Spring Break Camping trip to San Rafael Swell Reef and Goblin Valley

We started out the kids’s spring break with an annual trip we were invited to with a description billed as “Brutes, Idiots and their offspring (or not) get together and camp, hike, run, roam, shoot, and bs over spring break”. The location was BLM land just inside the San Rafael Reef, south of Temple Mountain, a fairly short walk to some bathrooms near a trailhead. This would be the first time any of us have done any desert camping and exploring, and it didn’t disappoint. High temperatures were in the upper 60’s and lows in the upper 20’s at night, some of the kids had sleeping bags not nearly rated for this but with some layering no one froze to death.

We arrived Saturday afternoon after driving through snow and rain in the mountains, set up camp and the kids got to know each other. Eventually there would be 6 adults including us, Chris, Andy, Jeff and Mike, and I believe 11 or 12 kids. I lost count. The next day we went to Goblin Valley and hiked around the back of the main area of goblins and found Goblin’s Lair or Chamber of the Basilisk – a cavern only recently discovered. There was a bit of a downclimb to get in to it, so some of the kids and the dog didn’t go (Cormac was sure mad about that). At the bottom of the downclimb there was a small tunnel some people explored where there was bats, something Opal seemed to get really excited about. That evening I went on a hike through most of Wildhorse Canyon (not to be confused with Little Wildhorse) with Capella, Chris and his son, everyone else was too worn out.

The next day was a much more adventurous hike, through Little Wildhorse Canyon, across some open desert and then back through Bell Canyon which is supposedly an 8.something mile loop but seemed a lot closer to 12. It took about 5 and half hours, and there was at least a dozen climbs up or down that we had to raise or lower the youngest kids on as well as a reluctant dog, while trying not to worry too much about the bigger kids who were often already further down the slot canyons navigating the next obstacle. A bit nerve wracking but we pulled it off. There was times I was carrying 2 kids, so I was getting quite a workout as well. We barely had enough water and were rationing it. I was pretty relieved when we made it past the last danger, a reroute of the trail along a cliff-side since there was a sinkhole that apparently wasn’t there last year. Watching the kids scramble along so close to a big drop like that doesn’t get easier.

The next day I went on a short run exploring a nearby unnamed canyon and we packed up and headed home just a bit before noon, a short but action packed trip.

November 20th through Thanksgiving

Not to be too sappy and buy into Thanksgiving being a meaningful day, but I’m pretty thankful currently. November 13th I went to a podiatrist and got a couple shots of cortisone, and the same day the orthopedic inserts I ordered (Superfeet Carbon) arrived.

Superfeet Carbon

After the shots I didn’t run for a few days and even then it wasn’t perfect, but within a short while I was pain free for the first time consistently in almost 2 years. The more recent and more extreme heel & arch pain was gone and even the pain upon first steps in my arch in the morning had gone away. I have been keeping up with stretching and wearing the inserts around the house even, to make sure this is permanent. This last week I ran 47 miles and 6400 feet of vertical, and it felt great. I could have handled more mileage but wasn’t going to push it with how low the volume has been since Leadville.

On top of getting back to running more, I’ve even managed to be a little more social. Monday night I did a short run with the Rocky Mountain Runner’s group and went out to Southern Sun with them afterward, and met up with the group again early Wednesday morning before work as well for a run. Tuesday I skipped a run in the higher peaks wanting instead to focus on mileage, and ran up Flagstaff and Green instead, for a 15 mile loop. Thursday we had snow that actually stuck around for a bit, and Saturday my heated had grip wraps finally came, no more cold hands on the Ural.


This Tuesday I headed back up to Beaver Reservoir this time to try out some snowshoes I borrowed from my friend Matt, picked them up after meeting him and his wife at BRC on Monday to do some climbing.  More snow than last time on Coney Flats and Buchanan but not snowing at least, still slow going with snowshoes but less taxing. Running in them was not something I wanted to do for very long periods, these things were big. At one point I fell and smashed my kneecap pretty good on a rock under the snow, I think snowshoes with upward pointing tips would be better for running in. After getting almost 6 miles out from the start and hiking past the ridge-line I planned on taking, no summits this time either, but at least I could see the summit. Where I stopped at there was a good view of the longer way up Sawtooth, taking Buchanan pass. It appeared there might already be a bit of cornice forming, hard to tell from the distance though. Heading back I was happy to know I’d make it home at a descent hour, can’t be worrying Aubrey every time I go out into the mountains by myself.

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Posted in Etc |

Jasper and Neva & many points along the way

Tuesday after some reticence due to my pf keeping me from running most of the week as well as knowing it would be cold riding the Ural into the mountains and a myriad of other excuses, I set out anyway around 8:30 after the kids were off to school. Plan was for an earlier start but Cormac was sick and the oldest kids had to be taken to choir practice so I was elected to stay home a little later. This at least meant the sun was up and the ride up the canyon a little more pleasant. Longest part of the trip other than the dirt road to the 4th of July trailhead was the trip into Boulder on 36 Hwy. in 1st gear. The 4+ miles past Eldora was mostly in good condition, with some shaded patches a bit slick with snow. It was the first legitimate need for using the 2WD feature on the Ural, and it worked great, a bit awkward going back downhill though, with the road even slicker from the heat of the day.

Jasper and Neva Loop from 4th of July trailhead

I started up the Arapaho pass trail around 10:30 and soon took the left fork down the Diamond Lake trail, and started bushwhacking southwest just past the log bridge over North Fork Middle Boulder creek. Up to that point the trail was mostly well packed snow and some dirt on the Arapaho trail. On the valley floor it was shin deep progressing to above the knee higher up the slopes. It was slow going but the direction I took didn’t have much dead-fall at least, and the plethora of animal tracks kept my mind off the slow wading through the snow. Once I neared treeline, it was clear what a complex area there was below Jasper and Neva, ridges and lakes galore. I had planned on ascending the Northeast ridge which while class 3 looked nice and dry from a distance, but instead I came out just to the middle left of the East ridge and could see an accessible snow and scree field that didn’t look too steep and would save me from wading in more snow around the unnamed lake, as much as I wanted to find the airplane wreckage there. Heading up this scree slope, cutting across some solid snow I had to kick steps in and then continuing up a section of scree with larger boulders here and there finally put me on the east ridge and to the first summit, Point 12,587. From there it was obvious there was going to be some pretty steep snow leading up to Jasper’s summit, leading me to get out my crampons before starting up it.  As I looked back along the ridge, I noticed there was already some cornices that I was glad I ventured nowhere near.

With Jasper now off the list and feeling good so far, I decided to do Neva next, I didn’t really want to head back the same way or do more bushwhacking in deep powder. This part of the trip I hadn’t researched very well, I was under the impression that the other side of Neva was class 2 to Arapaho pass, but I was mistakenly remembering reading about the Northwest Ridge, which goes completely away from where I started. By the time I got over Neva and started the ridge, backtracking seemed out of the question, and the degree of difficulty was obviously way above Class 2, but I was sure people had made a loop of it so I continued on. I’d head up each bump in the ridge, by now wearing crampons the whole way to play it safe and not have to take them on and off, often I’d get to the top sometimes by very low Class 5 climbing, and end up finding more exposed Class 5 down-climbing on the other side, so I’d back out and head down the nearest loose steep gully on the west side, a mix of snow and crumbly stuff, and make my way around the points in the ridge I couldn’t go over.

Route up Jasper, cutting up the East Ridge

Gerry Roach’s description in his Colorado’s Indian Peaks book describes the North Ridge of Neva as Class 4 *Classic* “This is a surprising and interesting ridge. It is not a hiking route. It requires good route-finding skills, involves a fair amount of exposed climbing and, for some parties, takes on the stature of a roped rock climb. It is shorter and harder than the traverse from South Arapaho to North Arapaho.” He describes the traverse from South to North Arapaho in the book as Class 3 but most people call it Class 4, which I felt it to be. Neva’s North ridge is agreeably harder, and then some in winter like conditions. I think I found a total of 3 cairns on the route, if you go don’t count on navigating that way. I took very few pictures along here, my hands were otherwise occupied most of the time.

Path along Neva’s North Ridge

It got to a point that the sun was getting lower and I became frustrated at the slowness of my progress, felt like crap and was very thankful I had packed a headlamp. I just kept moving, slowly and carefully and eventually had a clear path to Arapahoe pass having made it over Point 12,700 and Point 12,536 along the way, and even had enough time to run what wasn’t icy back to the trailhead before the sun set. I felt a bit like an idiot not doing this route with a partner or some sort of satellite communication device, especially when what I thought would be a 4 hour trip took over 6 hours to do 10.5 miles, and Aubrey was getting worried. The ride back to town was freezing and the constant headlights and high-beams heading the opposite direction blinding me on the way down Boulder canyon made for a miserable ride. Earlier starts from now on.

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  • Last climb up Jasper
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Coney Flats trail to Beaver & some of Buchanan

My original intention was to check Sawtooth mountain off my list but due to a number of factors and demotivation I ended the trip early and got in just shy of 10 miles. The 4WD trail had a minimum of 2 inches of snow from the beginning and entering Indian Peaks  there was no more tracks and the snow just got deeper and deeper, where I turned back I had been postholing frequently to crotch level for the last half mile. I couldn’t see the peak so I wasn’t sure if I was about to turn on to the right ridge for the East ridge approach skipping the Buchanan Pass route, and high wind and blowing deep snow left me feeling content to try again on a nicer day. I’m really itching for some skishoes now.

Mountain Hardware Jalapeno gloves

New gear today was Mountain Hardware Jalapeno gloves, they are replacing my liners as something that will block wind better and has better grip for doing detailed tasks, the main point is they never come off unlike all my other gloves that are too bulky and can’t manipulate small objects.  They performed well, I still plan on taking the lobster gloves shell along to just drop a hot pack in and have a bit more cold protection high up, the new gloves fit inside the old if I remove the liner on the lobster gloves. I wore my La Sportiva Crossover GTX again, very thankful to have gore-tex for some of those invisible stream crossings I found under the snow or through thin ice.

The new gloves are mainly to fight a mild case of Reynaud’s. I’m also going to try things like supplementing with Niacin, and recently I joined the Boulder Rock Club since the membership was just a $45 add on to my Y membership across the street – I’m hoping gaining hand strength could help too. I’m starting to go climb and then lift weights a couple times a week, I’ve been motivated because my plantar fasciitis which I’ve had for about 20 months has finally become sometimes debilitatingly painful, enough so that I can’t run more than 30 something miles a week most weeks. Accupuncture, stretching, wrapping etc. doesn’t help for long, I’m to the point of going and getting a cortisone shot so I can get back to training consistently which has been on again off again since Leadville.

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Back to blogging. Quick look at Pawnee peak

I have been meaning to start posting pictures here again and keeping my activities up to date, no good excuses why I haven’t really, I just didn’t make it enough of a habit and then it stopped. I’ll put together something soon with some of the fun I’ve been having since I left off, but in the mean time I’ll start with yesterday’s outing.

Sick since Thursday (everyone in the family has been), a 4 mile run yesterday had me thinking I was doing better than I really am. My lungs are a mess, things ache that shouldn’t like my lower back, and go a little quick up the stairs and I get dizzy as the snot sloshes around. It was still a worthwhile trip, started out late – around 8:40 or so, arrived at the winter closure for Brainard Lake at 10:30 or so, hopped on my woefully inadequate single speed skinny tired bike, and tried to not crash the 3.5 miles to a good spot to lock the bike before the last climb to the trailhead. I had to walk/jog 1/3 to half of it due to snow and ice, less walking on the way back at least.

The trail starts out pretty flat, easy running as there was compacted snow all the way to Lake Isabelle, but after that the fun starts with snow frequently knee to thigh high along a lower ridge and the cliff bands the trail weaves along. Exactly a week before I was hiking this with a co-worker while it was snowing – we only went to Pawnee Pass then. I expected to not be breaking trail this week, but again it was like no one had ever been that way. I knew the route this time and didn’t have to navigate by the map on my watch at least.

La Sportiva Crossover GTX

La Sportiva Crossover GTX

It was my third time wearing my new shoes – La Sportiva Crossover GTX, the first time getting to run in them. I’m loving the traction, out of snow and onto rock without missing a beat, don’t think I ever have to worry about cold toes again either. I’ll do a review after I’ve had them a bit longer.

Up higher the snow wasn’t very deep but the wind was blowing up to 20 mph and the temperature was somewhere below freezing, at least it was sunny. I made the summit before I started really feeling bad, and then descending back to treeline I started getting hot and at times dizzy. Pawnee Peak is one of the low hanging fruit on a project I have to summit all of the peaks listed on top of Green Mountain in Boulder. If I had felt better and started earlier I would have done Toll, but I’ll save that for a steep snow climb maybe. I was far from over my cold and paying for it, but didn’t regret it for a second.

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April 15 to May 5th running pics and stats

A mostly good stretch in terms of running, not pushing the mileage, just extending the base without getting injured is all I wanted. Being lazy here and just taking Strava screenshots. I would like if training websites had nice options for creating web friendly reports, text you can copy without a bunch of crud and with nice formatting…

204 miles in April and just over 30,000 feet of elevation gain. Lots of snow, but still lots of nice days.

April 15th – 21st

Count: 8 Activities
Distance: 56.68 mi
Time: 8:50:41 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 7,484 ft
Elevation Loss: 7,367 ft

April 22 – 28th

Count: 9 Activities
Distance: 49.57 mi
Time: 7:32:50 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 6,341 ft
Elevation Loss: 6,310 ft

April 29th – May 5th

Count: 7 Activities
Distance: 46.11 mi
Time: 7:26:30 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 6,953 ft
Elevation Loss: 6,973 ft

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First two weeks of April – pictures and stats

The first week of April started with a day off, then the next morning I woke up with a really tight Achilles tendon, which might have been a sign I shouldn’t have gone out for the day to take another crack at Longs peak. The wind was supposed to be very mild with a chance of snow in the afternoon, I didn’t know there was considerably more snow up there than last time I went there on the knock me off my feet windy day.

Again I went with the attitude of there being nothing wrong if turning back if things didn’t seem favorable, and again I did so as I made it just a little bit further, along the narrows which rather than there being a discernible trail, there was instead a steep bank of deep snow that I side stepped across with my crampons and ice axe barely imparting me with the feeling I was at all secure, and wondering if I was actually on the trail. When it seemed just ridiculous to go further and I couldn’t see the next painted target on the rocks I carefully headed back, stopped for a moment on a rock perch and took a few pictures with what low viability there was. Though I was moving horizontally it was practically like I was ice climbing and I actually needed to use the pick at one point when my crampons slid a bit.

On the trip back to the car it was a lot snowier and I had even less luck staying on patch and at one point had to crawl across the snow a bit to find my way out of waist deep snow around tree-line. My watch has a map of the trail on it but that still doesn’t stop you from getting off track by 10 yards and wallowing in it from time to time when the snow has covered tracks up already
Probably not the smartest thing going out there alone as has been pointed out to me, and I’ll try to find someone to go out with in the future for anything a little technical, but I’m excited to be out exploring the mountains and one way or another will be doing a lot of it, it’s one of the reasons I moved out here.

After getting home my tendon had far from loosened up, and the rest of the week I biked to ward off worse injury except for a run to work on Saturday and a quick 5k in the Hoka’s I went and bought, finally embracing the bigness. Size 13.5 – one of the few running shoes you can find in that size, is one of the things that sold me. 4mm drop and they weigh over an ounce less than my Cascadias and feel great on the roads and concrete sidewalks I have to run. The traction is great on the trails too. The only negative I’ve found is tight cornering, does’t quite keep up but for most trails it’s not a big deal.

April 1-7

Count: 3 Activities
Distance: 20.98 mi
Time: 6:11:07 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 4,337 ft
Elevation Loss: 4,324 ft

The following week was much better for volume, And the start of the week was fast with the extra rest, despite the tendon not being 100%, the shoes made me want to run.

Count: 10 Activities
Distance: 61.58 mi
Time: 8:34:33 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 6,851 ft
Elevation Loss: 6,825 ft

The first run of the week I was moving pretty good – the miles over 7 minutes were usually caused by going off trail or starting and stopping for a picture. The next couple of days I had a little stiffness but not the usual ache I’d be feeling in non-moon boots. This was the first I considered the Hokas for race shoes, maybe not a race where every second counts but longer races for sure. My work is giving me a free entry to BoulderBoulder, I might try and do a 5K in them for fun, I have 1/2 marathon qualifying time for the AA group but I need to shave 4 seconds off my one and only 5K to get in the A starting wave. I think I can do that in these shoes in a flat 5K, the 5K I did last year in 18:24 had a long steep hill the last mile.

Avg Pace
Summary 1:32:01.0 13.21 6:58
1 7:01.0 1.00 7:01
2 6:48.0 1.00 6:48
3 6:55.0 1.00 6:55
4 6:49.0 1.00 6:49
5 7:16.0 1.00 7:16
6 7:17.0 1.00 7:17
7 7:00.0 1.00 7:00
8 6:54.0 1.00 6:54
9 7:17.0 1.00 7:17
10 6:57.0 1.00 6:57
11 6:46.0 1.00 6:46
12 6:43.0 1.00 6:43
13 6:44.0 1.00 6:44
14 1:31.0 0.21 7:12

The rest of the week:

Run at 7:44am Boulder, CO Bear up Fern down Canyon – Should have brought traction, random ice
8.4mi 3,253ft 14:28/mi

Saturday, April 13, 2013
Run at 6:02pm Broomfield, CO work to home
5.4mi 7:46/mi
Run at 5:59am Broomfield, CO home to work
5.3mi 7:36/mi

Friday, April 12, 2013
Run at 6:04am Broomfield, CO home to work
5.0mi 7:33/mi

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Run at 6:05pm Broomfield, CO work to home – bleh
5.2mi 7:39/mi
Run at 6:22am Broomfield, CO Home to work
5.0mi 7:32/mi

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Run at 6:07pm Broomfield, CO work to home
5.2mi 7:23/mi
Run at 6:09am Broomfield, CO home to work
5.1mi 7:33/mi

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Run at 2:54pm Broomfield, CO recovery run
3.2mi 8:05/mi

Monday, April 8, 2013 Run at 9:17am
04/08/2013 Broomfield, CO To Standley Lake, wondering when do the gnat swarms go away?
13.2mi 6:59/mi

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  • Pikes peak way to the south.
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Running Review 3/25-3/31 – now with more pictures!

I’m bringing back the weekly run updates, but with more pictures, at least until I tire of it. This Tuesday my new compact camera arrived, a Fujifilm XF1. I was tired of regretting not having something to capture sunrises or this and that on runs, and also was tiring of packing my DSLR on my back on longer runs in the mountains for obvious reasons. After a chat with Rob Timko for advice I opted against a rugged waterproof one and went for something I’d be more happy with regarding picture quality and control. I’ll just have to further stow it in the rain. So far I’ve been very happy with the results, and it fits int the strap pocket of my Ultimate Direction pack. I just wish I had it on Tuesday morning for my run up Green, there was still a lot of show up there and it was gorgeous out.

This week was the best of the year distance-wise, and despite all the time off in Feb. I still have over a 50 mile per week average. Now I need to start concentrating on elevation gain with Quad Rock coming up.

Count: 12 Activities
Distance: 64.56 mi
Time: 8:53:47 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 5,959 ft
Elevation Loss: 6,352 ft
Avg Speed: 7.2 mph
Max Distance: 13.13 mi
Max Time: 1:43:31 h:m:s
Max Elevation Gain: 2,510 ft

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Run at 6:14am 03/31/2013 Easy run to Standley Lake, taking pictures, thinking about radioactive soil and the plague (I’ve been reading a lot about Rocky Flats and seeing new plague warning signs in the open spaces)
13.1mi 7:55/mi

Saturday, March 30, 2013
Run at 5:54pm 03/30/2013 Broomfield, CO Work to home (saw coyote in the open space behind our neighborhood, it wouldn’t let me get close enough for a great shot)
5.6mi 7:24/mi
Run at 12:38pm 03/30/2013 Broomfield, CO Lunch run
3.4mi 343ft 7:51/mi
Run at 5:52am 03/30/2013 Broomfield, CO Run to work
5.8mi 8:04/mi

Friday, March 29, 2013
Run at 5:59pm 03/29/2013 Broomfield, CO work to home
5.2mi 7:18/mi
Run at 6:17am 03/29/2013 Broomfield, CO home to work
5.0mi 7:43/mi

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Run at 6:05am 03/28/2013 Broomfield, CO Run to work – skipped run home since it was Capella’s Birthday
5.1mi 7:46/mi

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Run at 6:09pm 03/27/2013 Broomfield, CO work to home
5.3mi 7:10/mi
Run at 5:58am 03/27/2013 Broomfield, CO Home to work
5.1mi 7:15/mi

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Run at 9:06am
03/26/2013 Boulder, CO Green up the front down the back, traction pretty good though a bit loose toward the top
5.8mi 2,545ft 14:15/mi

Monday, March 25, 2013
Run at 2:28pm 03/25/2013 Broomfield, CO Big Dry creek & some offtrail
3.7mi 7:15/mi
Run at 2:11pm 03/25/2013 Broomfield, CO run with the kids
1.1mi 12:34/mi

The fourth picture below is my make-shift clothes dryer I keep at work  – it’s designed for boots and gloves but I added a box on top that I can put my wet running clothes in so they will be nice and dry and toasty before I run home.

  • DP-20130327-060213-1 didn't stop long enough to tune the camera for a night shot but still kind of like it with the full moon
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