Crested Butte

Over the Xmas break Brian and I were in desperate need of something to look forward to, so I set out on booking not one, but three vacations.  The first one of the year we ended up going to the “Big Gay Ski Trip” put on by one of the Denver gays.  This year he decided to go to Crested Butte.  I have been there a few times in the summer to go mountain biking, but have never had the chance to snowboard there.  So when we found out about this trip I jumped at the opportunity.

It turned out to be a reasonably priced weekend since we were able to get 2 day lift tickets for only $99 at Costco, and the guy was able to negotiate a decent price at one of the hotels at the base of the mountain.  About the worst part of going to Crusty Butt is the 4+ hour drive (took us over 4.5 because it was dark and Monarch pass was slippery)

Crested Butte has an amazing small mountain vibe to it.  It’s definitely not like the stuffy vibe you get at Aspen or Vail.  To contribute to that small mountain feel was snow banks that had to be at least 6′ tall and the impressive Crested Butte mountain that springs up form the town.  We stayed at the Grand Lodge which is only a 2 minute walk, had a hot tub, mini kitchen, king size bed, and a murphy bed (we didn’t use this since our friends ended up not going).img_20170210_110328611

The first day we ended up just doing all blue runs since my back was giving me problems and Brian was still getting over a sinus infection.  I was surprised how well he did with the elevation and not being able to breath that well.  It was a sunny slushy day snowboarding and their blue runs are quite fun.  I was able to occasionally dip into the trees for a bit of fun in there.  I also gave their freestyle track a try and boy was that fun.  You can get going really fast through those corners.  We ended up skiing until around 3, then headed down for après, hot tub, and then dinner at Bonez (I thought it was going to be barbecue but it was a cool Mexican restaurant with excellent margaritas.img_20170210_113527888_hdr

The second day we had a bit of a rough time.  Brian wasn’t feeling so good but decided to go up and try anyways.  Big mistake.  After going down the first run to the Paradise warming hut, he knew he was done for the day.  He just didn’t know how he was going to be able to get down .. do I try to make it down by myself? Take a sled down with the ski patrol? Or, do I find a way to get down with the lifts?  We attempted to get down using the lifts, but after taking one lift up that looked like it was next to one that could take us to the base, we discovered he would have to hike up a short hill .. not a good option.  So, he ended up toughing it out and going down their awful green runs (They are too flat with too many people)img_20170211_154728_316After I got him situated in the room, I headed back up the mountain to try and see what all the excitement over their double blacks was about (Crested Butte is known for it’s steep and deep terrain).  To get to most of the fun terrain in CB you end up on one of the two T-Bars (which I haven’t done in a few years).  I ended up taking the North Face T-Bar to get back to the North Face wall and the Spellbound Bowl.   Crested Butte definitely lived up to the steep and deep over there.  I had two amazing runs and was stunned by the scenery.  But, after that my back had been jarred enough and I decided to quit while I could still make it down the mountain. cb

 

 

Peru – Part 4 – Machu Picchu / Aguas Caliente / CUZ – LIM – MIA – DEN

P1000495I have finally gotten to the last post of my Peru trip that happened over two years ago.  This post is the reason it took me so long to finish this series.  This post will also probably be a bit shorter since my mind doesn’t care to think of it.

The last morning of our Trek we woke up pretty early in the morning and were on the trail long before dawn broke.  We gathered up our belongings that we wanted to take with us to Machu Picchu, and headed down the trail a little ways.  Then we were stopped by line of people that were all waiting to finish hiking the rest of the way.  After about a half an hour of sitting there in the dark, the line started moving, and soon enough we were on our way through the last checkpoint and on our way to the end of our adventure.


IMG_1901
P1000475Hiking along in the pre-dawn my stomach started aching some.  It seemed like I had some bloating and mild pain in my stomach.  We kept on moving and I just ended up trying to adjust my backpack so my stomach wouldn’t hurt so much. Right about when the sun was coming up over the mountains, we reached Intipunku (Sun’s Gate), the first real good look of Machu Picchu.  We stopped here for a break and some picture taking, and I ended up rushing off into the bushes to start my own adventure of the Peruvian stomach flu.

As we arrived at Machu Picchu, our guide led us around the site and showed us some of the intricate stonework and told us some of the history of the place.  During this time most the people were all trying to get in the shade, and I couldn’t get warm enough standing in the sun.  I knew something was seriously not right with me.  After only spending an hour or so at Machu Pichu, I told my family I had to head down to the hostel and beg to let me in one of the rooms.  They decided they had enough with the crowds and realized they enjoyed all of the other magnificent ruins along the way better than they did Machu Picchu (Probably because the lack of people at the other sites).  After yet another pitstop to the restrooms, we boarded a bus and headed down the very long winding road with several hairpin turns and steep drop off’s. It looks like a road that would barely be able to fit one bus .. let alone two passing each other at times.

P1000533Luckily when we got to the bus stop, it was only a short walk to Hostel Viajeros.  After telling them what I was going through, they got a room ready for me and let us check in early.  My room was a very cramped double bed room that had no windows to the outside and was very stuffy.  Luckily there was at least a bathroom attached to the room.  I curled up on the bed and took turns napping and spending more time on the pot.  That afternoon I woke up and thought I was feeling a little bit better, and was feeling hungry since I hadn’t eaten anything all day and had either thrown everything up or it had come out the other end.  So I decided to be a little brave and head out and try to find some Gatorade and something easy to eat.  I wandered through a really neat market that had all sorts of fresh fruit and veggies.  They also had whole animals butchered and hung up, ready to be cut to whatever you wanted.

P1000534 P1000529It wasn’t long or far from the motel that my stomach started hurting again and feeling queasy, then light headed.  I headed back to the Hostel, but didn’t quite make it.  All I wanted to do at this point was to curl up in the shower and take a hot shower.  But all that would come out was cold water (It’s nearly impossible to get a hot shower in Peru).  The rest of the night I spent with a nasty flu that would leave me shivering cold one moment, then dripping with sweat the next.
P1000547 P1000550The next morning everyone by myself headed up to hike Huayna Picchu which is the mountain that looms over Machu Picchu.  From what they tell me it was an amazing hike with spectacular views, but some scary parts on the trails.  This seems to be some of their most memorable moments of the trip, so if you make your way down there, opt to do the hike up Huayna Picchu.  That afternoon, after they got back from their hike, we made our way down to the train station.  We took a train from Aguas Caliente back to Ollantaytambo.  The train ride was nice with some great views, and even included dancers in costumes, and, a fashion show in which Mandy was one of the fabulous models.

P1000554From Ollantaytambo we took a bus the rest of the way back to Cuzco.  The bus ride passed several small villages, farmlands, and stunning landscapes with high mountain peaks looming in the background.  Once back at Hotel Marques, I ended up staying the rest of our trip attached to the room, until the next morning when they kicked me out of the room and wouldn’t let me extend my stay even though I was sick.  I ended up just sitting in their courtyard and tried to keep warm in the sun, while not venturing too far from their restroom (It was a strange cave like restroom .. but at least it was a regular toilet that flushed).  After the family did some bumming around Cuzco and bought more souvenirs, we took another crazy taxi ride through the city to the airport and started our journey back home.

We had another layover in Miami, this time I wasn’t fit to drive so someone else took the wheels as we headed down the Florida Keys.  We stopped and did some kayaking in the mangroves where we got to see some crocodiles.  Then we stopped at some small joint and then got us some delicious key lime pie before heading back to the airport and back home to Denver.

Peru-Part 3–The Inca Trail

Early in the morning, before dawn even broke, we departed the Apu Lodge and went on a short, but bumping bus ride to Piskacucho, the official start to our Inca Trail adventures.  Here we met up with our porters, and made sure our packs were all distributed, then we crossed the bridge and headed down the Urubamba canyon.

P1000166_thumb4

P1000174_thumb3.jpg P1000171_thumb3.jpgHiking along the Inca trail, you encounter many interesting sights.  It’s not just the ruins, vegetation, or towering mountains in the distance.  It’s the little things that catch your eye, such as local women packing in or out goods on the trail.  There are villages that are still on the trail and they don’t have any road access.  So everything has to be carried in on foot or mule (But Mule’s can only go to a certain point).  The Porters that carry all of your camping gear, food, plus all their own gear and food, are quite the sight themselves.  They are short people (Average height in Peru is 5’ 4”) but carry heavy loads that are packed up taller than themselves.  And to top it off, most of them only have sandals for shoes!  They happily pass you up and you will occasionally pass them while they are taking a break and drinking chicha and chewing  coca leaves (I was chewing those too … as they help with altitude).   We also had the pleasure of stopping at a villiage, that had a small outpost  like grocery store and where you could pay a sole or two to use a restroom (a hole in the ground with shit all over the walls)  I thought this was pretty gross .. but that  was before we encountered other ones on the trail later on.…

P1000188_thumb2

Our first glimpse of the ruins on the Inca trail were only two hours into the hike when we came upon a lookout that you could see the garden terraces and settlement of Llaqtapata which sits on the bank of the Cusichaca side river.  After a short break to take some pictures we climbed a short way up the Cusichaca valley to Huayllabamba, where our porters had already set up camp and started cooking us dinner for the night.

The company we used as our guides was quite nice.  Each night, when you would come into camp, they would have the tent all set up with your gear sitting in it.  You could lay in it and relax for a little while since trekking at this altitude can be quite tiresome.  After a bit of a rest, they would come around with something to drink, and a bowl of warm water to wash up in.  After washing up you would make your way into the dining tent where they would bring in a lot of really good food to eat.  This wasn’t the kind of food one would expect on a backpacking trip.  It was excellent food and each night was very different.  We had stews, all sorts of potato’s (Peru is home to thousands of variants of potato), quinoa, ceviche, and different kinds of fruit.  Each night you would want to keep eating more and more of the food until you were stuffed and barely able to haul yourself off to bed. In the mornings they would come around with a wash basin full of warm water, and a cup of tea to warm you up.  You would make your way groggily out of bed and over to tent for another exquisite meal.

The entire length of the Inca trail is made up of cobbled stones and a whole hell of a lot of stairs strung out over 26 miles.  The second day on the trail we made our way way up  the steep-sided Llullucha valley and through subtropical woodlands. Crossing the rim of a small plateau, we found ourselves in the pula, the treeless grasslands of the high Andes.  After a break to catch our breath, and for Spencer to take advantage of a last chance of getting some alcohol from the locals, we headed up to the first pass and the highest part of our trek,  Warmiwañusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).  Our guide tried his hardest to convince us that it looked like a dead woman.    Maybe you can see it … but I guess my imagination is just not that great … or could be because I’m gay and have a hard time visualizing a woman laying down…  From he top of the pass you get spectacular views of both valleys, plus of snowy peaks of Huayanay.  From here we made our way down to the floor of the Pacaymayo valley, where we camped for the night.

P1000314_thumb.jpgP1000421_thumb.jpgThe next morning we picked up on the Inca stairway again and ascended past the small Inca site of Runkuracay which was used as an outpost watching for people invaders down the valley.  As we reached the second pass, the landscape opened onto spectacular new views of the snowy peaks of the Pumasillo range.  We descended to the ruins of Sayacmarca, an intricate labyrinth of houses, plazas, and water channels, all perched on a rocky spur overlooking the Aobamba valley. We continued on and descended into the cloud forest, with it’s abundance of orchids, bromeliads, mosses, and ferns..   This orchid picture is one of my favorites, not for the beauty of the picture, but instead, if you zoom in and look closely you will see an insect hiding in it.  Our next stop of ruins was the mist covered complex of Phuyupatamarca (Cloud-Level Town).  I didn’t have time to stop there since we were running a little slow as the hike was taking a toll on our joints (Did I mention there were a lot of stairs …)   We finally made it down to our final camp by the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young).

Once we got at camp, our guide let us know that there was an owner of one of the buildings that, for a price, would let us take a shower in his facilities.  It was all hush hush since he apparently wasn’t suppose to be operating any type of business there.  But, we were willing to take the risk, and after what felt like a drug deal,  Brian  and I got our turn.  The showers scared the hell out of me.  There isn’t a normal water heater like what we have in the US.  At this place the water heater was on the shower head itself.  The power was hooked up by a few wires dangling right next to the running water and didn’t have any wire nuts or any other insulation on them.  (Maybe this is why he wasn’t suppose to be operating ….)  The water was very temperamental and I couldn’t get a continuous stream of lukewarm water.  Mostly because I was afraid to touch let alone adjust the water control out of fear of being electrocuted to death.

P1000449_thumb1.jpg P1000464_thumb9.jpg

After taking a short break at camp a few of us made our way down to check out the Wiñay Wayna ruins.  A few of the members of our group, including the couple from the UK, our youngest member, and a few others stayed behind because they were getting tired or sick.  The altitude has a not so pleasant effect on your body.  While waiting in our tent later we heard a few people vomiting and groaning. That night we had an all out feast with our guides and stayed up a little later chatting about adventures and cultural differences.  A few of the group had a few drinks .. and a few others had a few too many… But I was exhausted, so Brian and I headed to bed.  And then things went downhill for me  … more to be come.

Peru–Part 1–DEN-MIA-LIM-CUZ

This summer I finally went on my first trip out of the country (Other than when my parents took me across the border into Mexico when I was too young to remember).  Back around Thanksgiving of last year my mom, siblings, and I decided to head to Peru to hike the Inca Trail.  I got the joys of planning out the whole thing.  By February we had our trip booked and by March we had our plane tickets (at $1,700+ each those really hurt).  By the time everything was said and done it would be six of us going… my sister Andrea, her girlfriend Mandy, my mom Kim, my brother Spencer, my boyfriend Brian, and myself.  Everyone except Brian and myself were originally slated to fly out of SLC but two weeks before the trip their flights all got cancelled.  They re-booked to fly out of Denver on the same flight as ours.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

We first start off our trip by flying from DIA to MIA.  We have a 10 hour layover so we rent a minivan (First time I’ve ever driven one) and decide to see a little of Miami.  First off we go to Little Havana to get some food.  We stop off at a highly rated Exquisito Resturant and stroll up and down Calle Ocho.  After some delicious Cuban food we headed over to Miami Beach and to the World Erotic Art Museum.  Id recommend this to anyone that doesn’t have any serious hang-ups over nudity and sex.  It was extremely interesting especially seeing objects of art from so many different time periods and cultures.  There were even pieces as old as 400 BC.  After that we head a few blocks over for a stroll on Miami beach, then over for some of the  biggest fishbowl sangrias ever .. where we were rained out by a crazy storm.

IMG_20120623_182616IMG_20120623_182642IMG_20120623_191252IMG_20120623_194011

After getting everyone but me drunk we hopped on the plane for an overnight flight to Lima, then a dash through customs to get on board for Cuzco.  We get picked up by a van sent to get us from SAS Travel and he zips us through traffic, pedestrians, and dogs to the center of town. We then check in to the Marquees Hotel and enjoy the wonderful courtyard complete with their own Peruvian lady making alpaca scarves and sashes.  We then take a nap before heading out for our first adventure into Cuzco.  After adjusting a little to the altitude (Twice of what Denver is at 11,152 feet) we walk over to the Plaza de Armas where they are just picking up after the big Inti Ryami celebration.  The streets and sidewalks are full of vendors trying to sell you everything from alpaca goods to Inca Cola.  They are even as forward enough to put a pin of the Cusco Flag ( a rainbow that resembles the gay pride flag) on your chest telling you it is a gift, then asking for 2 soles (the local currency).

Plaza De Armas, Cusco, PeruPlaza De Armas, Cusco, PeruStatue near Plaza De ArmasCusco Cathedral

We then get talked into coming into a restaurant on the Plaza that had amazing views, and pretty amazing food.  Where I tried both Inca Cola (Which I loved) and some cuy or what Americans know as Guiney pig ( which was an awful chewy mess).  We also tried the local favorite liquor drink, the Pisco Sour.  Which was very good and reminds me of a margarita.  After that Brian and I killed some time by walking through first the markets targeted towards tourists, then down to the local markets where things were quite different.  We had to have passed by 20 women cooking up their own version of soup and selling it to the locals.

Fried Cuy (Guinnea Pig)Inca Cola and Pisco Sour

Then we had to head back to the motel to be briefed on our trekking trip and to rest up for tomorrows adventure.

Boarding @ Silverton Mountain

My brother and I decided finally to do a trip to Silverton to go Boarding.  I’ve been wanting to do this trip for about two years now.  Pretty much since I went with my friends down there but I didn’t think my skill level was good enough to take on the mountain (Turns out it really wasn’t).  We make our plans and booked a day for guided boarding, one Heli trip, and the rental for the back country gear needed to ride the mountain.

I had a few days of PTO that I needed to use up at work so I headed out of Boulder on Thursday afternoon.  Zip stayed with his step daddy in Denver and played with Dakota while I was gone.

Thursday I headed down to Ouray to watch the ice climbers.  I was there for a few hours thinking that this may be a sport for me to take up soon.  It’s pretty neat to watch them, especially the one that did a mixed climb from the bottom up using ice screws and some of the bolts on the rock.

P1030027P1030029P1030040P1030081P1030085P1030094

After freezing my toes off at Ouray Ice Park I headed back down valley a few miles and soaked at my favorite hot springs Orvis Hot Springs for a few hours.  I love that lil treasure of a place.  Then I headed to Silverton for the night and met up with Spence and his friends.

Friday we at breakfast at Brown Bear Café then headed up to Silverton Mountain for our adventure.  After getting our rental gear (You have to have an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe before they will let you anywhere on the mountain) and getting grouped up with a guide we headed up the rickety old lift to the top of the mountain.  In our group we had Spencer, his friends Jake and Matt, our guide Mariah, the three Spaniards, and myself.

P1030115

The first run we went down was Riff Raff and holy hell was that steep.  I didn’t realize Silverton was going to be that steep of a mountain.  After that first run we lost one of our crew for the rest of the day.  He was in a little over his head.  The snow on Silverton this time of the year was pretty difficult to deal with.  Variable conditions where it would be hard pack one second then soft the next, and then hard pack again where a big ol chunk of snow would break off under you.

Shack at the Top of the lift at Silverton MountainSkier looking at the view from the top of the lift at Silverton MountainMe at the top of the lift at Silverton Mountain

The next run we went down (I think) was RMYP.  Not really sure what it stands for.  But it was a fun run with a bit of small trees to go around.  Sort of like a glade … only once again really steep.  Then we got to go for a hike on our next run and a tricky traverse which all of us snowboarders ate it at the same spot and had to get up and get going again.  We then boarded down to an area called the Maze.  It was a pretty interesting gully which at the bottom you have to go through some boulders with a gap of about 10 feet.  Quite the chute and the skiers had a hell of a time with it.  Though this one part was difficult for skiers, the rest of the mountain seemed to be made for them.  It made me really want to pick up some and learn how to ski so I can take on the steep mountains (not to mention back country is a lot easier to get around if you ski)

Making the climb up to our Traverse

After those runs we were pretty much done for the day as far as energy goes … only three runs and it was only noon.  All I can say is that mountain takes a hell of a lot out of you.  After a short lunch break we met up with our guide and worked it out so we could do our Heli drop.  We all loaded into the helicopter (Spencer, Matt, our guide Mariah, and I) and took off for a ride with some amazing views.  You could see the snow covered San Juan peaks for miles and miles.  Our pilot touched down and we got out crouching to the ground and held our gear down tight as the helicopter lifted off right beside us.  After he was away I snapped a few shots with my camera, then we hiked along the ridge line for a short bit and strapped in.

Loading up in the HeliView of the Base areaRidgeline the helicopter dropped us off onLookin out the helicopterView of Silverton Moutnain from the ridge we were dropped off onGroup Shot from heli drop

The Bowl she took us to can have some serious avalanche problems, so we went one by one with the next person going only after the one before him was safely down below in the trees.  It was loads of fun boarding through the deep snow (The only decent snow we had had all day)  And after a great run I got to the rest of them ( I was the last in the group) and had a major cramp in my leg.  Once again we had to go down another section one by one and I was last (I needed it to try to deal with my cramp) then we met up on the cat track and boarded our way down to the pickup point with the bus to take us back to base.

Back at base we got us some stickers and other goodies, a beer, and then all lined up for a shotski to close off the day.

P1030144P1030145Shotski

I can’t wait to come back to Silverton but hopefully next time they have some better snow Smile  And I’d recommend anyone to take a heli drop.  It’s worth the $159

…… Also … I would recommend a stop at Orvis Hot Springs on the way home.  It’s nice to soak in the lobster pot to loosen up your legs Smile

The Subway–Zion N.P.

I’ve been wanting to hike to the Subway in Zion’s since I found out about it back in 06 while canyoneering down there with a friend.  We weren’t able to get permits for the Subway but we did do two other amazing slot canyons, Pine Creek and Keyhole.

My Mom and I lucked out and were able to get two walk up permits for the Subway!!.  We headed out to the Left Fork Trailhead in the morning after picking up some caffeine and pop tarts.  Packed up our stuff and headed off on the 6 mile round trip hike.

Now I’m not sure if you know what the subway is, but it’s probably one of the most photographed places in Zion N.P.  I have seen the pics more than I can remember and they always look soo damn cool.  So I was pretty damn excited for this trip.

P1020324_HDR

We had decided to do the Bottom up hike since for one we don’t have any of the gear for the upper technical sections of the canyon.  Plus Mom isn’t too keen on heights so I was not sure about the rappels that it requires.  So we left the trailhead and headed down to the creek bed.  You follow the creek bed for about 2.6 miles up to the Subway itself.  It was a gorgeous hike up the creek bed but takes some time since you have to do a considerable amount of boulder hopping, crossing the creek, and hiking up the hillside around boulders too big to climb.  Along the way we encountered hundreds of little tiny frogs that would scatter every which way from the trail as you almost stepped on them (I’m sure we had to kill at least one or two of them even though we tried very hard not to)

P1020353_HDR

P1020371P1020344

After stopping to take quite a few pictures of beautiful waterfalls along the way, and playing leapfrog with a couple going up there to photograph as well we reached the Subway.  The couple we were playing leapfrog with had 8×10 camera gear, a 35mm film camera, a digital camera, and a big heavy tripod that made me thankful for my Micro 4/3 camera but at the same time made me envious of the quality of photos they would get compared to mine.

P1020405P1020421

On First Impression of the Subway I thought …. This is all?  For some reason I was expecting it to be a long tunnel.  But Most the pictures you see of the subway is all of the subway.  It’s probably under a hundred feet long.  It’s still pretty damn cool and quite the sight to see … but even cooler is the pools in there.  I swam up the slot canyon as far as I could (To the waterfall) which wasn’t too far back.

P1020428-Edit

We had to fight over space to photograph (not really any fighting …. more just waiting your turn)  But I got the pictures I want.  I learned a few things from this trip and hopefully I’ll make it back and not only get the photographs I want, but next time I want to do the top down so I can explore the slot canyons leading up to the subway.

P1020429-EditP1020430-EditP1020435-EditP1020441-EditP1020442-Edit

Backpacking the West Rim Trail in Zion N.P

I had 8 days of Vacation time built up so I decided I should start taking some of it before I lose it at the end of the year (New GEO company policy).  I took off three days not knowing where I was going to go.  I knew I would figure something out.  It turns out my mom was in the same boat and had a big stretch  coming up so we decided to go somewhere together.

At first I was planning on heading up to Yellowstone NP and the Grand Tetons since I haven’t spent much time up there and haven’t done any real hiking around.  But after looking at the weather and how cold it was going to get we looked south.  High of 87 and low of 50 in Zion NP  … GREAT!! So very early Friday morning we headed south.

We got to Zion around Noon after stopping to visit with Grandma in Salem.  It was HOT as Hell there!! (Turned out to be 97 that day).  Ouch!  We got a campsite and went and got our permit to do the West Rim hike and got a campsite up on the rim.  We asked about permits for the subway but of course there weren’t any available.  After that we were going to go for a hike but it was too damn hot out and I was feeling sick from the heat .. so what did we do … went and got some food and beer Smile

Later that evening once there was some shade and it started to cool down we did go hike up to the upper emerald pools.  I was thinking I hadn’t been there before .. but alas I had.

Early Saturday morning we headed up to the Lava Point trailhead (We took a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company)  We started on the trail around 8 AM.  Well going downhill most the way and only having to hike 7 or so miles .. it didn’t take us long to get to camp.  That was even taking our time to take pictures.  I think we arrived camp around noon that day.  Only 7 or 8 hours to kill till bed time (when the sun goes down).  What to do to entertain ourselves?  Wait … I broke my kindle last trip so didn’t bring it, forgot to bring a book or magazine, and those cards I had in my pack … they were thrown out since I thought Mom would have brought some (She didn’t).  I guess all there is to do is take a 3 hour nap.

I woke up from my long nap drenched in sweat.  Yuk.  We decided to hike around the rim and see if we could find the springs and fill up on water.  While we didn’t get any water we did get to see some pretty damn amazing views.

P1020268_HDR

Up along the rim of Zion Canyon you get a whole new perspective on the park.  The land looks surreal and alien like.  The tall sloping sandstone cliffs, domes, and cones.  Then there are the plateaus.  From the ground it looks like there are just the sandstone cliffs with nothing on top of them.  But from the top you can see they have a forest of their own.  It makes you want to get on top of them and explore them.  Also, it makes you wonder if there are any wildlife on top.  If there are any squirrels up there.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out early.  The trail takes you down to Boy Scout lookout (the lookout on the way up Angels Landing) then down to the Grotto’s trailhead.  We made it down just after noon on Sunday and headed straight for the back country office.  We wanted a second chance of getting permits to the Subway .. low and behold they actually had some left.  Looks like we were going to stay in Zion for another night …

Bierstadt to Evans over the Sawtooth Traverse

Last week Delaney and I decided we wanted to hike one of the 14ers.  We settled on bagging two of them in a day by hiking up Mt Bierstadt and then take the traverse over to Mt Evans.  I pulled the route description off of 14ers.com (A great resource if you want to climb a 14er)

After picking up Delaney and George (he wanted to go hang out in the mountains) Sunday morning we got up to the trailhead around 8 AM.  This is a much later start than I normally would ever do, but it turned out okay as the weather cooperated through the day.

P1020028

The hike up to Bierstadt though had most of the elevation gain took us under three hours to complete.  We hung out at the top of that Mt with the crowds of people.  It was very busy up top and you could see the steady stream of people climbing up the mountain after us.  Shortly after reaching the summit we decided to leave the crowds and make our way to Mt Evans.

P1020046

I have mixed feelings about the Sawtooth traverse.  It looks like an impressive traverse that could be very dangerous and has high exposures.  But, if you take your time it is really not that bad of a climb.  It did take us a lot longer than I would have expected to complete the traverse (Around 5 hours) but we were taking our time making sure to be careful.  That, plus I had one hell of a headache and the altitude was doing a number on my body.  80% of our trip was above 13,000 feet.  There were a few class 3 moves where you had to scramble up a rock (I would have to push Zip up to where Delaney was and then climb up myself since Zip couldn’t get up some of it).

P1020052P1020085

Once you reach the top of Sawtooth and look back at Bierstadt it does look quite impressive and it really doesn’t seem like it was the mountain you just came down.  I would hate to go up that section I can tell you that.

We made it to the summit of Mt Evans around 5 PM dragging our asses.  I kept getting dizzy from the altitude.  So, we didn’t linger long at the summit and descended down to Summit lake where luckily George was waiting for us.  As we had texted him when we got to the summit of Bierstadt with an alternate plan of having him meet us up at Evans instead.  Well, the road was closed to Mt Evans so we had to hike down to Summit Lake which was the farthest up the road he could drive.

P1020111

All in all it was a great adventure and hike.  The views are amazing up there.  But it sure was more than I expected and sure did kick my Ass.

Beirstadt - Evans with elevation profile

Warrior Dash

I guess I should post something on a race I ran in a couple weeks ago.  My friend Daryl talked me into racing in Warrior Dash this year.  I went and watched a little last year and since then have wanted to do it.  Well he talked me into it .. but this was before I broke my arm.

When it came time to do the race, not only was I in a cast and hadn’t exercised in 5 weeks, but I had also just gotten out of a 22+ mile backpacking trip near Aspen, CO.  Of course this was my own doing, so I toughed it out and decided to run in the race I had already paid for.

Daryl, Myself, and Doug

IMG_1189

The race consisted of first running through a bunch of tires suspended by ropes, up over barricades, under barbed wire, trudging through a muddy pit under barbed wire, getting through a tangled web of bungee cords, crawling through some dark place, going over a teetering traverse, climbing over hurdles, crossing over a large net, climbing a cargo net then dropping off the other side, climbing up a rope, and finally jumping across some flames.

IMG_1201

After finishing the race (I was in the top 1/3 despite having a broken arm and not really trying hard to finish fast .. I just wanted to finish) I looked and felt like a freaking muddy mess.  After showering outside with 100+ other people (I stripped down to my underwear) and throwing away all my gym clothes. … they were too muddy and nasty to salvage.  I relaxed with some friends and had a couple beers to celebrate.

It was a really fun experience and I’m looking forward to next year.. where I’ll actually try to finish in a decent time .. and may even dress up!!

Snowmass Lake / Snowmass Mountain

Last week I took off some time to head to Aspen.  I wanted to hike to Conundrum Hot Springs  Snowmass Lake and summit Snowmass Mountain I arrived in Aspen on Tuesday right after sunset.  I had taken the back way up through Leadville and over Independence Pass which I would recommend to anyone.

My Mom and Brother arrived Wednesday night pretty late.  After taking some more pictures of the Maroon Bells on Thursday Morning we headed to the Conundrum Hot Springs trailhead.  It turns out that dogs (Zip) are not allowed in the upper valley by Conundrum Hot Springs and the campground.  So, we headed down to the Ranger station for the Aspen area to get some maps and figure out where to go next (They had previously told me over the phone that the only restrictions for dogs were you had to have them on a leash …. GRRR)

We decided on heading to Snowmass Lake and then summit Snowmass Mountain the second day.  So we headed to the Maroon – Snowmass trailhead up above Snowmass Village.  After getting our packs ready and getting Zip all geared up we headed out for the lake.

P1010798

The trail along the way was long (9 Miles) but sure was beautiful.  We passed quite a few horse riders and a few hikers but didn’t run into any large animals.   It was sort of disappointing to not see any Deer, Elk, or anything else.  We crossed over a big log jam and then headed up through some deep woods and after passing a few waterfalls we finally reached camp.

The views at the lake were stunning with the cliffs jutting out of the lake at the far end and some amazing peaks in the rear.  We set up camp and hung out until the mosquitos forced us to go in our tents.

P1010807

Friday Morning we woke up just before sunlight to try and get some decent pictures of the lake and peaks.  After grabbing some breakfast we made our way to the summit of Snowmass Mountain.  This turned out to be quite the damn hike.  The summit raises 3,000+ feet from the lake in under Two Miles.  So we were pretty much hiking straight up the mountain .. no switchbacks, no breaks.  Zip didn’t quite make it to the top.  He freaked out when the boulders got bigger than cars and the cracks between them you couldn’t see the bottom.  I had to push him up on a ledge then when I got up there with him he decided to run down where I had just pushed him up and kept wanting to go down.  So, I had to tie him up to a boulder and listen to him yelp as we left him for the summit.

After reaching the summit at last (Probably the hardest time I have had summiting a peak .. I was wore out) we headed back down to rescue my dog get back to camp.  We had tried to take a different route down but after making it part the way across a boulder field with most the boulders the sizes of cars … we decided to head back down the standard route.

That night and the next morning Zip was pretty much beat and dead to the world.  When I would try to get him to come out and be social he wouldn’t want to come out of the tent or get up.  When I would get him to get up he would sneak back to the tent and onto my sleeping bag as soon as I wasn’t paying attention.  I ended up feeling sorry for him and carrying his stuff back out for him.

P1010905

After getting back to the trailhead we found out that there had been a couple bear incidents over by where I had hiked back on Wednesday to take my pictures of Maroon Bells.  Two hikers were bit through their tents though there were no fatalities and both should be able to recover fine.

image

 

 

 image

image

image