Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Grand times

We spent some time in Grand Lake over the summer and enjoyed the heck out of the area.  So many places to explore!  John did some construction work and I set out to see as many trails as I could cover.  It was a solid choice as a UTMB training ground.

We even got to visit with Leslie and Noel, an excellent bonus.  Leslie and I, plus her dog Beckett, went on a run up to Crater Lake.  This was the only outing where I took many pictures.  We moved more quickly than in my normal training runs, so I probably wanted an excuse for a brief rest now and then... I'll be right there, Leslie!

I really enjoy running along a fast-moving creek.  Very different from my Arizona experiences.

Lovely waterfalls:

Beckett having a wade in Mirror Lake:

Just beyond, at Crater Lake and the end of the trail:

Beckett and the columbines:

More waterfalls:

Running back to the trailhead - many thanks for an excellent workout and great company, Leslie!

My only other photos from the area, when I climbed the North Inlet trail to Nokoni and Nanita Lakes:

Almost made it through a blog post without a picture of me:

And to close this out, something different...Two electric trucks at a Colorado charging station!  Our Rivian looks a bit small next to the Ford Lightning:

Thank you for a fun summer, Colorado!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Hardrock race watching

We had not originally planned to be in the San Juans for the Hardrock 100 race, but doing Softrock with Robyn and seeing the race entrants list got me excited to hang around a little longer.  We towed our travel trailer to Silverton, found a boondock spot along South Mineral Creek, and got up to watch the race start.

Catching the front runners at the first road crossing, including Francois D'Haene (in the red shoes) and Kilian Jornet (in black):

I believe the women's field was the largest ever for this race (27 out of 145 runners), although that still doesn't sound like a lot:

Looking good, Ryan!

The Coury brothers ran together for a while:

Hey John Sharp, you got this!

Yay Jeff!

We hiked up toward Island Lake to watch everyone climb to Grant-Swamp Pass.  It was a lovely morning for race watching on high.  Kilian was leading the way at the time:

Followed closely by Dakota Jones (go Dakota!) and Francois:

Billy Simpson and his friend were out for a stroll in their mountain skirts (?), too funny:

Cheering on John Kelly of Barkley and FKT fame:

Wildflowers and race markings:

Go Courtney!!  She was climbing strong above Island Lake:

Maggie was not far behind - go Maggie!

A random excited runner, woo hoo!

We were having a good day too:

Doing great, ladies!

John Sharp making his way up through the willows, always fun to chat with him wherever we happen to run into him in the world:

Next we drove over to Ouray and up Camp Bird Road, pausing on the way when we spied the lead pack running toward us, hello!  Dakota, Kilian, and Francois were still running together at that point.  Dakota pulled away on the next climb while Kilian and Francois stayed together for a while.  Super fun and interesting to watch the happenings, both briefly in person and later on internet tracking.

We parked near the Governor aid station and started our next hike in the direction of Virginius Pass.  John Kelly was at the water crossing so we got to watch him dance across and then scoop some water into his bottle:

I believe this is Jeff Browning running smoothly down the road:

John took off ahead of me and made it up to the pass before starting back down.  I took my time and decided to turn around at the bottom of the first scree slope.  I caught a picture of John descending, with a couple racers on the "trail" above him:

It's a lovely afternoon for a splash through a shallow creek:

We were psyched to catch Maggie coming through the aid station - she was still moving well but dealing with some kind of blister issue:

What a great way to watch the race!  It's nice getting up into the mountains, doing our own version of a workout, able to impart some positive energy with zero crewing/pacing/volunteering stress.

We got some sleep, but less than normal - the leaders were on a smoking-hot pace to perhaps break the course record, and we were hoping to watch them finish.

And Kilian pulled it off!  He and Francois had reeled in Dakota, then Kilian turned on the jets at the end to return to Silverton in course record time (21:36), incredible.  My photos hardly do him justice, but he looks like he barely broke a sweat:

Brian from iRunFar conducting a finish line interview with Kilian:

Francois ran in soon after (21:51) and then everyone waited for Dakota's sub-24 hour finish (also amazing!).  It was entertaining listening to their conversation at the finish line as Dakota talked about making his big move and then not being able to hold off the other two at the end.

6th place overall, breaking the women's record in a time of 26:44, Courtney Dauwalter!  Yay Courtney!  So inspiring:

We would have loved to stick around for the rest of the weekend, but we had run out of extra time.  Congrats to all Hardrock runners, thanks for making us smile and cheer!

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Mount Sneffels - only slightly scary

I had not imagined I'd ever want to climb Mount Sneffels.  After scrambling around on San Juan scree fields during Primal Quest 2002, my impression was that this whole area is full of loose slab.

On the other hand, we've had some additional experience in the mountains since then.  Perhaps my memory is colored by the fact that we were complete noobs the first time we had to figure out off-trail ridgelines, in the dark no less.

After Softrock, we decided to hang around to watch the Hardrock race, and with a couple play days available it seemed to make sense (?) to at least go check out Sneffels and see if my fear avoidance was justified or not.  Plus it was a chance to drive our Rivian up another dirt road in Colorado.

For the first time, we didn't need to park at the 2WD trailhead, yay!  It's nice to have more options.  We drove up to the next parking area and saved a bit of hiking.

We did hike up the last section of road, pausing at the signs to get the lay of the land:

Another beautiful day in the hills!

I zoomed in on the horizon to get a closer look at Virginius Pass from the Hardrock course - we think it's the low spot in the left half of the picture:

The climb up Sneffels went really well.  I suspect that so many people have been up and down the slope that many of the rocks are lodged in place.  The middle of the slope is rather bare but there are plenty of rocks along the sides.  And it's not too slabby/slidey like nearby Teakettle.  Still a lot of work up a steep climb, while wondering what we would find further up.

From the saddle, the couloir wasn't terrible either.  Again, quite steep.  Loose dirt, fewer choices of solid rocks, but at least there are places to hang onto along either side.  People going up and down at various speeds, hello everyone.

The crux is near the top where a large boulder is lodged into a opening that would have been an easy passage to the final scramble to the summit.  John of course had no issues squeezing through, and he dropped a rope to me.  Another successful belay operation and soon we were at the summit.

Hey, that's cool, I didn't realize we'd climb a new 14er this summer!

Scenery to the southwest - I see more places we should explore sometime:

Hi from the top of Sneffels!

John's summit pose plank:

Look ma, no hands (at the moment):

One last look around:

John approves:

Another quick belay down through the crack.  John followed, without a bit of concern about the exposure, because he's a mountain goat:

Once past that, descending also wasn't too bad.  Just a second, I'll be right there!

The run down to the truck was easy, and then we managed to get a flat tire from one of the sharper rocks in the road.  Another adventure - happily the fix-a-flat worked, the onboard compressor was super helpful for adding air, and that repair job held until we could get a replacement tire in Durango.

Gotta love southwest Colorado!