Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mt Werner 50K

Short race report from last weekend... we drove to Steamboat Springs for a race up into the hills there.  It was our first time in that area of Colorado and we enjoyed seeing different scenery.  The race started by heading up toward the downhill ski area, but it stayed mostly on trails that crisscrossed the slopes.  We climbed around 3000 feet right off the bat, more like one of our recent hikes than a trail race.  At least we were ready for that!

After starting slowly to warm up my legs, I passed a few people on the climb and set a good pace up to the top.  There were wildflowers in the high meadows, very pretty.  Most of the rest of the race was above 9000 feet, so it stayed cool for quite a while and that was nice.  After the top of the mountain (at around 9.5 miles into the race), the next 6 miles to the turn-around were on a nice trail that rolled through the woods without too much distinguishing about it.  In fact, I had to work to find little landmarks that I could look for on the way back.  The race was mostly an out-and-back with a slight deviation in one section.

My legs continued to respond well and I had a nice run to the turn-around aid station.  Toward the end of that section I saw a couple hikers and they yelled "Which way to the lake?"  I pointed them in what I hoped was the right direction, thinking that this might be the first time I had ever been asked directions by non-racers in the middle of a race.  I didn't have a map on me, so why should they?

It started getting to be more work on the way back, but I didn't see any reason to stop pushing the pace.  Occasional pretty views, more flowers, nice shade from all the trees.  I was looking forward to the big downhill to the finish.

However, one of my knees had other designs on that, starting to ache partway down.  I debated stopping and taking the gondola down, but it didn't seem to be getting worse and I could kind of adjust for it without changing my stride too much.  By the last 2 miles I decided to just walk it in, no sense in hurting something worse at that point.  Bummer, because I love running downhill...

John does too, and happily he was still running great at the end, so he had a fun finish.  He claimed 3rd place in the masters category, well done John!

Overall, a beautiful fun course, good climbing results for both of us, and hopefully not too much of a knee issue from the last downhill.

Some pictures from the race photographer - at least as long as the links last:
http://skitownphoto.smugmug.com/Mount-Werner-Classic-July-27/i-VfSKKP7  (woohoo John!)
http://skitownphoto.smugmug.com/Mount-Werner-Classic-July-27/i-BKVCMDc  (look Ma, I'm running uphill!)
http://skitownphoto.smugmug.com/Mount-Werner-Classic-July-27/i-Lq8LQtQ  (and downhill!
http://skitownphoto.smugmug.com/Mount-Werner-Classic-July-27/i-JSDJ2Xh  (just like in my dreams)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mount Antero - finally!

Third time's a charm!  John had previously been partway up Mount Antero twice, including with me in 2011 when we were turned around near the top by a rapidly-approaching hail storm.  This time we (I) managed to get up early to take advantage of the typically gorgeous Colorado mornings.  To be clear, John likes to get up early.  I'm always the bottleneck in the "get out of bed" department.

Starting up the 4WD road through pretty woods:

Food of the day - TJ's poptarts!

This must be named "Boot Trail":

The drainage we climbed to cut off some of the road switchbacks and get a little "straight up the mountain" training:

The view above us as we climbed (aka a short breather to take a photo):

We gained the road and jogged around to the final couple switchbacks before the end of the road and the start of the trail.  Looking toward the peak, admiring the blue sky.  No excuses today!

Some rock scrambling, some greeting of the large number of folks descending from the peak, a solid final haul, and then we were there!  Yay!

A view back from where we came, along with Monarch Pass and Tabeguache in the background:

It was the best "top of the mountain" weather we have experienced lately, so we hung out for a while.

"A" for Antero!

Looking back at the peak, on our way down.  There are lots of rocks.

John explored the ridge on the way down:


A little "rock climbing"...

The return of "Yoga on the Rocks":

And some Ingenious John:

Then on to Amica's for some celebration pizza!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

14ers finally

After several weeks of thinking about (and driving and hiking near) various Colorado 14ers, we finally managed to make our way to the top of one.  It was so much fun, we hopped over to the one next to it as well.

In an attempt to see the sunrise from the top of the mountain, we got up ridiculously early and started at O-dark-thirty.  A couple minor miscalculations, and the sun was already shining (just barely) when we reached the summit of Mount Belford.  It wasn't for a lack of trying, although it's quite a steep haul up the trail (complete with rock stairs, making it seem like climbing a fairy tale castle in the dark).  We moved the best I could, but actually we were happy for sunshine when we got to the top.  It was ridiculously windy and we chilled off fast while eating our summit chocolate.

Quick pics, time to get going again!

Slightly brrr...

John attempting to harness some solar energy:

Down a steep drop to a saddle, then the trail over to Mount Oxford next door:

Looking back at Mount Belford in the glorious morning sun:

We found a huddle spot on the top of Mount Oxford, a little warmer now.  The impetus to jump up and go was watching a pika come check us out and then disappear under the rocks beneath our feet!

One more summit shot, John is ready to run again:

We went back close to the top of Mount Belford, then took the trail around to Elkhead Pass.  Looking over toward Missouri Mountain:

Pretty wide open spaces:

The next valley over:

We had considered climbing up Missouri as well, but one of my knees was talking to me on the downhill, so we decided to hold off on more 14ers for another day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Four Passes Loop

John and I were excited to have the chance to tackle the Four Passes Loop near Aspen, around the Maroon Bells.  We have heard great things and we were ready for a long day on the trails.

Starting out at Maroon Lake - immediately awed by the scenery and the Maroon Bells on the horizon:

Trail through the aspens:

Crater Lake and a closer look at the mountains:

Climbing up to our first pass (West Maroon), John was excited to find some Trader Joe's chocolate covered almonds in our food stash:

Looking back the way we had come:

Yes, we like this stuff a lot!

I had a smile on my face most of the day, especially when finding fields of wildflowers:

South-facing view on our way to the 2nd pass (Frigid Air Pass - fun name):

You don't have to climb straight up this snow slope at the top of the pass, but it makes for more interesting photos:

Another look back:

And forward to the next huge valley with the Bells watching over it:

What a beautiful day too.  There were brief rain showers several times, but they were more of the cooling variety instead of the soaking kind.

The long green wall along the valley:

Coming down the valley, we found a large "step" in the terrain that made a nice overlook:

And a big waterfall, yay!

This bit of water was coming out from underground:

Columbines  :)

We would have gone rather faster except I couldn't resist taking a ton of photos...

Starting up the long climb to pass #3 (Trail Rider):

John got inspired (or tired of waiting for me) to get out his phone and start taking his own pictures:

A small lake on the way to the pass:

Taking it all in:

John is fast...

...and patient:

His point of view:

Snowmass Lake - another amazing bunch of scenery:

John trying to help me feel taller next to some tree-looking bushes:

A few snow patches on the way down toward the lake:

Almost makes me wish we had a packraft with us:

Excellent trail for running around the lake:

A little posing, especially since we were happy to have a bridge for this creek crossing.  That didn't happen most of the time on this loop, i.e. we got to train with wet feet for much of the day.

If this were a rogaine we'd probably have a checkpoint on the other side of the beaver dam.

The trail up to pass #4 (Buckskin) to complete the loop:

Hello Mr/s. Marmot!

Snowmass Mountain on the horizon - I finally see how it got that name:

The final pass and a Maroon Bell across the way:

John hanging out with (holding up?) the cornice:

One last creek crossing, this one passable with dry feet:

John having fun with his camera phone:

For even more John fun/silliness, check out this video that he took:

One last look at the beautiful mountains...

What an awesome day!