Monday, November 11, 2013

Week Ending November 10

Mon - 7 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit. In a sign that things are finally starting to get serious, I actually ran the 3/4 of a mile to the trailhead this afternoon. I know, I know, totally shameful that I've been driving there. Felt a really good spring in my stride that I haven't felt in probably three months. I do believe the switch has been flicked.

Tues - AM: 8.5 miles intervals. Ah yes, Tuesday morning workouts are back. I've been feeling so 'off' lately that I really had no idea what to expect from this morning's workout. On the drive down, part of me was saying that 6:00 pace would be just fine for the first go around. Ease in, don't tweak anything, check the ego at the door. The usual stuff. But then you get going and all of a sudden things don't seem so bad. Workout was mile, 2 x 800, mile, 2 x 800 all with 3-4 mins of stationary rest. For the opening mile, I kept to the plan of trying to keep things under control, to ease into things, figuring that a 5:45 split would be about right, so I was pleasantly surprised to register 5:30 on what felt like a pretty controlled effort. The first 800 after that got out a little harder, feeling like a legitimate workout effort, and then it was a fairly consistent groove from there: 5:29, 2:35, 2:37, 5:25, 2:37, 2:36. The miles are just 10-15 seconds off what I can usually expect on the cemetery track after a month or so of working it, so all in all this was a pleasantly surprising morning, and it would appear that my fitness has not deteriorated as much as feared. 3 mile warm up, 1.5 mile cool down. Feels good to be back.
Noon: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north summit. Creaky after the morning workout, but too nice of a day to pass up the daily summit. Windy, but beautifully clear up top. Crystal clear view of Pikes Peak 100 miles to the south.

Weds: 5 miles (1,500') moderate. Horsetooth north summit. Felt good so barreled up just in time to catch the sun disappear behind the Continental Divide to the west. Super clear day again with even more crystalline views of Pikes than yesterday. Love, love, love this time of year.

Thurs: 6 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit. Out with the Thurs AM gang to catch the sun coming up in the east after watching it go down in the west the night before. Much brighter when it comes up in the morning, as it turns out. Big group for this one, the last in the fall Horsetooth series: Mike, Lee, Andy, Slush, Celeste, Mary, Marie, Katie and The Zig. Next week we move to Centennial for the winter hill tempo series, which is pretty much a guarantee that the weather will start turning to crap. Picture perfect this morning.

Katie, Marie, Clark, Mary, Mike, Lee, Andy. Looking southwest off the top of H'tooth. 
Looking north, northeast to Wyoming and the plains (and Mary).
Looking southwest from the top.
Fri - 7 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit (127).

Sat - 11 miles (5,000') peakbaggery. 6,740', 7,180', Aguille du Greyrock, North Greyrock6,945', Got out early with Jason O for a tour of the Greyrock area. I believe this route, and variations thereof, have been referred to as the Greyrock Slam, Tour Du Greyrock, etc in the past - not to be confused of course with the infamous Greyrock six pack (45 miles w/15,000'). Basically, it's a circumnav of the prominent north Fort Collins peak, with five sub-peaks to take in on the way. It's definitely a worthy route and probably a whole lot easier these days than in the pre-Hewlett Gulch and High Park Fire days. Yup, two fires through there last year. On the west side of the mountain just about everything is burned to a crisp - no prisoners, even the rocks were torched. On the east side of the mountain, things are patchy, but largely intact - at least in the drainage that holds the more direct Greyrock trail.

Anyway, we started out in a clockwise direction from the trailhead, running a mile or so on the Greyrock Meadow trail and then cutting southwest up the hill as the trail turns north up a gully toward Greyrock. With the burnout, this north-facing slope was a straightforward head-down hoof. Views from the top were nothing to get too excited about, although most of the morning's route to the north was clearly visible, beginning with 7,180 for which it was just a short bop down the saddle, a sidehill around the saddle bump, and then straight up the south slopes with some criss-crossing of the Meadow trail along the way. Got on a few false summit rock piles before tagging the correct one, and then continued our march north in the direction of the impressive-looking Aguille du Greyrock. Again, it was easy work getting between the two, but a little more challenging finding the summit. To start with, we climbed up a jutting thumb of rock on the south side of the mountain only to find we were on the wrong 'aguille,' then once on the summit aguillle, we started on a sketchy line on the south side of the rock. It looked like it would go from halfway up, but it definitely wasn't the class-4 route I had heard about. Rather than push our luck, we backtracked to the base of the rock and tried again from the north side, where the going was a lot less exposed and a quite straightforward scramble. Commanding views from the top.

A shot of the Aguille. Pilfered from the Summit Post page.
Continuing on, we charted a line directly for nearby North Greyrock. The burn through here looked like it had been particularly intense with absolutely nothing spared, in addition to heavily charred rock. As with the other peaks in the area, North Greyrock has a lot of rock to work through, offering up some fun scrambling. From afar, it looked like the middle rock of the three ridge bumps was the high point but from on top, it was clear that the more northerly one was. Just another false summit on a day of falsies. From the true summit, it took a little while to locate 6,945' as our next target peak among all the hills in the region, but once we were confident of it, we took off and charted a line through the meadows and patches of live forest. In the valley to the north of Greyrock, we picked up an old two track road for a half mile, then cut directly up 6,945'. It's a fairly unimpressive summit to look at, but has large views of the Mummies between North Greyrock and 7,180' to the west, which are nicely punctuated by the profile of the Aguille in the middle of the gap.

Supposedly, an old trail wraps around the east side of Greyrock, but we never found it and instead bushwhacked our way up the creek (perhaps the wrong drainage for the trail, but we should have been on the trail before hitting the drainage, so I just think it has totally grown over) to finally reconnect with the east side Greyrock trail. The schwackin' slowed us down a good bit which unfortunately meant that we'd have to forgo the final planned peak of the morning, 7,309' - the only ranked peak on the immediate east side of Greyrock - as I had to get back by noon. No biggie as this one is easily accessible from the trail, so I can come back and clean it up any time I'm in the area with a bit of time on my hands.

This was a fun outing. With a full day, this tour could easily be a 12 bag with two additional peaks to the north of 6,945', Greyrock itself, and the two peaks west of Hewlett Gulch.

Sun - 6 miles (3,000') peakbaggery. Decided to head back to the Poudre Park quad and pick up three peaks that looked like they could be combined easily on the south side of the river from Greyrock: 7,334', 7,341' & 7005'. For 7,334 I parked a couple of bends upriver from the Greyrock parking area at a large pull-off at the base of the northwest ridge, which I planned to follow all the way to the top. There was a convenient gap between the rock to get on the ridge from the road and then it was a really fun hoof on open terrain all the way up. The stats for this one are 1,750 feet in a little under a mile at a really consistent grade. Given the open nature of the terrain, this is a stupendous marching route with potential as a great pow-hike trainer should my number get called for Hardrock (or similar race) in the coming years. An extra 1,000 feet of relief would be nice, but I can definitely see myself doing repeats on this one. The summit rock offered nice views down the Poudre Canyon with an equally impressive look across the canyon at yesterday's route in the Greyrock area. From 7,334' there is a nice broad summit ridge heading south towards 7,341', followed by a 300-400' drop to the dividing creek and then a 500' hoof up to 7,341 again through open, burned-out terrain. Connecting 7,005' involved some navigation and some fairly heavy bushwhacking along the still-vegetated creek to the south of 7,341. Once I hit the small creek confluence coming in from the southeast, I started hoofing northwest up the southeast ridge of 7,005' which I dispatched in short order. From the top of 7,005, looking east there is nice view across Watha Gulch to the broad ridgeline I had run earlier to connect the first two peaks of the morning. Again, this hillside was absolutely ravaged  by the High Park fire with no sign that any single tree made it through. To get off 7,005 and back to the Poudre, I essentially sidehilled the steep east slopes of the mountain heading diagonally northeast and down to the creek below, connecting just a bit south of Poudre Park. The going was decent enough along the creek and I soon popped back out at Hwy 14 for the short run downriver back to the car. Fun morning.

Total: 55.5 miles (16,100')

This was a good week. I felt kinda creaky and old after Saturday's outing, but miraculously felt fantastic on Sunday. Getting back into a training rhythm is never easy, but as there is absolutely no hurry to get fit right now, I'm staying cautious with the mileage and just focusing on reintroducing some workouts.

In other news, I finally turned the corner on the Larimer County ranked peak project. I now have 131 of the buggers, which means I'm over halfway to bagging all 255. Yay me.