Break me into bigger pieces, so some of me is home with you.

Archive for June, 2012

Snack Bar!

I don’t know the story behind this sign, but I love it:

It sits at 8,500′ on the top of Signal Peak, just behind the Western State College of Colorado campus.

My gal Friday and I decided it would be a good afternoon jaunt.  I wanted to hike Mt. Crested Butte but wasn’t sure the weather would hold, so rather than risk a potentially fruitless trip, we stayed local.  I carried a full day pack to help in my training efforts.  Gotta get used to the weight on my shoulders!

The round trip (according to BLM’s site) is about 10 miles with nearly 1,000′ of elevation gain and took just over two hours.  Guess what?  This being my first try on this run, I set a personal record.  Yup.

The weather was perfect.  Cloud cover provided a much needed reprieve from the typical afternoon heat.  We encountered very few people out on the trail and enjoyed a nice snack at the top.

As I made my way down, I noticed some awesome colors behind Tenderfoot (W) Mountain.  Unfortunately, I only had my BlackBerry with me, but I captured this picture:

Following my run, I decided to try a technique that JCarr has often told me about.  My house is a five minute walk to the river.  I went straight there and sat down in it, shoes, shorts and all.  It was freezing.  And glorious.  I’m no scientist, but apparently the cold water constricts your muscles and helps flush out the lactic acid and other nasty soreness inducing buggers.  I sat for 10 minutes or so and stood up with a new pair of legs.  It felt fantastic.

It was another great day in an even greater place.  I love calling Gunnison home.


For the weekend

I’ve got a little hiking trip planned this weekend.  If you’re interested, shoot me an email and we’ll connect.

Mattb and I plan on heading out of Gunni on Friday asap after work.  We’ll start from the North Cottonwood Creek trail head off of CR 365 and hike to treeline.  After camping for the night, we’ll make an attempt on Mt. Harvard (14,420′) and Mt. Columbia (14,073′).  These two mountains proximity to one another makes the double header a no-brainer.


EDIT:  JCarr might be joining us, but he’s thinking about bikepacking over there to meet up.  He’ll put in his second attempt on the Colorado Trail Race this year and needs to dial in the gear.

Trail work

Trail work. With pizza. And beer. Photo credit to Matt Burt,

We did some, *ahem*, trail work at Hartman Rocks yesterday.

At least, I THINK we can get away with calling it that.

Greg Moss from Denver’s 9 News came through and Dave Wiens from Gunnison Trails thought we’d show him a good time during the weekly trail work session.  Now, what would constitute a ‘good time’ in terms of trail work?  How about fresh out of the oven wood fired pizza (brought to you by the Dussaults Inner Fire Mobile, try the Figgy Piggy!) and a cooler full of beer?  …yup, that’ll do.

From what I understand, Greg was in town to get a sneak peak at Gunnison and Gunnison’s accouterments for this fall’s U.S. Pro Challenge.   I think a trip to Gunnison would be wasted if one failed to bask in the glory that is Hartman Rocks, so Greg was extended an invitation to Wiens’ work day.

Now, a certain blogger (definitely not me, you guys) may or may not have shown up a tad late (seriously, couldn’t possibly be me) and missed out on the heavy lifting.  By ‘heavy lifting’, I mean ‘all of the work’.  But you guys, I had an appointment and couldn’t make it on time!  Really.

After we waited for the lightning and light rain to pass, the pizza-mobile was fired up and merriment ensued.  I would most accurately classify the rain storm as a drizzle (Which brings to mind a favorite joke:  Why does Snoop Dogg carry an Umbrella?  Fo’ drizzle).  A bit more substantial of a storm and it could have done some serious trail work for us.  Either way, we’ll take the moisture.

Kudos to all parties involved during a most grueling and intense day of trail work.  I promise I’ll show up on time for the next one.  Especially if there’s pizza involved.


Went for a ride yesterday.




Loved it.

Only saw one other rider, he yielded for me.


Had enough daylight, enough energy.

Felt good.

Drifting through corners, pumping rollers.


Final climb.


Top out.


Easy spin home.


People Trees

I’m not sure if I’m the only person who experiences this.  Surely there are more of you out there and today I write to bring together those who can relate to the unique phenomenon of what I like to call: People Trees.  You’re most likely to experience People Trees during a mountain bike ride, but it’s also possible during a trail run.  People Trees only occur off-road, and (obviously) in an area in which trees are present.

I apologize in advance because I cannot provide authentic photographic evidence to support this post.  Much like Bigfoot, Nessy and other Cryptozoological creatures, People Trees are impossible to photograph.  You might try, and you’d probably get a nice, scenic picture.  “It’s right there!” you’d exclaim to your friends, pointing at the photographed foliage.  They might humor you, or depending on how many pints have been consumed, play along and stoke your paranoid ramblings.  They’ll ask for tales of the encounter and listen to you embellish for upwards of five minutes.

So, what are People Trees?  Picture yourself riding along solo, enjoying a peaceful afternoon on the trails.  You’ve just climbed one of the classic hills at your local area and the trail begins to wind along a plateau.  Out of the corner of your eye, you see it.  Another rider, gaining on you.  As the singletrack turns the other direction, you lose sight of the mystery rider.  The trail doubles back and you catch the rogue rider in your other peripheral.  The trail is demanding, and you can’t turn to look and find out if you know this rider, but you know he’s there.  But he doesn’t seem to be gaining on you.  Because he’s not a rider at all.  He is a tree.  You just got People Treed.

There are specific trees at Hartman Rocks that pull this trick on me all the time.  King People Tree is that one (you know the one) on Top ‘O the World, just as you crest the climb.  It sits just off the trail, and you pass pretty nearby.  Once you put some distance on this tree, he becomes a People Tree.  He’s perfectly sized to be a rider, and is even shaped like a guy riding a bike.  Skinny (wheelish) at the bottom, more full and robust at the top (body).  Don’t be caught unawares, this tree will People Tree the heck out of you.

A reward will be offered to any reader who can provide authentic photographic evidence of a People Tree.  Even though I already said it is impossible, give it a shot.  Beware, the People Trees.

We’ve got it made

“I don’t think that there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem.”

-Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated

Picture is from the first back country day of the 2011-12 season, back in Novemberish.

New favorite place

Colorado is rad.  RAD.  RADICAL.  ColoRADo.

On the way back from Denver this weekend, I stopped atop 12,126′ Cottonwood Pass.  I haven’t explored much more than the surface of this area, even though it sits less than an hour from my house.  Shame on me, because it’s awesome.

Friday and I ventured along the South Texas Creek section of the Colorado Trail and were rewarded with blankets of alpine meadows, lush forests and solitude.  Five minutes from the busy summit of Cottonwood, we found ourselves in secluded, peaceful wilderness.  It seems like most people are like me:  have been to the top but never really explored it.

There were several times during our run/hike that I paused to acknowledge how amazing the scene was.  I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “We’ve got it made.”  And we do.  We live in a spectacular area of the world and have the freedom and ability to experience it at a whim.

After exploring the trail for a bit I decided to gain a few nearby summits.  We worked our way up a few unnamed 12ers and called it good at 12,600′.  Training is going well.  Really, one of the best parts of this whole trip is having a built in excuse to get out and play.  Yeehaw.

It’s all about the gear

As a very influential mentor has told me throughout our relationship, “It’s all about the gear.”

In a recent presentation at work, this sentence came up: “You wouldn’t hit the trails without the right gear, so why would you prepare for (x) without being equipped with the right (y)?”

Both true statements.  Gear is an essential part of any outdoor pursuit, especially one as extensive and grueling as a 19,000 foot peak.  But gear is not just material.  Many (most?) atheletes consider their bodies a piece of equipment as well, something they’ve sculpted and altered over the years in an attempt to get the most efficient and well-tuned machine possible.  Hence, training.

This post is more about material gear.  I’ve been sent a detailed equipment list by the folks at Cancer Climber.  I’ve been collecting gear since I was on training wheels, but I’ve still got a few items to pick up:

  • Trekking boots- Embarrassing.  I’m selected to go on an expedition such as this and I lack proper trekking boots.  I have great trail runners and solid approach shoes.  When I go on a snow climb, my plan is to ski and thusly, I wear ski mountaineering boots.  I currently don’t have a pair of water proof, warm, hikeable boots.  I need to get these, and spend some quality time breaking them in.
  • Fleece/Synthetic pants- I need clarification on this item.  I’m not sure if I’m looking for a downfill pant or something else.  They need to be full zip, and I’m guessing pile works.
  • Shell pants- The theme of this post seems to be my bottom half lacking necessary equipment (don’t make that into a joke).  I have solid bib shell pants, but I don’t think that’s the type of pants that should be lugged up the mountain.
  • Glacier glasses- Function over fashion, right?  I have good wrap around polarized perscription sunnys that should work for this UNLESS glacier glasses are absolutely necessary.
  • Closed cell foam pad- I will also use my self-inflating Exped SynMat Basic 7.5, but in addition to this I need a closed cell foam pad as a ground layer.  Should be easy and cheap to pick up.

That’s it for gear I’m lacking.


“No matter what the odds, a man does not pin his last hope for survival on something and then expect that it will fail.”

-Alfred Lansing, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

A good kind of tired

The past three days have been structured training.  I’ve been doing plyometrics, hill sprints, mountain bike rides and early morning runs.  I’ll add in some weight training this afternoon.

Yesterday before my ride I met with Dr. Scott Drumm, a great mentor of mine.  (Drumm has put an attempt into Denali (North America’s tallest point), summitted plenty of mountains throughout the states and abroad and is a super strong endurance runner.  In addition to being a great Exercise and Sport Science professor, I’m sure I’m missing a lot of his other accolades.)  I picked his brain on training and nutrition and he offered a lot of great insight.  Drumm helped me devise a rigorous training schedule that should help me summit Kili and still feel good.

Basically: get as high as possible as often as possible.  Sleep high.  Train high.

Of course, there are only so many possibilities for this type of training when one has a full time job five days of the week. So…

My weekends just got taken over by 14ers.

Before leaving for this expedition, I’d like to complete the following:

  • Trip 1
  • Mt. Harvard- 14,420′
  • Mt. Columbia- 14,073′
  • Trip 2
  • Mt. Oxford- 14,153′
  • Mt. Belford- 14,197
  • Missouri Mountain- 14,067′
  • Trip 3- DeCaLiBron
  • Mt. Democrat- 14,148′
  • Mt. Cameron- 14,238′
  • Mt. Lincoln- 14,286′
  • Mt. Bross- 14,172′

Ideally, the night before each of these trips I’ll sleep high at the trail head.

Ambitious?  Maybe.  So’s climbing the tallest mountain in Africa after surviving cancer twice.

As long as I listen to my body and don’t push it too far out of my comfort zone, I should be fine.  Right?  Right.

And obviously, I’ll be looking for training partners.  Anyone want to climb some mountains?