Bradley's View

Bradley's View

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week In Review 10/22-10/28: Boulder Basic

      I ran both further and faster than I typically do on my runs this past week.  The body feels strong and has recovered better than anticipated.  I'm excited for runs to come, most notably the week I'll spend in the Seattle area/Olympic Peninsula in early November!

       With plans of heading to Boulder in mind, I contacted a couple of folks in the area to see what was happening in the running world and as steered towards the Boulder Basic.  I asked how long the run would be and where it would go and the reply was "we'll know when we get there", and I was sold.  Arriving at the start there were probably 40 people dressed to kill, with traction systems in tow excited to tackle the backyard trails.  I met up with Jason, Jenny, and Ethan, and we ended up getting going about 20 minutes or so after the group, but it wasn't too long until we caught up to folks.  The prescribed route featured summits of Flagstaff, Green, and Bear, the later of which we elected to cut out for the sake of time.  We slid through snow and splashed through slush, and had a hell of a time. 

       The event felt like a bit of a homecoming with the casual atmosphere, the excitement, laughter, and camaraderie so reminiscent of my much-missed WNC Trailrunners.  Its always a blast to get out with a group of friends and familiar faces (many of whom had patronized the coffee shop at somepoint this summer).

Week In Review: 

Monday 10/22-
        5 miles around town before work, :40, 300 ft

Tuesday 10/23-
        12 miles out-and-back around Turquoise Lake with Luna, 1:35, 600 ft

Wednesday 10/24-
        15 miles on the CT with Travis, Luke, and Lunas north from Timberline TH, 4:00, 2,500 ft

Thursday 10/25-
         17 miles with Sandi on the east side of BV, 2:45, 2,000 ft

Friday 10/26-

Saturday 10/27-
         Boulder Basic (alternate route) with Jason, Jenny, and Ethan, 3:00, 3,000 ft

Sunday 10/28-
         8 miles in circles on the college's fit trail, 1:00, 500 ft

Totals:  70 miles, 12 hours, 8,900 ft

Boulder's Flatirons Saturday morning.

Luna is thinking of taking up a new sport...
I hope she'll continue with recreational jogging.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weeks In Review: Sailing, Yaleing, etc...

     The last few weeks have been wonderful.  I'm glad that I have stayed healthy and enthusiastic to the point of being able to enjoy the last of the autumn weather.  The snow is poised to settle in any week now.  Some of my favorite trails are already starting to build up banks, but I look forward to running on the groomed ski trails when I'm not out skiing them.

      We had the pleasure of getting out on a sailboat in Twin Lakes a couple of times.  How often do you get to sail in front of 14,000 ft peaks?  Awesome.
Mel and Elbert

Mind the boom.  If it catches you off-guard, your head will hurt.

        About a month ago I reverted back to vegetarianism and have been having a blast in the kitchen and feeling really great both on the trails and in day-to-day activities.  
         Meanwhile, Luna enjoys playing fetch (duh) and has been learning some new tricks.  

      This past week Luna and I headed up Mt. Yale, which may be our final trip up a 14er without skis this year.  I believe that puts me at having summited 10 different 14ers since heading out to Colorado in May, and about 25 total trips up beyond the mystical 14,000 ft mark.

        I think I can safely say that the wind experienced on Yale's ridge was the fiercest I've ever endured.  I maintained three points of contact through most of the scrambling to the summit so as not to get blown over.

Luna looking out towards the Three Apostles about 1,000 ft shy of Yale's summit.

Looking north from Yale's Ridge at Colombia (center) and Harvard (left)

The wind blew me off-balance before the timer clicked.

Contemplating the snow-covered north slopes as a means of dodging the winds.

A little catching up to do, so here's some weeks in review:

9/24- 9/30 (Devil Mtn 50k week): 54 miles, 12 hours, 9,600 ft

10/1-10/7  (Four Passes Loop week): 55 miles, 12 hours 30 minutes, 13,000 ft

10/8-10/14 (Welcome, Winter 50k week): 55 miles, 11 hours 40 minutes, 10,300 ft

10/15-10/21 (Just another week): 60 miles, 11 hours, 11,000 ft

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Photos From WW50k

    Some additional photos from Saturday's outing.  Many thanks to Mike for carrying the camera and taking some sweet shots!

Mike on the snowswept talus field

Rolling in the snow

The quartet on the pass

Lake Ann below and Mt Huron above

Lake Ann


Watering hole


Travis, loving logging his longest run to date

Nice pic

Crossing Texas Creek

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome, Winter 50k

     In the days leading up to our humble event, the temperatures dropped and so did the number of participants (from 18 to 8 at the start line).  This was the first time I've attempted to put together an organized "fun-run", so I was delighted with the turnout and the fact that it was more than just Luna and myself!  This point-to-point outing would not have been possible without the selfless assistance of our shuttle drivers!  A huge thanks to Steph, Mrs. Ambrose, Christina, and my darling Melissa for giving their Saturday to ensure our safety and enjoyment on this outing.

     The "Welcome, Winter 50k"?, but it's only October...  Well, welcome to the High Rockies, Jon.  Dry, clear trails and shirtless running are a thing of the past!  Winter is upon us.  And how appropriate that the ten day forecast (starting last Wednesday) featured nothing but blue skies in the Sawatch Mountains, expect the Friday before and the Saturday of the inaugural Welcome, Winter 50k!

      We awoke to snow.  I scraped the ice and powder off the car, revved it up and headed to our beloved coffeeshop to meet up with the crew.   The crew was assembled and enthusiastic, introductions were exchanged, duties were assigned to the shuttle personnel and we were off.

      It was a long drive to Cottonwood Pass, especially with the presence of snow on the roads once we breached 10,500 ft.  Upon arriving at the pass, snow was blowing in the strong wind, we shivered, the dogs danced.  A few photos were snapped at the start, hugs exchanged with the volunteers, and we were off.

The crew at the start
     In the first half mile, I think all of us thought our future to be uncertain.  We careened through deepish snow on the north-facing slope of the ridge, inches and inches of it, blindly trusting each step.  I thought of the folly of my wardrobe: low cut socks hugging below my ankles and above the road running shoes I had bought from Smokey's thrift shop two days prior, the thin long-sleeve T, covered only by my extraordinarily thin wind/water resistant Brooks jacket, gloves, a Buff ear/neck warmer and shorts.  I had neglected to pack my tights in all the excitement of getting the day underway.  Save the last two miles, the hair on my calves and quads was covered in icicles the entire day.

     We bounded through the snow on the initial descent- we all grew more comfortable in it as the day wore on, it truly requires a different stride and focus to run through snow.  It was only 2-3 inches deep on the first descent, which, regardless of effort, can slow you dramatically.

     We abled over Texas Creek and joined the Texas Creek trail, which Mike, Travis, Sandi, Luna, and I moved swiftly upon, pausing to rejoin with Jenny and Jason every once and a while.  Together we reached the junction with the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), and began our 9 mile ascent up to soon-to-be named Porcupine Pass.  Luna was a champ on the trail- happy to break trail for us in the shallow snow, but always taking time to appease herself with quick jaunts through the pine forests that lined the trails, never venturing more than 10 or 20 yards away.

      I've heard Luna chase a lot of things.  Her yelps are distinct.  I can typically discern if she is chasing a squirrel, rabbit, deer, or elk solely based on the strange sounds she makes.  This time we head something new... She was letting out a bonafied bark.  The only time I generally hear this is if she is playing with other dogs, or feels threatened by something (the last time I heard it was her first, and only, encounter with a bear).  I figured it was another bear.  Travis, Sandi, Mike, and I beckoned her return, and when she popped out of the woods it looked like she had a beard... Unfortunately, it wasn't the beard of icicles we'd both been sporting all day, it was about a dozen porcupine quills embedded along her lower jaw.  No good.

      I held her as best I could as Travis tried to remove them, but she was a very unhappy, squirmy dog, and it would take a team effort.  With Mike holding her hind legs, Sandi the front two, me clamping her jaws and trying to keep her head from thrashing about, Travis performed surgery.  It wasn't easy, we gave her a break about halfway through the plucking, but finally got them all out.  Jenny and Jason would have little trouble following our trail for the next little bit as Luna left a bright red trail of blood on the track.

      This stretch of trail was particularly fun and highly runnable (though tiring in the increasingly deep snow).  It would climb for a half a mile and descend for a half a mile again and again.  We moved efficiently and worked hard conversing and enjoying every step.  It was truly whimsical out there.  It felt as if we were running in a snowglobe, as precipitation was present all day and visibility was especially poor you could almost believe that the world was no bigger than the 20 yards in each direction you could see.
Me and Lu

      In a quicker than expected time we reached our turn for the trail leading up and over the pass to Lake Ann.  From it's start, the trail must have had 30-some switchbacks.  We moved very well until we reached treeline where the snow grew deeper and winds stronger.  With each step the snow breached the top of our shoes and carried on about midway up our calves.  With every bit of force exuded to make the climb up the hill you could feel the snow absorbing the better half of it, becoming more packed and shortening each stride.  The climb wore on, we expected each long switchback to bring us to a whitewashed saddle that was disguised by snow and clouds.  Luna conquered it with ease, even taking time to chase Ptarmagins, who were already sporting their winter plume, straight up or straight down the mountain, just to get in a little extra hill work, I suppose.

      When we reached the pass, we were blown away.   Mt Huron lay ahead, dazzling in white with its head poking a mere 3 feet beyond the majestic mark of 14,000 ft above sea-level.  We took a few pictures, laughed at our shoes that could easily be mistaken for bricks of snow, and Luna rolled and dug in the deep snow.

At the top of Porcupine Pass
      We could see evidence of the trail 600 feet below us on the pass, but no sensical signs of a trail to get there.  The ambitious skier in Travis took over, and he proposed we just bomb it straight down.  And we did.  Each bounding step buried our legs well past our knees, but we maintained balance and Luna followed our lead, leaping into our footfalls, then up, out, and down into the next.

Heading down
      As we approached the treeline again, I was grateful that I had scouted this section beforehand and knew where the trail would again enter the wood because the snow had covered all evidence of a path.  We poured downhill through the inches of snow coating the trail.  We were kids in the woods all over again, running free and joyfully.  Travis, Mike, and I would take turns leading, hopping off rocks and felled trees performing epic "toe-grabs", busting out the occasional "360" and even a few railslides on fallen logs.   The woods howled with joyous laughter as we made the descent receiving rather odd looks from a couple of backpackers, who were each lugging with them more gear than the four of us combined.

     The trail turned flat as we reached the junction with the trail leading into Apostle Basin.  We ran and ran and the snow grew more and more scarce.  Upon reaching the dirt road that would lead us into Winfield, the ground was soft, but there was little evidence remaining of the snowy-wonderland we'd become accustomed to, besides a few lingering icicles in my beard.

     We ran well down the two mile road and were delighted to see our beloved crew members parked in the field.

      We toyed with the idea of continuing on our mission to climb Hope Pass and descend to Twin Lakes, but, with the slowing of the snow, we arrived here in about 6 hours, while my projected finish time for the whole 50k (in ideal conditions) was around 6-6.5 hours!  We decided it was a satisfying enough day as it was, enjoyed post-run beverages, Mel's homemade cookies, and the salty snacks that Heather had been so gracious as to drop off a few days prior.

Pulling into Winfield (mile 23)

Travis and Sandi coming in

What a day for this chick!

    We sat in Winfield laughing and reminiscing, and I couldn't help but think of that stereotypical snowglobe again:  a couple iceskating in Central Park with snow swirling around them, the high-rise buildings as the backdrop.  I realized we had our own version of that small, yet perfect world as we sat with the sun shining on us, warming us  for the first time all day, snow dancing through the sky, our sky-scraping mountains, and, most importantly, the company of people we love.

      Within an hour, Jason came cruising down the hill, as full of excitement for the day as all of us, a short while later Jenny arrived, toting her fuel and her smile.  Donna arrived shortly thereafter, with Heather and Zool (of Ghostbusters fame) not too far behind.

      The crew headed to Donna's place, where Kathy and graciously spent the better part of her afternoon preparing a fire and a feast for us.  We were joined by others and relished in the beauty of all that we had seen together, and all that we would someday see together.

Lounging at the finish

       Welcome, Winter!  We're glad to have you!



Monday, October 8, 2012

Maroon Bells Four Passes Loop

      I find any effort at attributing words to this experience and wilderness futile.  So often that is the case that nearly every time I sit at my computer to begin reflection on an outing, I am reminded of this human conundrum: the inability to condense emotion, experience, and passion into the confines of our limited means of expression.      

      If you only find occasion to hike/run/backpack/GoogleEarth one loop in your entire life, please, please, please, make it this one!  

      Enough words- enjoy the pictures.  I think if you click on them you can look at it in a slideshow kinda format, they also become bigger and prettier.

Scott, me, and Sandi at Maroon Lake before the start

Winding our way up to Buckskin Pass  (Pass #1)


Looking back from whence we came on Buckskin Pass.

Looking towards the next pass and Snowmass Mountain

Scott soaking up the view

En route to Snowmass Lake

Snowmass Peak towering over Snowmass Lake

Snowmass Peak and Trail Rider Pass (Pass #2)

Heading to Trail Rider Pass

Beautiful trail descending into the basin.

The crew on top of Trail Rider Pass

Conditions couldn't have been much better

"Only 4 passes", I thought.  I never wanted it to end!

Descending into what we dubbed "forever basin"

Doesn't do it justice.


Looking down "forever basin"

Scott cresting the aptly-named Frigid Air Pass

Sandi following suit.

The trio on the third pass



Our final non-techy descent on the day, Scott relishing in it.

Beginning the climb up West Maroon Pass (Pass #4)


Scott and Sandi on the final climb of the day

Climbing done- long descent to follow

The sun slipping behind the bells at Crater Lake, ~1.5 miles from the finish