Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Week Ending November 24

Monday - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth. Nice casual jog up to the rock.

Tuesday - AM: 8 miles intervals. City Park workout with Jane's group. We were working the lake this morning with 2 x 1,200, 2 x 1,000 and a mile to finish. All fartleks except the mile: 4:03, 4:01, 3:19, 3:21, 5:24
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth. Shakeout jog up the mountain.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth. Just racking another summit.

Thurs 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Back on Centennial this week for 5 easy followed by 5 coming home hard on hilly asphalt bordering the east side of the reservoir. Fittingly, it was a cold one this morning with a good iced-over inch of crunch on the ground. Came back on the tempo side with Mike, who charitably waited for me to catch up a mile in. Mike moves south to Golden this weekend, and while this is only an hour or so down the road it nonetheless represents the loss of one of my more reliable training partners. We'll continue to seek out fun times in the great Colorado outdoors together, I am sure, but I'll certainly miss the week-to-week reliability of having a solid and similarly paced workout partner. We push each other frequently on the shorter stuff and we've ended up racing a few reps or tempo runs on more than one occasion, so it was nice to run and finish this one in lockstep. Sneaked in just under 33 minutes on a steady effort.

Fri - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth. Got snagged a bit on my usual north-gap climbing route. The rock was all iced over, so I somewhat unceremoniously had to backtrack from the last couple of moves and retreat to the standard route.

Sat - Off. Failed to capitalize on the window for the day, so ended up with a goose egg.

Sun - 13 miles (4,300') peakbaggery. A little more action in the Poudre Park quad this morning, picking up peaks #21-24 out of the massive 25 that sit in the roughly 8 x 12 mile area surrounding Poudre Park. I'm pretty sure this is the the tightest concentration of peaks in Larimer County, made especially troublesome by the dotting of private land. Thankfully this wasy not an issue this morning. Anyway, on tap were four peaks north of the river and just west of Hewlett Gulch: 7,501', 7,432', 7,420', & 7,231'. Starting from the Hewlett trailhead, I ran downriver for a mile or so before starting up steeply for the summit of 7,231. As with many of the scrubber peaks in the foothills here, the hillside was littered with cactus and as hard as you try it is almost impossible to avoid some kind of impaling; needles still being pulled out days later. From the top of 7,231, a nice peak with good views north to Mummies/Med Bow, it was some pretty heavy bushwhacking into and out of a couple of drainages before I got on the east ridge of 7,420' where I conveniently found an old forest road to follow with fresh 4 x 4 tracks through the snow no less. I was on the summit in no time once out of the drainages, and from there I had a good view of the two remaining peaks, both relatively close. For 7,432, it was a 400 foot drop to the saddle with 7,420 and a reasonably simple hoof back up. Again the views up canyon to the snow-capped Divide were stellar. The one peak left on the morning was again straightforward, and while there were a couple of properties in the area, I was able to stay entirely on public land. Getting back to the Hewlett Trail took a good bit of creek bashing. At one creek confluence, I found the leftovers of a coyote or mountain lion kill, with some interesting prints in the snow to examine. There was definitely more than one type of animal getting nourishment from the deer, but I was disappointed not to see obvious cat prints. A couple hundred meters down creek, I eventually found the Hewlett trail and enjoyed a nice cruise back to the car. Fun morning.

Total: 55.5 miles (12,300')

Managed to get a couple of workouts in this week. Again, feeling like I'm missing a step at the moment, but really not too concerned as I'm just not trying that hard right now. Going through the motions to an extent, but as I enjoy the workouts I'd hesitate to use that language. Anyway, all exciting stuff I'm sure.

Quad Rock registration goes live December 1. Pete and I have things ready for that and are working hard to get sponsors lined up so we can make it another great race right here on the Front Range. The parks gave us a cap increase to 350, which is as big as we think we can reasonably grow the race without impacting negatively on the experience. If you want to test run parts of the course, then come out Dec 7 and run Chubby Cheeks. If you need a start address, then email me via the 'about me' link or find someone who's run it before. All welcome.

I got an invite from the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) to come run a bunch of the races that make up this new tour. Apparently, I am ranked 15th in the world over the 100 mile distance, but if you take into account my miserable shorter distance performances in Europe over the last few years, then my 'general' ranking drops to 47th. I probably won't finish in the top 50 at the local Turkey Trot on Thursday.

Anyway, the invite promises exotic racing experiences in far flung places like Japan and Reunion Island off the southeast coast of Africa, with the potential for free travel and accommodation. I put in for a free entry to Western States. I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week Ending Nov 17

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horseooth north summit. Easy jog.

Tues - 8.5 miles intervals. 4 x mile (City Park) w/first three as fartleks, final one steady. Foggy morning. We do these miles in alternate directions with clockwise a little long plus one extra hill (1.02), and anti a little short (.98). Felt a little ragged on these, especially trying to push the 'hard' segments of the fartleks, but managed to keep things decently consistent at an average pace just over 5:30: 5:42, 5:26, 5:37, 5:26. Hinterberg is destroying me on these right now: must work harder.

Weds - 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north. Just another light jog up the rock. Shorts and a T. Glorious Front Range autumn day.

Thurs - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north. Postponed plans to get out on Centennial for the reintroduction of some tempo work in favor of a gentle morning jog up Horsetooth for the weekly sunrise. Ziggy notched his first true Horsetooth summit with aplomb! Also: Mike, Lee, Mary, Scott, Celeste.

No better way to start the day, says Ziggy. Pic: Hinterberg.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') steady. Towers effort in the dark. Felt decent enough, but worked harder than I would have liked for a fairly mediocre 32 high on the watch. Basically followed Brian's pace, 5 - 10 meters in arrears the whole way up.

Fri - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north. Felt sluggish from the Towers effort last night, so kept this one super light. Strong wind from the south, but nice and sunny out.

Sat - 11.5 miles (6,300') peakbaggery. On tap for this morning was a loop taking in five of the ranked peaks circling Youngs Gulch to the east, west and south: 7,623, 7,875, 7,802', 7,697', 7,980'. Jason and I started out from a pull-off on Hwy 14 adjacent to the Young's Gulch trailhead, which is currently closed. If I had to guess, I'd say the Young's Gulch trail will remain closed indefinitely given what we saw of it today. Heading up trail from the parking lot, it was clear that a huge volume of water came through the Young's Gulch canyon during the September floods, basically wiping out the whole trail. We tried to follow it for a while, but soon gave up and started hoofing steeply uphill in a southeasterly direction for 7,623', which sits high above the confluence of the Young Gulch creek and the Poudre River. The going was largely decent, with minimal brush to contend with and some fun rocks to negotiate. The summit is a nice rocky outcrop with fine views north to Greyrock and surrounding peaks. The ridge here seems to have been something of a firebreak during the High Park fire last summer, with most everything to the east decimated and to the west down into Young's Gulch largely intact - at least in this northern section of the gulch. We followed the ridgeline south from here, picking up a forest road along the way, until we were a couple hundred feet under 7,875, a fairly trivial peak sitting above Rist Canyon's Stratton Park neighborhood to the south. From here things got a little spicy as the route to 7,802 required some stealth private property maneuvering. Heading southeast from the summit, we picked up a quiet neighborhood dirt road, cut across a small gully and were soon negotiating the peak's northwest ridge easily staying out of sight of all residences. The peak is littered with refuse, clearly a dumping ground for whoever owns the land, but also sports decent views of surrounding peaks including the monarch of Rist Canyon: Mount Ethel, which pokes proudly above all the surrounding hills.

The run from 7,802 to 7,697 was one I was not much looking forward to. I had told Jason previously that our morning's route would involve a stretch of 'light trespassing,' and once on the ground it was clear that there was absolutely no getting around it in piecing the two peaks together. Coming off the summit we almost immediately had to negotiate a property with a lot of earth-moving equipment on it - no doubt the same guy littering the adjacent peak. Out of view of the main structure, we made a mad dash across an open pasture for a nearby hillside. With adrenaline pumping I was in full-on LoJ madness mode, getting snarled on a barbed fence just as the dogs started barking. Once over the fence though, things soon calmed down and we sidehilled our way under another property, while keeping an eye on the Stratton Park homes in the valley below. Soon enough we were on the road servicing these properties, and decided just to run it down the valley a bit to a point where we could cut across to 7,697'. We did this at about the 7,400' contour, after 360'ing at the sight of a bloke in his front yard coiling up a hose. We followed a creek under another property and then sidehilled above yet another on our way down to Young's Gulch Creek and Young's Gulch Road. We quickly crossed the creek and made our way across the road, starting up the wooded east slopes of 7,697 just as a truck went cruising by. I'm not quite sure what the driver would have made of two skinny dudes darting off into the woods if (s)he'd seen us, but I don't think we were spotted, so a moot point I guess. From there it was a straightforward march up the hill for the summit, which again offered expansive views to the top of Rist Canyon and Buckhorn Mountain in addition to the mighty Ethel. We also had a view north to the final peak of the morning, 7,980, which looked a good ways off. The original plan was to drop into Youngs Gulch and follow the trail north a couple of miles to the base of 7,980 before hoofing up. However, the scene on the ground once we negotiated our way down to the creek made it clear that we wouldn't be following any kind of trail. The flood erosion up here was worse than it was at end of the canyon where we'd started the morning and the going was painfully slow. Changing plans, we decided to just hoof up and down a couple of feeder drainages to get out of the canyon and onto 7,980'. Predictably enough this took a while, but eventually we got onto 7,980 from whence we could start hoofing in earnest. The summit was a rounded disappointment, given the work it had taken to get up there, but the views north were commanding and almost worth it. From here, all we had left was a 2,000' drop back down to Youngs Gluch and the trailhead. Of course, we left the worst for last and found ourselves negotiating a tight, thicket-infested gully that splits the east slopes of the mountain right up the middle. Once in, there was no getting out so we made our way slowly down the dry creek bed, finally popping out at Youngs Gulch for the short run out back to the car.

A fun morning with just about all the elements that make up a classic LoJ morning: steep climbs, multiple peaks, great views, detection avoidance, and miserable bushwhacking. Jason swears he's never coming out for more, but he said that after last week's escapade too.

Sun - AM: 3 miles (1,800') baggery. Had plans of picking up a couple of peaks this morning, but ended up getting just the one peak, 7,309, in the Greyrock area that I had failed to get last weekend for fear of missing a deadline to be home. Rather than run the Greyrock trail to the drainage 500 feet below the summit and grunt from there, I decided to hoof directly from the Poudre up the steep cactus-infested south slopes. There was a light covering of snow on the ground in combination with strong winds, which made things a little spicier, especially when negotiating the big rock band halfway up, but other than that this one was reasonably straightforward. Lost my hat to a huge wind gust on top, before cruising down through burned-out forest to the drainage heading west off the saddle with UR7,284'. Given the heavy winds, I was a little nervous running through a stand of dead trees, so ran pretty recklessly to get on the trail that services Greyrock. From there it was an easy jog back to the car. I was going to get the peak above Hewlettt Gulch next, but the trailhead was closed due to flood-related resource damage, so I decided to call it a morning and headed home.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Alistair hadn't been up Horsetooth in a while, so we decided it was high time for a run at his PR. Prior to today's outing his best was 49 high, a number he had proudly told Ranger Steve about a few months back. Impressed, Steve had told him that Alistair's time was just a few minutes shy of the ranger record of 45 minutes. With a pretty focused effort, Alistair came away with a new PR and a match of Steve's time at 45:30. Won't be too long until he's beating his old man, but I won't give it up easy. These things need to be earned. Bench: 8:00; top stairs: 25:00.

Total: 58 miles (17,700') 

Bailed on the Thursday hill tempo workout in favor of another Horsetooth sunrise, but I think we'll be back at it this week. Still in no real hurry to push the fitness, and happy to just be out getting moderate mileage in with the occasional workout mixed in.

Couple of races on the calendar for 2014. Taking the family out to Costa Rica in February where I'll be running the Coastal Challenge stage race, while Dana and the kids enjoy the beach. Salida Marathon in March as always, followed by the Lake Sonoma 50 in April. I still haven't accepted my invite to run Western States, but barring catastrophe between now and Dec 1, I'm sure I will. In August, I'm excited to head out to British Columbia to run the Squamish 50 miler, which looks like a rugged beast of a course, and then hopefully in September I'll be lining up for the Steamboat 100. Without giving it a whole lot of thought, the race calendar is about as full as I want it to get for 2014, so with the exception of a few local races that'll pretty much do it I guess.

Of course, before all of that we've got the highly anticipated Fort Collins 50k Championship Trail Race on December 7. Pretty sure I won the marathon version last year, so I'll be looking to defend there.     

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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fortnight Ending November 3

Week Ending October 27 

Mon - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north summit.

Tues - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north summit.

Weds - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north summit.

Thurs - 6 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth north summit with the Thursday AM crowd: Lee, Marie, Celeste, Ziggy and Mike. Changed up my routine dramatically by coming down Wathen with Lee and Marie. Meanwhile, Mike was off sneaking a second workout on Centennial.

Fri - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth north summit (117).

Sat - 3 miles (1,000') peakbaggery. Short window this morning, so got out and cleaned up a couple of pesky local peaks. First one was 'Weaver Peak' (6,250'), which sits off 287 to the east at the northeast end of what would be 'Glade Reservoir,' should that ever come to pass.

Anyway, for my purposes, I parked off Owl Canyon Road (County Road 72) by a gate that blocked passage to a road owned by the Colorado Gun Club. This is not the first time I've had to circumvent a shooting range to get on a peak in this quest for Larimer County peakbagging glory - oh no - but this was definitely a dodgy peak that, ranked-peak madness aside, I would otherwise have zero interest in bagging. It is in clear view of 287, with a half mile of meadow to run through before any reasonable cover is available. Nonetheless, I made it up with little issue, tagged a couple of high point candidates on the flat, cliffy summit, then made tracks through the brush to get back to the car. I took a rock squarely to the knee coming down before noting a pick-up truck lingering at the gun club gate, right by my car. Prancing back across the field, I was sure the driver had seen me, so I continued past my car all the way to 287 and waited for the truck to leave. It eventually did, entering gun club property, and I immediately darted back to the car and sped off. Up and down in 30 mins.

Dam Hippies. Photo: Pilfered.
Proposed location of Glade Reservoir, with Weaver Peak the hogback in far right of pic (highest point on that line of hogbacks).  6,622' is due west of Weaver in the hills to the left of the hogbacks bordering 287. Photo pilfered from the interwebs.
The second peak, 6,622' in the Bonner Springs Ranch neighborhood, was one that I tried to get last weekend with Alistair and Stella, but failed to due to an Alistair refusal to hop a fence (wise kid). Parked in the same spot as last time, off North Grey Rock Rd and then hot-footed it to the base of the peak and hoofed quickly up through some rocky and prickly terrain. Big views to the north and west from the rocky summit. Again, up and down in not much more than 30 mins. Home in time for breakfast.

Sunday - 17 miles (4,800') slogging/peakbaggery. I had ambitious plans for this morning and a big window to get it done. Unfortunately, we were stymied by adverse snow conditions. Starting from the Old Flowers trailhead on the edge of the Comanche Wilderness, we (me, Abby, Kircher & Hinterberg) made our way directly southwest and cross country for the top of 9,740, aka Wandering Abby Peak. With very little downfall and reasonably young growth, the going was nice and open most of the way up. Nonetheless, we managed to lose Abby three-quarters of the way to the top only to find her a quarter of an hour later wandering around on a sub peak to the west. With summit tagged and group reconvened, we headed due north - thinking we were heading northwest - off the summit in search of the Old Flowers trail which we intersected in a somewhat confusing spot. We knew we needed to hang a left, but it should have been a downhill left as opposed to the uphill section of trail we were looking at. Some hemming and hawing, a bit of back and forth and we realized that we'd veered too far right coming off the summit hitting the trail to the east of, and under, the saddle. Once figured out, we cruised the short stretch of trail down to 'Beaver Park' where we got a nice view of Crown Benchmark before beginning upwards for Crown Point by way of Daad Gulch trail through increasingly trudgy terrain and growing snowdrifts. Fortunately there was signage on trees indicating the course of the trail, so we were able to stay on route for the most part, with Kircher finding a random $20 along the way for his troubles. However, the going was slow. Above timberline, the wind was blowing hard and the postholing was knee to thigh deep in places. 

Crown Point (11,463') is a distinct and unique summit with unparalleled views of the Never Summers and Medicine Bow ranges to the north/northwest, in addition to stellar close-ups of the north side of the Mummies. Due to the heavy winds, wet feet and general discomfort, we didn't linger to enjoy the views and headed across tundra into a pretty fierce crosswind for nearby Crown Benchmark, which boasts equally huge views. Again, we didn't linger. The plan from here was to grab 11,002' before heading back down to the TH, but time had gotten the better of us and I was in danger of missing a pain-of-death deadline to be home, so we picked up the alpine Old Flowers trail and headed downhill back to Beaver Park on fun snowed-in trails. The other four planned peaks off Pingree Park Rd will have to wait for another time. Back home right on time.
Top 'Wandering Abby Peak'. All pics: Hinterberg.
Ken Nolan and other LoJ celebs working the low-lying Mummies.  Crown Benchmark.
About my speed these days.
Abby, Kircher, Nick above Beaver Park on Old Flowers. Crown Benchmark in the distance.
Total: 46 miles (13,500')

Week Ending Nov 3

Mon - Off.

Tues - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth North Summit. 

Weds - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth North Summit.

Thurs - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth North Summit with the AM gang: Celeste, Mary, Mike, Lee, Justin & Ziggy.
Just about got the pre-dawn. Back to sunrises this week. Pic: Shinterberg
Fri - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth North Summit. Felt a rare spring in my stride, so upped the tempo just a notch from my current Horsetooth amble pace. 

Sat - Off. Two birthday parties and two soccer games = no running. Super fun beer tasting 40th birthday party in the evening at a neighbor's house. There are some really odd beers out there, and people apparently are prepared to pay big bucks for 'em. $7.99 a six pack of good ale is more my speed, but it was fun to try some sours and other weird stuff. 

Sun - 7 miles (1,700') easy. Horsetooth North summit on just a gorgeous fall day. Park was absolutely packed. 

Total: 27 miles (7,700') 

This post Grand Slam vacation from training is getting close to turning into a full-on habit. I'm really not sure I want to start adding any structure back to my running just yet, but I've committed mentally to at least giving it a go starting this week. As has often been the case with my running over the last four years, the incomparable Jane Welzel is providing the spark with the resumption of the Tuesday Morning Cemetery workouts. These will run all the way through to the far side of spring 2014. In combination with Thursday morning hill tempo work, these sessions have yet to fail me in getting ready for spring training and summer racing. The force is perhaps not quite as strong as it once was, but I'm prepared to give it a go - at least for one more year. See you at the City Park Fire Station at 7:15.

Been getting a few notes and inquiries about Chubby Cheeks 2013 - the fourth running. Date has been set for Dec 7, which also happens to be lottery day for Western States and, I think, Hardrock. So come on out and celebrate the 2013 season - while looking forward to 2014 - with miles, beers, friends, and (hopefully) some luck. Same deal as always for the run: 3 start times, 3 distances, lots of miles, lots of hills & probably more than one person getting a little lost. Bring food, beer and a good attitude. More here