Tues - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap.
Weds - AM: .5 miles (500') Morril Benchmark (5,791'). From a pull-off on South Centennial, I snuck over the ridge towards the reservoir, sidehilled south and then carefully made my way up to the bluff to tag the high rock on the ridge which sits under a solar panel off to the side of some dude's property. This one is for obsessive-compulsive Larimer County peak-baggers only.
PM: 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth south summit via Slush's Slit. Up just as the sun was descending behind the divide, leaving beautiful soft oranges, pinks and blues contrasted against silhouetted ridgelines and peaks. Pikes Peak was as clearly visible on the southern horizon as I think I've ever seen it. This has to be my absolute favorite time of year to run right now.
Thurs - 10 miles race. Turkey Day 4 miler (22:32), with 4 mile w-u, 2 mile c-d. A fun morning despite the crappy race.
Fri - 8 miles (2,500') baggery. Headed out to the Pennock Pass area via 44H and knocked off the four ranked peaks out there. This was my first trip down 44H since the fire, and I have to say the north side looked a whole lot better than I was expecting. It looks like the line, for the most part, was on the ridge above the road. East and West White Pine, however, were totally burned out, which was pretty sad to see, and then the burn pretty much stops at Monument Gulch on the west side. Both FR100 (White Pine road) and Monument Gulch road were closed.
For the peaks, I drove up to Pennock Pass, hopped out of the car and did 9495' on the north side - just a quick 400 foot bop up and down - and then 10,008' on the south side. 10,008' was a little more involved, but still pretty straightforward. Back at the car, I drove a few switchbacks down towards Pingree Park and picked up 9,342', a nice spherical summit. Found a cairned route through the woods and enjoyed stellar views of the Comanche Wilderness and its high peaks from the summit. Finally, I drove all the way down to the Pingree Park road and the Signal Mtn TH. Hopped on the trail for a mile, before cutting due west up a big gulley for the summit of 9,540'. Awesome views of Comanche from there as well.
|Stormy Peaks from top 9,540'|
|Comanche (right) and Fall (left) Mtns. Classic Pingree terrain mercifully saved from the fire.|
|Another Bluebird Colorado Fall day.|
|East and West White Pine on the western perimeter of the High Park fire area. Totally burned. Hopefully the aspen will grow back quickly as this area is stunning in the Fall.|
Sat - 16 miles (5,200') baggery. There is a cluster of seven summits up off the Cherokee Park Rd in the Red Feather Lakes area, which if done altogether negates the need for multiple trips up there. I got an invite from David Johnson to go bag 'em all, so with an early start we were off up north to grab some peaks. I thought the drive would be a bit longer, but it only took 45 minutes to get out to the County Wildlife Area, and from there we bagged 7,220', 7,500', 7,620', 7,660', Turkey Roost, 7,655', and 7,814' in that order.
Setting off in the dark, we started out in an easterly direction following a two-track road. A half mile in, and we realized that we'd been heading in the wrong direction for our intended route (7,665 first), so changed plans and started out with 7,220', which was a couple of miles cross country to the north. The going was a mix of pasture land and heavily shrubbed gulleys. About a mile out, after fording the North Fork of the Poudre, we started getting some light and made our way to the summit with little problem.
From there, we had to drop down to Bull Creek in a northwesterly direction, before humping up to 7,500', which had a multitude of rocky outcroppings that could serve as the summit. We, of course, tagged them all. The views of the impressive Turkey Roost and broader North Poudre Valley were excellent from here. After a quick repose on top, we headed due north for a couple of miles, picking up faint trails here and there, crossing a beautiful pasture and then scrambling across some fun rocky terrain to gain the impressive summit of 7,620. The 400-500 foot summit block offered some super fun class three/four climbing, and offered superb views of the surrounding terrain in all directions. It took us a little while to figure out a route down in the direction of neighboring 7,660, but we got down eventually and then enjoyed a similar scrambling experience on that big lump of rock.
From 7,660', it was a long march back south towards Turkey Roost, the most recognizable and dominant outcropping in the general vicinity. We started out by heading directly south across a horse pasture on a direct line for Turkey Roost. This led us to a tributary of the Mill Creek drainage, which we followed on a mix of jeep track, deer trail and full-on bushwhacking. We eventually connected with Mill Creek proper, skirting a ranch property to the east, and picking up a good cow path alongside the drainage. This cow path led us all the way down to the North Poudre, where we hung a left before crossing the river and bushwhacking up the steep and densely forested north slopes of Turkey Roost to a saddle in the northeast ridge. The sidehilling across to the northeast gulley was infested with some really nasty brush, but once in the gulley there was a nice rock slide that allowed for much quicker movement to the summit saddle, from where it was an easy class three scramble to the summit. The summit was pretty flat with no obvious summit block, so I spent the 10-15 minutes waiting for David wandering around jumping on rocks and admiring the views.
Dave said he was pretty much done when he got to the top, so with my wife-imposed deadline fast approaching, I scampered down the southern Turkey Roost gulley in the direction of 7,665, which looked to be a quick up and down from my vantage point on Turkey Roost. Fortunately, there was a good climbers trail down the gulley and the terrain was pretty open on 7,665, so I was able to get down, up and back down in 30 minutes or so. This left over an hour for the final summit and return to the car. Pretty much the rest of the morning had been a hike, so I had plenty of energy to get up the final summit at a strong push. The true summit of 7,665 is all the way west on the summit ridge, so I picked up the two false summits along the way, before tagging the rocky high point and then bombing down the sparsely vegetated southern gulley in the direction of Cherokee Park Rd, which I hit a mile and a half west of the car, leaving a nice net-downhill jog to the finish and a waiting Dave.
|7,620' was a fun scramble.|
|There was a ranch property below the summit of 7,620'. One assumes that these are memorials to family members from the ranch on top of 7,620'. Turkey Roost and the North Fork Valley can be seen in the left of the picture.|
|More fun scrambling on 7,660', neighbor to 7,620'.|
|7,620' and another rock outcrop (foreground) from 7,660'|
|The trip back south took us across horse pasture.|
Total: 64 miles (15,600')
Good week on balance. Little motivation to run much these days, but plenty of motivation to get out and explore Larimer County terrain. Sometimes I find myself shaking my head at the absurdity of tagging 'peaks' on people's property, but then I find myself out in beautiful areas such as Pennock Pass and Cherokee Park and realize that the goal of tagging all Larimer County peaks is a worthwhile one. It's giving me a great look at my local environs, and gets me out to areas beyond the obvious and well traveled high peaks that I'm sure I would otherwise not visit. So, 88 down with 167 to go.
Moving right along.
I got me some race-directing duties coming up. First up is the third T&H of the season on Sunday at 8:00am. This time we go from Spring Park for 6kms of fun and frolics followed by a free burrito spread at Fuzzy's. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Fort Collins Running Club membership is the best running deal in town.
Second up is, well, the race that will not be named. That's next Thursday, and it will be swiftly followed by the third annual running of Chubby Cheeks on Saturday. That one begins and ends at my house. All details here.
The fourth event is a few months down the track, but registration for the second annual Quad Rock 25/50 mile race - staged from beautiful Lory Park - opens December 1. We've got a ton of great stuff to give away as prizes (in addition to the cash purse) thanks to very generous sponsor support, and winners of the comp entries from this year's race are already signing up. We gave away comp entries to the top three in the 50 mile race and the winners of the 25 mile race, because: 1. It's the right thing to do (WS - are you listening?) & 2. We want to build a fast field at the front of the race to help promote the sport of running. But that's just part of our focus. We offer attractive age group prizes (Pearl Izumi shoes, Smith sunglasses, Highgear watches), a raffle giveaway, form-fitted Pearl Izumi T-shirts, EFS fueling and Ultragen recovery from First Endurance, finishers' awards and more. This of course is all in addition to a killer, challenging course, enthusiastic and knowledgeable aid station volunteers, live music, post-race BBQ and more, so much more. Pete and I are serious about making this event the premier ultra distance race on the Front Range calendar, and we can't wait to build on the successes of our inaugural year. Come be a part of it! We've got an extra 100 spots to fill in 2013, and if we do good and behave well, the parks have indicated that they'll give us further cap increases in 2014. We're excited.
What else? Well I'm in discussions with personal sponsors right now with regards to my own 2013 racing calendar, and it's looking more and more like I'll be going old skool and chasing a record with its roots in the history of the sport. But that hasn't yet been finalized, so I'll leave it at that for now.
Hope to see some of you at one or all of the exciting events coming up in the next couple of weeks!