Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Two days in Indian Peaks.

While the days detailed below took place two weeks apart, they both start from the same place and cover some of the same terrain, so it seems logical to group them as one.
On week one, I set off for the Fourth of July trail head, and planned an extensive day.  First, I would run the trail up and over the Continental Divide, to visit the two 11ers on the west side, and the come back and do the Arapaho traverse, then run the ridge down to Klondike Mountain.  That sounds like alot, and though I felt ok, I quickly learned that I was not recovered from the race.
High on the trail, nearing the divide.
While I felt motivated, and my muscles felt recovered, my connective tissues did not.  Already I wondered about the day ahead.
I followed the Caribou Pass trail as it curved around Neva, and Satanta came into view.
There it is.  It was a short jaunt off the trail on tundra to reach the summit.
Satanta Peak, 11979 feet.  You can see the other 11ers in the background.
My plan was to descend the trail for a bit, then leave it and head down toward Columbine Lake.  I'd stay above it and ring the bowl to arrive at the saddle between Neva and the two 11ers, and then ascend them from there.
Above the lake.  Note the tents, what a beautiful place to camp!
The plan worked pretty well.  There was some talus to contend with, but it was larger and mostly solid.  A bit farther on I discovered a social trail from the lake up to the saddle, and was happy to follow that.
I decided to go south to 11801 first, which meant a quick descent, and then a short scramble up the north face.  It looked steep and rocky from afar, but went easily enough.
The view to 11831.
Back down and then up, to the broad flat expanse of possible summit area.  I finally found a small stack of rocks.
Looking back to 11801.
I basically went back the same way but took a steeper gully back up to meet the trail.  It worked out fine.
I ran some of the downhill and looked ahead.  Despite a great weather prediction, things weren't looking so hot ahead.  I wasn't feeling great either, definitely not at one hundred percent. 
I stopped to check out some of the old equipment at the mine.  Pretty neat stuff.
Then I sat for awhile and did some math.  It was about 2000 feet up to South Arapaho, then everyone says an hour each way on the traverse, then at least 2 more hours to go down to Klondike and back.  So, even if I was feeling 100%, I was looking at five more hours.  That would put me home later than I wanted, plus I wasn't feeling 100% and would likely be slower, plus...
these clouds did not look good.
It was easy to call it a day, but sucked to know I'd have to drive the bone jarring Fourth of July road at least once more.  I was able to make good time jogging down, and headed back home.  I never heard thunder, but it rained by the time I was back in Eldora.  Getting caught in rain on an exposed third class traverse is not my idea of fun!
Two weeks later I headed back, aimed at visiting the remaining peaks in the area.  Fourth of July road was as rough as I remembered, if not worse.  But oh well, it's easily passable in any vehicle.
I started from the trail head at 6:08, and had read a few trip reports to familiarize myself with the challenges and length of time the traverse might take.  All mentioned the slab as the crux, and many gave about two hours for a round trip from and back to South Arapaho.
Early morning on the Fourth of July trail.
At the turn off for the Arapaho Glacier trail.
Moody clouds up there.
The climb was fine, predictably wet due to run off in the lower sections, and lightly windy as I got higher.  I layered up and found myself wishing I had worn pants instead of running shorts!
At the saddle between South Arapaho and Old Baldy, South Arapaho on the left, and North Arapaho to the right.
The easy stroll up Old Baldy.
The climb up South Arapaho wasn't too difficult, with a clear trail worn through, around, and over the rock in the area.  I was on the summit at 8:07, two hours after I started.
The forbidden fruit of the Boulder Watershed.
South Arapaho summit.
Looking to the traverse.  It looked a little intimidating. 
I moved off the summit, expecting the difficulties to start right away.  To my surprise, they didn't, and I was still on a runable trail for a bit.  When you hit the start of the route, you can follow the faded orange arrows or not; on the way out I did at first, and on the way back I didn't at all.  I felt they led you off the most obvious route, the ridge proper, which wasn't any more difficult than the ups and downs the arrows had you take.
I reached the famous slab, and took a much more exposed option to the right, with a few scrambly moves over alot of air.  The only other difficulty I remember was when the ridge promptly ended.  The drop was too large to jump off of, and the down climb was over hung and of unknown quality.  I headed down some slabby stuff to get past this.
I've also read the final gully to North Arapaho is loose.  I avoided this by crossing the ridge and taking a more solid but more exposed option up.  I made sure to look around at the top so I could find the correct way back down.
Nearing the summit. 
Summit benchmark, reached at 8:42.
Looking north to more forbidden fruits.
On the broad and flat summit.  Like Longs Peak, it was some work and scrambling to get here, and then the summit is pretty flat.  I ate a snack and headed back.
Looking back at the ridge.
Part way back.
Here is the infamous slab with the added bonus of my finger in the shot.  I measured it at 61 degrees.  I took the same method to descend it, and had a heart racing moment when I pulled off a hold.  So if you take that option, you're welcome!
Back on South Arapaho at 9:23, so 1:15 to do the traverse out and back.
The descent back to the saddle was fun and quick.
Looking at Old Baldy, which was a much easier climb up!
The broad summit plateau made it difficult to tell where the summit was.  Fortunately someone had marked it with a cairn.
I was feeling so good and happy here.  I was able to get LTE service on my phone and streamed Beethoven's 9th Symphony as I made my way to the summit.  I hate it when I come upon people playing music out in the middle of no where.  I guess that makes me a hypocrite, but no one was around and the orchestral music fit the scenery perfectly.
And perfect things were, for a few minutes at least.  Of course, this set off a long inner monologue on the very nature of perfection, and if something can ever be perfect.  When perfection is obtained, does it cease to exist?  Is perfection therefore ever reachable?  The debate raged on in my head for the rest of the day.
Looking back, with Old Baldy reached 28 minutes after South Arapaho.
Next I looked east to Klondike Mountain.  It made more sense to me to do it now rather than to have to come back.  I started the descent on tundra and talus.
Looking back up.
I wanted to visit the summit of the unranked Bald Mountain on the way down, because why not!  The only mistake I made here was staying to the south of the ridge holding it, which had me side hill over some talus.  I imagine it would be easier to just stay right on top the whole way down.  I'd also suggest heading south from there and trying to stay right on the ridge proper for the easiest descent.  I had some short stretches of talus and from satellite photos, it looks like there is a trail most of the way down to the Klondike saddle.
Klondike was a short climb up.  I found three of the best Porcini I have ever found in Colorado on the way and ate well that evening!  I was so excited by this fortuitous turn of events that I forgot to take a photo of the summit.  Ah well.    
Looking west from Klondike Mountain.
My plan was to descend back to the saddle, and then bushwhack downhill while heading up into the Fourth of July basin at the same time (if that makes sense).  This was to avoid a longer run on the road.
Much to my surprise, I found a very distinct trail.
Yay!  This is the trail mentioned in a few trip reports on LoJ that I didn't read very well.  It's on the older maps for the area, and since it went by several former mining sites, I'd guess it's related to them.  I was glad for it.
As many a unmaintained trail does, it ended up ending in the middle of no where, but in sight of the road. 
Klondike from the road.
And finally back to South Arapaho from the road.  
The road run seemed to take forever, as they always do.  I was back at the car at 12:11, giving me 6:03 to do this fun loop.
This was a enjoyable traverse, though I was thinking it would be more sustained in difficulty.  In reality, it's mostly second class, including some runable terrain, interspersed with a few difficulties.  It was fun, but I found myself wishing for more scrambling.  Old Baldy is a ranked peak, and an easy add on if you're in the area.
Link to run maps/GPX on Caltopo (day 1 in blue, day 2 in red).
Day 1:
Satanta Peak, 11979 feet: 5 miles, 1896 foot gain.  Moderate.
11801: 7.1 miles, 1718 foot gain.  Second class.  Moderate+.
11831: 8 miles, 1748 foot gain.  Second class.  Moderate+.
The highest point of the day is around 12100 feet, before you drop down to Satanta, so there will be elevation gain in both directions.  Over all you'll be looking at 14.34 miles with 4479 feet of elevation gain.  Moderate+.
Day 2:
South Arapaho Peak, 13397 feet: 4.45 miles, 3314 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
North Arapaho Peak, 13502 feet: 5.2 miles, 3419 foot gain.  Third class.  Strenuous.
Old Baldy, 13038 feet: 6.8 miles, 2955 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
Bald Mountain, 11340 feet: 9.4 miles, 1257 foot gain.  Moderate+.
Klondike Mountain, 10770 feet: 10.8 miles, 687 foot gain.  Second class.  Moderate+
As a whole, this day covered 13.65 miles with 4718 feet of gain in up to third class terrain and held some fine alpine running.  Strenuous.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Highly Lonesome in Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Chronologically, this day actually took place before the previous post- it was my last longer training run before the race.  
My goal for the day was both to run the loop at a reasonable pace, and summit the two Boulder County/Indian Peaks Wilderness peaks near the continental divide, since I am pursuing both of those lists.  Those peaks are 12660, which is north of the High Lonesome Loop, and Skyscraper Peak, which is east of the route.  Looking on FKT, someone has done this loop in an unbelievable two hours and eight minutes.  That's way faster than I'll ever go!
I drove through Ned and then Eldora, not quite knowing where I was going, and the directions I was following seemed a little off for what I was actually seeing.  I kept going straight and eventually found the side of the road parking for the Hessie Th.  With 4wd, you could get all the way to the trailhead, but I don't have that.
The run started at a nice easy pace, and I felt like I was moving well.  I found the trails well marked and easy to follow. 
An open meadow provided some nice views of the day ahead.
The alpine!
I was feeling pretty good, and has passed Jasper Lake when I heard a huge splash from my left.  It has to be either a person who jumped in the water, a person who threw a large rock in the water, or an animal.  Either way, I wanted to know.
I took a brief detour to find this small body of water...  And a female moose in it dog paddling in circles!  It was the first time I'd ever seen a moose acting playfully.  Normally they just stand there and stare at you.  It was super cute!
I watched as she swam, made her way back to the bank and got out, and then shook off much like a dog would.  She made her way back into the forest, and out of my sight.  How lucky I was to be there and witness this moment!
The trail continued up, and I met treeline.  While the trail was well defined, there were alot of willows overhanging, and it had rained the night before.  I got wet, and with the slight wind, got cold quickly.  
Looking down into the basin.
Columbine and Skyscraper Peak.
Looking ahead to the steep climb up 12660.  It went.  Not very quickly, but it went.
Near the summit.
Points north, including Mount Jasper.  That sight brought back some memories.
The summit of 12660, no register that I could find.
The descent south went quickly, with only one slip and fall on my butt.  Hilariously, I tripped on a rock in the flatter section of tundra and went head over heels.  No injuries other than wounded pride and a wish someone else had been there to see it, as I'm sure it would've been pretty funny to witness.
Looking to Skyscraper.
There was a pretty good wind, so I made sure to keep on the south side of the ridge as I went out to the summit.  I took a short snack break there and enjoyed the scenery before moving on.
From Skyscraper Peak.
I continued generally south on tundra before meeting the trail proper.  I met a group of hikers near Rollins Pass, and continued on.  The run down to King Lake was fun and fast, with some now thankfully dry willows overhanging the trail once again.  
King Lake.  I was a little unclear of where to go, particularly at the next stream crossing.
There was a trail along the stream, but I could see one ahead of me as well (which would be off left in this photo).  I went for the trail ahead, which turned out to be the right choice.  I read a trip report somewhere where the person took the trail next to the stream and got stuck in some bushwhack hell.  Don't follow the trail next to the stream!
The downhill from there on was pretty mellow, and I was able to find and fill up on some water since I'd run out.  I had to use tablets since I was having some filter issues.  As it turned out, my 30 minute timer went off within 5 minutes of the car, so I probably should have just gone thirsty.
Also people were SERIOUSLY AMAZED to see someone running down the trail.  It's rocky, but nothing hard.  To me, it was nothing special.
I got back to the car in just under six hours, well slower than the FKT, but at a reasonable 17:39 minutes per mile pace.  Remember, this was training to do that pace all day long, so going faster wasn't necessarily a goal, though it would be fun to go back and try for a quicker pace on the loop only.  The off trail time also makes things slower.
While I was here, I'd also mapped doing all the Magnolia Road Boulder Peaks, but now felt unmotivated.  But I had plenty of time and I already did the drive here.
First I headed to Hurricane Hill, which is slightly north of Ned.  Despite my trepidation about this one being on private property, I didn't see any signs (save for the no trespassing sign on the driveway going up to the residence near the summit) and there weren't any fences.  I parked at a small pullout at the bottom of the driveway, and headed directly for the summit.  It couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes round trip.
Hurricane Hill, 8770 feet.
I got back to the car and headed back into Ned, taking 119 south to Magnolia Road.  Up next was Tungsten Mountain.  I parked on a small pull out and crossed a fence- after I found out if you follow the fence west, it ends and this can be done without the short trespass.  This was another pretty easy and short jaunt from the car.  I apparently neglected to take any photos.
Up next was Winiger Peak.  I eventually found the trailhead, after I felt like I'd driven past it.  I parked and followed the road/trail past the sign for a short time.  When I found a trail on the right shortly after, I took it.  I followed that for a bit, but not knowing where precisely it went, I decided to head off directly through the rather open forest for the summit.  The only annoying thing was the 1.5 million grass seeds that got into my shoes.  
Benchmark near the summit.
The summit and higher peaks to the west.
I took a pretty long break here; I was planning to get back in the car and visit the two remaining Magnolia Road peaks, but the day was getting on and I didn't want to get back home super late.  I got back to the car and decided to call it good.
This was a great day, largely a pure run with just a touch of off trail on tundra/rock above treeline.  As I'd been feeling that I wasn't going at the speeds I wanted, this day was also a good confidence booster.  As it turned out, my pace at the race was actually lower/faster than my pace on this day, though still a little slower than I'd hoped for.  
Link to run map/GPX on Caltopo.
Peak 12660: 8.6 miles, 3682 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
Skyscraper Peak, 12383 feet: 11 miles, 3405 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
Hurricane Hill, 8770 feet: Short, not much gain.  T+ for trespassing.  Easy-.
Tungsten Mountain, 8930 feet: Slightly longer, a little more gain.  T.  Easy+.
Winiger Peak, 8980 feet: A few miles, a little more gain, but no trespassing worries!  Moderate-.