ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
2017-06-28 08:26 am
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Weekend backpack

I was looking through my journal for one of our backpacking trips last year, and realized that I somehow never got around to posting photos/stories about quite a few of our great excursions. I'm determined not to repeat this error, in part because it's so dang fun re-reading my past adventures, so even though our backpacking trip this weekend was just a short overnight you get to read about it and see a ridiculous number of photos. ;-)

Verde basin and Elk Creek

I mean, if you want to. But don't you want to? )

23 photos [these and more] at Flickr, none of the rambling
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2016-07-13 01:49 pm
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In which we go to Moab the hard way

Moab, in Utah, isn't very far away from Durango. We go there three or four times a year, for the Canyonlands running races in March and October, for the nearby backpacking when our mountains are too snow-covered for access, and for the world-class mountain biking. It takes a bit less than three hours to get there by car; how much less depends on your willingness to exceed the speed limit, and your need for gas and bathroom stops.

Or you can bike there in seven arduous days, over 215 miles of secondary roads, jeep roads, and trails, up mountains and across desert valleys along the route set up by San Juan Huts. (Here is a map Britt put together, showing the route - click "->7.5' Topo Maps" and zoom in to see it more clearly.)

Want to guess what we did? Yeah. Strenuous climbs, scary descents, rain, heat, mud, and mosquitoes - also killer views, deserted roads, and cold beers enjoyed with good friends. I call it a win.

Riding toward Geyser Pass

Day by day trip report, with lots of photos )

All the photos (119!), none of the blahblah

Advice I'd give to anyone contemplating this trip )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
2016-06-24 06:33 pm
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Breckenridge biking

I go to a conference every June in Breckenridge, which for me is partly an opportunity to listen to climate modelers talk about just how doomed we are, partly a chance to reconnect with my old friends from Boulder and remind my co-workers that I am more than just a mysterious voice on the conference calls and a response on the other end of the email, and partly an excuse to go mountain biking on some awesome high-elevation trails. :-) Biking in Breck! With photos! )
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
2015-08-27 05:21 pm

The Gates of Lodore: rafting on the Green River

(Even though this came at the end of our Canadian trip, it's neither in Canada nor was it the mountain hiking vacation the rest of the trip was, so it really deserves to stand alone as a completely separate post.)

This river trip had been planned since late winter, when our friend Steve lucked out and got a permit - the Green River through the Gates of Lodore section is lottery-controlled, and a lot of people try for years and never get picked. We'd done it once long ago, when we'd lived in Boulder, but this would be my first time rowing my own boat.

P1040348

"The Gates of Lodore", strictly speaking, refers to the dramatic entrance to the Lodore Canyon of the Green River (looming behind me in the above photo), which ends at the confluence of the Yampa River with the Green, but people often use it to mean the usual river trip through Lodore, Whirlpool, and Split Mountain canyons, a distance of 43 miles through the Dinosaur National Monument in far northwest Colorado and northeast Utah. We'd do it in four days, which is typical. The name was given by the 1869 Powell expedition and is a reference to a poem by Robert Southey called The Cataract of Lodore. (If you thought Poe was into onomatopoeia with his clanging bells, he ain't got nothing on Southey.)

Our trip, in words and pictures )

The Flickr album, with 36 photos
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
2015-07-08 05:34 pm

Happy Enchilada: or, three little rivers in two little boats

Prime season for boating in the southwest is already over, but our rainy May and June did not inspire us to get our boats out until just recently. All that rain has kept the rivers relatively high, though, and our little "kitten rafts" don't need a lot of water to float, especially when we are just doing day trips and aren't loaded down with camping gear. As long as the rocks are smooth rather than pointy, we don't need much clearance to make it over - just a bit more than a "happy enchilada."

If you're furrowing your brow at that reference... )

(Spoiler alert: we didn't drown.)

We started out on the Friday holiday with a run down the section of our own Animas River south of town, putting in at Santa Rita Park just past Smelter Rapid (which still had enough water to be scary high, flipping boats with regularity), and running the three miles to Dallabetta Park. This is a rocky stretch that can only be run with a decent water level, but it was a good re-introduction to my boat, which I had only been in once so far this year, on the stretch through the center of town. It was still high enough for the commercial trips to run, and we waved to a lot of tourists who looked happy to be on the water on a sunny day.

It was so much fun that I impulsively suggested to Britt: "I know we had talked about going backpacking this weekend, but what about going to Pagosa Springs instead and running the upper San Juan?" (We have run several sections of the San Juan in Utah, but our only experience with this part of the river far upstream from there was just looking out of our car windows as we crossed it on the Hwy 160 bridge.) I should know better than to open my mouth. A few hours after we got home, Britt had our river guidebooks spread out in front of him and browser windows open to the USGS river gauge website and Google Earth, and not long after, we had a plan to float not just the San Juan, but the nearby Piedra river as well.

Narrative with photos )

For those of you who are thinking of doing this yourself, here's the basic beta:  )

Just these photos plus a few more - 12 in all - at Flickr
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
2015-06-23 05:28 pm
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Weminuche hike 2015: the length of the Pine River

For the last several years we've done a summer backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness with more or less the same core group of friends. This year, because we'd had little snow, we'd planned on hiking a route in the high mountains east of Silverton, but then May happened, with near-record precipitation and more expected. Instead we decided to do the prudent thing and choose a lower route: the length of the Pine River from north to south within the wilderness area. Britt and I have hiked (or ridden on horseback) every bit of this ~30 mile route at different times, but never as a continuous route, partly because the northern trailhead is quite far away by car, as one has to drive around the wilderness. Fortunately, Frank and June, who had wanted to come along but were not able to spend the whole week backpacking, offered to drive us all up and hike part of the first day with us, and Steve and Ryan, who usually join us at the weekend, would drive to the southern trailhead with our van, and then hike in and meet us.

Route map )

You won't find the Pine River on the map. That is, it's there, but it's Los Piños on the map, as well as on the little signs at every highway bridge crossing; but there is no surer way of branding yourself a tourist or a newcomer than calling it by that Spanish name. All the locals call it the Pine, and there are many businesses named for it as well, e.g. the Pine River Bank and the Pine River Library.

Our route started at the Thirtymile Forest Service campground just below the Rio Grande Reservoir and contoured along the bank of Weminuche Creek about five miles to Weminuche Pass and the headwaters of the Pine. At just under 10,600 feet, Weminuche Pass is one of the lower points on the Continental Divide. Weminuche Creek falls steeply into the Rio Grande, and with all the recent rain, it was very high, nearly undermining the bridge over the waterfall a few miles in, where we ate our lunch. But on the Pine side, the valley is broad and flat, and shortly after we crossed the pass we set up camp at a small established site.

More trip report, with lots of photos )

All 83 photos that didn't suck (more than in this post) plus a map, few captions, in a Flickr album
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2015-05-06 03:09 pm
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a quick hike in Ouray

I'm still getting over the cold I got while in Maryland (my third this spring, gah!) and my back is still giving me grief. But I'm trying not to let my stupid body prevent me from having fun.

This past weekend Britt and I went to a climate conference thingy in Paonia, a small town about 3.5 hours north of here. We have good friends who live there, so we stayed with them, which was nice. We headed back on Sunday and decided to stop more or less halfway home, in Ouray, which I think is the most beautiful setting for a town in Colorado (and the second prettiest in the US, behind Seward, Alaska). As you can see in this picture we took from our hike above town:

Looking down on Ouray

Ouray is famous for many things, including its natural hot springs. We checked into a nice small motel, the Wiesbaden, which features not just hot pools but also a vapor cave under the building, which used to be a sanitarium for treatment of arthritis. Despite the dicey weather we went for a hike; sure enough, we got rained on on the way back, but we warmed up in the hot spring water!

The trail we climbed (and I do mean climbed - my map-corrected GPS track claims we ascended over 2500 vertical feet in 2.6 miles before turning around) goes to the upper Cascade Falls and the Chief Ouray Mine, but we had to turn around less than half a mile from the end because the trail hit a deep snowbank on a steep slope, and proceeding would not have been safe. But we did get some good exercise as well as interesting photos.

More photos! )

Anyway, good preparation for this summer's first backpack trip which will be in just five weeks!
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
2015-02-14 07:06 pm
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mountain biking on Valentine's Day. As you do.

Well, as you do in southwest Colorado when you're having an unusually warm, dry winter. We usually go skiing every Friday, but we punted the last two weeks because our ski day on January 30 was the last time it snowed up at Purgatory, our local resort. But Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year, a great day to take off and do something special with my sweetheart...so why not go mountain biking?

Here in Durango the trails are still muddy, with snow lingering in the shady spots, but I had learned from the website of the local trails advocacy group about trail conditions elsewhere, and so I decided we ought to go to Sand Canyon, in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which is about a 1:15 drive from here. The canyons here are south-facing and on a broad mesa about 1200 feet lower than Durango, so it's even warmer and drier. If you scroll down on that link you'll see a map; we rode to the first dotted-line connector trail, then rode around East Rock Creek Trail in a counter-clockwise loop and back to the connector, and back to the trailhead. It was mostly easy riding, but we had to frequently stop to walk through steep, rocky sections, particularly at the head of the canyon.

Britt and alcove ruins Ilana by pillar

More photos and a few more words )
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2014-10-16 02:53 pm

Two halves make a whole (lotta fun): Durango Double race report

This year's Durango Double was vastly changed from the races I ran in 2012 (Saturday trail 25K, Sunday road half marathon), with a new race director (Brendan Trimboli, a local ultratalented ultrarunner), a new distance for the trail race (13.1 rather than 25K), and only a single distance option for each day. The courses, too, had been changed - for the better, in my opinion, as the trail race made a big loop over two ridges with instead of being a lollipop, and the road race finished generally downhill rather than uphill.

I knew I was not quite in the shape I'd been in two years ago, but hoped to have a good showing. I was also excited about two friends from the Midwest who I only knew via the Runner's World Online forums (and Facebook) coming to run the races with me. I'd posted a photo of one of our hikes on Facebook, and Katie, who runs a lot of ultras, commented that she needed to come out and visit Colorado sometime. The conversation then went something like this:

Ilana: Come out and visit me, yes! We can go running!
Katie: I don't know - I'm traveling to a lot of races this fall...
Ilana: The Durango Double is a trail half marathon on October 11th and a road half marathon on October 12th.
[two minutes pass]
Katie: Okay, I've registered.

She and her boyfriend Thom flew out on Thursday, bringing the rain with them. In fact it rained a lot on Friday, too, leaving me a bit worried about Saturday's trail race. The race director had already announced that due to severe erosion on part of the course caused by the flooding we'd had in late September, the trail course would be reversed (which turned out to be a good decision), but I was concerned about mud. (As readers of this journal know, I HATE MUD.)

Fortunately, things dried out overnight and in the morning - the race started at the relatively late hour of 9am - and when the metaphorical gun went off and we hit the trail, there were only a few damp patches. We cruised up the fairly flat trail along the river, cut across the road, and went up Horse Gulch, which had been rearranged by the recent flooding into a rocky mess. Still, going uphill was slow and therefore not too difficult.


Picture from Trails 2000's photo set just after the flood.


Racers near the top of Horse Gulch

I typically get into these trails from a different access point and so don't usually go up or down the Horse Gulch road, but once we turned up onto the Rocky Road trail, we were on familiar territory - but steep territory. The climb from the bottom of Horse Gulch to the high point of Raider Ridge is 870 feet in 2.6 miles, and I was not speedy, averaging 13:35 pace. I got moving a little faster along the top of the ridge, and then bombed down Flame Out back to Horse Gulch.

raiderridge2
View from the top of Raider Ridge, taken with my crappy old cell phone on a training run last summer.

Then it was time to cross onto the Meadow Loop trail, which at this point is uphill but not particularly steep, and take it to the Telegraph Trail which is both uphill and steep. My pace, which had gotten back into 10-minute range, started slowing again. My only consolation was that the trail was in the shade of the hill, and as the day had already warmed significantly this was very welcome. (I was wearing a singlet and shorts, but there were quite a few people in tights and long sleeves. In fact, one woman wore not only tights and long sleeves but a jacket and wool hat, and to my surprise and dismay I could not catch her! I have no idea how she managed to run without spontaneously combusting!)

Telegraph
Why it's called Telegraph Trail.

In the 2012 Double's 25K, when we reached the top of Telegraph we went down the other side, down the Carbon Junction trail. We'd be doing that this year - eventually. But first, we had to climb to Patusky Point. This evil little side-trip is basically straight up a tilted rock slab, then back down; not only is it unrunnable unless you're Dakota Jones (a local elite ultrarunner, who won by an entirely ridiculous fourteen minutes), you pretty much want to be on belay the whole time. I scrambled up, went around the tree that marked the turn-around under the watchful eye of the course marshal, and then ran gingerly down. (Most people around me were walking down, so I made up a few places here, but they all passed me later.)

patusky hikers
The white rock slab to Patusky Point. The red circle shows where two people are going up.

Seriously: 170 feet in 0.15 miles, something like 40% grade. My ascent averaged 30 minute pace, but I descended at a blistering 16:42.

That got me to the 8 mile point of the course. Then it was downhill more or less all the way to the finish, which actually was pretty much 13.1 by my Garmin; I only managed about 10:45-11 minute pace here because of the terrain and my fatigue, and I was passed by a lot of people, only managing to pick off a few. I finished in 2:32:39, second in my age group (50-59) out of nineteen, but 16 minutes behind the winner who is seven years older than me, wow. I was 73/197 out of all runners. My average pace by Garmin was 11:50, nearly two minutes slower than in 2012, though this was a slightly harder course.

The next morning it was time to do it all over again, this time on the roads - or rather, on the paved rec trail along the Animas River. I was definitely hurting, particularly in my left hip (which had been bothering me since early in the week) and in my right hamstring (compensation?), but I remembered from my previous double that I had loosened up over the first few miles, and sure enough, this happened again and my run was mostly pain-free.

(Unlike for the trail course, I don't have any photos from the river path other than a few shots taken during a snowy winter. ETA: I have added one of the official photos from the road race!)

The course started with a short climb out of the parking lot and then a gentle descent down a closed road to a trail cut-off that took us to the river path at mile 2. Then it was generally uphill to just past 7, then generally downhill as we looped back through a neighborhood and rejoined the path.

My first two miles were 8:13 and 8:15 pace, but I must have placed myself poorly at the start because a lot of people passed me during this period. My third mile was my second slowest at 8:28 due to substantial uphill, but I passed a few people here, and kept passing people through the rest of the course. In fact nobody passed me after the second mile, other than one woman who zoomed past me in mile 6, then a few hundred yards later turned and ran back, and I realized she wasn't wearing a bib and thus was not in the race.

In contrast to the sunshine we'd had on Saturday, the sky was cloudy, which was awesome for me. I stayed mostly at around 8:20 pace, entirely limited by my legs; my heart rate was in my marathon zone rather than my half-marathon zone, which supports the theory of running the long run after a harder run the day before, to mimic the end of the marathon. (Also, it makes me wonder whether this run implies I'm in about 3:40 marathon shape...)



I felt pretty good coming down the trail in the last miles. I'd passed a good dozen people, and was feeling comfortable, though tired. When I passed the mile 12 marker, though, I started getting nervous. The first several mile markers had appeared well before I was expecting them, and then the mile 4 marker showed up just as my watch buzzed - perfect. After that, as is typical due to imperfect tangents, the mile markers were just a tiny bit late, but not enough to worry about.

But I know this path well, and so when I passed the mile 12 mark I knew that Animas Surgical Hospital, the start/finish staging area, was less than a mile off. Maybe we'd have to run uphill and around the building, which would not be a fun ending. But as soon as I crossed the bridge over the river, I could see the finish just to the right, and I crossed the line at 1:45:31, with 12.74 miles on my Garmin.

Despite the short course, I was pleased with my performance, as based on my average pace of 8:18 I would have finished a complete half in about 1:48:45. I came in 41st of 194 participants, a much better placement than my 73/197 for the trail race, which just goes to show what a lousy trail runner I am. Again, I came in second in AG (behind the same woman, argh, but at least not by as far as in the trail race!) out of 25 runners.

Instead of medals, finishers were given stainless steel logo cups - and those who did two races got one for each. (And we got to fill them with Ska beer afterward!) "Doublers" also received a cute logo hat:

doubler swag

There were 89 people who did both races, and interestingly more women (52) than men (37). I was 15th among the women doublers as measured by total combined time, and 32nd overall.

Whew! Now it's time to rest up...until this weekend's ultra!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2014-09-25 04:36 pm
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hitting the trail

Well, I did it. I signed up for the Deadhorse 50K (yikes! Baby's first ultra! I AM EXCITE but also NERVOUS!) which will be in three weeks!

So I've been doing my long runs on the trails, in an attempt at preparation. (I would feel a lot more prepared if I'd been running more, aie!) I have been bringing my phone/camera so I have an excuse to stop and breathe - I'm not resting, I'm taking pictures!

See? )
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2014-09-12 05:51 pm

over the mountain again

I had all sorts of grand plans for dominating my new age group at the Imogene Pass Run this year, but it was not to be. I did not get the consistent mileage, nor the long runs, nor the trail hill repeats I'd planned. My stupid blisters had kept me from trail-running on our layover day on our July 4th weekend backpack, but I had managed to at least get out hiking at high elevation fairly often, including much of the previous week, and so I clung to my unrealistic hopes until they were cruelly dashed.

Getting ready to start

Read more... )
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
2014-09-08 05:17 pm
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some pictures

I need to write up my Imogene report (spoiler alert: it did not go very well) but I am behind! I still haven't written up anything about our Labor Day Weekend vacation (which was a little longer than planned - we got home Wednesday morning, and then I left for Ouray on Friday afternoon, thus the backlog)...and I don't think I will get the chance. But have some pictures of the trails around Crested Butte, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2014-08-22 01:56 pm
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some running and some hiking

Last week I was in Boulder to take a class on the climate model we use. I didn't think I'd be able to get a lot of running in while there, since I would have to catch a shuttle bus at 7:45 each morning, but it turns out that when I'm on my own I am pretty good at waking up early early, rolling out of bed and into my running clothes, and hitting the path. I ran between 5-8 miles each morning, got in another 4-miler on Wednesday evening (I ran to West Flanders Brewery on the Pearl Street Mall for beers and dinner, then took a bus back to my hotel), and did 11.5 miles on Saturday morning since I didn't have to go to a class that day. I wasn't much of a runner when I lived in Boulder, but it was nice to run on the creek path where I used to ride my bike.

Britt drove up in the Sportsmobile on Thursday, carrying our bikes on the back rack, and on Friday after my class we biked up the path to our old house at the mouth of Boulder Canyon, where we lived from 1987 (well, Britt did; I moved there in 1990) until 1999. It broke our hearts a bit to see that it's now a rental, and the guy who lives there now didn't want us to go inside or even walk around the yard, but he moved in three weeks before the Great Flood of 2013, and he told us all about the damage the house and yard sustained when the irrigation ditch at the top of the hill behind the house failed.

We got together with old friends on Friday night and Saturday morning, then headed out of town to take the long way back home. Where US285 turns south, near Buena Vista, normally we head south for Poncha Pass and the San Luis Valley; instead we went north and then west toward Cottonwood Pass. For our first night of camping we took the side road to Cottonwood Lake, but we had not realized it was a major 4WD/ATV camping destination and pretty much every spot that could be camped in, WAS camped in. We finally found a tiny but acceptable pull-out spot four miles past the lake. Fortunately we'd bought a bottle of wine in Buena Vista, and could drown our sorrows as we ate dinner. (And yes, we DID remember the lighter this time!)

In the morning we returned to the main road and drove to just short of Cottonwood Pass, where there is a trailhead for Brown's Pass and Mt. Yale. As Yale is one of Colorado's Fourteeners (mountains 14,000 ft high or taller) and it was Sunday morning, the trailhead was, predictably, very crowded. But we turned off at the junction for the pass, and saw only a few people.

It was a lovely hike. After having lunch at the pass, we followed a trail to the ridge above, and when the trail crossed to contour around the side, we left it to strike out straight up toward the nearest high point. This turned out to be the cleverly-named Point 12,955 (wanna guess how high it is?) which gave us excellent views of Mt. Yale and the surrounding peaks.

Mt. Yale from Point 12,955 cool rocks above Brown's Pass

Britt atop Point 12,955 Ilana on the rocks

We also saw a whole family of ptarmigan (including adorable chicks!) but unfortunately their gray-and-white color scheme blends into gray-and-white rocks so well that I couldn't actually find any birds to point out in any of my or Britt's photos!

A lot of thunderbooming accompanied us on the way back down, but we didn't get rained on, and we stopped here and there to pick some mushrooms we'd seen on the way up (boletes and hawkswings). Then we drove over Cottonwood Pass and down past Taylor reservoir, camping for the night off a dirt road close to the intersection with the road that continues on to Crested Butte. The next day we continued south through Gunnison, then veered off onto the road to Cochetopa Pass, which rejoined our usual route between the Front Range and Durango in the San Luis Valley. And now we are home again, home again....but Labor Day Weekend's coming up soon - which means, time for another road trip!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2014-08-06 03:06 pm
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lonely cones and hopeful lakes: a weekend in the western San Juans

Some people choose the peaks they want to climb by their position on a list: the Colorado 14ers, say, or the highest 100 in Colorado, or the highest point of every state. We choose our destinations because they look cool. In the past years, we've climbed a lot of mountains just because we've seen them from the other places we've been. So it is with Lone Cone, which at 12,618 feet is not a very high mountain at all by Colorado standards. But standing alone at the western edge of the San Juan Mountains, it's a distinct landmark, and after seeing it in the distance countless times on drives to and from Utah, we figured it was time to get out and climb it.

"trailhead"

We left town early Friday afternoon. Easy highway miles to a turn-off past Dolores led to a narrow road through remote mountain valleys to the ghost town of Dunton, now a breathtakingly expensive hot springs resort. Here we turned off onto a Forest Service road which we followed on a combination of GPS waypoints derived from Google Earth, and old maps with old roads, until we reached a point pretty much directly under the Lone Cone, where we pulled off the road, popped the top of the Sportsmobile, and started making dinner. There was just one tiny little problem...

Read more... )
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
2014-07-14 06:39 pm
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summer backpack

As we did last year, we got together with friends for a backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness over the 4th of July holiday weekend. This year we headed for the Poison Park trailhead northwest of Pagosa Springs, which is a good access point for the upper Pine River and Rincon La Osa, where we'd spent the same holiday weekend in 2008. But this time, instead of sticking to the main trail, we bushwhacked along game trails up the west side of the Pine River valley until we picked up an old and overgrown trail leading to Elk Lake; from there, continued up and over Mesa Lato and then down into Rincon La Osa from the south, where we laid over a day before heading back down the valley to the Pine, then up to the bench above Granite Lake, to rejoin our inward path.

route and camp topo

across the meadow Wilderness boundary

Six days in the backcountry )
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2013-09-04 05:41 pm
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Turret Peak

Britt and I always get out of town during Labor Day Weekend. This year, we decided it was a good time to climb Turret Peak, at 13,835 feet the 89th-highest mountain in Colorado, which we have often viewed from our local ski area and on other backpacking trips. It sits next to the slightly higher Pigeon Peak, which we climbed in 2008. These two mountains are often climbed together, but we hadn't had the time or energy to go up Turret on that trip. No big deal; we'd really enjoyed camping in the beautiful meadow below, and had decided that we'd just have to come back for the other peak, and enjoy it again.

approaching the summit massif

Read more! See more photos! )

All the photos at Flickr, none of the jibber-jabber
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2013-07-05 12:31 pm
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five days in the Weminuche Wilderness

entering the wilderness

The Weminuche is the largest wilderness (note to my non-US friends: this is a management designation) in Colorado, and it's pretty much directly outside our door (for certain values of 'directly outside'). Britt and I try to get there at least a couple of times a summer for backpacking or hiking. On this trip we were joined by our friends Mike, Shan, and Reggie.

We started from the Endlich Mesa trailhead, which is probably around 15 miles away as the crow flies, but 30 miles by road - and the last 10 are on a squiggly rough dirt road that takes an hour and a half to traverse. Luckily, our friend Jeff had come with us; he would hike with us a couple of miles, then hike back out and drive our van back. The rest of us would return on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train.

Endlich Mesa is a long ridge that runs roughly south to north. We stopped for lunch at a place we could look over a saddle to the east and see the smoke of the West Fork Complex wildfire.

on Endlich Mesa smoke to the east

Mountains, lakes, trout, mountain goats, and more! )

These and more photos at Flickr, 36 in all
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2012-09-10 08:44 pm

Imogene Pass Run 2012: fourth time's the charm

The morning of the 39th Annual (and my fourth) Imogene Pass Run dawned clear and surprisingly warm in Ouray. In previous years I'd worn arm warmers along with my short-sleeved shirt, as well as fleece hat and gloves, and kept my rain/wind jacket on as I lined up for the start, stuffing it into my pack at the last minute. This year, it didn't matter that I had forgotten my arm warmers back home in Durango; I wore a headband instead of a hat, and the jacket stayed in my pack as my friends and I headed for the start line.

A few photos and a whole bunch of babbling )
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2012-09-05 06:06 pm
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getting high

We always get out of town for the long Labor Day weekend, since there are several motorcycle rallies in the area which attract the kind of rider who likes to make his or her bike as loud as possible. Next weekend I'm running the high-altitude Imogene Pass Run (more on that in another post), so I wanted to go backpacking at relatively high elevation. We decided to head for Endlich Mesa, sort of on the southwest end of the Weminuche Wilderness. We've done a number of hikes there; this time, we hoped to climb Sheridan Mountain and get to an unnamed lake on the flank of Emerson Mountain, which Britt had visited many years ago.

Ilana hiking

More... )