Bradley's View

Bradley's View

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summiting Mt. Sherman And Visiting The Neighbors

      Each time I drive back from Elbert, Massive, etc in the Northern Sawatch range, and every time I step out of the grocery store I see the Mosquito Range beckoning.  And it was about high time I made my way up there.

Seen to the far right, conical and reminiscent of Mt Pisgah back home, stands Mt Sheidan, to the right, taking up most of the picture is Mt Sherman, and just outside of the range of this shot is Gemini

     The route up the gulley to the saddle of Sheridan and Sherman was a bit of a pain. I came into it with intentions of running most of the way, but the loose scree and jumbo-sized gravel made hiking far more practical.

The climb has begun

    After being nearly blown off the mountain by the wind whipping through the saddle I made my way up Mt Sheridan.

Looking back from Sheridan towards Sherman and their shared saddle

    At this point, I had become pretty fluid in my ability to move quickly up and across the rubble, and throughly enjoyed the summit at 13,748 ft.

Horseshoe Mountain as seen from Sheridan

No quite ready for the timed shot... Atop Mt Sheridan
     And back down to the saddle I went, which probably took as long as getting up...

Snowy ridge on top of Mt Sherman
     I was pleased to have propelled myself up another 14,000+ foot peak

Sherman's summit (14,036)

Looking down on Leadville and Turquoise Lake

    From Sherman I headed northward towards Gemini Peak.  The trip across the saddle was a blast, the first unforced runable terrain of the day!

Gemini Twins
     The above picture is taken from basically on top of one of the peaks, but you can see some of it's rubble on the lefthand side of the photo.

The northeast summit stands the highest at 13,951
    The climb up Gemini was pretty exhilarating.  It truly was a climb, and the wind was acting a bit fresh trying to thwart my every step.

    As I said, the run on the saddle between Sherman and Gemini was a blast:

     The trip rounded out at about 8ish miles with 3,500 feet of vertical, and I completed it in 2 hours and 51 minutes.

     Thanks for reading.   Also, I'm hooked on this mountain thing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Some Weeks In Review And The Halfmoon Halfpipe

    As things are starting to settle in here in Leadville the situation grows cozier and cozier. I've had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people with whom I'll be sharing the community and the trails.  We've settled into a new, fresh little apartment that fits snug as a glove.  The only thing its missing is Luna, but, let the countdown begin, we'll be getting her July 1st if all goes to plan!

    If you take the time to read my recap of the past several weeks, you'll realize that running to singletrack from the doorstep is a reality here.  A dream come true, really.
    My running has been... timid, for lack of a better word.  After having my IT-band flare up a couple of weeks ago, I've been a bit reserved about cranking up milage.  But, alas, the time has come, this week I'll head up to 60 for the week and don't intend to look back until I've run all the rabbits in Steamboat into the ground.

    Despite the low milage, I can say that I've seen about 100 distinct miles of trail since my arrival here, and I have the suspicion (that I intend to confirm) that I can continue running new trails everyday.

    On second thought, I don't much feel like typing out my training log from the past few weeks so I'll sum it up like this:

Week 5/7-5/13:   35 miles, 10 hours 50 minutes, 10,200 ft

Week 5/14-5/20: 56 miles, 12,300 ft, 11 hours

Week 5/21-5/27: 41 miles, 7 hours 10 minutes, 5,100 ft

    As for the Halfmoon Halfpipe...  The route was comprised of a run up Mt Massive and back to the starting point/aid station at Halfmoon Creek, then a run up and back Mt Elbert.  The big picture would be as follows: about 22 miles, 9,200 ft, in who knows how long, and, to top it off, tagging the summits of Colorados two highest mountains.

    A brief summary of the event would be like this:  Wind, brr, Massive, down, relax.
    A more comprehensive summary would be as follows:

      It is difficult to coordinate a fun run when you know very few people in town, so the day before the outing there were 3 confirmed runners, myself included, and a slew of maybes and "aw, I wish I could but....s".

     In a fortunate turn of events, I ran into a couple of runners, Tony and Joe, at the coffeeshop and suggested they join in the fun.  The idea of the double summit didn't mesh well with their plans for the day, but the summit of Massive coincided perfectly.  So, just like that, the number of participants (I use the term loosely, as no one actually ended up summiting Elbert) nearly doubled.

    We were all camped out near the trailhead and around 6:30 Donna, Sarah and I took off, after starting a little bit later Tony and Joe would breeze by us near where the Colorado Trail feeds you into the Mt Massive trail.

     As Donna, Sarah, and I made our way above treeline, we were blown away by the power of the wind, I mean that mostly figuratively.   It got cold quickly with the wind pounding so this is where I started running for warmth's sake (we had been hiking at a good clip up the hills).  

     Numb hands, numb nose and all I followed Joe and Tony's tracks to the summit of Massive and ran into them (figuratively, once again), as they began their descent.

    The views were absolutely incredible from the ridge, and the wind all the more awesome.  I reached the summit 2 hours and 24 minutes after leaving the trailhead.  I would really like to get back out there and run the first 4 miles to treeline and see how much lower I could make that time- is 1:45 out of the question?

    On the way down the wind had calmed, I stopped to chat with several hikers from various places in Colorado who commented on the strength of the wind.  "If you had only been here an hour ago", I thought... but kept it to myself and fed them some encouragement. 

    I realized on the descent that I wasn't going to see Donna and Sarah making their way up, the incessant bites of the wind had driven them off the hill like a dog's do the mailman.

    When I arrived back at basecamp 4 hours had passed since I took off, and without anyone else's enthusiasm to complete the Halfpipe by summiting Elbert, I lost all my zest for the occasion and elected to call it a day.

    I know pictures are worth a thousand words, but I forgot my camera so you'll have to use your imagination, or the google image search... I will try to be more consistent with my picture taking in the future... forgive me...

   Here are a few from other occasions:
Fishcreek Falls Steamboat Springs, CO

Timberline Lake

Timberline Lake

Colorado Trail

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hanging Lake, Sleeping Outside, And The Highest Peak In Colorado

       On our way back to Leadville we stopped to pay a visit to Hanging Lake, right off of I-70.  Figured it was worth checking out, as it is said to be the most traveled trail in Colorado. 

Bike path, stretching the length of the Glenwood Canyon

     The trailhead is nestled in the Glenwood Canyon a couple of miles outside of Glenwood Springs and travels a little over a mile, gaining ~1,200 ft on its way up to the pristine and beautiful Hanging Lake.  As you can see in the video there, its pretty incredible.

Got some extra miles and vertical in on the Deadhorse Gulch Trail, which
heads up to the top of the Canyon, before meeting Mel at Hanging Lake

     We arrived in Leadville with ample time to find a campsite; and find a campsite we did!  We drove a couple of miles out of town into San Isabel National Forest in the Halfmoon Creek Area and set up a campsite where we spent the last 4 nights.  Here is a quick tour:

      Having a campsite nestled between the two highest peaks in Colorado really gets you itching to see what it looks like from the top.  So, Wednesday afternoon we did a little re-con, running two miles &1,200 ft up the Mt Elbert trail and back down to get our bearings a bit.  It is quite the workout powering oneself up above 11,000 feet, we quickly found.  But the experience left us no less eager to make the push up to the summit of Colorado's highest peak Thursday morning.

     After spending a little bit debating how many layers to bring and how many liters of water, we took off from the North Elbert Creek Trailhead at 6:45.

      The trail meandered through the woods for a while, featuring some wicked steep sections to get the juices flowing.  About halfway through, maybe 2.5 miles in, we reached the treeline and followed the trail over rocks and scree on the way up.

     We climbed and climbed, the final 2.5 miles gain about 3,500 ft of elevation.  It is absurdly steep at some points.  There were several sections where we walked upon snowdrifts a few feet deep, and,  as we neared the summit, there were large snowy sections which really added to the grandeur and majesty of Colorado's tallest fourteener.
Melissa heading up the the ridgecrest for the last stretch to the summit.

With some mountains in the back...

Enjoyed reaching the summit after 3 hours and 15 minutes of hiking.

And enjoyed the view...

     A few hours after we got back down from the summit we started our first day of work at City On A Hill Coffee & Espresso.  We're really excited to be a part of the team at the shop and the community here in Leadville.
    We're also delighted that we have found a place to call home that we'll move into next weekend- which means there remains only a finite number of days in which we'll be forced to sleep outside.  Which is nice considering it is snowing as I type this...

    Thanks for reading

Monday, May 7, 2012

Silverton To Grand Canyon To The Present

    Silverton was the quintessential quaint western town, boasting a population of merely 300.
      We met some wonderful local folk that happily directed us to notable trails in the surrounding area.  The other people patronizing our hotel were from the Denver area and visited Silverton at least two or three times a year.  We joined them for a hike.

      On the Colorado Trail.

     To a vantage point that looked down to the valley 1,600 feet below in which the train from Silverton to Durango runs its course.

      There was also a nice waterfall.

     And beautiful mountains.

     At the recommendation of Megan, fellow runner and owner of Silverton's coffeeshop, we headed to Durango that afternoon for our run.  The run took us up Animas City Mountain which looked down over the city and the Animas River (seen below).  The route was about 6 miles round trip and gained 1,600 feet of elevation.

     We jumped for joy when we made it to the top!

     Where we were greeted by a Horned Toad.

     From Durango we made our way down to Mesa Verde National Park, as seen below.

     We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and sunset from on top of the Mesa.  In the morning we visited the, legen-, I hope you're not lactose intolerant... -dairy Cliff Dwellings (The Cliff Palace is seen below).

      A knowledgeable tour guide described the construction process and known tidbits of the culture of the area's original inhabitants.

      It was cool to see this piece of history up close and personal.

     We even got to go down into one of the Kivas...

     On our way off the plateau, we saw a coyote...  I mistook it for Luna.
     We made our way to the Kaibab Plateau to finish our journey to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   We went on a run on the Arizona Trail, an 800 mile trail across Arizona, which crosses the Grand Canyon on its way to the Mexico border.

    The woods were beautiful, full of Aspen and Ponderosa Pines.

    Some of which were quite large...

Afterwards we made our way into Grand Canyon National Park.

    Grand is an understatement...  But really, the North Rim was truly spectacular.  I cannot recommend highly enough how sensational it is to visit this place.   In just a few days we saw nearly 40 miles of trails on the plateau, including a trip several miles down the North Kaibab Trail (which ultimately reaches the South Rim).

    We had a delightful time working and playing on the edge of the ditch but ultimately decided that there was a better opportunity out there for us for various reasons...

    The housing situation was a little run-down...(Serious exaggeration, but great picture)

     We worked to the brink of exhaustion. (Serious exaggeration, but great picture)

     So we made a U-Turn... (Not actually the route we took)

      As we drove away from the North Rim, we noticed some runners at the top of the North Kaibab Trail.  We asked if they needed any aid, and we dished out water to a few.  One of the people completing the 44 mile Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim was Gordy Ainsleigh, who is more or less the father of trail ultramarathon racing in the United States.  It was also a pleasure to meet Vanessaruns and Scarpy?, Scrapy?, not Scratchy... of San Diego.

     We didn't want to travel back the same way that we came, so we shot up through Utah.   Where we had the pleasure of seeing this mountain goat!  We were fortunate to have our binoculars handy, which did far more justice to this majestic mammal than did our camera...

   We set up camp in Fishlake National Forest, just in time to catch the rising of the Supermoon, the brightest moon of 2012.  It looked absolutely brilliant as it came up over the mountain and flooded our cozy valley with light.

     The drive continued.  We stopped for lunch on the Colorado River outside of Grand Junction, CO.

     We set up camp in White River National Forest up around 9,000 feet.  We cooked dinner over a roaring fire and slept like royalty.  The air breathes well for us here in Colorado, which brings me to some explaining that I have to do...

     You were living and working on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and you left?!  We will inevitably hear this exclamation/question, and we will inevitably ask it ourselves at some point, I'm sure.  

    But the fact of the matter is, when we passed through Leadville, CO a couple of weeks ago, the stars seemed to align.  We, coincidentally, met some extraordinarily wonderful people, who were interested in us becoming part of the team at their local coffeeshop, City on a Hill.   We changed our minds several times about where we may see ourselves thriving, but in the end it was beyond question that Leadville is the place for us to be.  
    So here we are, a few hours away, driving into a most comfortable uncertainty.  We know that we have good jobs and great friends awaiting us there, and plenty more to be made.  We don't know if we'll be there for 6 months or 6 years, its just too soon to tell.  But we've thrown ourselves into an adventure of a lifetime and, through faith and prayer, will embrace everything that comes our way as this next chapter in our life unfolds.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison/Silverton

     Leaving Leadville, the highest incorporated city in North America, was bittersweet.  We received an opportunity to stay there for the summer to work and play, but declined and kept our focus on the journey as planned.  The drive on 1-70 was stunning, as we passed through the Glenwood Canyon, forged by the Colorado.  We had the privilege of staying at the beautiful Four Mile Creek Bed and Breakfast.

     In this cozy cabin by the creek.  The evening of our arrival we visited the local brewery, which was very impressive and then dined at the local favorite (for good reason) The Pullman.  The following morning we enjoyed the delicious breakfast that was prepared for us, soaked in the hot springs, and headed on our way.

       As we headed south from Glenwood Springs the canyon opened up to reveal a stunning view of Mt Sopris (~12,950 ft).

There were waterfalls feeding the Crystal River plummeting from the canyon walls.  Hays Falls is pictured here

       We elected to take the road less traveled and head to Black Canyon of the Gunnisson National Park, a place that each of us had long dreamt of seeing.  Needless to say, the drive up was beautiful (see above).

     It was everything we thought it'd be.  And more.  The canyon is truly breathtaking.  Like most canyons, the grandeur is nearly impossible to capture with pictures.  Or words.  Or even with your eyes...  This particular canyon is less than a mile wide, I mean, you (one) could hit a golf ball across it with a strong backwind, yet it drops about 1,800 ft, does not pass go, does not collect $200.  In fact, there aren't even any maintained trails to take you down to the Gunnisson River, but there are ways, thats an adventure for another day, though.

     So cool.  Not the guy.  The big crack.

      The drive from Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Silverton, CO was unparalleled.  In the picture above you can see the approach to the town of Ouray, right before the haul up and over Red Mountain Pass.

      The road was just as the sign above dictates...