Week Ending Dec 2
Mon - Off
Tues - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth south summit via Slush's Slit.
Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap.
Thurs - 10 miles (1,800') hard. Towers (31:10). Worked hard from Stout and came up pretty short (time wise). Further confirmation that I'm grossly out of shape right now. But that's alright. Training resumes in just a few short weeks.
Fri - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit
UN 6,100', Pierson Mtn (9,803'), Lion Head (9,740'), UN 9,475', UN 8,380', UN 8,380'. Headed out early with Mike to go pick up some of the more southerly Larimer County peaks near the Boulder County border. The first one, unnamed peak 6,100', is one of the more ridiculous 'peaks' unique to LoJ obsessives and requires a little bit of creative thinking. In this particular case, the high point of the hogback is just a stone's throw from the front door of a rather large house. So, instead of donning camo gear and trying to sneak up to the high point in daylight, I opted for the pre-dawn approach; Mike waiting in the car with the motor running. Up and down in minutes and then we were off in a southwesterly direction to pick up the morning's real peaks.
Starting from the Lions Gulch Trailhead off Hwy 36, about 10 miles south of Estes Park, we ran the three miles out to the base of Pierson Mtn and Lion Head on a steady but casual uphill grade following the Lion's Gulch drainage to the site of a few old homesteads. The bushwhack up Lion Head was decent, as bushwhacking goes, and we were to the summit in reasonably short order. The views from the rocky outcrop were large, with the rare close-up view of Twin Sisters from the east especially impressive. From Lion Head, it was a short bop down to the saddle with Pierson and then no more than a 600 foot hoof to the forested summit. Both peaks had registers, so we added our names alongside the usual list of LoJ suspects and headed off down the rocky southwest side for the saddle with unnamed peak 9,475' - the last bump on the way to the big eastern slopes of Twin Sisters. 9,475 was another short climb - maybe 400 feet - but the rocky (and windy) summit offered a particularly striking vista of Twin Sisters.
Our route off 9,475 was somewhat convoluted as I think we entered the wrong drainage - missing the trail marked on the map - but nonetheless found our way down into the pasture to the south where we followed a ranch road while making sure to skirt two properties along the way. Back on NF land, we 'schwacked south for unnamed peak 8,380' (the southernmost of the two 8,380's we'd hit that morning). Unwittingly, we ended up on 8,340' (thinking we were on 8,380'), but we soon realised our error after surveying from the summit. This meant more bushwhacking to the south before eventually picking up the correct peak (lying just west of what looked like a crazy mountain airstrip). From there we retraced our steps northeast for the second 8,380' of the morning. This one was a fun summit that required some good hands-on-rock action up a tight gully to the saddle and some solid class three scrambling to gain the summit. There were big views east and west from the impressively rocky summit, including a shot of Kenny Mountain which had been on the docket for the morning's outing. However, short on time, we decided to forgo the biggest peak of the outing and instead found our way back to Lion's Gulch by way of a series of old forest roads and trails. Despite missing out on Kenny and bungling the navigation for the first 8,380' this was a really fun morning in new terrain with some killer new angles on familiar Estes Park-area mountains.
|Meeker over the shoulder of Twin Sisters.|
|East slopes of Twin Sisters bathing in sunlight. From Lion Head.|
|9,475 all the way left (just a bump), then Pierson and Lion Head. From 8,380'.|
|Twin Sisters w/ 9,475' all the way right.|
Total: 48 miles (11,400')
Week Ending Dec 9
Mon - Off. NYC. I'm not a big fan of running in New York, especially when there on business, so purposefully didn't pack any running gear.
Tues - Off. NYC.
Weds - 7 miles (2,000') easy. Put up a bunch of cairns and a flag or two for El Chub. Horseooth north summit.
Thurs - 10 miles (2,300'). Ran from home to build more cairns for Chub: Falls - Stout - Towers - Carey - Loggers - Sawmill before swinging over to Soderberg to meet the crew for the VBM.
Fri - 8 miles (2,000') easy. Chub marking with Stefanovic. Falls - Spring Creek - Herrington -Spring Creek - Towers - Westridge - true ridge to south summit of Horsetooth - Rock - Southridge.
Sat - 25.5 miles (6,300') easy. 4:31. Had a good time running the marathon version of the Chubby Cheeks course with Tony, Joe and Brandon Stepanovic, among others. Beautiful morning and a fun after party made for another successful rendition of the Chubster. Course records tumbled across the board, but more on that later when I get back from the UK and find time to unearth the results sheets. Racked my 100th Horsetooth summit of the year along the way.
Sun - 3 miles (600') hiking and de-flagging the Falls loop with Alistair and Stella. Cold.
Total: 53.5 miles (13,200')
Week Ending Dec 16
Mon - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit via the north gap.
Tues - 8.5 miles (2,500') easy. De-flagging the rest of Horsetooth w/Wesir. Took the true west ridge across to Horsetooth again and decided to do all three H'tooth summits for kicks.
Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit via the north gap.
Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hilly threshold. HTH5MO&B w/Sarah, Scott, Mike, Pete and Celeste. Out easy and then back at a relatively casual effort (~32 - 33 mins). Limited motivation right now to push things, but getting back on the early morning tempo train is a step in the right direction.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') steady. Towers at a very casual 35 mins.
Fri - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth trifecta. Thought this was going to be the last summit of the year before I took off for the UK, so tagged all three summits.
Sat - 10 miles (4,500) baggery. Castle Mountain (8,834'), Eagle Cliff, Rams Horn, Giantrack, UN 7,509', UN 7,135'. Finished up most of what I had left in the Estes Park area on the Larimer County project with a six-bag morning. Wesir and I pulled down the first summit, Castle Mountain, in the dark after an overly zealous early morning meet. We parked at the turn circle at the end of Castle Mountain Rd, which is off Hwy 34 to the north, and then hoofed the 950 feet from there. The going was pretty steep for the most part, and despite the darkness, navigation was easy (keep going uphill until you can't go any further). We hit the impressively rocky summit in exactly 20 minutes, enjoyed the very first hues of light to the east and the silhouetted lines of the Continental Divide and Mummies to the west and north, before bombing the descent back to the car. Killer peak. Jumped in the car and headed back into town to pick up Hwy 34 out towards RMNP. Parked up at a small pull-off just before the toll gates and headed due south across pasture land past a big herd of elk on a direct line for Eagle Cliff. Again, this was very straightforward and we were up on the summit in less than 20 minutes and back at the car in just over 30. Hopped back in, headed to town, picked up donuts from The Best Donut Shop In The World, and then headed out to pick up Rams Horn and Giantrack.
In order to get Rams and Giant quickly we pulled off a mega cheat by driving all the way up the private road that services the million dollar homes on the eastern slopes of Rams Horn, parking just 600-700 feet below the summit on a road to an undeveloped lot.The summit of Rams Horn lies on the middle of the three huge rocky features known as Teddy's Teeth. We didn't know where the summit was at the time, but tagged all three teeth anyway and then continued south, thinking that Lily Mountain was the true summit. We eventually realised our error and backtracked for Giantrack, picking up a private/social trail along the way. Back to the car after hitting the relatively unimpressive Giantrack, and after some procrastinating, we realised that 'Thunder' and 'Lightning' were going to be a stretch with the time we had, so we headed south on Hwy 36 to pick up a couple of easier summits in the Pinewood Lake area.
For 7,509', we parked right under the redstone quarry and scrambled the 300 feet to the summit in no time. From there, it was cross country to pick up 7,135', an elegant lump of textured granite sitting above an open pasture. This was probably the funnest peak of the morning with plenty of good scrambling to be had, just going to prove that low-lying unnamed peaks are just as deserving of love as the big alpine boys that can oftentimes be quite tedious.
Another fun morning exploring the high points of Larimer County. Unnamed peak 7,135' was my last Larimer summit of the year and coincidentally my 100th, leaving just 155 to get before I have the full collection!
|Meeker and Longs finally looking somewhat wintery. From Rams Horn.|
|Teddys Teeth from just below our cheat parking spot.|
|Rams Horn (fore) and Twin Sisters (rear).|
Total: 61.5 miles (16,900')
I've got some major catching up to do on the blogging front, but life, work and play have been busy, so blogging has taken something of a backseat here in the off season. Maybe I'll be motivated to tap on the keyboard a bit more when I start refocusing my energy on running. Or maybe not.
Speaking of refocusing on running, I really haven't had the greatest desire to get out and run since Leadville. Really the only thing that has been getting me out of the door has been the daily Horsetooth summit, Larimer Peaks (more hiking than running), and opportunities to catch up with friends. Nonetheless, I feel a bit of the old drive coming back, especially now that I have some firm running goals set for 2013.
And what might they be?
Well, a summer of 100 mile racing and recovering basically. I think 2013 will be my last crack at Western States, so I figured I'd also give the Grand Slam a go. For the uninitiated, the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning begins with Western States in June, follows on with Vermont in July, hits fever pitch with Leadville in August, and limps to an end with Wasatch in September. I beliebe these are the four oldest 100 milers in the country, but I might be slightly off there. Anyway, Neal Gorman set the record a few years back, breaking Joe Kulak's decade-old record by just a few minutes. I was actually there to see Neal come in during the wee hours that night, and was inspired that day to give it a go myself. I guess 2013 will be the year. I've already run three of the four races, and all of them a good bit faster than in Neal's record-breaking year, but the wildcard here is the recovery number. One botched race - or 100 degree temps at Western States - and the dream could easily be crushed. It'll be an interesting and fun summer for sure.
So, yeah, a couple of weeks of finding a running groove here in the UK and then it'll be time to get the old head down to start building for June. I've done the Western States cycle three times now, and aside from year one (2010), I really don't think I've nailed a proper peak (always too much too soon). This year, I've got a plan. Hopefully I'll be able to execute with a fair bit of discipline and maybe even bring a cougar back to Fort Collins. I always like to dream big.
Been tossing the idea of an early spring marathon around with a few folk. Originally I was looking at New Orleans, but I've gone off that idea. I'm now thinking Phoenix or Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. The former would be a true PR type of course, the latter a more challenging strength course. I've got until Dec 26 to make a decision (per Olive Oil Joe).
In other news, the comments section of my blog is getting hammered with Spam, so I've had to put a filter up. Guess that'll do it for now.