).

8/22, Friday - North Table Mountain, 7.5 miles, 1,100', 1:03

I've contemplated doing this loop for about a year now and finally checked it out; its a clean loop around a nifty mesa in Golden, CO. Really, I was just testing to see how my legs felt and I ended up feeling really good averaging 8:30's on what is a somewhat hilly loop - and finishing with a couple of 7 flats. Certainly could probably go faster, but the pep was really inspiring that I'm game for my Saturday plans.

8/23, Saturday - Pawnee-Buchanan Loop, 27 miles, 7,400', 6:37

Whew, what a day. Started from Brainard Lake and cruised the short section of road before stepping on dirt at the Mitchel Lake trailhead. I felt really good for the first two climbs, staying really consistent with all running before (obviously) power hiking the final grunt up to Buchanan Pass. The pass was completely socked in with clouds and heinously windy. I passed one girl  on the downhill towards Cascade Creek, but she caught back up when I had to stop and re-tie my shoe. Oh no, it's going to be Four Passes all over again - not. I distanced myself from her shortly after the start of the uphill to Pawnee Pass. There was one section about 3 miles past Buchanan pass where the trail was difficult to follow under a field of fallen trees that seemed to be the result of an avalanche last winter. The final climb up the wall that composes Pawnee I probably tried running three times, really just not worth it (see picture). Pawnee Pass was less cloudy but equally windy. On the descent I could tell I just didn't have the "pop" in my legs to crank the downhill with any coordination so I went reasonably casually. It started legitimately raining (rather than the cloudy mist that was present all day) for the last two miles. I finished with actually a much faster time than I expected - expecting around 8 hours. New marathon PR (by like 2 hours). Good to see some serious progress in the "long-distance-mountainous-high-altitude-marathon" category. Maybe if I don't do Longs, High Lonesome and North Table the week leading up I can go sub 6 hours - but then again, I do these things more so for fun than time (I think). It did feel easier than Four Passes & Tonahutu, but that could be fully dependent on the circumstances under which each was ran. Statistically speaking, Tonahutu should be the easiest.Whatever, it was fun/hard.

Probably the hardest part of the day was the concert 5 hours afterwards....Loooong day!
Yes, there is a trail up that wall of rock...somehow
Week Totals:
Miles: 66
Vert: 17,600
Time: 18:04

A quintessential week to end the summer (my definition of summer is when school starts - which is Monday - not September, 21). I actually moved pretty quick on High Lonesome, North Table and Pawnee-Buchanan - which is a nice change of pace from the more common plodding along.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

8/11 to 8/17

Oh my, school is starting soon! Time to cram in everything I can!

8/12, Tuesday - Creek Path, 5 miles, 200' , 0:46

Work is done now so I slept in. I realized I hadn't slept in for maybe a month with getting up early to go to the mountains. It was nice. After lounging about a bit I went out for a super relaxed jog around Eben G. and back through the gorgeous CU campus, actually really excited for school to start.

8/13, Wednesday - Grays (14,270') & Torreys (14,267'), 11 miles, 4,200', 3:45

Up Kelso Ridge, down the standard route. Went up with my friend Katie who has only been at altitude for a few days, but is a super talented runner as well as athlete in general. I was just glad there weren't many flats for her to burn me on! Our timing unfortunately made us run up & down the 4WD road from where I like to park as no cars even drove past for us to ask for a ride. Its okay though, we made pretty good time. As things got higher up and more technical, finally I was able to represent myself with dignity by exhibiting fluid scrambling along the ridge. Hardly stayed on either summit at all, and enjoyed the long downhill. Now I know if I run with Katie: I will lose on flats and moderate uphills; I will destroy on class 3 and "kamikaze style" downhill running. Also, next time I'd like to try and tag Kelso Mountain instead of dealing with the 4WD road - it shortcuts all the road (distance wise, not vertically) and gets you another summit; what could be better!
Katie starting the crux moves up to the "Knife Edge". The standard/descent route is clearly visible.

8/13, Thursday - Creek Path, 5 miles, 300', 0:44

Finally seemed to have figured out the lacing on my huaraches. Anyways pretty relaxed outing except for one progression 6:50 mile that I had to work way too hard for - tired legs.

8/14, Friday - Longs Peak (14,259'), 15 miles, 5,100', 4:59

Originally hoping Andrea would join me, but he feels completely non-acclimated to altitude after being here only a few days; he's obsessed with finally conquering Longs though, so I fully expect to get back up in a few days. Ended up taking the Keyhole route despite having interest in trying the Loft - I'll do an up the Loft down the Keyhole route with Andrea. Took the ascent fairly casual, only ran probably 30% and made the summit in 3:03, I hung around a little bit and was going to descend the Loft with a guy who had done it before, but he was going to spend like 35 minutes on the summit - I didn't feel like waiting that long so I just went down the Keyhole again. For some reason I arbitrarily decided I would break 5 hours, which is somewhat insignificant as its not overly fast and I hadn't even cared about time until about halfway back down the Trough, so the effort was all going to come from the final third. Anyways, I hustled back down and had to actually put serious effort into the run back down, running the last half mile in 3min, which is insane on trails - for me. Honestly though, 5 hours is a touch soft for me on this route, considering I spent ~10 minutes on the summit, ~20 minutes talking to people and didn't put forth any serious effort on the approach. Also I'm probably not super fresh with this being my 7th ranked peak in the last week. I think a better goal would be breaking 4:15 or even 4, still I was for some reason super stoked upon finishing barely under my "goal" time.

Not quite sure what to take for distance, as I've mapped it twice now with one registering 17 and one 15, which is a pretty big margin of error. More reason to go up again!
It was cloudy and misty going up but the top opened up above the clouds.

8/15, Saturday - Mt. Massive Hike (14,421'), 14 miles, 4,700', 6:45

Spending the weekend at my buddy's mountain house with some other guys (Matt & Andy). Super relaxed hike up. This was my first summit in the Sawatch and I can easily see how it is so popular amongst runners - steep & runnable (kind of). Andy faded pretty bad on the summit and nearly fell asleep but regained his composure after getting a few hundred feet lower.
Summit of Massive looking Northwest

Flexing my "Massive" muscles for Mt. Massive

8/16, Sunday - Mt. Elbert Hike (14,433'), 9 miles, 4,500'

Again with the same guys, easy hike up the tallest mountain in Colorado - though highly non-technical. One of the guys surprised everyone when he pulled out a pumpkin pie on the summit to share. So that was awesome. Convinced Matt to run back down with me. Josh Arthur passed us heading up while we were jogging down, and nearly caught us before we were done. I'll be back to Elbert for an honest effort sometime - hopefully this year. Its a beautiful trail. Went in my Luna huaraches today and yesterday and loved it.
Summit of Elbert looking Northwest to Mt. Massive. Neat clouds and shadows.
Week Totals:
Miles: 59
Vert:: 19,110
Time: 22:17

A proper week with nearly all of the substance coming from 14ers. I'm satisfied.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

8/3 to 8/10

8/3, Sunday - Longs Peak (14,259'), 17 miles, 5,100', 9:06

"Relaxed" hike up and down Longs via the Keyhole with some high school buddies - well, as relaxed as Longs can be. I could really feel my improved climbing as I felt completely comfortable in sandals, even on the class 3 stuff. I forgot just how brutal the 6 mile approach is, walking it takes about a millennium; I was able to convince my friends to jog the last 2 miles. I scouted the North Face Cables route (a technical 5.4 climb), its nearly always wet. Not sure I'm ready for it this summer. Last 7 days have been 65 miles and 19,036' of climbing, 10,200' in the last 2 days. I love it!
The North Face of Longs Peak from the Boulder Field on the descent
Sunrise over the Twin Sisters on the morning approach.

8/4, Monday - Sunshine Canyon, 6 miles, 1,000', 2:22

Easy jog to meet Elliot at his work, then we drove to Eben G. and jogged up Sunshine Canyon and then scrambled up the fins. Same route as last week.

8/5, Tuesday - Mt Sanitas, 5 miles, 1,800' 0:58

Biked to Eben G. and made quick work of the 300' bump of the red rock fins before trotting up Mt. Sanitas. Had a weird conversation with some guy on top; oh, the people you meet on mountains. Found a cool scramble that cuts the last switchback without taking more than 4 steps off trail, way more fun. Finished with some barefoot in the grass at Eben G. and followed it with core/stretching/things and a cold soak in the creek. Not sure how I've been feeling so good lately, I've been focusing on eating more calories, maybe that's helping, I just seem to be getting up hills without too much strain lately.

8/7, Thursday - N. Arapaho (13,501') & S. Arapaho (13,397'), 9 miles, 3,700',  3:23

Couldn't decided on where to go, Elliot selected this choice for me out of of Grays/Torreys, Longs, or the Arapahos. Slept at the trailhead for an extra early start as well as worked the pace to get to work somewhat on time (did not particularly succeed on that front). Felt super groggy all the way up to S. Arapaho in 1:35, really just felt out of it. Made the 3rd/4th class traverse to and from N. Arapaho in 22 minutes each way feeling a bit better. Descended back down casually in some sort of time. Biggest outing I've ever done without a pack - brought my phone for camera-ing and an ultra-light windbreaker tucked in my wasteband, no water or food. Fun stuff.
Top of S. Arapaho with the traverse to N. Arapaho behind me
For anyone considering a Suunto watch, the watches are miles better than anything currently available (the Ambit3 seems to almost be a smartphone). But the software is downright terrible. For a numerically oriented mind such as mine I need my stats stat (look at that wordplay!), their website has been down for 2 days at this point, which is sort of intolerable given how much the watches themselves cost. I try to never use their software and only use Strava, but there is no other way to get data from watch to Strava without "MovesCount" (what kind of a name is that anyways). Ok, rant over.

8/9, Saturday - Lefthand Canyon, 12 miles, 900', 1:00||1st & 2nd Flatirons, 4 miles, 2,000', 3:25

Wanted to go for a very long adventure today, but fate had other plans. I was riding up Lefthand Canyon early this morning when I noticed my front tire was a bit low. I thought I would pump it up some more with my hand pump that I had packed. I pressed the hand pump on to find out it wasn't compatible with the valve and thus instead, discharged all of the air. I then checked my spare tube - same valve. Crap. So I had to walk the bike down the canyon about 2.5 miles to get a ride back to Boulder. Really frustrating, especially considering the epic day I had meticulously (but apparently not) planned - for it all to be dismantled by overlooking such a minuscule but evidently significant detail...ugh!

So instead I wandered over to Chautauqua and found the route to the true summit of the Second Flatiron, its completely insane, a real proper climb necessitating ropes and such - I'm satisfied just finding it though, it gives me peace of mind to have absolute evidence its way over my ability, and thus don't feel drawn to do it. Afterwards I went over and casually ascended the First Flatiron, for the first time in about 3 months. Obviously I didn't rush (just look at the time), but I was glad to be done as the herds of people were arriving. Chat is not a place for solidarity on a summer weekend!

8/10, Sunday - Mt. Audubon (13,229'), Paiute Pk (13,088'), Mt Toll (12,979'), Pawnee Pk (12,943'), 14 miles, 4,500', 4:54

Weird day. I planned on trying to bike to the trailhead (also what I planned yesterday) but my alarm went off dark (yeah, that early) and early; I was super tired and I heard a murmur of thunder with the pitter patter of rain outside, so that decision was easy. Rolled over and slept for a couple more hours then drove up to still feel tired on arrival and thus curled up in the back of the car for another hour - really productive start to the day, going back to sleep twice. Ok, now lets go. It took me a couple tries to get myself to the right starting trailhead, but eventually I was on my way up to Mt. Audubon. Maybe it was the sleepiness (that does seem to be a recurrent factor) but I didn't have it on the uphills today, was able to run maybe 1,500' total. Made the summit as some clouds settled in around the mountains - not stormy, just enough to block visibility. The ridge to Paiute was uneventful and though I read there was some "horrible 4th class downclimb" it rarely was more than class 2 - at least by my route skirting the southwestern edge of the ridge on some conveniently placed ledges. Paiute was in a total mess of clouds, I contemplated just heading back to Audubon, because I really couldn't see a whole lot. After a brief survey determining the true summit, the clouds parted for minute or two and revealed my whole route to me, which was all I needed. I suppose Toll was the hardest of the traverse, but I followed what I read, and what seemed obvious which was to head up the gullies on the Northwestern side. It was pretty loose - I wouldn't want to be behind someone (being alone does have that advantage), but the technicality was fairly trivial. It seemed like a more loose version of "The Trough" on Longs to me. The easiest way ended up staying to the right of the gully I was in to stay on more solid rock - but given the visibility, I was just following my nose for the easiest and most direct route. It seems like there are dozens of possible (and possibly super fun) routes up Mt. Toll, it would be interesting to find one that is more fun. Its difficult to scout, given its isolation. From Toll it was a simple talus tip-toe down and up to Pawnee, which went much quicker than I anticipated. I heard a distant rolling thunder about 10ft from the summit to the North so I barely broke stride on the summit aside from eating my last GU. I saw people for the first time since Mt. Audubon at Pawnee pass. The descent was typical until about a half mile from my car I caught a toe completely wrecked. In the half-second from catching the toe to hitting the ground I thought "Cordis, you stupid idiot, why did you not pick up your feet more! This is going to hurt so bad!". Its always when there are people ~40ft ahead and I'm looking for a quick route around them, I lose focus and crash. Of course, these things never happen to me when I'm actually doing something dangerous - danger keeps me very focused and calculating in all my decisions and movements. Same with skiing, I twisted my knee around on a groomed slope somehow after doing flips, spins and steep glades all day. I hate it! I guess its probably best this way though, I'd rather have some scrapes and bruises than, be well, incapacitated.

I debated tacking on Shoshoni Peak I think I would have been fine energy wise, but about 5 minutes after getting back to the trailhead, a bright flash and concussion of thunder rocked the area. Glad to not be in that, as I know a good number of people were still out there (...or arriving). Also, quick reference, Anton did this route and added on the class 4/5 Kasparov Traverse and Navajo Peak and did it faster than me doing less and had set a speed record on Gannett Peak two days before and climbed 4 Flatirons and went up Green Mountain twice one day before. He seems to do more in one week - or day - than most people can do in a year. Crushingly inspirational.

Splits: (probably more for my own future reference than anything...)
Brainard Lake: 0:00
Mitchell Lake Trailhead (finally!): 0:21 (0:21)
Audubon Summit: 1:29 (1:48)
Paiute Summit: 0:45 (2:33)
Toll Summit: 0:52 (3:24)
Pawnee Summit: 0:26 (3:51)
Pawnee Pass: 0:12 (4:02)
Brainard Lake: 0:52 (4:54:37)

Mt. Audubon accessorizing with some clouds
The view for most of the day: class 2+/3 ridge with severely limited visibility.
Best views I got all day, from Pawnee Pk to the hazy Navajo, Arapaho, Shoshoni and Iriquoi massifs.

Week Totals: (not including Longs, I know I'm off on the posting/totaling thing. I do somewhat care, but not that much, also not including biking)

Distance: 39 miles
Vert: 13,080
Time: 15:25

Sort of pathetic mileage for me, but the vert is good enough, which is more or less what concerns me most. The vert also came on significantly more technical routes than previously so the lower mileage is to be expected to some extent.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

7/21 to 8/2

After the 28 mile, 8,200' Four Pass Loop I decided to make a point to get some recovery for a week. Well, I took 2 days off then got my road bike which has been sitting in a garage in need of some repairs fixed up. I ended up biking 3 times during the week. Despite not being a huge fan of road or mountain biking, I figure that easy days should be on a bike just to reduce the total impact your legs are getting. Biking does certainly work your legs though, and a bit different muscles than running does, so my legs continue to be sore as always. Anyways, I was able to resist my bipedal urges for 6 days. Had a dense few days since:

7/26, Saturday - N. Arapaho Pk (13,501') & S. Arapaho Pk (13,397'), 10 miles, 4:13 (3:40 Moving), 3,700'

I started from the Fourth of July trailhead under a somewhat threatening looking sky, though the weather was about 60F, perfect for running. My legs felt a bit heavy and rusty from biking and not running in a while, but they tiptoed along up the trail. Still on a self-declared "recovery-week" (whatever that means), I didn't necessarily put too much effort into things (i.e. I walked a bunch). The morning was quiet and overcast as I made my way up. As is typical for me, above 13,000' I can't hardly run uphill, so I power-hiked the last 400' up to South Arapaho. Up top the wind was whipping, but I never got more than a bit chilly.
The creek- or trail rather. Mt. Neva (L) and S. Arapaho Pk (R)
S. Arapaho, N. Arapaho, Arapaho Glacier (from left to right)
Not sure why I was nervous about the traverse, its said to be Class 3, which for some reason sounded hard despite soloing up to 5.6 comfortably this Spring. Anyways, this was the real fun of the day. There are these orange arrows that point to the easiest way around things keeping it Class 2+ most of the time. Well that's no fun. I tried staying on the ridge proper till I would reach a cliff and have to backtrack, even found a mini "leap of faith". I still hate my Altra's for climbing anything, but they were plenty good today. Ended up hanging out on N. Arapaho's summit for about 20 or 30 minutes talking with a couple from Boulder. Also, Boulder's water supply is right below here, so I could have poisoned everyone - but I didn't, because I'm not a terrorist. Right.
Ridgy Ridgy Ridgy
Large summit cairn of N. Arapaho with some exposure! In the distance is Boulder on the plains.
I played around equally as much and had to redo my route several times, but it was just so cool to climb around up there. If you stay on the ridge proper you can get into what I would call 4th class stuff. Fun. At this point the overcast sky had opened up to a relative inferno (only like 80F) for this area considering when I ski here in the winter its been -31 (that's without wind chill!). Made my way back down pretty casually. Wildflowers were even better than last week!
Its like a sidewalk, but different
Hmm, how to say this. In the manliest way possible Columbines and Indian Paintbrushes are my favorite flowers
Got back to the trailhead to greet what appeared to be the entire Denver-Metro area. Glad I got there early! Beautiful and fun day.

7/27, Sunday - Mt. Yale Hike, 8 miles, 2,900'

My sister is moving out to DC in a few weeks and had yet to be up on a 14er. Her boyfriend and I decided that Mt. Yale was an "easy enough" mountain without succumbing to the throngs of crowds which would surely be present at the close and easy Grays, Torreys, Bierstadt, Evans, etc. We ended up not making the summit - turned around at 13k' - but it was a great day out in the Sawatch which has some huge scenery. Really the goal was to give her the "big mountain experience", so I think we did that and am glad we turned around before things got miserable and un-fun.

7/29, Tuesday- Grays Pk (14,270') & Torrey's Pk (14,267'),  9 miles, 4,300', 3:03

The Arapaho's wet my appetite for more technical lines, so I gave another go at Kelso Ridge. So its really a lot easier without wet and slippery snow covering all the rock! I ended up running into my friend Jason at the trailhead - his jeep made it up the rough 4-wheel road, I relied on my legs for an extra 2 miles, he was also going for Kelso with three other guys (Dan, Doug, Trent). So I joined up with them. Jason is about 200 pounds of pure muscle and is a phenomenal runner, pretty demoralizing to see someone with that kind of mass move that fast (and he only looks bigger around a bunch of skinny runners). We made pretty quick work of the ridge, crossed the saddle and bombed the 4,000' back down. Again, going down I excelled, going up I was getting pulled along. I think 2 of the four guys were Hardrock finishers. So crazy. I got a ride back down to my car so I didn't have to run the 4-wheel road back down. Awesome morning, legs felt awesome all day and all before work.

Also, shout-out to Mr. Schulb - I got up at 4:30 AM - I'm getting there!
The five of us heading up at sunrise (photo: Jason)

Jason on the approach, Kelso ridge is on the right leading to Torrey's Peak (right) with Grays Peak (left)
Trent on the Knife Edge of Kelso ridge, I'm in the top left, camouflaged into the rocks.
Me and Trent executing the stereotypical 14er pose with a sign we found (photo: Jason). I guess Trent used to be paralyzed a few years ago after a car accident, needless to say he's had an amazing recovery! A good quote was "some muscles in my arms are still paralyzed but I'm good!"
Racing to the finish with Doug - a 2014 Hardrock finisher! (photo: Jason)

7/30, Wednesday - Green, 7 miles, 2,500', 1:39

Been raining for a few days now which has let the temperature in my apartment fall below 80 - finally. Anyways, wasn't any lightning all day so I enjoyed a mellow lap of Green. I hadn't actually stood atop a Boulder mountain this July interestingly enough - the last time being on June 30th. Really pleasant evening with peppy legs, despite being inside of a cloud the whole run.

7/31, Thursday - Anemone Ridge/Sunshine Canyon, 4 miles, 1,000', 1:21

Easy jogging around Anemone ridge with Elliot. Enjoyed some sweet sunset single-track followed by a quick scramble of the nearby fins. Was originally planning on doing the weird Anemone ridge, but it was closed for some unknown reason. Whatever. Awesome evening with great company to keep my pace in recovery mode. Vertical is blowing up right now and I love it.

8/1, Friday - Anemone Ridge/Sunshine Canyon, 4 miles, 1000', 1:00

Same exact route as yesterday. My new Luna Mono huaraches arrived in the mail today - perhaps the only shoe that can be shipped in a standard envelope! They actually offer a surprising amount of cushion for being a sandal, about as much as I'm used to nowadays anyways. Lacing is a bit a of a debacle right now, but that should improve with trial and error. They also worked pretty well scrambling (on the Red Rock Fins) as they have a Vibram outsole. Good fun.

8/2, Saturday - Mt. Neva (12,814'), Mt. Jasper(12,923'), 17 miles, 5,000', 6:08 (4:03 moving)

Being relatively uncharted territory (even in Colorado's ocean of mountain beta), I found one sentence in a comment on SummitPost that suggested this exact line had been done before. Its almost certain it has been done before (I mean its Boulder area...), and each segment has absolutely been done before, its just a fairly obscure linkup. So I really studied the maps. Luckily, the one section of this route which is off trail/route is easy n' breezy alpine grass. Started from 4th of July Trailhead and grumbled up the moderate incline to Caribou Pass. The north ridge to Neva steadily increases in both elevation and technicality. The crux is an exposed 4th class section in a sliver of a notch that is almost vertical. but the rock was solid and though holds weren't abundant what was there was great, it went well enough. The summit followed shortly thereafter. Neva is a bit peculiar for being as prominent as it is while not even getting to 13k' - thus being relatively unknown, its a real treasure.
Approaching Neva's North ridge
A close look at the ridge. The dark-ish triangle is actually a very thin notch with some fun 4th/5th class climbing
Looking back from the summit.
Next up was a generally class 2 grunt up Mt. Jasper, the gentle giant albeit it comes short of even 13k'. I've also found various different recorded elevations for the mountains, but a smidge under 13k' feels about right. I sat around on Jasper for probably 30 to 40 minutes. I hadn't seen anyone in almost 2 hours, so I played some music and laid out on a rock and enjoyed my Nutella-dilla. The Southwestern slopes of Mt. Jasper were totally surreal, attacking the steep downhill in knee deep wildflowers is something I'm sure to remember.
A simply phenomenal selfie looking back towards Boulder. A real Boulderite woud be able to identify Green and Bear!
Looking back to Neva.
The few high points provided a trip down memory lane when I tried this last year and turned around due to dehydration/fatigue. One thing I did remember was not to shortcut down to Devil's Thumb Lake - last time it was an infuriating 30 minute willow-whacking profanity inducer which left me even more exhausted and dehydrated. Still, the familiar territory was nice after the airy and adventurous ridgeline. Missed the Diamond Lake trail turnoff and ended up having ton run all the way down to Hessie and start jogging up (ugh) to 4th of July until I was able to hitch a ride. I probably was stopped for 2 hours, considering my solo-party on Jasper, route finding gawking on Neva, and general nature enjoyment stops. Always good to get peaks that you can see from Boulder. Still remaining are James, Audubon, Apache, Navajo, Toll, Paiute, Pawnee, Iroquois, Eldorado, Niwot Ridge, Old Baldy, Meeker, Pagoda, Storm, Lady Washington, Skyscraper, I started typing that thinking there weren't many left and now I've realized I've got a ton of untouched territory; which is both intimidating and encouraging. Nutrition and energy were awesome today. I brought 5 gels, two nutelladillas, 40oz of Tailwind and a cliff-bar. Turns out having calories in you is super helpful when you have to burn them.

Some awesome days in the hills lately. I think I've found my favorite type of route: class 3/4 up with a downhill that you can fly down. Simply put, I sought after things that excited me more than stats that excited me. What then happened is I did so much that excited me that I got stats that excited me.

Week Totals (not including Arapaho traverse last week):
Miles: 49
Vertical: 16,996'    .....YES!
Time: 18:55

I suppose the miles don't correlate with the vert/time. Yeah I'm slow, what of it?