2019 Retrospective (B-Sides and Rarities!)

As we finish another trip around the sun, it’s time for reminiscences (whether you like it or not!)  2019 was a notable year with a lot of Life Stuff (a new career, planning for what is effectively a new house, a lot of Scouting activities) which got in the way of the more major Fun Stuff.  There were a lot of ski trips (20+), but a paltry number of running miles (barely 900!).  Only a few adventures were made into full-blown blog posts — maybe there wasn’t much I considered “significant”, or maybe I just didn’t have the time. 

However, 2019 was still pretty packed with adventure, fun, beauty, and good fellowship.  Thus I’m resurrecting my old “B-sides” format from earlier years to highlight some of the B-Side adventures of 2019. 

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I took the old bib along on the race this year because it didn’t get to finish the trip last year.

Are you going back for revenge this year?”  Last year, I fell and broke my arm at mile 9.7 of the Moab Trail Marathon… because I was a complete jackass.  It was my own arrogant self who did that and I have only myself to blame; I only owe it to myself to seek a better outcome.  The desert owes me nothing.

Not for revenge.  Redemption.

364 days was enough time to recover from a “magnificent” fracture, some fiddly surgery, a few new permanent cyborg enhancements, a lingering “discussion” with my now-former insurance company, and a borderline-debilitating fear of falling while running.  It was also enough time to forget quite how gut-punch beautiful this course is and learn anew how tough it is.  Spurred by my tales from 2018 or perhaps just to keep an eye on me and my orthopedic health and welfare, a number of my indomitable running pals had made the journey with me this year.  Time to race!

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Scouting Quandary

If we look blurry, it’s because of the early wake up.

Early one September morning, eight scouts from Troop 78 set out to climb Quandary Peak (14,265′).  In Colorado, 14ers are a Big Deal and all Coloradans remember their first climb of one of these lofty summits the way other folks remember their first kiss.  Quandary is often mentioned as one of the easy 14ers, but all this really means is that it’s a safe route, the trail is good, plenty of parking, and it’s not too far from the Denver area where most of the people live.  However, even an “easy” 14er is a hard climb!  To gain the summit, you have to climb 3400′ of elevation in 3.7 miles while gasping air with 1/3rd less oxygen than even most Colorado folks are used to.

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Happy in my Suffering Place

My happy place. North from near Eccles Pass.

By this point, I realize that my dream of a complete traverse of the Gore range is likely just fantasy.  However, there’s still plenty of lesser adventure to be had!  After this year’s batch of angst, indecision, and sleepless map-peeking, I’d finally devised an ambitious-yet-doable overnight circumnavigation of the Mt. Powell/Eaglesnest massif! (ping me for details)  And then I got sick.  Reschedule for next weekend?  Nope, high probability of thunderstorms equals not wise to commit to three high pass crossings and 15+ miles of off-trail, above-treeline travel.  Time for a plan-B.

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There’s nothing Micro about the Micro-Backpack

Troop 78 has three levels of Adventure:  The regular adventures are 1-2 week long expeditions for high-school aged scouts in exotic places like the Boundary Waters or Alaska.  The Mini-backpack is a five-day exploration somewhere which requires scouting by airplane (nothing mini-about it!).  For the youngest scouts, the micro-backpack is a two night trip in the local mountains.  We’ll start with the micro, thanks.

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Storms Dakota

They’re standing right behind us, aren’t they?

Normally this is the time of year when the family packs up the camping gear and heads for the lovely Colorado mountains for some exploration and readjustment.  But this year, there’s still so much snow up there, we opted for the backup plan: head north east to some smaller, less snowy mountains.  Namely, the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Plus, it’s only six hours away and we’d never been there. Continue reading

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Terror on Tyndall

This is NOT a good situation. I VERY MUCH DO NOT WANT TO BE HERE RIGHT NOW!  But I’m three turns and one hundred vertical feet into this descent and there are at least that many more to go to safety. Gaaaah! There’s not much else to do here but move on.

Me, contemplating a third turn, but really not too sure about it.

This uncomfortable moment of introspection came at the crux of a ski descent of Tyndall Glacier, one of the last remaining glaciers (or permanent snowfields, if you want to get technical) in Colorado. In it’s hey day, Tyndall Glacier carved out a pretty substantial gorge stretching a couple miles east from the Continental Divide in what is now Rocky Mountain National Park. Now that it’s nearly gone, the north side of the gorge is mades up the aptly-named and often-climbed Flattop Mountain while the cliffs and buttresses on the south make the uber-picturesque Hallet Peak what it is. At the mouth of the gorge lies the end of the paved road at Bear Lake which is probably the most popular mountain spot in the entire state. It’s occupied in equal numbers by sneaker-and-jeans clad tourons and the better-equipped climbers and ski mountaineers.

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