Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week Ending September 29

Mon - Off

Tues - 4.5 miles track. Workout was 800 open, 2 x 800, 4 x 400, 4 x 300. Worked harder than I would have liked from some pretty mediocre splits. Ran relay with Lee, pacing with speedsters Leora and Ruth. Amazed at how unfit I feel right now.

Weds - Off

Thurs - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Sunrise on Horsetooth. Yes please. Mike, Lee, Scott, Celeste and Ziggy. Sore calves from the track on Tuesday. Blimey!
It was a little parky on top, but the views - as always - were totally worth it.  All pics: Hinterberg.
Celeste and Ziggy (the WΓΌnderDog).
Scott Slusher says: "Gooooood Morning, Fort Collins!"

Fri - Off.

Sat - 13 miles (3,500') peakbaggery. So good to be off the racing treadmill and out 'running' what and where I want. I had a short window before having to referee Alistair's soccer game at 11:00, so I decided on a couple of local peaks near Lory State Park that I was yet to get due to private property concerns - among other things.

Started from the Well Gulch TH and headed up to Westridge via Timber. After a right on Westridge I took the 'backdoor' park service road north, before cutting due west for the target peaks. Had to hop a couple of gates from here and also hug a fenceline to avoid detection from a couple of ranch properties to the south, before finding an old access road that ran essentially all the way up to the top of unnamed 7,521' on its southeast summit ridge. The views from the open summit were stellar, with particularly open - and unique - looks down Redstone Canyon and an especially good look at the south-north Horsetooth ridgeline, with a killer angle on Horsetooth Rock's northwest exposure. From the top of 7,521', the morning's other target, 7,660' was clearly visible and it looked like the line would take me through a couple of burn areas from last year's massive High Park Fire.

The going was decent - aided by barren firescapes - until the 'saddle' between the two summits, after which the south-facing grunt up 7,660' became pretty arduous thanks to heavy brush and tricky terrain. Views from the top of this one were decent but certainly inferior to the looks from 7,521'. After some brief wandering on the grassy summit to make sure I'd tagged all the candidates for the peak's high point, I retraced back to the car, making it home with enough time to eat breakfast and get a shower before donning the referee's cap. A good morning and a fine start to the LoJ season: 105 down, 150 to go.

Sun - 14.5 miles (4,900') peakbaggery. Sheep Mountain, UN: 7,430', 7,432', 7,612', 6,485'. Whacking away in the prickly Northern Colorado underbrush is not everybody's idea of fun, in fact it can be a struggle to round up partners for these outings, so with Stefanovic transplanted to the east coast I'm down to basically one solid and reliable 'shwhacking partner: Hinterberg. He was off galavanting on the Western Slope celebrating his anniversary or something, leaving me partnerless. Fortunately, Abby stepped up to the plate and agreed to keep me company in a section of Larimer County that I really don't know that well, but should, agreeing to meet me at JJs at a ridiculously early hour for a trip up the Cache La Podure.

Highway 14 up the Poudre Canyon was open for business, apparently unaffected by the deluge from the week prior, and so with the Big Thompson (and hence Estes Park/RMNP) completely shut down, the decision on where to bag peaks was an easy one. In the Poudre Park Quad alone there are 25 ranked peaks to be had, so it was about time I started making some inroads. We started with Sheep Mountain just west of The Narrows from a pull-off a quarter mile east of the Narrows campground, just as dawn was getting ready to break. The hoof up to Sheep was quite straightforward and made all the easier thanks to the High Park Fire having taken care of much of the underbrush. Views of the Pingree Park section of the Mummies were sensational, with a light coating of white adding a nice early-fall contrast. From Sheep we took quite some time getting our bearings, both of us totally turned around by the snaking nature of the Poudre - our main landmark - but eventually figuring out that we needed to be heading north for 7,430', which was clearly visible from Sheep. Again, the going was very good over to 7,430' and we were on the open summit in no time.    

From 7,430, the original plan was to head back down to the river, find a safe place to cross and then grab 7,305' and 7,900'. Once down, I really didn't like the look of the Poudre and the volume of water coming through the main channel. After scouting a half mile of the northern banks looking for a place to cross, we decided to play it safe and run back to the car and just focus on a couple more peaks on the north side of the road/river. We drove upriver a few miles to the Kelley Flats area, parking up and hopping on FR168 which headed in the general direction of 7,432'. We ran that as far as reasonable and then cut cross country for the summit, an aesthetically pleasing and mounded protrusion of granite. This was the only summit of the morning that required any kind of scrambling. Again, the river played tricks with navigational efficiency from the top, but we eventually figured out where the next peak (7,612') was, deciding to cut cross country through a thicket of mountain mahogany on the mountain's western slopes to get there - eschewing a lengthier trail/road approach via the northwest ridge. Good views again of the Mummies from the top, and then we were off down a wooded gully to the east of the main ridge, eventually picking up a trail at the bottom which led us back to FR168 and eventually the car.

Thanks to no major navigational mishaps and relatively open terrain, time was still on our side as we headed back to the Fort east along Hwy 14, so we decided to stop at Hewlett Gulch to pick up a final gimme peak, 6,485', which was an easy cross country walk-up direct from the trailhead. Five peaks on the morning and seven on the weekend. It's good to be back.

Plenty of map checks this morning. All pics: Abby MP.
Looking southwest from peak 4 up the Bennet Creek drainage towards the Mummies.   
Peak 5. A smirk or a grin? Not sure.
Total: 37 miles (9,900')

Really enjoyed being back among the local peaks this week. More of the same for the foreseeable future, although the weekend upcoming will be taken up with getting ready for Sunday's Bluesky Marathon. Slots still available. 


  1. In Colorado you guys get to ref your own kids soccer games? Must be all that legal weed.

  2. Ha, I didn't realize that was a controversial proposition at the age of 7. I guess we're just a little more laid back out west. Must be all the legal weed!