Routes: The Stevens Gulch Traverse

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From right to left: Kelso Mt., Torreys Peak, Grays Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Edwards, and a few other bumps along the way.
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Overview

The Front Range 14ers Grays and Torreys make an excellent beginner 14er hike – it was one of the first 14ers I ever did. Being so close to the Front Range Urban Corridor – less than an hour from Denver, it still affords some dramatic changes in environment, not the least because of the sweeping ridgeline going West to East to Northeast from Grays Peak, and ending essentially at I-70. When hiking up (or driving, I guess) up the beginning of Stevens Gulch, you can’t but feel that the world is closing in on you, and you’re now entering a different place altogether.

You may also, like me, have the urge to be on top of this ridge line. Not many obvious entrance points present themselves from the start of the Summer trail head to Grays Peak, to the summit of Grays Peak itself. The ridge is rocky and broken, with much rockfall danger. You could, and people have, find a weakness in the ridge to climb up, but I don’t suggest it. In this route, I outline what is sure to be a classic traverse over the entire Steven’s Gulch; bagging you two 14ers, a Class 3 ridge scramble, and at least 2 13ers – one of which (Mt. Edwards) is a Centennial. If that’s not enough, you’ll also go over a mountain that used to be labeled a 14er, McClellan Mountain – actually height: 13,587′ which faked out turn-of-the-century tourists!; as well as many smaller 12ers, in your hike to close out the loop.

Some stats of the route as I describe it:

  • 14.5 miles
  • 7,000 feet elevation gain/loss
  • mostly off-trail, w/Class 3 scrambling
  • no easy bailout point after Grays Peak
  • crampons/ice axe recommended until late in the summer season

This route is not to be underestimated,  it’s a requirement to get an alpine start, and to not be afraid to bail, if weather comes in (bailout points are noted, below). Be strong in your logistics game.

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Routes: Boulder to Idaho Springs; Avoiding Black Hawk and Central City

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Ah, a good nice long ride in the Colorado Front Range foothills. If you’re like me, you like your rides to be challenging and engaging – as well as avoiding perils, such as traffic. A ride from Boulder to Idaho Springs (and beyond!) should be an easy target to hit. Idaho Springs makes a good resupply point, if you’re hoping to go further into the mountains, as there’s a good bike route from the Springs that you can take up and over Loveland Pass and onto the other side of the Continental Divide.

Unfortunately, between Boulder and Idaho Springs are the old mining townsites of Black Hawk and Central City, which now are home to gambling towns. Black Hawk seems to have quite an aversion to cycling in general, going so far as banning it outright in town. The reason?  Traffic from people coming into town to gamble – one of the only reasons one would come to Black Hawk and stay for any extended period of time. No gambling, no Black Hawk. This ban was overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court, but Black Hawk has made it uncomfortable for cyclists to go through town, as they’ve made an out of the way detour that bicycles need to follow – you can’t use the main street, that goes right to Central City! Thus, cycling is still banned in most of Black Hawk.

I don’t necessarily like going through Black Hawk/Central City. You lose and gain a tremendous amount of elevation to essentially ride through the middle of a high-traffic area (ie:no payoff!)- an area that doesn’t even like you being there. But, if you don’t mind some gravel and a more adventurous route, there are alternatives:

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11/23/15 – 11/29/15

Mon Nov 23 2015 – Off

Looks like Monday is becoming me default, “off” day – work just needs to get taken care of, which is fine.

Tue Nov 24 2015 – Sunshine Canyon/Gold Hill up! Lefthand/Lee Hill down  (S)

Another wonderful ride up Sunshine Canyon/Gold Hill.

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11/09/15 – 11/15/15

Woo boy. The difficulties of writing the things you do down, in order to keep some sort of history of said things.

 

And for what end? I’d like to say it’s so that I can use it to look back, and track progress and all that. I do it – or want to do it to keep myself committed to my goals of progressing. We all love a narrative.  We were there, now we’re here. And we’re much better, now!

 

Sometimes it works that way, other times, not so much. Many things have gotten in my way, mostly laziness; sometimes financial emergencies; or relationship issues; or I get sick for seemingly weeks.

 

Recently? I think I broke my foot! I honestly can’t tell if this is a broken bone, or a really bad sprain/strain. If it’s a broken bone, it’s one of those tiny bones that float around your foot, that you can’t really heal in any systemic way, so nothing to do about it anyways.

 

If it’s a sprain/strain, it’s a kind I’ve never had before. Partly because it’s on my left foot, and not my right. My poor right foot has seen countless sprains in my life, mostly due to skateboarding accidents. I’m used to feeling my right foot sprained, but my left foot, it’s aaaaaaaall new feels. But the pain doesn’t seem to be centralized in one area, which is bewildering to me. No real swelling – def. no discoloration.

 

So, how’d I do it? I fell on my head (mostly), and I guess my foot (a little bit) bouldering indoors. Missed the dyno. So lame! There goes my, “practice indoors because it’s safe” hypothesis.

 

My go-to for any injury is rest the thing that’s injured until said Thing doesn’t hurt as much. If that doesn’t do it in a few days, I usually just start again, because I will go insane just moping around.  I get all philosophical on the injury, too: “It’s either going to get better, or it won’t and I’ll die either way

 

So, I shall try again, to keep a weekly log of my tireless tasks at physical self improvement, starting this week, and ending at when it’s far too nice out to really find this minutiae important enough to make public.

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10/26/15 – 11/1/15

Monday, Oct 26 2015 – Bouldering @ Movement

Good boulder sess. today – very quick warmup of some V0’s and V1’s, which mutated into playing One Less Hold on some V1s until that got boring. Then I moved over to a V5 project I was working on a bit.

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Talk @ Neptune Mountaineering Notes + Thanks

Thanks everyone who made the time to come over to Neptune Mountaineering and participate in my talk! I really appreciate everyone’s interest and support! Thank you Neptune Mountaineering for hosting the event!

GPS tracks of the routes I presented are available on my Strava Routes page:

Some of the routes/races I mentioned:

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The Funny-Named Weird Little Bike Shop That Changed My Life (for the better)

It was many things, to many, many people. Here’s what it meant to me:

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Salvagetti + Happy Coffee: a bike drive thru to by coffee + bike parts, open early in the morning. Another master idea by Scott. I borrowed those beefy tires from one of the mechanics of Salvagetti to try to ride this beast of a machine on some of the more technical parts of the Colorado Trail, in hopes of bagging some 14ers. Long story short: unsuccessful trip in many regards (Trailer?!), but I learned a lot and vowed to try again. September, 2010

I think I was on a date. We had just visited The Denver Art Museum. Practically across the street, there’s a block of row houses converted into businesses. One was a bike shop, with a hand painted sign, illustrated with a bike, and an Italian flag.

 

It read, “Salvagetti“.

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