14ers/13ers

my annual ‘thin air’ reset

Sleep struggle, labored morning runs, work deadlines & pre-wedding [family] squabbles — been a tough first week home from New Zealand.  Wednesday, Ash asked if I could scope out potential wedding pic locations for her Silverthorne wedding in May.  Full day in the mountains…absolutely, sign me up!  Crisp thin air, snow surrounded – PERFECT!

Early a.m. start – 4 mile run (‘cause every day’s a run day), followed by a 2-hour drive in the Rockies.  Half day scouted photo locations, half day hiked HIGH altitude.

Bridge near Ash’s Silverthorne venue – easy, done.  8 miles toward Breck on Swan Mountain Road checked-out Sapphire Point in Dillon.  Ample parking, short packed-path, mountain overlook – wedding money shot.  Exactly what the bride-to-be ordered: snow-capped Colorado peaks [without the pre-wedding hike].  No wildlife stains on Ash’s pricey East Coast wedding gown GUARANTEED.

Completed the loop in nearby Frisco.  While ALL are counting on sunshine for Ash’s big day – just in case, scoped out an alternate venue (May in Colorado/could be snow). Covered pavilion (backed against mountains), historic rustic cabins & the town’s first jail (log cabin, circa 1881).  Nabbed a large handful of county maps at the Frisco Hotel.  Route-marked today’s 10-mile loop in bold Sharpie.  Task complete 🙂

 

Silverthorne Pavilion (wedding venue)

Sapphire Point (Dillon CO)

Frisco Museum, covered Pavilion & Historic Jail

 

Saturday Part II – retraced steps to Idaho Springs, I-70 exit 240.  30 minute drive, just past Echo Lake…my annual spring pilgrimage up Mount Evans.  Off loaded Sno’ Ro – couldn’t have been more excited.  Leashed for a mile while we passed lodgepole pine, packed with squirrel & chipmunk (makes my pup crazy uncontrollable).  2 miles UP, path now contained by 10-15ft snow drifts, I let Ro run & run & run.  Up-n-back: exploring ahead, returning for hand treats.

3-mile marker, passed a stretch of wind-stunted pine.  Visually stunning.  Wind started to blow, cold stung my face 🙂

Matched my website photo inlay 4 ½ miles UP.  5 years ago, Ro tethered to my leg, snapped that shot & broke for lunch.  Soaked in the moment today.  Open armed, took in thin air.  LOVE LOVE these mountains!

9 miles roundtrip.  Sandwich shared with Ro on the hike return.  Pup’s eyes rolled 10 minutes into our drive home.  Good day.  Mentally back, ready for Bighorn.  Training hard April & May – 52 miles, bring it!

 

Mt Evans spring pilgrimage

 

 

You’d think after last weekend’s super long trek to Russia, I’d be kicking back/lying low for a few weeks.  Not true, blame Ash.  Texted a high-altitude pic last week – snow, alpine lakes, Aspens popping yellow.  Autumn in Colorado.  Wanna/hafta/gotta 14er hike before the snow blows…usually that’s September, so this hiker’s on borrowed time.

430am start.  Backpack, pup, treats – packed, all ready to go.  2 hours west on Colorado’s East-West highway (I-70).  Bakerville exit, 8 miles shy of Eisenhower tunnel, east of the Divide.  Mountain road weathered by the long summer hike season – 5 miles of dirt & massive potholes.  Road wash-out 1.2 miles from the trailhead.  Today’s 14er destination: Grays Peak 14,270ft.

My third trip to Grays – first summited September 2012, returned last August (2015).  Good day for a hike.  Summer lightning season’s passed, day’s seasonal snow squall not forecasted ‘til 3pm.

Chilly start; kept Ro leashed thru the first 2 miles of willow thicket.  Easily distracted by ground critters.

Shed layers before the first switchback, crossing & climbing the open Colorado steppe.  Glacier remnants on the peaks, blunted tundra colour, nipping wind, tree line disappears just before 12,000ft.  Mountain heaven.

Left to Grays, slight right to Torreys.  Stopped & took in the landscape.

Not a lotta down time today…Ro was a climbing machine.  Stop, stare, wait for me – then hastily UP UP UP.  Dog on a mission.  Crampon-free day, not enough snow to warrant the trouble.

Summit SUCCESS!  Wind stilled.  Took advantage & soaked in the magic.

Peaks all 4 corners, expansive Lake Dillon to the west.  Ash ice fished there 2 winters back.  Appears I missed leaf peeping by at least 2 weeks.  Would have to slow-lane the ride home to see any remaining Aspen colour (lower elevation along the highway).

Hike day did not disappoint.  WOW.  Just WOW!  LOVE LOVE my Colorado life.

 

Ro update: car ride snooze, followed by his favourite spot on the bed – out ‘til morning.  Heck yeah I’m jealous.  HA!

 

 

Grays Peak 14,270ft

 

 

today's WOW shot at 12,000ft

today’s WOW shot at 12,000ft

Change of the seasons is a constant tease – summer for a span of days, quick afternoon storm, snow & winter temps in the evening.  Spring is a tough time of year.  Don’t get me wrong…I love the snow – just hard to make weekend mountain plans more than 2 days out.  Either it’s snowing or I’m marathoning.  Good life 🙂

Back on a marathon hiatus after my 50 State finish, this weekend begged ‘thin air’ adventure.  [Registered for Sunday’s Colfax Marathon – but still on the fence whether I’m gonna compete…determined to train hard & run injury-free rest of the year.]

2012: my first 14er attempt was Mt Evans, 45 minutes west of Denver.  Not expecting to summit today (most likely still a lotta snow) — but convinced mountain air would reset my internal balance.  Good to feel small amongst lodgepole pine & snow-capped peaks.

Crazy early start for a Saturday.  Ro saw the backpack & started pacing: WE’RE GOING HIKING.  Dog stays at my heel, no chance he’s getting left behind.  LOL>

Light rain at home, fog past Denver, flurries in Idaho Springs.  Trailhead condition: sunshine.  FAAANNNTASTIC!

Peeled off the parka, pulled off my cap, fast paced UP the first 4 miles.  Temps were crisp, air was thin, the snow patchy – easy footing, hiking boots no crampons.

Lost tree line at 12,000ft & the wind blew.  50 mph headwind, little progress forward.  Gusts shifted & I’d push ahead.  Bare rock, 15-20ft snow drifts, bare rock again.  Crampons on, crampons off, crampons on again.

HUGE smile.

Called it at 7 ½ miles – mile-half from Summit Lake, another 5 to the summit.  Beautiful mountain day.  Medicine for the soul.

 

 

Sunday 4am UPDATE:  heck no, I’m not marathoning.  Yesterday’s 14er thin-air snow hike kicked my butt.  #noregretlife

 

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