ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Our friends Ryan and Steve organized a White Rim trip again this year, and this time we were the only other people on it. (We did it with them last year, and also in 2013. We also did it twice in the 1990s with friends from Boulder, where we lived then.)

Ilana at top of Mineral Bottom switchbacks

Read more! See more pictures! And there's even a linked map! )

Or just look at the Flickr album.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Me cresting a hill in The Other HalfThe last time I ran The Other Half I was light, strong, had just turned fifty; and not only did I set a PR, I was the first female Masters (40+) finisher. That was three years ago, and a lot has happened since then. After herniating a disc in late 2014, I had to stop running for a while, and though I've been clawing my way back to fitness I'm a lot slower and running much lower volume than I was then. Also - and I'm beginning to think this is more of a factor than I originally expected - I've hit menopause head-on, though it's not strictly official yet (the medical definition is one year without periods; I'm now at six months). By contrast, in 2013 I still had a more or less monthly cycle, though not long after I started getting hot flashes and ever more widely-spaced periods.

In my previous post I said "While I'd like to run under 1:40 again...I'm okay with not hitting that goal, which is arbitrary anyway. I mostly want to improve on my last half time of 1:43:46, and if possible, beat the time of 1:41:44 which I ran my first time on this course." Well, I managed those last goals by the skin of my teeth!

I drove out to Moab on Saturday afternoon, stopping in Cortez (about an hour from here) to ride a quick loop at Phil's World on my mountain bike. I met my friends Kevin and Nora for dinner at Miguel's, which is a venerable pre-Moab-race tradition, and then went back to my motel to lay out my clothes, take a soak in the hot tub, and then get to bed early to rest up before my 5:50am alarm. It was a great plan, but alas my sleep has been terrible lately (another consequence of menopause) and I did not get nearly as much sleep as I really would have liked.

I walked the few blocks to the Moab Valley Inn to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the start. A tall young man with a shaved head slid in next to me, and as the bus turned up the canyon and the predawn darkness began to lighten, he commented on how beautiful it was, with a distinctly non-US accent. His name was Kees ("Case"), and he was from the Netherlands. He had just finished the first week of a three-week vacation around the US southwest with his wife, at the end of which he would run the New York City Marathon. "My wife saw there was this race while we were here, so I signed up for it," he told me. We ended up chatting the rest of the way up the canyon, and also hanging out together in the starting area. He would be taking it relatively easy since he'd be running the NYCM, though as a much faster runner his "relatively easy" was still faster than my "all-out"!

At the start, I drank some coffee and attempted to eat the Clif bar that had been in my packet. (Usually I have something with me for breakfast but I didn't manage to get anything this year!) Unfortunately, it tasted terrible to me - it was the new "nut butter filled" and I am not a fan, as it turns out. So I only ate a few bites and then threw it out, but I wasn't really that hungry, and there would be Clif shots at mile 6.

I started just in front of the 1:40 pacer, which was more an accident than anything else. I have noticed that the pace team the Moab races use seem to be fairly bad more often than not - once I was on pace for 1:35 when the 1:40 pacer passed me - so I wasn't planning on running with him. But as it happened I ran pretty much alongside him (either in front of - I could hear him talking - or next to him) until just after the big hill at mile 8, at which point he seemingly accelerated away from me.

What really happened, of course, is that I slowed way down. It wasn't a horrible fade or anything, just that the hills took it out of me, which has certainly happened before. Also, it was a very hot day, or at least, hot for me. I overheat very easily, which is why I'd made the last-minute decision to wear only a sportsbra and shorts. I drank at every aid station, but I still felt as though I wasn't getting enough fluids. I took a Clif shot as planned from the people handing them out at mile 6, but I only managed a little squeeze of it because I was just too thirsty. In retrospect I should have stopped taking water and gone for the sports drink instead.

toh16d

Here are the splits. I set my Garmin to manual split, as I almost always do in races, but for some reason my watch was misbehaving and frequently when I poked the button as I passed the mile marker, nothing happened, and I had to re-poke it a few times before it actually registered. I also missed the mile 7 marker somehow. So instead of reporting the actual splits I'm reporting the pace per split, which might be .99 miles or might be 1.01 (or 2.01).

mile  pace  Average HR      Max HR    Elev chg
 1   07:37.36	139 (68%)	151 (78%)	65
 2   07:28.61	151 (78%)	155 (81%)	-52
 3   07:27.11	152 (78%)	155 (81%)	57
 4   07:34.76	154 (80%)	157 (83%)	-54
 5   07:33.63	154 (80%)	156 (82%)	-4
 6   07:41.24	156 (82%)	159 (84%)	-20
7-8  08:20.85	156 (82%)	165 (89%)	210
 9   07:27.91	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	-107
10   07:57.92	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	5
11   07:34.99	157 (83%)	160 (85%)	-60
12   08:01.73	156 (82%)	160 (86%)	-9
13   07:18.58	158 (84%)	162 (87%)	-82
13.1 06:56.10	161 (86%)	162 (87%)	-1

A couple of things. First, the elevation change is just the difference between the start and finish, and can mask a lot of up-and-down in between. (Here is a map and elevation chart.) Second, the HR is given in both beats per minute (bpm) and % of HR reserve, which is the difference between resting and max HR. However, I'm pretty sure that what I'm using for my max is wrong and should be lower. This is supported by my max readings being only 165, when in previous Moab half marathons they have been in the lower 170s, and my average reading has been in the lower 160s. Finally, as usual my Garmin read more than 13.1 at the end, though with a Garmin distance of only 13.17 this was one of my shorter half marathons - I guess I'm getting better at running tangents!

toh16f

My final chip time was 1:41:32, just 12 seconds faster than my first time on this course and my nominal goal. This was good enough for first in my age group (50-54F) out of 42 as well as placing me 16th woman (out of 526) and 57th person (out of 845). Though also, I came in 6 seconds behind the 55-59 winner - and both of us beat all the 40-44 and 45-59 women except for two, one of who came in second overall, the other who came in first Master's female (with a slower time than my win 3 years ago la la la!)

I ran in the Saucony Fastwitch, a shoe I bought at a fairly large discount not too long ago. Good thing it was cheap:

shoesole

I have a terrible footstrike with my left foot. :-(

Chamarama

Sep. 10th, 2016 05:25 pm
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
Over Labor Day weekend we rafted the Rio Chama, a wild and scenic river a couple of hours away in New Mexico. We did this trip five years ago (also on Labor Day weekend!), with a completely different group of people, and once in between then and now. The river is dam controlled with releases on weekends; though sometimes enough water flows during the week to float it, weekend launches are restricted by permit. Fortunately, our friend Jenny got a permit, and (maybe to pay us back for including her on several backpack trips this summer!) invited us along.

Not a lot to say about the trip this time, other than it was delightfully non-eventful (where event = raft capsize or camp injury or other thing you really don't want to happen). The only minor disaster happened in our second night's camp, where Ryan misplaced her iPhone and despite ransacking the camp, none of us could find it. We were preparing to leave when she jumped into the water next to her raft and started squelching around with her feet, in case she'd dropped it into the water the previous night without realizing it...and yep, there it was! AND due to its protective case, it still worked!

But have some photos, anyway: )

Above pictures and selected others (16 total), no words, at Flickr
All the photos (34) at Google Photos
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
We did our annual backpack in the Weminuche Wilderness at the end of July, but gah, I have so many photos to go through and so much to write about that I haven't even started trying! So instead have a very short write-up about a mini-trip we did last week to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico.

As you probably know, the Perseid meteor shower peaked last Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and as it was expected to be an "outburst" event with many more and brighter meteors than usual, we decided we ought to spend that night in the desert, where we could sleep outside far from city lights. For previous celestial events we've camped at Valley of the Gods near Mexican Hat, Utah, and originally we'd been planning to head out there, but at the last minute we decided to go south rather than west. Neither of us had been to the Bisti Badlands, and it's about the same driving distance, around two hours.

We headed out after work, following Google Maps. When we got there, we found a nice flat spot to park the Sportsmobile, with room to lay out a tarp and sleeping bags nearby, not far from the main parking area. Two other vehicles were parked not far away, and as we surveyed our spot we noticed a group of people with packs heading into the hoodoos. Clearly others had the same idea!

After a brief hike down a wash through some of the formations, we returned to the van for drinks and dinner. Then, as the sky darkened, we took out a pair of binoculars for each of us and looked at the various planets: Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus were all visible near the west horizon, while Mars and Saturn were in Scorpio near the moon - a five-planet night! (Mercury was particularly cool to see since it's rarely visible.) I saw an amazing meteor slash across the sky even before it got fully dark! We went to sleep around 10 and woke up around 1:30 am, after the moon had set, and watched the Perseid display for a couple of hours. There were only a few really bright ones, but the frequency of meteors was impressive - sometimes we'd see one after another, four or five within a minute.

(Alas, no photos of the light show - our camera wasn't good enough, and we were too busy using our eyeballs.)

When we could no longer keep our eyes open, we went back to sleep. The sun woke us after we'd had far too little sleep, but we got up anyway, because we wanted to hike around the badlands before it got too hot. This is seriously a wilderness, in that there are no trails and no water sources: hikers are advised to bring a GPS (we had a GPS app) and plenty of water. A map at the parking area indicated several areas of interest, and Britt had grabbed the coordinates of a few others from people's web pages.

So what did we find? Wild and wonderful pillars:

Pillars

The "Cracked Eggs", oval rocks with reddish layers peeking out from under the pale tan sandstone (no doubt they hatched dinosaurs!):

Cracked Eggs

Eerie arches:

Bisti Arch

And other strange landscapes, weirdly-shaped rocks, and petrified wood that looked exactly like someone had just split a few logs and left them there with the woodchips scattered around them, and it had all bleached in the sun. Then we tried to lift them.... It was like a practical joke played by nature, "Haha, you think this is wood, but it's NOT!"

Petrified wood

The best of our photos are on Flickr. We definitely need to go back at a better time of year (spring or fall) and explore further!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
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)
I've been biking a lot lately. This isn't because I've fallen out of love with running, or because I'm too injured to run - okay, I'm a little injured, but it doesn't keep me from running. But Britt and I, and four friends, will be doing the San Juan Huts Durango to Moab ride at the end of the month: that's 215 miles over 7 days, mostly on secondary dirt road, with a whole lot of elevation gain and loss. So we've been getting our butts in shape by riding a lot of steep high-elevation jeep roads and dirt roads, and a bit of single track.

So have some photos. )
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
Many of the place names here in the southwest US come from the Jesuit explorers, who tended to the religious in their name choices. For example: the river they named the Dolores, which means Sorrows, as in Our Lady Of. The most sorrowful thing about the modern-day Dolores River is that it's been dammed to create McPhee Reservoir, the water of which goes to irrigate the alfalfa and bean fields of local farmers, and most of the year only a trickle of water flows through the beautiful and remote downstream canyons. So when the Dolores Water Conservancy District announced that the reservoir was full enough - and the inflow from snowmelt high enough - to do a recreational release for the first time since 2011, local boaters rejoiced.

We'd run two sections of the Dolores before: miles 47-97 (Slickrock to Bedrock) twice, most recently in 2008, and mile 141 to the confluence with the Colorado River, the Gateway run, in 2011. When we heard that the river would be boatable beginning the weekend of June 4th, we thought of doing Slickrock to Bedrock again, but we couldn't find anyone willing to join us other than right on the weekend, and we knew it would be crazy crowded then. (You need to have at least two vehicles to shuttle between put-in and take-out, and anyway, it's more fun to boat with friends.) But then on Monday, our friend Joe asked if we'd be interested in a day trip on Tuesday, in the Ponderosa Gorge section (miles 1-19), which we had never done. And so we got to see another part of the Dolores!

At the Bradfield Bridge put-in on the Dolores

Ponderosa Gorge is a beautiful canyon, walls of red sandstone contrasting with the dark green of pine and juniper. The grass grows lushly along the banks. No bugs, and few birds, but we did get dive-bombed by a succession of butterflies who must have thought our brightly-colored rafts some new gigantic species of flower before realizing their mistake and flying away, disappointed.

We hadn't brought our real camera, and the river was busy enough that I was reluctant to take out my phone-camera while underway, so I only have a few mediocre photos from some places where we stopped on the shore for breaks. The rapids were frequent but not very difficult, and so it was a great deal of fun and not too traumatic - at least, not for us. We did pass a group obviously drying out their gear on shore after one of their number, in an inflatable kayak, bumped a rock and tipped out. We passed a few other groups taking breaks on shore, or camping, as many of them were doing multi-day trips, taking out at Slickrock. But mostly we saw only each other -- and, of course, the butterflies.

In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River

The sun beat down on us from a hot blue sky, but the river, fresh from the bottom of McPhee, was icy cold, so it was really very pleasant. Toward the end of the day the walls shaded us; they'd grown impressively tall and sheer as we had continued down the canyon, and of course this was where the hardest rapids were! But they turned out to be only a very little bit more challenging than the previous ones, and none of us had any difficulties. (Which was partly due to Britt, the most experienced among us, taking the lead. So much easier to navigate rapids when you have someone else to show you the best line!)

We pulled out at the ramp, disassembled our gear and loaded it onto our truck, shared our last beers, and headed home after a delightful day on the River That Flows Too Infrequently. No sorrows here, just a great day!
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Uh, hi! Remember me? I used to do stuff and post about it!

Last week we joined friends for a White Rim bike trip. This is the same trip we did three years ago (and look, I wrote about it here!) and it was organized by the same couple, though this year it was mostly a different cast of characters, and also in the opposite direction. And also, I have a new bicycle!

Ilana and new bike

For those of you who care about such things )

The ride was to start Wednesday, but Britt had a meeting he couldn't miss and would come later, so I got a lift to the start with some of the other riders. We had lunch at the top of the Mineral Bottom switchbacks and then rode the ~10 miles to the Hardscrabble campground. The road between the bottom of the switchbacks and the camp is often very sandy, which makes for hard riding; due to recent heavy rainfall, it was instead nicely packed, with occasional mud that was mostly avoidable by choosing a path wisely (or briefly leaving the road). Britt rolled in sometime around 8 pm, which was still well before sunset.

In addition to the mud, the rain had made the desert bloom. We rode by orange globe mallow and blue blanketflower, by the pinks and yellows of flowering prickly pear cactus. (Photo by Ryan)

Cactus flower (by Ryan)

Read more... )

All 15 of my photos at Flickr (the ones in this post, plus a few more)

Brendan's photos, which are better than mine, at Google Photos
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
We went down to Tucson late last week, as my husband's company was holding board meetings on Thursday and Friday at the fancy Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The plan was for me to work from the hotel room during his meetings, and then we would have a micro-vacation over the weekend.

On Thursday I got miserably sick (maybe the delicious food at the fancy resort restaurant had issues? It tasted good, anyway!) but by Saturday I was ready to vacation. We drove our rental car (a Ford C-Max hybrid, which we both liked very much!) to Kartchner Caverns State Park and took a tour of the Big Room. These caves were kept secret after their discovery in the 1970s, so when they were finally developed after the land was purchased for a state park, the formations were in nearly pristine condition, unlike most tourist caves (even in National Parks!) where casual use over the years has destroyed a lot of the delicate ecology. Development was undertaken with extreme caution, so that now the caves remain in exceptional condition; we've taken quite a few cave tours over the years and were very impressed! No photos allowed, but the website has a video tour.

Afterward we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum which is the largest privately-funded aerospace museum, with over 300 aircraft of various vintages. We took the (free with admission) "Highlights of Aviation" and "World War II" walking tours, and lucked out with an amazing docent, Don McLean (no kidding!) who told us many more stories than were on the placards in front of the planes.

Sunday (all of it) was spent hiking the Ventana Canyon trail to The Window, 6.4 miles and 4260 feet each way. Britt had gone to school at the University of Arizona here many years ago and had fond memories of this hike - I figured it must be good if he still remembered it after 40 years. It was pretty cool: we started out in Sonoran desert, with saguaros all around, and by the end - a natural arch in the rock - we were hiking through the snow among pines!

IMG_20160131_142321

We should have got going earlier than our 9 am start, though, as we ended up hiking out the last half hour in the dark. Still, it was a great hike, and I definitely felt it the next day. The best of our crappy cellphone photos are on Flickr: Ventana Canyon.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Only four months late! ;-) You can either click on the links below or use the tag (canadian vacation 2015), or if you just want to look at the photos, the mosaic below links to the collection of albums (one for each park, plus an "on the way" album) on Flickr. Each of the individual trip reports has about 2/3 of the photos inline, and a link to the album on Flickr if you want to see the rest.



On the way to Canada
Kootenay National Park
Lake Louise
Icefields Parkway
Yoho National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park

Whew! When's my next vacation?
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
(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: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
We came out of Yoho NP just to the north of where we'd gone in to Kootenay NP a couple of weeks ago, so we drove by the same lakes and mountains we'd seen on the way in. But when we got to the intersection where we had come in to Canada on Rt. 93, instead of continuing south we turned northeast. We drove through Fernie, which looked like a great little ski town - kind of like Durango! - and we would have liked to have spent more time there, but we could see the end of our vacation looming in the distance and needed to keep moving. We camped at Crowsnest Pass between British Columbia and Alberta, which was beautiful, though ridiculously windy. Again, we drove by lots of interesting historic towns, but made the decision to maximize our time at Waterton Lakes NP.

The interesting thing about Waterton Lakes is that it's right at the juncture between the Alberta prairie and the mountains, thanks to the Lewis Thrust Fault. It makes for a very cool contrast as there are high mountains in one direction and plains in the other. And in the middle there are great big beautiful lakes!

View of Upper Waterton Lake

Read more... )

More photos, fewer words at Flickr.
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
On the morning of August 3rd we packed up our camp and headed back down the Icefields Parkway to the intersection of Canada's Rt. 1, then headed west into Yoho National Park. Just before the town of Field, we made the sharp turn to the right and up the steep Yoho River Valley to the Takakkaw Falls trailhead. "Takakkaw" means "wonderful" in the Cree language, and this huge waterfall certainly is, tumbling 830 feet from a glacier down a nearly-sheer rock wall.

Takakkaw Falls

Read more... )

More photos, fewer words (at Flickr)
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
Our original plan was to go to Yoho National Park directly after leaving Lake Louise, but we hadn't realized that our departure date from the Chateau was the Friday before Canada's August Long Weekend. (That's what they called it. I asked the concierge what was being celebrated, and she shrugged. "It's just the long weekend holiday! It's not for anything!") The fancy lodge in Yoho that we wanted to stay at was booked up, as were all the advance campsites. So we made a reservation for later that week, and decided to take our chances at the larger campgrounds in Banff NP along the Icefields Parkway.

Despite driving up before noon, we found no room at the campgrounds. Fortunately, the Canadian National Parks have fairly nice overflow campgrounds available; the one we went to, Silverhorn, was basically a big parking lot with picnic tables around the edges, but there were nice tent sites, a pretty creek, and the view was incredible.

Cocktail hour along Silverhorn Creek

Read more... )

Flickr album with these and more pictures

Next stop, Yoho!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
After a week of camping we were ready for a little luxury. Instead, we got a lot of luxury! Britt had made reservations at the four-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, right on the famous glacial lake. It's ridiculously expensive, but staying there, right on the lake, meant we wouldn't have to drive up the crowded access road or find parking, since we wanted to do several well-known hikes that begin at the lake.

Since even the cheapest room was pretty pricey, Britt had splashed out for "Concierge Level" service. We took the elevator straight up to check in at the 7th-floor lounge rather than waiting in line in the lobby. This lounge also had an amazing breakfast spread every morning, and a huge array of appetizers and an honor bar from 5-7pm (you could easily make a dinner out of it, which we did several nights), and our 8th-floor room had a dormer window seat looking out to the lake.

P1040059<P1040060

Read more... )

A lot more pictures, a lot fewer words in the Flickr album

(sorry this is taking so long to post! I hope to get going on this again!)
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
We crossed the border on Saturday July 26th, and it was a bit of an ordeal. Well, not compared to the officials tromping through our boat and hinting for bribes in the Dominican Republic, and the long forms that need filling out in St. Vincent, but still, we were Americans going into Canada and we thought it would be trivial. Alas, the customs and immigration officer immediately directed us to park and get out of our van while it was searched. I guess he saw our Colorado license plate and figured we were either liberals and therefore had weed, or conservatives and therefore had guns - and both are illegal in Canada. (He did ask some leading questions about marijuana!)

But they let us into Canada, and so that evening we rolled into Kootenay National Park and got one of the few remaining campsites at the National Park's Redstreak Campground. It was less than ideal due to the extremely loud extended family that partied all night next to us, but had the advantage of being hiking distance to Radium Hot Springs, where we soaked and enjoyed.

The next morning we drove into the main entrance of the park, waving the annual pass we had bought at the campground. It's a real no-brainer - unlike US national parks, which charge $10-$20 per car good for the week, Canadian parks charge by the day and by the person, and if you are going to spend a week or more in the parks, it costs less to just buy an annual pass (for slightly more than $100 US), so we did. It also means you can just wave at your pass and drive through while other people wait in line!

Mostly just a lot of photos )

These and more photos with captions but no other text at Flickr
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
We headed out of town, finally, on Sunday afternoon July 19th. The fastest route north actually started with a westward leg toward Moab, Utah, so we made for the campsite at the Canyon Rims Recreation Area we'd been to on a previous trip to Utah, and enjoyed our first evening of vacation with some adult beverages and a beautiful sunset.
Canyonlands sunset

Then it was north through Utah and into Idaho. In Idaho Falls we talked to a tourist desk guy who recommended we take the slight detour on the scenic route to Mesa Falls, and we did, and it was fantastic. Two enormous waterfalls!

More photos and text! ) The next day, Saturday July 25th, we crossed into to Canada!
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
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)
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)
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!

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

May 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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