2017 B-sides and Rarities

Photo by Muzhou Lu

2017 featured some great adventures written up here previously.  Most significant (to me) were probably my spontaneous trip to South Africa, a big family trip to Yellowstone, and a series of adventures associated with my home-grown ultralight backpacking gear.  But there were lots of other little(r) adventures which may not have warranted their own posts.  I’ll spotlight a few of them here. Continue reading

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145 rocks: 2017 Running Retrospective

Rocks of 2017

Once again, another year has come and gone (and faster than ever!) and it’s time to get retrospective in every way.  2017 was a strange year, but there was some wonderfullness amidst the strange. It was a year of niggling injuries and various unexpected excitement in my non-running life. Perhaps I can pin the blame on these extenuating circumstances for this being my lowest-mileage year since 2013; I didn’t even hit 1000 miles (though it was close).


For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to collect one small rock from each run of 2017 and would do one push up per mile (rounding up) immediately following each run.

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Season Finale

Mt. Alice’s imposing northeast face.

My Night Run friends were headed out to do a big run in the mountains and I couldn’t go. Sadness!  The weekly Boulder Trail Runners Night Run (Wednesdays at 8:30, check your local Yahoo Group emailing) is my main social life these days, so I was excited to see my pals getting out and going big in the mountains (some for the first time).  But then plans changed and I could go.  Hooray!  One last hurrah in the mountains before winter kicks in. One last chance to salvage something from a scattered summer season.

The plan was to run the 18-mile loop up Mt. Alice (13,310′) via the Hourglass Ridge in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park which I ran with Eric and Clem ten years ago.  That time, it took six hours.  We figured maybe seven this time if we stopped to take a lot of pictures.  Hmmm.

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Divided We Stand (Ooh La La Land)

Seriously, Cooper Peak everyone.

The summer of 2017 has been a memorable one, but not because of the epic mountain running trips I’ve managed. Between spur-of-the-moment multi-continental travel, increasingly-ambitious family outings, and some nagging maybe-injuries, I’ve only managed a couple proper runs in the high-country. My original plan (back in the dark days of last spring) was to build some ultralight fastpacking gear and then do a series of ever-more-intensive test trips culminating in an ambitious traverse of the Gore Range. But suddenly it’s late August and the weekend before the start of the semester. The flag has not been sufficiently waved. Gah!

Well hello there!

I’ve long been map-fascinated by the Continental Divide on either side of Buchanan Pass in the northern Indian Peaks Wilderness. Buchanan Pass is half of the rightly-popular Pawnee-Buchanan loop and is the key to many wonderful and scenic places along that route. But it also access some other fascinating spots: to the south lie Sawtooth and the greatly under-appreciated Algonquin Peak. The Divide north of Buchanan has long fascinated me. I can find very little information about it on-line but it looks like a long tundra-hop to the border of RMNP and beyond. To sweeten the deal, there is a complicated set of basins and lakes northwest of the pass which look interesting and remote which has always been just a little too far away to properly explore in even a long day trip.

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Old Yellerstone

I always make fun of people when they do this at Rocky.

There is a reason that Yellowstone was chosen in 1872 as the first National Park in the world; it’s totally unique. It’s also a supervolcano which is even more awesome than just a regular volcano.  I always urge foreign visitors to travel up there (as well as the Grand Canyon) because these are two places no other country on Earth has. Sure, I love my local Rocky Mountain National Park and it will always be special to me, but it was high time to introduce the kids to the original park.

Ellie does not like the stinks.

You’ve seen eight quintillion photos of Yellowstone. It’s so iconic to be cliched and loads of photographers have made careers documenting the incredible sights there. So I’ve set myself a challenge of one cliched scenery photo per day salted out with pictures more unique to our trip (mostly pictures of my kids doing weird things).

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Waterfalls and Unicorns

More waterfalls than you can handle!

July 27th has become the traditional day to explore a trackless valley near well-known trails.  This year’s edition was the Storm Lake drainage lying between Jasper Peak and Jasper Lake.  I’ve been past Jasper Lake many times and up the Peak twice, but the valley in between always seemed intriguing.

My conditioning is poor this year, so I didn’t aim for anything terribly ambitious.  Plus the weather was ominous with a moderately-high chance of lightning.  I made slow time up to Jasper Lake before heading up some faint trails around the southeast shore. Continue reading

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Back(packing) to Normal

After two days of camping, we were all a bit wacky.

Our friends Dave and Erin booked a backcountry campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park and asked if we wanted to come with them. Sure, why not? We’ve been thinking of expanding our growing camping chops with some easy backpacking of a couple miles.

Oh, it’s 4.5 miles and a significant bit of uphill to get there. Gulp!

Approaching Odessa Lake.

It went really well. I made a dramatic U-turn from trying to go as light as possible to Bringing All the Things. Amy and I have decent light-weight, low-bulk backpacking gear, but the kids don’t. Even with the largest packs available, packing was a challenge. Following the rule that you should carry no more than 1/4th to 1/3rd your body weight, Ellie’s pack topped out at 7 pounds, Joe at 15, Amy at a tad over 30 (a reasonable adult load, really), and me… well, something north of 50 pounds.

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