Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week Summary: Oct 24 - 30

Mon-AM: 1:15, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Moving well this morning. 33:40 ascent, still hiking the descents too.
PM: 1:34, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access down 1st access. Lingered too long on the summit and ended up stumbling through darkness on the bottom half of the mountain.

Tue-AM: 3:16, 4300' ~ Cameron Cone
First time I've been up and down what should be an absolutely classic peak in Manitou Springs.  Went with former CCXC teammate Martin Mudry.

Wed-AM: 1:28, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front (w/ usual NE ridge variation). Slogging ascent through ever-deepening snow. Maybe a foot or so on the summit. No views of any kind today but tomorrow should be fantastic. Ran most of the downhill because the pillowy snow offers enough cushion to make my shin feel usable.

Thu-AM: 1:27, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up front and down Greenman-Gregory. Simply incredible morning with the rising sun shining brilliantly on the newly-gilded landscape. Ran every step of the way down and it was the most fun I've had in months--floating through powder and visiting trails that I haven't seen since before I broke my leg.
PM: 1:10, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Trails were a bit stickier than this morning after some day-time warming. Ran the entire downhill again.

Fri-AM: 1:09, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Broke out the Microspikes this morning for the first time this season as the trail has largely become frozen slush and packed snow. Quick descent, but the disappearing/consolidating snow means I might have to go back to hiking the downhills. Massage with Jeff Staron afterwards.
PM: 1:07, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Ran the downhill again, but the shin was a bit sore after Jeff hammered it this morning. Should've worn Microspikes as the ice/snow in the shade hadn't melted as much as I thought it would.

Sat-AM: 1:32, 3100' ~ Flag Mt. + Green Mt. (Boulder Basic)
After a really late night at a Phantogram concert, hurriedly biked up 6th street and joined a bunch of other festive souls (/soles) for a communal and celebratory tour of the Boulder peaks. I took it cautiously, but ran/hiked up Flagstaff w/ Jeff and too many other familiar faces to name. At the top we all stopped to don Microspikes for the snowy/icy conditions before heading down to the Ranger trail to head up the backside of Green Mountain. Running up the hill at a casual pace w/ Geoff, Scott and Dakota meant I was able to mix in quite a bit of hiking and take some stress off my shin. After the others left to tag a couple more peaks, I reluctantly limited myself to just Green and ran down the frontside back to Baseline and my bike. I don't think I did any undue damage to my shin this morning, but it was a real bummer to not join in the rest of the morning's fun. A big part of being a runner is the shared identity that it gives you with other runners and my lack of racing and general lack of running this year has really left me kind of starved in that regard. Really great to get out for a bit with other like-minded folks this morning, even if just for a bit.

Sun-AM: 1:21, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Awkward mix of bullet-proof ice and exposed rock and dirt made Microspikes necessary but not ideal. Some really great packed snow higher up on the mountain.
PM: 1:17, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Legs felt really good tonight and the ice had softened enough to make spikes unnecessary.

Hours: 16h36
Vert: 30,000'

I really enjoyed the intro to winter this week.  Obviously, hiking is even more appropriate when you're plowing uphill through a foot of fresh snow, so it fits my current limitations nicely.  I'm going to be out of town for the next 10 days or so, and I'm hoping that the enforced semi-inactivity will provide some new stimulus (or lack thereof) to my shin, maybe nudging it towards health.  It's really getting ridiculous.  My mind is already consistently wandering towards thoughts of the 2012 racing season (put my name on the Hardrock list last week), but whereas not too long ago 2012 seemed impossibly far in the future it now seems to be approaching almost too rapidly.  Things have to turn around at some point.

Middle Greenman trail.

Thursday evening: #477
The mighty Third.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cameron Cone & Snowy Green Mt.

The route on Cameron Cone.
Yesterday I finally made it up one of the more prominent peaks in the Colorado/Manitou Springs area.  One of the things I really enjoy about Boulder is its triumvirate of legitimate backyard summits.  Green Mountain, Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak all rise authoritatively and abruptly from the edge of town for close to three thousand vertical feet and each has an appropriately direct route up its eastern aspect.

On the other hand, in Colorado Springs, although there is the staggeringly obvious and commanding summit of Pikes Peak, it's not exactly a run-up-it-before-work type of mountain (because I enjoy sleeping, 2-2h30 outings are the longest I will consistently log before 9am on a weekday).  There are several 2000'-3000' climbs to be enjoyed in the area, but none of them have the obvious destination of a true mountain summit at the top: the top of the Incline is still about 700 vertical feet below the awkward and seldom-visited summit of 9250' Rocky Mountain; Barr Trail offers the logical turn-around points of either No Name Creek (8800') or Barr Camp (10,200'), but neither have expansive 360 degree views; Longs Ranch Road does no more than crest the saddle between the uninspiring Mount Manitou and the aforementioned Rocky Mountain; Jones Park (9100') is stuck in an aspen grove with higher peaks rising all around; finally, one can climb High Drive to 8300' Buckhorn Mountain (as I have done hundreds of times), and while the views are great, it hardly feels like a real summit as the Captain Jacks trail continues climbing far above this ridge.

Cameron Cone, however, breaks all aspects of this frustrating local pattern.  At 10,707' it towers nearly 4500' above downtown Manitou Springs and the standard route takes less than five miles to ascend that vert (to get from a ~6500' trailhead to 10,700' anywhere else in the region requires almost eight miles of trail).  The main problems are that this "standard route"-- despite being surprisingly well-developed with remarkably nice tread at least 80% of the way -- is not a Forest Service-sanctioned trail and the very beginning of the route is rather inconveniently blocked by the Cog Railway tracks at the base of Englemann Canyon (the same canyon from where the Barr Trail embarks). Nevertheless, my trip up the Cone yesterday revealed it to be just about everything I could want in a daily summit type of mountain.  I can guarantee that its path sees little to no traffic at all in the winter, though, so there would almost certainly be a ton of trail-breaking if one were to turn this peak into his or her daily vigil, but I think it would be worth it.

Typical tread below 8200' Gog/Magog Ridge.
The Cone with 2000' down and 2500' of vert still to go.
Trail becomes rougher closer to the summit, but marked by ribbon.
Martin on Cam's summit.
And then, of course, it snowed last night.  Quite a lot.  This morning's trip up and down Green Mountain was particularly enjoyable as a result.  There seemed to be almost three times as much snow on the summit as what was on Boulder's streets, but this just made the downhill that much more enjoyable, and maybe my first completely pain-free running descent in the last nine months.  Of course, biking back home with slush spraying everywhere was a little less euphoric.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week Summary: Oct 17 - 23

Mon-AM: 1:36, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Cloudy morning meant it was dark until I was half-way up the mountain. Ran to and from Gregory again for a total of 29min of running.
PM: 1:51, 3300' ~ Green Mt. + 2nd Flatiron
Biked to Chat, up and down Green via 3rd access and then a quick scramble lap on the 2nd Flatiron, which added ~700' of vert. Even though it was only partly cloudy and the sun was shining through on the horizon, there were a few flakes of snow falling on the summit of Green.

Tue-AM: 1:38, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down the front. This involved 27+ min of running from my door to the base of the 2nd Flatiron (trail really kicks up after that) and then another 13min of running home from the base of Amphitheater. More spectacular than usual sunrise.
PM:  1:19, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down the front. Shin tightened up a bit on the hike up, so I took it pretty casually. Shouldn't have done that extra 10min of steeper running this morning.

Wed-AM: 1:19, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Exact same outing as last night, but maybe 30sec faster on the way up. All hiking. Shin is tight. Cold morning in the lower 30s!
PM: 1:24, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st/2nd with Jeff and Aron. All hiking. On the way down we hung out at the base of the First Flatiron for a bit watching the scramblers rip up the East Face. Pretty inspiring watching Stefan and others literally run up the first thin 5.6 pitch in a pair of Crosslites like it was a 3rd Class slab. Stefan completed the Chat-to-Chat roundtrip (including the downclimb, eschewing the 100ft rappel) in an impressive 34:02, less than a minute off the FKT (which he holds).

Thu-AM: 1:14, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Kinda broke out of my lethargic funk of the last few days with a 33:23 ascent, but my shin was still tight, so all hiking.
PM: Appt w/ Mark Plaatjes.

Fri-AM: 1:19, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front.  Tired again this morning with little motivation.

Sat- 5:29, 7000' ~ Almagre Mt. + Incline
Went down to Colorado Springs this morning to take advantage of the late-season snow-free-ness that the Pikes Peak region still offers at high altitudes. Parked at the upper Gold Camp lot (top of Cheyenne Canyon Dr, 7500') and hiked up 7 Bridges to Jones Park and then kept going up Bear Creek to the base of Almagre's north ridge at 10,100'.  Left the trail here at 1:31 and fought through the loose gravel to gain the ridge at ~11,200'.  Stayed right on the ridge all the way to the summit, mostly boulder-hopping and scrambling with enough snow to spice things up and keep it interesting. From the summit I went south to Stratton Reservoir and the headwaters of North Cheyenne Creek where I took the goat path down the canyon and essentially followed the creek drainage all the way back to the car (on trails), some official, some not. Upon finishing I immediately drove the ~15min over to Ruxton Ave in Manitou and ground up the Incline in 22:48, descending Barr Trail.

Sun-AM: 1:30, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st/2nd access. Tired this morning, could really feel yesterday's long outing in my legs.

Hours: 18h35m
Vert: 31,100'

I started out the week quite optimistic about my shin, but a slight transgression on Tuesday morning put it just a little back over the edge and I was stuck with hiking the rest of the week.  On top of that, I was just plain tired this week.  I guess vert takes its toll, even if it's not technically running.  The week ended on a highlight, though, with my day-trip to the Springs on Saturday.

Pikes Peak has a unique climate all its own that usually means it's the state's 14er that stays snow-free(ish) the latest in the fall and becomes comfortably(ish) foot-traffic accessible the earliest in the spring.  Each year I try to take advantage of this by making my way up into the alpine down there one last time, usually around Halloween.  This year, I was interested in a trip up and over Almagre Mountain (Pikes' 12,400' little brother to the south) because the trails down there are steeper and more direct than the heavily-switchbacked and gradual Barr Trail on Pikes Peak.  Indeed, by taking the Seven Bridges Trail up North Cheyenne Canyon and then continuing on other less-traveled (but easily followed) paths further up the drainage, one can gain nearly 5000' in little more than six miles.  Not bad.

My ascent of the north ridge of Almagre, though, turned out to be a bit less ideal than I'd hoped.  This ridge looks like a fabulous and logical line on maps and from a distance, and in reality the ridge itself was quite a lot of fun--airy but nowhere-near-fatal exposure on both sides with solid tundra and boulder fields on its upper reaches--but the first 1000' required to gain that ridge was a giant pain in the ass.

Geologically, the Pikes Peak Massif is an enormous igneous intrusion of Pikes Peak Granite, which exists in various stages of decomposition.  This granite starts out as a suitably solid material (the mountain exists, afterall) but over time (and at varying rates) weathers first to chossy rock, then a relatively unstable rock-like matrix, and finally the ubiquitous Pikes Peak gravel that is the defining characteristic of the region's trails.  The lower reaches of Almagre's north ridge is dominated by this gravel, giving it all the shiftiness and solidity of a sand dune.  It took me 50min to go maybe a mile and a half (granted, this included over 2k' of vertical, but with better footing I could've easily dispatched of this in less than 30min), and left me with little desire to ever struggle through this line again, let alone establish it as a regular part of my outings in the region.  Other than for some very short-lived sockless postholing in a shaded canyon, the rest of the loop was fantastic.

I punctuated the day with a quick lap on Manitou's Incline.  This hugely popular staircase of railroad ties offers up 2000' of vert in one mile, about as stout and constant a climb as you'll be able to find anywhere without venturing into consistent 4th or 5th Class territory.  Despite living in the Springs for seven years, Saturday was only the third or fourth time I've ever climbed the Incline, and the first time since my freshman year of college 10 years ago (due to my before-now largely anti-hiking bias, I suppose).  Even with all of the very specific hiking I've been doing lately, it was really tough.  Part of that was the fact that it came at the end of an already big day with way too few calories, but by time I'd crawled my way to the top I realized that this particular climb has a lot to teach me--I hope to get back on it sometime soon, and often. Sub-20min feels like a good goal.

Saturday's route.

Seven Bridges Trail, North Cheyenne Creek Canyon.
North ridge of 12,400' Almagre Mt.
Summit, with Pikes.
Headwaters of North Cheyenne Creek at 12,000'.
Incline summit.
Posing on the Incline a couple years ago for a magazine article. Photo: Dave Philipps.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week Summary: Oct 10 - 16

First Flatiron.
Mon-AM: 1:15, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Hiking the whole way.
PM: 1:27, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 3rd access route. Hiking.  Great moonrise.

Tue-AM: 1:26, 2600' ~ Green Mt. 
Up 3rd access, down front mellow with Gavin. Massage with Jeff Staron.
PM: 1:27, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access, down front. Unfortunately, the full moonrise was obscured by clouds on the horizon.

Wed-AM: 1:26, 2600' ~ Green Mt. 
Up 3rd access and down front again with Gavin. Tired.
PM: 1:27, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. Cranked out a 32:58 hiking PR ascent. In the dark w/o a headlamp on the way down, so it was slow going.

Thu-AM: 1:58, 2800' ~ 3rd Flatiron+Green.
Climbed the 3rd with Buzz. He belayed me on the downclimb (SW Chimney), which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, and then I continued on to tag the summit of Green. Can't believe the time change doesn't happen for another three weeks, I'm tired of the dark mornings.

Fri-AM: 2:19, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Up the front and then exploring out towards the south summit of Green and down to Dinosaur Mountain.  Involved more awkward 4th Class downclimbing than I'd hoped, but the summit of Dinosaur above Mallory Cave is quite unique.
PM: 1:15, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down the front totally in the dark. My legs felt great on the 33:20 ascent and I spent a lot of time on top watching the orange harvest moon rise.

Sat-AM: 1:43, 3600' ~ Green Mt.
Via Skunk Canyon.  After biking over to the base of Skunk Canyon I actually ran the entire 17min approach to the Mesa Trail and the climber's trail that takes off up from there. The shin was surprisingly pain-free (first running steps I've taken on it since last Saturday), so on the way back down I ran all of this same section of trail for a total of ~30min of running on this outing.
PM: 1:18, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front with a hiking PR 32:05 ascent. Legs felt great tonight and I'm not sure it's possible for me to hike this route any faster. This is only 1:21 off of my absolute PR on the mountain (on a slightly different route), which leads me to believe that my heart/lungs are actually in fairly decent shape but I'm just held back by mechanics right now.

Sun-AM: 1:37, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down front. For the first time in weeks I ran the 16min from my doorstep to the base of Amphitheater and then the 13min from the base back home. The shin felt basically fine, but my running stride felt awkward on the pavement. All of my travel on the actual mountain was hiking.  The uphill because I can hike it nearly as quickly as running with way less stress on my lower legs; the downhill because the steep downhill is more shock than I'm willing to impart on my shin just yet. Baby steps. I'll be psyched if I can maintain this 30min/day of running (with copious hiking) through the next week.
PM: 1:22, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st access. Legs were very solid tonight and I was happy to sneak this outing in before it was fully dark.

Hours: 20hr (1hr of running)
Vert: 35,200'

I was rather disheartened earlier in the week when my shin seemed to have regressed several steps, but by the end of the week things had seemed to calm down a bit again.  I think I just have to be very careful now to not get too excited and limit any running to just one outing per day, and keep it in the 30min range for at least the next week.

In the meantime, this:

and the impossibly catchy "Don't Move" off of Phantogram's soon-to-be-released new EP have me very excited for their show at the Marquis Theater in Denver at the end of the month.

What I've been doing, instead of running, for the past two months. From Monday morning 10/17/2011. Cloudy morning, so it was a little dark at first, before the sun made it's way over the horizon. I cheat a little at the end.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Week Summary: Oct 3 - 9

Mon-AM: 2:09, 2600'
1st Flatiron+Green Mt. Went up the First with Buzz and then continued on to Green's summit. Then drove 8hrs to Rico, CO. Fall colors were at a spectacular peak.

Tue-AM: 1:38, 3000'
Lizard Head Peak. Slept in the Roost at the Cross Mt trailhead last night and ran by headlamp at 5am. Above 12,000' I was in a very thick fog and could only see a few feet in front of me in my light beam. Scrambled up the final talus ridge to the vertical base of the actual Lizard Head volcanic breccia plug (~13k'). When the sky finally lightened on the way down most views were obscured by the low clouds but I got one great view of the peak (unfortunately, the Wilson Group was still largely hidden) before getting rained/graupeled on for much of the descent back to the trailhead.

Wed-AM: 1:00, 1000'
Tomboy Road out and back. Another 5am headlamp affair, so the many spectacular views in Telluride were missing.  Shin was quite sore today.

Thu- Off. Another early morning in Rico (which involved blizzard-like conditions while getting over Lizard Head Pass and then later on when collecting water samples) and the 8hr drive home combined with yesterday's sore shin made it easy to not do any specific exercise today.

Fri-AM: 1:05, 2600'
Green Mt. up 3rd and down front. Pretty tired today but really enjoyed the sun after not having it for most of the week in the San Juans. Mostly running on this outing.

Sat-AM: 1:01, 2600'
Green Mt. up and down front. First snow! 32:55 ascent mixing running and hiking and with traction issues through the final talus switchbacks.  My shin still won't tolerate running on the steepest grades but does okay on steep downhills.
PM: 1:26, 2600'
Green Mt. up 3rd and down Ranger-Gregory. Was caught by darkness near the summit, so most of the descent was a hike (good for the shin) despite the bright moon.

Sun-AM: 1:13, 2500'
Green Mt. up and down front. Not a lot of motivation this morning because I was worried about my shin, but by sticking to completely hiking (35min ascent) up and down, I definitely didn't do any damage.

Hours: 9h32 (~4hr of actual running)
Vert: 16,900'

Ugh. I am getting tired of not being able to run comfortably and worry-free.  I have another massage planned for early this week, but I wish I had been able to get in sometime this past week--it really seemed to make a difference.  I also have to be better about not getting over-excited once I'm able to do some pain-free running.  There are still days where I can't believe I've been dealing with this same nuisance (shin tendonitis) for so long.  When it snowed here in Boulder on Saturday morning and I was out on Green I remembered that I was on Green the last time it snowed (in May) and my shin was a concern then too.  Ridiculous.

On another note, being down in the San Juans this week reaffirmed my conviction that Hardrock is the number one priority if the lottery gods shine on me favorably in a couple of month's time.  The mountains there are simply spectacular.

Lizard Head (ridge of ascent on the left).
The Roost back at the Cross Mt. Trailhead with Sheep Mt. in the clouds.
    I'm ready for the time change to occur -- the sun needs to rise earlier.

    Sunshine Mt.
Ophir Needles and Yellow Mt.
First snow.
Saturday morning.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week Summary: Sept 26 - Oct 2

Mon-AM: 1:25, 2500'
Green Mt. up and down Amp-Gman. Shin was more tight today than usual.  Too much running with it over the weekend. Exhausted all day after too many days in a row with little sleep.

Tue-AM: 1:20, 2500'
Green Mt. up and down Amp-Gman.  Beautiful fall morning.
PM: 1:26, 2800'
Green Mt. up 3rd with Jeff. Shin only allowed me to hike on the way down (probably much to Jeff's frustration), but our slower pace allowed Aron to catch up with us back down in the parking lot. Perfect fall evening.

Wed-AM: 2:36, 3000'
2nd Flatiron+Green Mt. Cruised up the 2nd Flattie w/ Buzz and then continued on up to the summit.
PM: 2:19, 4000'
3rd Flatiron+Green Mt. Hit the Third with Jenny and then continued on up to the summit.  Summer-like day pushing 90F.

Thu-AM: 1:31, 2800'
Green Mt. up and down Third. Got out with Scottie this morning and showed him the hiking skills I've been honing.  It's frustrating, I think I'm actually in fairly good shape right now (cardiovascularly), I just can't quite run! Awesome overcast, cool fall morning.
PM: 1:24, 2800'
Green Mt. up and down Third. Nice hard effort this evening, 40:45 from Chat. Not sure why the vert is consistently more on this route--I guess there are a couple of rollers on the route that add up?

Fri-AM: 1:50, 4000'
Green Mt.+2nd Flatiron. Went up and down the 3rd route, climbed the 2nd Flatiron then went up to behind the 1st Flatiron and down Saddle-Amp.  Ran all of the descents today, which was definitely notable. Ridiculously agonizing massage with Jeff Staron in the afternoon. I can say with certainty that I've never been in more prolonged acute pain than when Jeff works on my shin.

Sat-AM: 1:05, 2800'
Green Mt. up 3rd and down front with Jeff, Homie and Brandon. Awesome morning out with some great guys.  Ran the whole Bluebell Rd approach and then the whole way down, too. Shin seems to be moving in the right direction?
PM: 1:04, 2800'
Green Mt. up and down 3rd. Super-encouraging outing, best my shin has felt since it started acting up again. Maybe all the massage pain yesterday was worth it? Time trial type effort on the way up.

Sun-AM: 1:06, 2800'
Green Mt. up 3rd and down Gman-Amp. Shin continued to feel good, same as last night.  Ran a good bit of the approach to the 3rd and then ran all the way down. Still some twinges and favoring for sure, but hugely improved from just a couple days ago.
PM: 1:04, 2800'
Green Mt. up 3rd and down G-SR-Amp.

Hours: 18h10
Vert: 35,600'

The week started out a bit shaky after probably overdoing it on the shin last weekend, but I still got out for a lot of hiking vert.  The back end of the week has been quite good since the massage with Jeff Staron on Friday.  The shin is still superficially sore to the touch from his work, but the function is far improved.  Now is the time to just try and remain disciplined and not negate any healing with my zeal for the mountains.  This is especially tough because the absolutely stellar autumn weather continues here on the northern Front Range.  This next week will be interesting as I'll be down in Rico, CO on the west side of the San Juan mountains.  This is certainly an incredibly scenic area--part of the best in the state, in my opinion--but I'll probably be spending most of my time underground in a mine...hoping to tag some early early morning summits, though.  There look to be plenty of enticing options right from town, even if it requires charging up some interpretive fell-lines.

Longs Peak.
Upper Greenman colors.