Everybody Loves Rawahs!

Looking south along the ridge toward the Neversummers and RMNP

Looking south along the ridge toward the Never Summers and RMNP

The mountains have me on speed-dial and I must go.  This time, it was the Rawahs on the line.

The Raw-whats?” you say.

“Why, I’m so glad you asked! The Rawahs (pronounced Ray-wahs) are the northernmost extension of the Front Range here in Colorado; a long ridgeline running north from Cameron Pass (north of Rocky Mountain National Park) before piddling out somewhere near the Wyoming Border.”

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Sky-Lonesome

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Running the ridge up to Skyscraper Peak at 12k.

Summer is fast departing, or, rather, the rigors of the semester are rapidly approaching. There are so many things I wanted to do this summer… I played hookie with Ben on Friday. The idea was a quick lap of the classic and well-known High Lonesome Loop out of Hessie. But I can’t resist some exploration, so we headed up the middle drainage to Woodland Lake and Skyscraper Reservoir. Trail-wise, this is a dead end while the other two drainages (north and south) connect up to the Divide and the High Lonesome Trail. Thus the classic loop.
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Black and Blue in RMNP

New Blue Crew

New Blue Crew

Peter and I did a quick blitz of Glacier Gorge.  Sure, I was just up there three weeks ago, but we had some time to kill in RMNP and he’d never been up there before.  I’m a Glacier Gorge Evangelist, so how could I say no? I set a pretty hard pace but Peter kept on my like glue the entire way. Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, and finally Black Lake arrived in very quick time.  Continue reading

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Wheeler Basin Recon

Apparently my 10 second self-timer on my camera isn't quite long enough.

Apparently my 10 second self-timer on my camera isn’t quite long enough.

The main reason I fancy myself an explorer is that, even though I’ve never personally filled in any blank areas on the map, there is nothing more exciting to me than exploring something new.  What’s around that next bend?  What’s in the next valley over?  How can I get from point A to point F?  I wonder if that goes?

Wheeler Basin is one such place that’s been on my radar for a while.  On the map at least, there’s this trackless valley in the Indian Peaks Wilderness which curves in from the west around the north side of North Arapaho Peak.  No lakes or prominent climbing routes; it’s not on the way to anything, but it looks like it might be cool anyway.  Even if it turns out to be completely boring, the hike to/from is known to be gorgeous and spectacular and I could desperately use a little mountain therapy. Continue reading

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Operation Gravel Grinder

Behind bars for life!

Behind bars for life!

I was at a vulnerable point in my life — a little bored with the status quo of running and searching for something new to work on this summer.  Knowing I was in this impressionable state, Levi swooped in and convinced me that the Gold Rush Bike Rally would be a really good idea.  It’s 35 miles (and 3500′ of gain) through the foothills of Boulder on pavement, dirt roads, some old rutted jeep roads, and a bit of single track. Raising money for a worthy cause, beer sponsor at the finish line, etc. Sure, why not?

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Fourth Time’s the Charm on Pagoda

Reflecting on Pagoda Mountain.

Reflecting on Pagoda Mountain.

My luck with Pagoda Mountain has been unusually bad. It’s not that Pagoda is anything unusually difficult or extraordinary; it’s a high peak in RMNP sandwiched between the much higher Longs Peak and Chiefshead. I’ve attempted Pagoda three different times by three different routes, and been turned back for three different reasons. Ever since, it’s been mocking me up there, smugly secure.

My first attempt was a climb of the north buttress with Jared; a technical climb from Glacier Gorge. I was turned around that time by an uncharacteristic bout of altitude sickness. The second time was during my Radical Slam adventure with Priddy. We’s made short work of Meeker and Longs and were all set to traverse over to Pagoda, but verglass on the western slabs made the traverse to Pagoda imprudent in running shoes. I came back for a third try via the Keyhole route on Longs, but was turned back by atrocious weather. I was running out of approach lines and failure modes in rapid order. My luck had to turn eventually.

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Closing the Circle at Bighorn

 

bh16_57The Bighorn 100 last year was certainly one of the highlights of my life. It was a huge challenge accepted and achieved, a new emotional and physical range, bragging rights galore, and basically one hell of a life experience. While I still have no desire to race it again, it was clear from very shortly afterward that I was far from done with Bighorn.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!

For one thing, I was so laser-focused on the race that I didn’t spend much time appreciating the area as a whole.  For another, my support network was so amazing an integral to my success that I was looking for a way to pay it forward for this year’s crop of kindred spirits, thus cancel any karmic debts incurred last year. I’ve never paced someone in a race nor crewed except in the general aid-station staff sense, so that would be a new and giving experience. Plan A was to pace Brian and help him redeem his DNF last year and I spent half a year looking forward to running with him again. At the last minute, LIFE stepped in and Brian had to bow out of his repeat at Bighorn. Fortunately, I’d already convinced Ben that this level of suffering sounded like a good idea, so I switched to Team Ben instead. Continue reading

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