1/13 – Up Green, via the back of the First.
Total ice rink on the trail between the 1st and 2nd – not even joking. Would have been faster/saver to climb the 2nd itself.
1/15 – PR Attempt at Green Mountain via Bear Canyon/Green Bear – Success!
Working on the very arbitrary and tidy time of 45:00 from the Mesa Trail/Bear Canyon Trail Junction. Have to cut my time by ~2:30 to do that. We’ll see. The route is runnable for someone like me, who’s not much of a runner and I managed to keep running, till the very end, where it seemed power hiking and taking enormous steps was a faster way to go. Felt great on the run, a little peeved it wasn’t faster, but it was pretty damn fast enough, if I look at my historical times. My fitness in running, especially running up things is ripening. Not breaking any records when a course is flat – but that’s OK.
1/15 – Cragmore TH-ish to Eldorado State Park, to Eldorado Summit, to Getting Lost, to a long run home
I had some pretty high hopes for this day, and of course I got up about 4 hours too late too see them through – not that it stopped me from trying. Rode the bike to the TH on Leighigh, and ran Mesa to its southern terminus and then ran on an actual paved road to Eldorado State Park. My first time there – kind of an incredible place – too many things to take in, and it was an absolutely beautiful day. I had made a permit to hike Eldo Mt., starting from Rattlesnack Gultch, but the trail was closed – a big surprise.
Not to ruin my day, I decided it would be alright to go for the summit (had that permit, after all), if I just didn’t use the trail, so straight up I went! The first few hundred feet were some horribly loose choss, and I was sending rocks of large size down with every few meters I made. Finally reached a faint climbers trail, to a ridgeline, and thought, well, it’s climbing time and proceeded to go up the damn thing. This being my first time in Eldo, I didn’t quite understand the immensity of just, you know, free soloing one of the rock faces that sprout out of the area like weeds, in my minimal trail runners. Power hiking up steep choss, turned to scrambled, which turned to climbing with moves I couldn’t reverse pretty quickly – but somehow I gained the ridge – it was not a good idea, as the damage from the flood was pretty apparent: lots of loose chunky stuff everywhere. And everywhere it seemed I was on top it.
As luck would have it, I gained the exact ridge I was aiming for (Northeast), just was lower than I was planning to, and was able to cross the tracks on the ridge itself, while the tracks took a tunnel. Things were nice till the summit, as I could scramble what I wanted, and hiked when I didn’t. Just too many trees to grab things – I must have lost my hat a dozen times on a branch.
Summit was nice enough, but the radio towers and building next to it, sort of soured the mood, so time to go down. Plan was take the N. Ridge down, and – f-it, the closed trail down, as there was NO WAY I was going to reverse the way I went down. Suicide. I was pretty confident in my route finding, although feeling like I was actually on the North ridge never accrued and it was well into a gultch going way too far to the west where I realized I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be. What to do.
Rather than what you’re supposed to, reverse your direction, I decided to climb out of a very steep gultch, up another steep, risky, loose cliff, basically, to gain another ridge, and figure out where I was. Where I was, was many drainages away from where I wanted to be. And this is why I practice climbing: I get myself into deep water like this. In reality, I was having an absolute hoot of a time, but really kids: this is how people spend very cold nights in the sticks after getting lost. Made my way east and ran into the closed trail. I took in the view and my next objective: Shirttail Peak, which someone says there’s a Class 3 way up from the Eldo Side of things, and a Class 2 way down into the Shadow Canyon side of things, but it was almost 4:00pm and unknown terrain – especially after my ordeal gaining the summit of Eldo, at night seemed a little – you know: risky. So I bailed on that, and ran the road back to the Mesa TH, and looked at the map to figure out a way back to my bike that didn’t involve 2,000+ feet of elevation gain. I was tired and I needed to get back to town.
Found one, and found the energy to kinda/sorta run it. Made it back in plenty of time to not be figuring out things in the dark, grab a slice, try some new rock shoes on, and support Brendan Leonard, as he was doing a slide show type deal for his new book, which you should all read, as it’s really great.
So, 18 miles later, a new mountain summited, many hilarious situations I got into myself in such a small amount of time: I’d say that was a pretty good day, in the semi-rad tradition of everyday mini epics.
1/18 Boulder to Longs Peak TH, Mount Lady Washington
The weather was SO nice, and I hadn’t been on a bike ride that was more than 5 miles for SO long, I thought that maybe I’d try, you know, to ride to the Longs Peak TH and see if I could maybe summit a mountain. There was a meetup group that was carpooling, and leaving at 6:00am near my house, but I thought: “naw”, and I just woke up an hour so earlier to bike there. The meetup group convoy passed me, while I was negotiating a steep section on HW-7, many miles from the Longs Peak TH, which is richly demoralizing. I think they got to the parking lot at around 7:00am – took me another 2 1/2 hours. Which: hey – that was actually kind of cool. 9:30 am, and I can start a hike. In Rocky Mountain National Park! leaving, from my house! By bike!
I brought a 30L backpack filled with warm clothes – I was getting ready to be in the jet stream for a few hours, as is the usual situation on the Longs massif during the winter. This stopped me from really running the trail, but didn’t stop me from power hiking straight up to basically the summit of M.L.W., ignoring most every switchback. Turned out to be a most beautiful day – slight breeze, but that’s it. I was down to my base layers for most of the hike, cursing bringing like snow pants and an extra coat. Kinda happy I didn’t bring an axe an crampons.
Surprisingly enough, not as soon as I crested to the top, I met up with that same meetup group, taking their summit shot! I had caught up with them, simple by hiking up faster. That was crazy. I left at the same time as everyone, but bounded back down – it was only 12:30pm, but daylight is still pretty scarce, and I wanted to get home before dark. Made it back to the trail head in like, an hour. Again: crazy. Three hours later, I was back in downtown Denver. So unreal.
Week total on my feet: 41.8 miles, 14,829 feet of elevation
Week total on the bike: 88.9 miles, 7,668 feet of elevation (one day of riding!)
Did a few days inside Bouldering, as well. Fun times. Great week for sure – can’t wait to try Longs itself, w/approach by bike from Boulder. Slim chance the weather will hold, but what’s not life without hope?