27 March 2017

Stardate 2016.236

After one-night of snow and freeze, yellow aspen leaves become history.

A Few Elk Summits

It could be argued that much of my life has been lived in a cyclic fashion; especially extracurricular activities. I enjoy high mountain adventure, road and mountain biking and canyoneering. I'm currently at a crossroad of leaning more toward mountaineering once again. Thinking about Colorado's high mountain thin, cool-air gives me warm fuzzies all over. Go ahead — roll your eyes.

Colorado's sprawling San Juan Mountains are my favorite range of sub-ranges. Double fuzzies are doled out for the San Juans. I'll leave the San Juans for down the road. Arguably my second favorite range is the Elk Range. The Elks are home to seven Fourteeners (six if you're adamant about the 300-foot rule; i.e., there must be at least 300 feet of elevation difference between adjacent peaks to be an "official' 14er). I'm not quite that anal.

I climbed the Elk 14ers in the 1990s and wouldn't mind revisiting some of the more isolated areas of the Maroon Bells — Snowmass Wilderness. Exquisitely beautiful landscapes and often horribly terrifying loose rock is to be found here.

A north-to-south stretching range, the Elk 14ers north to south are:
Capitol Peak (14,130 ft, rank 29)
Snowmass Mountain (14,092 ft, rank 31)
North Maroon Peak (14,014 ft, soft rank — it doesn't meet 300-foot rule)
Maroon Peak (South Maroon, 14,156 ft, rank 24)
Pyramid Peak (14,018 ft, rank 47)
Castle Peak (14,265 ft, rank 12)
Conundrum Peak (14,060 ft, rank 47 — doesn't meet 300-ft rule)

Below is a northerly view of Snowmass and Capitol from the summit of North Maroon.

The next pic is looking down the south ridge of South Maroon from the summit.

The view of Snowmass and Capitol from the summit of South Maroon is magical.

Yes, there is a loose, intricate, and time-consuming route up the South Ridge to South Maroon's summit.

In the next pic, the view is of Pyramid's intricate northwest face.

Below, we were watching morning sun-hit on the Bells, Snowmass and Capitol from Pyramid's summit.

That's it for now. Sorry I don't appear to have summit shots from Snowmass, Capitol, Castle or Conundrum in a digital format. Yet.


23 March 2017

Stardate 2017.225

Colorado Trail Segment 1 — Out and Back
Prepping for the Summer and Ride the Rockies

I had not ridden into the heart of Segment 1 of the Colorado Trail (CT) for quite some time. I had a Tuesday off and decided to give it whirl. I write about the ride up Waterton Canyon to upper Lenny's Bench all the time. Beyond Lenny's exists an entirely different animal. Yes, lots of hike-a-bike down into and up out of aptly named Bear Creek; followed by medieval sections of forest heavy in haunting spirit, a siren if you will.

Segment 1 of the CT is 16.8 miles in length (Kassler start) with an elevation gain of 2,830 feet to the 7,517-foot high point at mile 12.6. I didn't start in Kassler and rode 15.2 miles to the high point. I turned back at the high point. A handful of photos follow — enjoy!

The first 6.7 miles of dirt road parallel the South Platte River, and the road is a service access road for Denver Water. The road also is the roadbed used by the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, built in 1877.

It's time for some trail.

I'm about to begin the big drop down to Bear Creek from upper Lenny's.

After the decent to Bear Creek, it's time to climb the other side on ball bearing rock.

There was old ice that should be covered by new snow upon reading this post.

Bring on the singletrack. The most difficult climbing was now behind me.

Cathedral Spires (8,520 ft) rise to the west. Yes, there are spires there. The area is closed to rock climbing in the spring for raptor, including Peregrine falcon, nesting.

'Tis the wind season and its aftermath.

This pic kind of shows how large some rock steps were. Upper center is a patch of ice.

This is the flowy descent down into the bowels of Bear Creek.

Stay tuned for more lizarding...


16 March 2017

Stardate 2017.205

It's Baa'aaack

Hi all! Well, the white stuff returned. South aspects melted, and north aspects shivered. Better yet, there was no ice layer under the snow, so it was relatively easy to ride. For the most part I was able to stay on top of the snow, which was a tad packed from previous use.

A couple inches of snow remain in the shady aspects.

The retreat from upper Lenny's Bench begins. The tree roots were a bit wet and hazardous going down.

Snowcatcher and I made the lottery for 2017 Ride the Rockies. The blog docket will be more active.


13 March 2017

Stardate 2017.197

It's Still Nice Out

Indeed, the weather remains stuck in Gucci mode. I'm not complaining. Following are some pics from the Roxborough Loop. The Rox loop is a connector trail that shortens the Trail 800 loop by a few miles. It also has a segment of turf that is one of the last places to melt out. Nonetheless, several icy patches were laying around. I also made several mud portages.

I had the trail all to myself today.

Pictured is some flowy singletrack through an area of forest that always seems to be green.

The big drop to the South Platte River is about to begin. That's Turkshead Peak at upper right.

Many riders don't slow and finesse their way around a corner. Instead, many riders "rudder" around a corner while in a full-blown skid. If you throw in some freeze-thaw cycles (water expands about 9 percent while freezing), you may end up with a badly eroded piece of trail.

What's next on the docket? The snow returns...


09 March 2017

Stardate 2017.186

Kuule Beanz!

Day-two of our trip deposited us above Breckenridge, Colorado, on the Boreas Pass Road. A portion of the Breckenridge ski area is pictured below.

The Tenmile Range dominates the view.

Note: The below pic naming peaks is from a previous October 2015 trip.

A fine climb, Quandary Peak is the 13th highest peak in Colorado. It toys with the clouds at 14,265 feet.

Out of view to the left, the Tenmile Range becomes the Mosquito Range at the Continental Divide.

Several Peaks of the Tenmile Range are reaching for the clouds.

Thanks for reading. I'm not sure what's on the docket next.


06 March 2017

Stardate 2017.178

Sunrise on 14,267-foot Torreys Peak and 14,270-foot Grays Peak; elevation ranks of 11 and 9, respectively.

I Wish I Lived In The High Country

Snowcatcher and I did some cross-country skiing recently. We celebrated a belated Valentine's Day and got in some cross-country skiing on Grand Mesa, Colorado. The Grand Mesa towers close to 11,000 feet above my home town. It often receives copious amounts of snow and is a delightful area to visit and play. The road up the north side by bike is often considered one of the top three most difficult climbs in the state. I can vouch that the climb does indeed hurt.

We left the Denver metro area around 5 a.m. and reached Frisco, Colorado, just in time for a beautiful sunrise. Touching the sky on the left is 13,370-foot Mount Guyot (rank 344). The peak on the right is the terminus, and northern summit, of 13,684-foot Bald Mountain's long ridge.

Cross-country skiing on the "Mesa" was primarily backcountry touring (i.e., you took turns breaking trail) in the early years. Portions of the area now are groomed for skate skiing (below pic) and classic Nordic skiing.

Mechanically formed furrows for classic kick-and-glide skiing are parallel to the skate ski routes.

The Grand Valley lies below the escarpment (Bookcliffs) in upper center to upper center right.

Grand Mesa is flat, undulating between 10,500- and 11,000-feet of elevation. The deciduous trees are aspens.

Still wild and wooly, the mesas, plateaus and canyons of northwest Colorado rise in the distance.

Glade skiing can be at its finest here. Today's snow ranged in depth from 4.5 feet to 5.5 feet.

Here's a snow-corralled parking area.

Thanks for reading.


02 March 2017

Stardate 2017.167

Yet, Another Spring-Like Day In Waterton Canyon

We have snakes here. I know this because I'm part reptile. Soon the snakes will be peeking their heads out into warmer weather. We have the standard water and garter snakes. We have bull snakes, which get quite large, I might add. We also have two varieties of rattlesnake, the prairie rattler and the massasauga. I think the sign primarily pertains to rattlers.

Start rant. Denver Water and other service companies are the only people allowed to drive in Waterton Canyon. Yes, they do run over rattlesnakes. I've seen the tire tracks center-punch a rattler well to the side of the road. If you're scared of what's out there, just stay in the city. End rant! Oh, almost end of rant. The sign in the title photo is far above ground because the original sign, which was at eye level, seemed to have grown legs and disappeared. Now I'm done ranting.

I was in shorts and sleeveless shirt today. The South Platte River was shedding its winter attire as well. March snows most certainly lurk, and local trails will yet clog with snow.

From Strontia Springs Reservoir (Waterton Canyon), I rode the long western ridge of Trail 800 that separates Bear Creek from Stevens Gulch. I dropped down to the intersection of Trail 800 and Stevens Gulch. I then backtracked out of the Waterton area.

Snack-time and yet another plug for the Giant Bicycle company.

Trail 800 travels through lodgepole (Pinus contorta) and ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa) pine forest.

Ridge-run'n with Turkshead Peak (app. 7,700 feet) dominating the view in the background.

It will be awhile before the oak brush produces any green.

The End

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