Friday, November 23, 2007

The Unexpected Sunset Summit

Humboldt Peak, November 18, 2007
my 17th 14er

For whatever reason, it seems whenever Heather and I set out for a hike, we end up on some sort of adventure we didn't necessarily plan on...

Last Sunday, we decided to head down to the Sangres and the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining and we were looking forward to a wonderful day. We made it to the 4WD trail which had been greatly improved this past year, but was still pretty rocky and so we just set out and tried to make it as far as we could. Neither of us were feeling adventurous enough to hike from the bottom of the 4WD drive road which would have added anywhere from 6 to 11 miles to our hike. About 2 1/2 miles into the drive, we noticed a pretty large patch of ice ahead of us and so we hopped out to check it out to see if the car would make it down and then back up again. It looked great so we turned back to the car and that was when we saw it...we had a flat tire.

We pulled off to the side of the road, and to make a long story short, it took us forever to change this silly tire. The incline of this mountain road made it especially challenging...
The jack didn't go high enough for us to take the tire off, so we had to find some sturdy rocks. Yes, we realize it's not the safest thing, but we were getting pretty desperate!

After probably something like an hour or two, we decided to go back into town and get the tire fixed and then decide whether or not we still wanted to go for the climb. Thankfully, there was a shop open and he patched our tire and we discussed what to do...

Well, neither of us needed much convincing, though we realized that if we went back for the hike, we'd get to experience a sunset summit...something neither of us had done before so I reconciled with the fact that we'd be hiking back down in the dark and we took off down the trail. We took our chances and continued down the same road where we got our flat, and made it about 4 miles with no issues which was great.

It was a beautiful day...

This is a picture of South Colony Lake, a little bit of ice, but not bad. The upper right is one of the Crestones...gorgeous peaks!!
We made it to the ridge! Finally! I was getting pretty tired, it'd been a long day. But what I didn't realize is that behind me was a false summit and in trying to get to it, I led us up the wrong side and on a much more difficult path...sorry Heather! Had we stayed to the right and bypassed the false summit, I think it would have been much easier...ugh!

We made it! We took a couple quick pictures, but it was pretty cold up there with the wind. I had to take my gloves off to catch a picture and I don't think my fingers had ever been so close to frost bite!

We did get some fabulous sunset pictures. These are the Crestones...pretty spectacular!

It took us quite a bit to get down, but we made it down the tricky part with the last bit of sunlight which was a blessing because it was a lot of bouldering and headlamps would have been tricky. By the time we got to the car, I think we were both so relieved! It had been an incredibly long day, but a really great one!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Second October Summit...and a Windy One!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The agenda for the day was Mt. Sherman and Gemini, a neighboring 13er and one of Colorado's Centennials, but weather proved to be a bit of an obstacle this day, unlike Saturday on Antero.

We started at 6:30am and it was COLD! We bundled up ready to start and had to get a picture! I think I look like a turtle!! One of these days I'll heed Christopher Beard's good advice and "start cold" because within the first 5 minutes you inevitably warm up, but I still haven't learned....

This was our first view of the summit, before the sun even rose! The moon was still pretty full and we didn't even need our headlamps. It was fabulous!

Mount Sherman is the site of an old mining village. We're not sure what they used to mine, but the ruins were really interesting to see. I have to say, however, that with the early morning light and the gusting wind, it made for some pretty eerie scenery!

The sun finally poked its head out from behind a neighboring mountain. This picture does not do it justice, the sun was a firey red and absolutely stunning!

By now we were probably an hour and a half to two hours into the hike and the wind was relentless! We were getting close to the summit and knew it was definitely within our grasp, but it took a lot to battle the high winds. This is Heather to the left gazing upon the summit...almost there!
And of course, here's our summit shot! We didn't stay too long on the top of this mountain as the winds would probably have blown us right off! We snapped a couple shots and headed down. We had hoped to zip over and bag Gemini as well that day, but the wind was too much and we were both just as happy to get down as quickly as we could!

On the way back down, we took a short cut down the snow. Luckily, it was still early and the sun hadn't melted it and so it was pretty hard and we were able to walk right down. No gaitors needed today!

Before Heather joined me at the summit, I took this video which gives you a little idea of how windy it was!
I just remembered this picture you an idea of how cold it was. I had to thaw my nalgene before I could even open it and it was completely frozen! Yikes!!

My First October Summit!

Saturday, October 27, 2007, Mount Antero

So as it turns out, my hiking is not over for the season...thank goodness!! This past weekend Heather and I set out for a weekend of hiking, not knowing what to expect. It is the latest in the year I have ever hiked, so it was an adventure! We prepared for the worst, but lucked out with some fabulous weather and very minimal snow, at least on Saturday...
This was my view on the way to the trailhead as the sun was rising.
We met at the Baldwin Gulch trailhead at 8am hoping to drive up the road a little, but there was too much ice so we decided to just hike it. We were in no hurry and the extra couple miles was a good warm up. By 8:30 we were packed up and on the trail.
We stopped for a little snack and met a few new friends. Heather called them Grey Jays, but apparently, they'll eat right out of your hand! It was pretty fun!!

After some food and fun with the birds, we continued on our way and it wasn't long before we were above treeline and started looking for the summit. There was this beautiful summit to the right of our trail that we thought could be the summit and we contemplated taking a short cut over there, but it's a good thing we didn't b/c it turns out it wasn't the summit!

We hiked a little further and rounded one last corner only to see we had been chasing a false summit...ugh! This is me to the left, a little annoyed that we still had quite a ways to go!

These were some of the rocks we had to cross on the way to the summit in the background.

Here's Heather on her way to the summit! We reached the top around 2:30pm, about 6 hours after we started. We didn't rush the hike and simply enjoyed ourselves. We stayed on the summit for almost an hour too before we started back down. We were enjoying reading the register, something I don't usually do. I saw a couple names from Buffalo, NY!!
Here's our summit picture! Mt. Princeton is in the background. The views weren't all that great b/c it was kind of a hazy day, but it wasn't too windy at the top and absolutely no threatening clouds so that made the summit quite enjoyable.

On our way back down I saw this rock about to fall and cause a terrible rock slide, so I pushed it back up to stabilize it...haha!

As we were hiking down, I looked down at my watch and realized it was almost 4pm and that was when I first realized we might be racing against the sun! We ended up making it back to the trailhead at 6:45pm just as the light of dusk was all but gone. To the right is Heather and I at the end of a wonderful 10 hour day :)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Race Pictures...finally!!

Well, after a couple weeks finally, I have pictures from the race to share : )
After...and we still look great! The day after the race, we went for a little stroll through the city...this time with a few more stops : )
First, Buckingham Fountain. This is where we had ended our race the day before...I think I enjoyed it more the second time.
After the Shedd Aquarium, we took a water taxi to the Navy Pier.
This is Kelly's photography...very patriotic!
On our way from the Navy Pier to the Sears Tower, we ran into Bob Newhart, so Kelly decided to get a few things off her mind : )Before making it to the Sears Tower, we took a detour to the Millennium Park which has some very extraordinary modern art like this, nicknamed "The Bean", it's real name is "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor.It was fun taking pictures with it-check out that Chicago skyline!
Next, the Sears Tower, probably one of the highlights of the trip!
A beautiful view of Chicago.

By the end of the day, we were pretty tired! Between the Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium, the Navy Pier and Millennium Park, we probably ended up walking another marathon, but it was worth it! We were sure to make the most of this opportunity : )

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Chicago Marathon...A Survivor's Story

So any of you that may have seein in the news, the Chicago Marathon this past Sunday was certainly a marathon to remember... Breaking record tempertures in Chicago for an October day, they ended up closing the race around 11:30 or 12:00 for a variety of reasons. They said they ran out of water, which I never experienced, but it was definitely hard to come by, but they for sure ran out of paramedics! More than 300 people were rushed to the hospital, which does not include all those who were treated at the med tents on the course. Five of those taken to the hospital were in critical condition and one man lost his life. It was insane-the worst race I've ever run! Fire hydrants were open, firetrucks sprayed water onto the runners as we went by. We were told to stop running, that the race was over, but as long as I felt ok and had water in my hand, I was running. It was a disappointing race for the fact that I had hoped to get a PR because I trained so well for it, but I ended up getting my worst time! On the plus side, it did feel incredible to finish the race, it was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do and in that sense, it was a great victory. Regardless, I got to be a part of this incredible race which took me to Chicago, for the first time in my life!

Monday, the day after the race, my friend Kelly (who had also run the race) and I took a train back into the city to do a little sight-seeing. It was a long day and I'm pretty sure we walked the equivelant of another marathon, but it was worth it. Chicago is a beautiful city! I unfortunately forgot my camara so I'm waiting on Kelly for the pics to post, but as soon as she does, I'll post them here : ) We first went to the Art Institute and admired Chinese sculptures, Renaissance art, modern photography and American Art, among a myriad of other things. My favorite, surpirsingly enough, was the American Art collection. I really enjoyed the paintings of the early American landscape and of course, the mountains. I always thought the Monets and VanGoghs would be my favorites, but the photography and the American Art were spectacular. I almost could have cared less whether or not I saw anything else!

After the Art Institute, we went to the Shedd Aquarium. As it was Columbus Day, a holiday for most schools, the aquarium was flooded with children, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I really enjoyed the animals and the shows. Kelly tricked me into seeing a Sponge Bob show, but other than that, it was a great time!

When the Aquarium closed, we took a water taxi over to the Navy Pier. By this time, we were pretty tired and walked around for a little bit, but we were more interested in the Sears Tower and getting home! So we headed out to the Sears Tower but not before we stopped for some cool pics at Millenium Park! We barely made it to the Sears Tower before it closed and took some more fun pictures at the Sky Deck. Then it was definitely time to go to bed, so we caught the train and headed back to Kelly's aunt & uncle's home about an hour away. Luckily, we just hopped back on the train and enjoyed the long ride back.

Well, that's all for now, but the pictures will come soon, I hope, and then there will be more to share : )

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tara's Visit and two 14ers!

I'm not really sure what it is, but I have some sort of infatuation with the mountains of Colorado. I am constantly awed by their beauty, especially when I least expect it. I've been hiking all summer long and have had the opportunity to take in some of the most incredible views, but this past weekend I went on my first Fall hike and was once again, amazed! Three words pretty much sum it up...I love Colorado.

Tara, my college roommate, was visiting in town and we had been talking for months about climbing a 14er when she came to visit. So I brainstormed and tried to think about what would help her to "make the most of [this] opportunity." So after throwing a few ideas around, we decided on camping in the Missouri Gulch and hiking 1,2 or potentially 3 14ers; Belford, Oxford and Missouri.

On Friday, Tara arrived in the Springs, and we were ready to hike! Zach and Jeremy, two friends from the Springs, met us at my house, we loaded up my little CR-V and we headed West to Buena Vista.

We made it to the Missouri Gulch trail head a little after 5pm, made all our last adjustments, loaded up our packs and we were off! We forgot to get a before shot, I think we were all so excited, well, at least I was : )

We stopped about a mile or so in on the trail to take our first pictures. I think this is one of my favorites from the whole weekend.

The boys being boys...

The girls

We made it to the fork for Belford & Oxford and Missouri-our goal for the night, found a great little campsite a little after 7, and managed to get our tents up and settled in before we lost all the light of dusk.

As the last ray of light disappeared, the moon began to rise over Mt. Belford.Tara and our tent!

I wish I had taken pictures of our little fire and dinner, but I guess I forgot, we were hungry! After eating and talking for a little bit, we decided to turn in and try to get a good night sleep for the next day's hike. We had been warned by another hiker who had been up there for the past three nights that the wind had been pretty intense, but aside from a few gusts throughout the night, it really wasn't that bad.

After a little bit of a late start (us girls were too cozy in our sleeping bags to get up on time) we started up the trail our focus on Belford and Oxford around 7:30 am.

An epic pose, about halfway to the top. Yes, that's snow in the background!

We made it! Tara, the flatlander, did great! I, on the other hand, was doing all I could trying to keep up with her!

Tara and I on the top or Mt. Belford with our next challenge of the day in the background...Mt. Oxford...

We only stayed briefly on the summit of Belford because it was so stinkin' windy and we were getting cold fast, so we decided to just keep going. Going down the saddle was fun, it was nice to be going downhill for a change! But inevitably, we had to start going up again in order to reach Oxford. After a few stops to catch our breath-13,000+ft is high!!- we summited our second 14er of the day! Way to go Tara!

Here are the four of us, Tara, me, Zach and Jeremy.

It had been a great day so far, two 14ers, what more could you ask for : ) Well, we had met this other guy on the trail who was shooting for Missouri on top of Belford and Oxford, so Zach and Jeremy, eager to make the most of every opportunity, decided to attempt the difficult and technical traverse to Missouri. As much fun as that would have been, Tara and I decided that two in one day was good enough for us, so we wished the guys good luck and they were off. We hung around the Oxford summit a little longer until the wind made us shiver and then decided to head back towards Belford and the trailhead.

Here's Tara on the rocky traverse back to BelfordBack on Belford for the second time that day, with a fun picture of Oxford behind us. The wind had died down a bit on Belford so we decided to enjoy warm sun on the summit for a while. Besides, we had plenty of time since Zach and Jeremy had gone to do Missouri, or so we thought...

Tara and I made it down Belford back to the fork (where we had left our packs) chatted with a nice couple from Fort Collins, trying to see if they had seen our friends, when Jeremy emerged from the willows! We were shocked and thought he had beaten us, but as it turned out, he started the traverse, but then decided against it and went straight down while Zach continued on. Well, we weren't sure what the weather was going to do, so as nice as it would have been to hang out in the willows just off the trail while we waited for Zach, we packed up and continued down the trail. We took our time, figuring we'd have to wait for Zach back at the car, but at one of our rest stops, we heard a familiar voice coming up behind us and sure enough, Zach had caught up to us! He told us his amazing story of the traverse to Missouri, and though I wish I could have made it, it sounded like it would have been pretty insane! Anyway, well done, Zach, three in one day!

One of my favorite parts about this trip was the foliage. Not quite at the height of it's colors, but still radiant!Here we all are, finished at last! Tara, did you ever think you'd make it up two 14ers in one day?! I am so proud of you! After a long day of hiking, what's better than a nice big dinner! Unfortunately, nothing in Buena Vista opened until 5, so we waited around for something to open. Tara and Zach were a little tired...

I really think this was one of my favorite hikes of the year. Thank you Tara, Zach and Jeremy for making it such a great trip!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

8 Hours of Tri-ing!

Oops! So, I just realized that I had downloaded the pictures from my most recent race, but never posted them! So here's the report from my first (and probably only) triathlon of the season! But don't worry, after the Chicago Marathon, I've decided to shift my focus from marathons to triathlons and can't wait-already-for next summer!

Anyway, so the Colorado Springs Tri Chics all started when I got this email from Helen asking if anyone would be interested in competing as a team in this 8-hour triathlon race. And me, always looking for a grand adventure, jumped at the opportunity! Plus, it would ensure I'd get to race this summer, so I was in. I trained off and on, around my marathon training and mountain climbing as much as I could but I was really just looking forward to having fun at this event, and we certainly did!

So the day started with the alarm going off at 3:45am. It's a good thing I'd done some pretty early hikes this summer...3:45 didn't really seem that early. (I think this is a sign I'm going insane...) Anyway, I packed up, met Dee and Helen (for the first time as well) at Dee's house where we loaded up into her XTerra and we headed off for Denver, well Aurora actually.

We made great time and got to Cherry Creek State Park right around 6am and met up with our other two teammates, Susan and Beverly. We finally figured out where we were supposed to park and set up our "pit" area. Helen brought this sweet tent that kept us cool and out of the hot hot hot sun in those long afternoon hours! This is Beverly's picture that she so eloquently calls, "The Set-up"

I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous, and the butterflies were definitely fluttering around, but once the race started, it all turned into adrenaline.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the race, let me explain it for a minute. It's basically a race against time. For our race, we had 8 hours to complete as many complete triathlons as possible. It was a 1/2 mile swim, 9.2 mile bike and a 2.8 mile run. Competitors had the opportunity to compete solo or as a team. We opted, obviously, for the team and for many reasons, I'm glad I did, but most of all because I got to meet and compete with four fabulous and very talented women : ) So I wasn't actually racing for 8-hours straight, but we were as a team, make sense? Anyway, aside from being a little disorganized, it was a fabulous race, and I'd love to do it again next year!
Ok, enough details and onto the race!
I got this picture just after the gun-the first swimmers racing down to the water to begin the race! There are the leaders! The water was beautiful!
And here's Susan, in the white cap, coming up from her first swim of the day.
Here I am, getting pumped for my first event...the bike! The course was actually pretty nice, and other than almost getting lost, I did pretty well-29:34

And I'm off! Catch me if you can...I dare you!
Here I am cooling off before my was hotter than hot early in the afternoon just before my run and the water made all the difference in the world! For 2.8 miles, I ran it in 23:05. Not bad, for a distance runner!
Cool transition shot. Dee's ready to take off for the water!

So, by this time of the day, around 2pm, the clouds were continuing to slowly creep in from the mountains and we were afraid we might get some lightening. Now, those of you who know me, know that I'm a swimmer at the core and having just bought a new wetsuit, I wanted more than anything to try it out and see what it was like. My team knew this and so after discussing it for a bit, they decided to send me out for my swim before they closed the waterfront. I couldn't have been happier! After my run, I raced back to the pit, peeled on my wetsuit-no easy task after a sweaty 3 mile run, by the way-and waited for Dee to come back from her swim. I had no idea how I was going to do in an open water race. I knew how I would have done in a pool, but open water with currents and waves from passing boats, there are a lot of unknowns. Well, after less than 20 minutes rest from my run, Dee tagged me in and I ran down to the water and took off. The water was a perfect temperature, though it did take my breath away for the first 50 yards or so. But as soon as I got into my groove, it was like I was flying through the water, passing people left and right and it felt great-I could have stayed in there all day! I finished my two laps and ran up the hill and tagged Beverly in for her next swim. I looked at the clock and realized that I'd swam it in somewhere around 15 minutes, and I was elated! I was expecting to make it in around 18 minutes, so to come in a little under 15 was far more than I ever expected!! Me in my wetsuit-I just had to!

It was a wonderful race and a fabulous day, but it of course eventually came to an end. Here's Helen, our final runner, crossing the finish line to officially complete our 8-hours of Triathlon!

The Colo Spgs Tri Chics with our medals! From left to right, Beverly, Dee, me, Helen and Susan

So the race was over and we had a bit of time to kill before the awards, so we went back and grilled some dinner, which was delish! We hung out for a while, I know I tossed around the idea of skipping the awards ceremony, but we decided to stay, and it's a good thing we did...we took first in our division! Yeah, we rock : ) This was our award which our fearless captain, Helen will proudly display in her home for us!

A great day and a great race. Thank you wonderful ladies, for making this such an enjoyable and memorable experience. I'm looking forward to future races with you all!!