Squirrel!!!!

Beginning the climb. Lots of people to overtake.

Beginning the climb. Lots of people to overtake.

Running a half marathon is not like running an ultra. For one thing (at least for me), it’s not the pinnacle of an entire season of training, emotional and physical preparation, and logistical ponderment. I’d registered for the Black Squirrel Half Marathon on a whim, so it’s supposed to be whimsical.  After a summer of much bigger adventures, I should be able to toss off a quick 13.1 miles with no trouble at all. Completely casual, right?

Mostly. Continue reading

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Lucky Thirteen

I pulled #13. I know the rules.

I pulled #13. I know the rules.

Some problems have multiple solutions.  Three months ago, Levi talked me into signing up for the Gold Rush Bike Rally.  It’s a wildly-varying course with lots of climbing, some pavement and smooth dirt road, some loose gravel and sand, more dirt, steep descents, more pavement, and even some “moderate singletrack”. So what kind of bike would be best, hmmm? My road bike would clearly be the wrong answer here and my mountain bike would be drastic overkill for most of it. Accordingly, I got to work and built a middle-of-the-range gravel grinder bike specifically for this race (and other subsequent fun); modest off-road capabilities while still having decent efficiency on the smooth stuff. Low gearing for the climbs and the best brakes I could reasonably put on there for the descents. Would it be the right answer for this truly all-terrain race? Only one way to find out…

Ascending Switzerland with a good group of gentlemen.

Ascending Switzerland with a good group of gentlemen.

Other people’s solutions varied wildly covering pretty much the entire spectrum of bikes. Milling about at the start on Sunday morning in North Boulder, mostly I saw cyclecross-type bikes which looked a lot like mine (though were undoubtedly fancier and pricier) with a heavy sprinkling of mountain bikes. However, there were a cadre of big, puffy fat bikes (drastic overkill?) and even a couple people on tri bikes (aerobars!). My bed was made, time to go lay in it. Heck, it’s only 35 miles and 4500’ of gain. Shouldn’t take more than a morning. What’s the worst that can happen?

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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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