Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Week Ending Nov 25

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap.

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.
PM: 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth south summit via Slush's Slit. 

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.
Sun - 4 miles (1,500') hiking. Hiked with the family up to Gem Lake at Lumpy Ridge in Estes Park, then scrambled up to the middle peak above the lake with Alistair. Saw that the true summit was on the rock outcrop to the northwest, so descended with Alistair before scampering up solo to get the summit. Gem Peak offers some good climbing opportunities, but it is possible to keep things class three if you circle round the rock to the southeast and follow a series of ledges up.

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!  

Monday, November 26, 2012

T-Day 4 Miler

I'm a bit late on this report, much like I was a bit late to the finish line, but I got there eventually and so in the same delayed fashion, here comes the race report.

This would be my fifth running of the Fort Collins Turkey Day race, and my fifth straight attempt at a course and distance PR. When I first ran the race in 2008, shortly after moving to 5,000 feet from New York City, I registered something in the 23:30 range. That was subsequently chopped over the years to 21:36, a mark I surprised myself with last year. My fitness this year was not looking good for a sub 5:24 pace, but I was still prepared to give it a go. With the fast course, good weather and always stiff competition, there was a chance I could pull off another surprise performance.

I ran the course with Slush to warm up an hour before the race and then did some strider-type things to get myself in the mood, before toeing the line waiting for the dreaded gun. These events are tough for guys who like to jog all day, but at least the pain would be over quickly.

As always, I ran the first half mile way too hard, before dropping into a pace that actually allowed me to breath. As I dropped into a more sustainable pace, the ladies started pouring by me. Brianne Nelson and Nuta Olaru were looking strong in first and second as we went by the one-mile marker in 5:28. Two or three more ladies went by me in the second mile, and I couldn't figure if I was slowing horrendously or if they were just ratcheting the pace, but my gut told me that the former was probably more likely the case. By the two-mile marker I was running with Steve Folkerts and Ragan Driver, both accomplished runners when fit, so I figured things were alright. But then the second mile popped at 5:43 and I pretty much gave up on any time goals, refocusing instead on staying with or ahead of Folkerts and Ragan.

By the time we turned onto Mountain Ave for the mile and a half to the finish, I started pulling ahead of Ragan and Steve while trying to bridge to the ladies in fourth, fifth and sixth. Discouragingly, however, the third mile came in at 5:50. I contemplated just jogging it in, but I was still in a race with a few people around me, so I managed to convince myself to keep the pace honest if for no othe reason that to get things over with quickly. Position-wise, I was somewhere in the 40s and 50s, but there was still some guy who wanted to race with a half mile to go. He'd surge, fade, surge as I caught up and then fade again. For some reason I found this pattern annoying, so I let him get on with it by slowing my pace on one of his surges so I wouldn't get committed to a sprint for 40-something place on the final straightaway to the finish.

The final mile came in at 5:31, but as it turned out the third mile was long and the fourth short, so the last two splits were probably more in the 5:40, 41 range. Despite my lackluster personal performance (22:32), it was still a great celebration of running in the local community, with a good percentage of the region's best road runners competing alongside some 3,000 others who were out enjoying the morning. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week Ending November 18

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap.

Tues - 7 miles intervals. City Park workout with Jane's group: mile steady (1.02), mile fartlek, (1.02), mile steady (.98), mile fartlek (.98). So two clockwise and two anticlockwise loops in the park, with three hills on the clock and just one on the slightly shorter anti-clock. Splits were: 5:38 (5:32), 5:31 (5:24), 5:17 (5:23), 5:25 (5:31). Had Chris, Mike, Ben and Tri dude to work with - mainly trailing off the back this morning.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Wesir and I took a look around the base of the west side of the rock in search of a supposed 5.11a/b bolted route on the sheerer west face, in addition to a chimney route (Choss Chimney - 5.5). Located the chimney, but not the bolted route. We came up the Northwest Passage on a mixed and airy high class 4 route that topped out right at the terminus of the Rock Trail before the scramble to the top. Still lots of exploring to do on the west side of the rock, but will have to start bringing rope and protection for most of it.

Thurs - 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. HTH5MO&B with Lee. A couple of no-shows meant it was just me, Lee, Mary and a few flakes of snow. Out easy with Lee in 42:07, then back in a reasonably controlled 30:52 (7:40, 6:19, 6:28, 5:22, 5:02). Always good to dip under 31 - notched the effort level as the run progressed.    

Fri - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Late afternoon Horsetooth summit via north gap. Up Rock, down Southridge. Negotiated the last section of the Rock trail essentially in the dark. Got to get out of the house by 4:00 these days if I want light the full way. 

Sat - 11 miles (4,000') baggery. Met Nikolai early for a stealth mission on a couple of peaks that escaped me last time I tried. Although there is a conservation easement on the 4,100 acre Blue Mountain Bison Ranch (land cannot be developed but remains private), access is via guided tours only. It would be mighty awesome if there was a way for the county to negotiate trail access to the top of Blue Mountain (7,888'), because it's a very prominent local peak and affords killer and unique views of the Longs Peak area, in addition to the swell of mountains and ridges between Blue (essentially the first major mountain in the Berthoud foothills) and the Continental Divide. Alas, it remains private and those wanting its summit are forced into stealth mode from county land around Pinewood Reservoir.

Wanting to get across the grazing pasture on the northwest flanks of the mountain in the dark, we set off 30 minutes before sun-up, and by daybreak we had gained the north ridge and were safely under cover of trees. The summit was very straightforward once on the ridge. There were a couple of rough-hewn log benches on top in addition to three large cairn piles, suggestive of frequent visits. We took a minute to admire the view of Longs and Meeker sitting, as they were, magisterially in a wisp of still clouds, before setting off down the main west gulley from the north summit. The terrain was steep, brush- and cactus-filled, but nicely dotted with game trails. We were able to get down to a small and secluded pond at 6,800' with little difficulty. From there, we picked up a ranch road south for a while before descending southwest into a drainage to avoid grazing livestock and horses. Our next objective was UN peak 6,930' a quintessentially obscure and random List of John peak - but a Larimer ranked peak nonetheless. A house sits no more than 200 feet below the summit of this one, so we were sure to follow our drainage around to the west side of the summit in order to ascend our lump in a gulley protected from view by an easterly ridgeline. Again, there were good game trails through the brush and we were able to gain the summit without incident.

Our final summit of the morning was UN peak 7,383', which is no more than the high point on the north-south ridgeline west of Blue Mountain. We descended essentially the way we had come off 6,930' and followed a ranch road west, then north in a valley to the west of our intended ridge/summit. This is clearly a very lightly used road and we didn't see or hear a vehicle for the two or three miles that we followed it. We then followed an even lighter two-track trail up the hillside before eventually cutting straight up the steep west face of the hogbacked 7,383. The summit was about as unexciting as a summit can get: gently rounded, in the trees and with multiple candidates for the high point. Finding no cairns to mark the high point, we constructed one and then trundled off down the gentle eastern slope of the mountain back towards the car at Pinewood Reservoir, essentially due east of the 7,383 summit. This was a successful morning with few navigational errors and, more importantly, no human interaction. The terrain west of Blue and south of Pole Hill is beautifully rolling with deep valleys and stunning views. Obviously the access issues make it somewhat problematic, but it's big country back there with plenty of space to roam.

Sun - 3 miles (1,900') baggery. Christ Mountain (7,919') is the high point on the southern part of the ridgeline that extends south from Buckhorn Mountain and Rist Canyon all the way down to Masonville. The Christ ridgeline forms the western slopes of Redstone Canyon, which sits directly below and to the west of Horsetooth and Lory's west ridge. From the top of Horsetooth, Christ and its sub-peak to the south are clearly visible; consequently from the Christ ridge there are awesome views of the big west face of Horsetooth Rock. Earlier this year, I summitted the lower sub-peak by running up Otter Road from Masonville and then postholing through deep snow. Given the conditions, I decided not to bother with Christ Mtn that day, so I was back on Sunday for a spot of unfinished business. Rather than come up the long southern ridge approach, I found a pull-out on Buckhorn Road directly underneath the mountain to the west and hoofed up a steep gulley that would spit me out right on the summit. The pull-out is directly south of the sharp Buckhorn Narrows, a couple of miles before CO Rd 44H (Pennock Pass Rd). A quick duck under a barbed-wire fence and you are immediately in this very secluded gulley. I followed an old ranching trail for a short way, before picking up a really well defined cow path alongside the (dry) creek. I followed the cow paths to a clearing at about 6,600 feet, where cattle were lazing in the sun, before charting a much steeper southeasterly course up the heart of the drainage. About 500 feet below the summit, there was another clearing accessible by two-track road and then it was a very pleasant stroll through sparse woods for the summit ridge. The actual high point sits on a rock outcropping overlooking the northern end of Redstone Canyon. The ridge looked like it acted as a firebreak during the High Park fire, and marks the southwest border of the burn area. The eastern slopes of the Resdstone valley were completely burned out, while the eastern slopes of Buckhron Canyon (the other side of the ridgeline to the west) were untouched. Backtracked the way I came for a pleasant Sunday morning outing. Couple of burn area vids from top Christ Mtn below.

video

video 

Total: 50.5 miles (12,200')

   

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cheeks

People been bugging me about the cheeky little event we've been putting on up here in the northern extremes of Colorado's Front Range the last couple of years. And, yes, we're on again for the third annual Bare Ass Cheeks run, with festivities starting and ending at my house on the 8th of December.

To keep things simple, we've changed nothing. It's the same deal as the last two years, with staggered start times of 7:00, 8:00 & 9:00 and multi-distance options that include the Junior Varsity (20 miles ~ 5,500'), the Marathon (25.5 miles ~ 6,500') and El Chubbo Grande (31.5 miles ~ 7,500'), but people have been known to go longer and shorter.

The idea is that you pick a start time and distance that will get you back to race HQ between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 for beers, grub and banter. Previous results are here ('10) and here ('11).

Route info is here. We've marked intersections the past two years, but no promises this year. Print out a map and bring it with you! There may or may not be an informal aid station at the Arthur's TH. Price of admission is some kind of food or beverage to share. Everyone and anyone welcome.

Rules:

No whining
No bitching
No blaming the RD if you get lost.

CRs (I think):

JV Men: Justin Mock (3:25)
JV Women: Marie-Helene Faurie (6:32)

Marathon Men: Tim Long (4:44)
Marathon Women: Darcy Africa (5:10)

Chubster Men: Pete Stevenson (5:44)
Chubster Women: Jenn Malmberg (7:43)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week Ending Nov 11

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap. Up Southridge/Audra, down Rock. Super labored for whatever reason.

Tues - 6.5 miles intervals. First cemetery workout of the season. Workout was: mile, 2x800, mile, 2x800. I guess I had misread the workout email and was mentally ready for 2x800, mile, 2x800, Upon hearing about the extra mile, I raised my concerns (whined) and the compromise was reached to run the first mile easy as a demo of the cemetery loop for people who hadn't done it before. This was a nice way to ease back into things. Felt a bit off in the stomach (too much coffee) for most of this and ended up having to watch the sausage-fest sprint on the last 100 meters of the last rep from off the back of the pack. Good group to work with this morning - six of us at approximately the same pace, including Hinterberg, Chris Mc and some CSU triathlon guys. Splits: 6:53, 2:35, 2:37, 5:21, 2:39, 2:40.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap. Kinda tired again.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Good group for this morning's HTH5MO@B workout: Mike, Slush, Pete, Celeste and Sarah. Out in 42:30, then back in 30:03: my second fastest return ever, I think. Up the North Dam mile in 7:04, then 6:07, 6:27, 5:27, 4:57. Looking back on my records, miles 1,2,4&5 were run right on PR pace, with the middle, gut-check third mile 50 seconds slower. That's a mental fortitude thing more than anything else. It's easy to take your foot off on that grinding uphill mile when you know it's pretty much all downhill after that. That said, it should be noted that the PR came with a hefty tailwind and that third mile is probably where a northerly wind benefits most ... but still.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') moderate. Put in a moderate effort on Towers in the dark. Tired and slow. Up in 35:13.

Fri - 6 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap. Straight up and down the rock trail with summit variation. Caught the last few rays of a gorgeous fall day.

Sat - 12 miles (6,300') baggery. McGregor Mountain (10,486'), Dark Mountain (10,859'), The Needles (10,068') with Burch and Wesir. These are certainly not A-list Rocky Mountain National Park peaks; in fact, they're only reason for getting any traffic whatsoever, I'm sure, is that they're named and people like to go about climbing all named peaks in the park. Nonetheless, they certainly have their virtues (warts and all). Primary among those virtues are steep slopes which will leave you feeling nicely cream-crackered at the end of your outing.

McGregor Mountain was probably the most challenging ascent of the morning, but at the same time the one with the most hidden surprises. Leaving the Lumpy Ridge trail at approximately 8,600 feet for the eastern slopes of McGregor, it was immediately evident that we would be dealing with significant deadfall, which is always a major pain in the arse. However, for much of our route there were big slabby clearings where on a dry day much of the deadfall could have been circumvented. Unfortunately for us, the heavily mossed rock had already been hit by wet snow and was exceptionally slick, so we were forced to play on the sides of the rock or tip toe exceptionally carefully on less steep sections, where there were good cracks or where there was some vegetation. All of us remarked on how much fun this route would have been in the summer with dry rock, but today it wasn't to be. Ultimately we muscled our way through the mess and found the flat McGregor summit. We had a semi-socked in day, so views weren't great, but we caught glimpses of the Mummies and Lumpy rocks formations. The descent to Black Canyon Creek was equally as torturous as the ascent, but once we crossed the creek and started up the slopes of Dark Mountain, we were gratified to find a much sparser and younger canopy with significantly less deadfall. The 1,800 feet up the mountain was gruntworthy, but straightforward. Good views again from the nice rock outcropping on the summit and then it was east off the mountain towards The Needles, the high point on Lumpy Ridge.

Coming off the eastern slopes of Dark Mtn was a pleasure. The terrain was largely clear enough to be runnable, which ensured that we were able to make quick work of the route down to Cow Creek at 9,200 feet. From the valley we were able to make out the western ridgeline of The Needles (home to the massive Sundance Buttress) and picked a line straight up the hillside. We topped out on the blustery westernmost needle and quickly realized that we needed to be on the easternmost and highest one. This involved a scramble down to the saddle and a quick reascent. The wind was blowing pretty hard by this point, and we'd already been out for longer than expected, so we made the executive decision to forego a full Lumpy ridge traverse to tag Gem Peak and instead snuck down the gulley between the highest needle and Sundance Buttress, which is home to a crude climbers trail. We made quick work of the descent, and before we knew it we were back out in the McGregor pasture stripping layers in the now-beating sun for the jog back to the car.   

Sundance to the left with Needle high point to the right. The day cleared up nicely once we were essentially done with the outing.
Looking east from the top of The Needles, with Gem peak barely visible in the distance.
Burch topping out on The Needles.
McGregor Mountain with false Needle summit in foreground.
Dark Mountain from the western slopes of The Needles
Wesir pondering life with the middle and westernmost needle beckoning.
A semi-socked in view of the northern slopes of McGregor Mtn from the slopes of Dark Mtn. All those white patches are massive slabs. There is some classic slab climbing on the southern side of the mountain too.

Wesir and Burch make their way up the cleaner Dark Mountain. McGregor Mtn (behind Wesir in the photo above) was a deadfall nightmare.
Sun - 6 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth north summit on the standard route. Summit no. 87 on the year.

Total: 60.5 miles (14,100')

A couple of workouts, four Horsetooth summits and three LoJ summits. That's pretty much the routine right now.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week Ending Nov 4

Mon - 7.5 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north summit with Burch and Wesir.

Tues - 8.5 miles track. After a week away from the track and, indeed, any kind of major running exertion, I came into this one lacking motivation and fearful of the pain I was about to inflict on myself ... so I decided to go easy. Workout was: mile, 2x800, mile, 2x800 with 400 jog between everything. In attendance were: Burch, Wesir, Slush, Hinterberg and a guest appearance from Mindy who appeared to be doing a strider workout on the outside lanes. From the off, Hinterberg bolted and I had no interest in trying to hang on as he has a well-developed reputation for going out too hard and fading, while I was just trying to get around without too much pain. Similar story for the 800s, before Hinterberg's fade starting kicking in on the second mile as I rounded his shoulder on the home straight of the second lap. He wouldn't give up the second set of 800s though. Splits were: 5:31, 2:38, 2:38, 5:21, 2:37, 2:38.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. Horsetooth south summit via Slush's Slit. Up Rock trail, back on Audra/Southridge.

Thurs - 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. HTH5MO&B. Out easy with Slush and Mike, then back in 31:17 at what felt like a hard tempo effort. Miles went: 7:18, 6:10, 6:45, 5:50, 5:13. First mile up north dam hill was a little quicker on the watch than the effort suggested (a good sign), but after passing Mike somewhere on the second mile, I decided to keep the effort at an honest hard tempo rather than shoot for a PR. Lost a little focus on the third grinder mile and then put it in neutral for the final two net downhill miles.

Fri - 3.5 miles (1,900') baggery. Ranked peak 8,092'. Met Wesir super early for a little pre-work sch'wackin'. Unnamed 8,092' was the last ranked peak of 10 in the Drake quadrangle that I needed to close it out. I had meant to get it months back when I bagged 8,310' & 7,570' from Waltonia Road, but I ran out of time that day. Given that the peak sits right above the village of Drake off Hwy 34, I figured it would be easy enough to pick it up when I had time. The peak itself sits at the western end of the Round Mountain ridgeline, one peak removed from the north/south Waltonia/Quillan Gulch drainages and north of the Saddle Notch valley. The route we chose was a pretty straightforward one, with a hair under 2,000 feet of straight-up-the-hillside ascent. We parked in a small pull-off just west of the Glen Haven turn-off and crossed the Big Thompson at the bridge in Drake. We followed the high road there for a third of a mile before it petered out, and then pretty much just followed the ridge up to the summit at the point where the road fully disappears. The terrain was steep, but mercifully free of major deadfall making the ascent very straightforward - even in the dark. We topped out in the early pre-dawn, so had limited views, but could make out Round Mountain and Blue Mountain to the southeast, Palisade to the northeast and some higher Pingree Park peaks to the northwest. We signed the small summit register, which contained maybe 10 names (Brian knew most of them and I recognized all but one of them from Lists of John), then hung out for 10 minutes or so before dropping back down the mountain. Our line was a bit off coming back down, so we had to contour east halfway down to get back on the ridge, but with the lights from Drake below, navigation was very easy. I took one good fall that had me tumbling down the hillside for a few meters, but other than that the outing and route finding were textbook.

Sat - 4 miles (2,400') baggery. Prospect Mountain (8,900'), UN 8,820', Emerald Mountain (9,237'). Snuck in an early morning trip up to Estes Park to see if I could take down a few of the ranked peaks in and around town up there. Started out with Prospect Mountain (the one with the cable car running up to the mountaintop restaurant). Parked on Peak View Drive and took an old trail to the top. The trail starts by a lime green cinder block structure. Stayed on trail for about a third of a mile before cutting up on a more direct line. There are multiple candidates for top rock up there, so I tagged them all before following the trail the whole way back down (40 mins - 1.5 miles, 1,000' RT).

Jumped in the car and then attempted to get to the saddle between Gianttrack Mtn and Rams Horn on Kerr Road. No joy - private road. Decided to drive around to Hermit Park Open Space instead to do unnamed 8,820'. Parked up at one of the campgrounds, got my bearings and hoofed up to what I was pretty sure was 8,820' - an unremarkable 400' mound (from my starting point). A cairn at the top in combination with a map check confirmed I was indeed on the correct summit. Took a bit of time to peek through the trees to take in the views of the Kruger Rock ridgeline, before shooting back down to the car (30 mins - 1 mile, 400' RT).

Next up, I figured I'd have a go at Eagle Cliff Mountain - a really impressive looking cone of a peak with a dominating rock outcrop at the summit. Same issue as before though - access issues. Couldn't be bothered dealing with it, so decided to try Gianttrack from the back side (Hwy 66), but that didn't look good either, so then continued on to the southern end of 66, parked up at the small roundabout there, and picked up a trail that looked to be heading in the general direction of Emerald Mountain (another super-impressively pointy peak). The trail took me to the slopes of Emerald from where I hoofed on a direct line for the summit. Absolutely killer views from the top, with an especially unique view of Longs' East Face, in addition to the Mummies, Continental Divide peaks, MLW, Storm, Battle, Half, Cone, Thunder, Lightening, Rams Horn, Teddys Teeth, Gianttrack, Lily Mtn, and the list goes on (1.5 miles, 1,000', 45 mins RT). Followed a climbing trail back down to the original trail I had used coming up. Out of time, I jumped back in the car and hit the canyon for the 40 min drive back home. Fun, but frustrating morning (68 Larimer peaks down, 187 to go).           

Sun - 5 miles (1,900') hike/run. Hiked solo with Alistair to the top of Horsetooth. Alistair was motivated to try and go under an hour, and did so with ease, topping out on the north summit in 57:15. After tagging that, we descended to the base of the rock and headed over for a go at the south summit. Alistair knocked that off with ease too, showing some really good confidence on the few technical moves we had to make. As we were climbing down off the rock, we saw Burch jogging his way up to the north summit. We gave him a holler and then continued on, seeing him again on the summit just as we were getting back on trail. Alistair wanted to run the whole descent and so we did. Burch caught us at the top of Southridge and ran with us all the way back down to the parking lot. Vid below is a bit shaky, but figured I'd throw it up there anyway.  
South summit with Longs/Meeker.
Ali on south summit, with Milner (aka Volcano) Mountain in back. We live on the northeastern flank of Milner.

video

Total: 45 miles (11,100')

Another easy week of hiking/jogging with a couple of faster workouts thrown in. I could get used to this kind of running schedule. Still no desire to engage in any kind of serious training beyond the token speed stuff that I'm doing in preparation for Turkey Day.  

In other news, Quad Rock has been approved for a 350 runner cap by Lory, but still waiting for Larimer County on the cap increase. Either way, registration opens next month. Chubby Cheeks is Dec 8, verticALE silliness two days prior.