Flagstaff


Let's talk about rarities. It's rare that an individual discovers his passion at five years old; it's also rare that an individual follows that passion through high school, against great odds and bias. It's rare for an individual to love a thing, a sport, and a place so much, and yet wait 36 years for him to finally call that place home. I've done those things, and yesterday was a validation of all of it. Yesterday, Brenda & I volunteered for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. First off, let me say it was all Brenda's idea, and mad props to her because I never would have volunteered otherwise, and may have skipped the event altogether, save to watch the peloton…

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For Hikers, and the Merely Ambulatory


Just wanted to point out a great, great article on a "peakbagging club" in New Jersey: New Jersey's undeveloped peaks rise above the rest Yes, you heard me. A club devoted to cataloging and "climbing" the many precipitous peaks in the grand state of New Jersey; high point: eighteen hundred feet, complete with monument to memorialize the majestic magnitude of the, uh, hill. Five of the peaks aren't even mountains per se -- they're called hills -- and one of the more modest, Guerin Benchmark in Randolph, is about a five-minute jaunt from the parking lot. The guys are totally tongue in cheek about it but at the same time it really does celebrate the hiking in NJ, of which…

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Now Why Didn't I Think of This Sooner?


Riding home from work tonight, I was struck by the nice dusk light and wondered aloud to my carpool buddy what it might be like to walk up the Shanahan Ridge Trail toward Fern Canyon. She was all about it. She said she often goes trail running around there with another friend. Suddenly it all made sense. I need to combine my evening walks with Hooper and some actual exercise. I don't exercise, even though I should. Hell, these days I want to exercise. I've decided it's time to exercise regularly, partly because I want to, but partly because I need to. I turned 42 last week, and I officially have a "spare tire". Shirts of the "large" variety now…

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A Weekend of Dog


Man, I'm wiped out. So's my dog. This weekend I racked up a whole bunch of great experiences with Hooper, and we (and Brenda) are all tired out! Hooper ran with Jasper and Jackson for about an hour straight Saturday morning, which warmed my heart as I watched him interact with other dogs instead of just playing fetch. Last night, pissed that I didn't have my camera to document the aforementioned morning trot with the cattle dogs, I brought my camera and got some nice pics of Hoop and the local pack having their usual fun. And today, Brenda, Hooper & I hiked up to Lost Lake near Eldora and enjoyed being outside, the three of us. I love this…

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Winter Hike, Hooper's Birthday


Today is Hooper's birthday, making Hooper one year old! In truth, we brought him home at six months of age, and he was picked up as a stray in Utah sometime before that, so unfortunately we really don't know the exact circumstances or conditions of his conception, birth and early development. The vet guessed he was six months old, based on his teeth, when we took him in or his first checkup in early August. So we counted back from there and picked Groundhog Day as his "birthday". In truth we'll never know, and we don't care. Just as we'll never really know his genetic makeup. He's Hooper the Dog, he's ours, he's one today, and we love him. So…

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Winter Ascent of Mount Audubon (with Hooper!)


Any doubts about Hooper's hiking abilities, including high altitude, cold/snow, distance, have been put to rest. Hooper is a wonder dog. With the holiday weekend winding down, and with the entire Front Range experiencing a very late start to the snow season, I decided to go up to Brainard Lake and scope out the trail to Mount Audubon, a hike that Brenda & I successfully did last summer. Mount Audubon stands over 13,000' tall, so generally by this time of the year it's totally covered with snow and is a challenge to summit. But with the dearth of snow we've had so far this year, I thought it might be a doable climb, and a great intro for…

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Weekend in the Mountains


It's been a while, again. First off, it's Facebook's fault. That's right, I joined Facebook and I can't seem to stop checking in every day to update my "status" message and see how many friends my friend Lauren has. But, that's not the purpose of this post. Discussion on the insanely silly endeavor of Facebook will surely follow, maybe after Thanksgiving. Anyway, Brenda has been working crazy hours again, and it all came to a head over the last couple-few weeks, and finally ended this past Thursday, when the show she was building some suits for opened at the University of Colorado. And it turns out that the guy who she was working for has a condo in the mountains…

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Grand Junction


Brenda turned forty yesterday (happy birthday again, Brenda!), and you know what that means, ROAD TRIP! Yesterday we rolled out of Boulder many hours late, the end result of Brenda being busy with work, my inability to do laundry, and the need to get Hooper up to the kennel in Longmont. But we had a nice drive over the mountains while listening to the Rockies beat the Phillies (more on this whole baseball madness later), and ended up in Grand Junction, CO as the sun was setting. We had a nice dinner in town and a nice breakfast at the B&B with a couple from Philly, of all places. Mountain bikers, to boot. Then we headed to the…

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Gearing Up


After a long, long, very long winter, I'm here to tell you that spring is on its way, and is settling in nicely. I realize I just marshaled the weather gods to unleash a furious last ditch winter storm sometime in the coming weeks, but I don't care; Colorado is becoming beautiful again! I went for a bike ride today, in 70 degree weather under blue skies (and discovered that my new bike has a really nasty propensity for high speed front end shimmy). Last week I read the latest Backpacker magazine and picked out a few choice fourteener hikes I want to do this year. Brenda and I made some headway on our foyer & landing flooring project this…

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Snowshoe Hiking


Today Brenda & I got up to Brainard Lake for some snowshoe hiking. It's nice to be able to access some of the trails we liked in the summer, and snowshoes allow us to do that. We got our snowshoes all the way back in October, and we used them exactly once -- long enough to figure out that we needed some waterproof pants to enjoy ourselves up there. Between then and now, we had lots of blizzards and Brenda was very busy with work, so we have not gotten a chance to get back out there until this weekend. It was worth the wait; we hiked on the snowshoe-only trail up to Brainard Lake, which afforded great views of…

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Long's Peak, Part II


OK so the other day I told y'all about the impetus for our attempt on Long's Peak, and then I fell asleep. Lemme tell ya how the walk went. Walking to the top of Long's Peak takes time, lots of time. The most popular route is called the Keyhole Route, and it is the "easiest" way to go, containing the least "technical" sections and least "exposure" (refer to my previous post for the straight shootin' definitions of these terms). The downside is that it's just a damn long trail. Seven miles from trailhead to the summit means you're looking at a 14 mile walk with some scary stuff at the end, so yeah, it's going to take time. On top…

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Long's Peak, Part I


What started as a mild curiosity turned into a fascination, and then, a goal: Long's Peak. It's got a catchy name, it sounds distant and imposing, and it is. It's tall, it's beautiful, it's scary looking at times, and get this: Brenda & I summited the damned thing this past Tuesday. Standing 14,255 feet tall, Long's Peak is the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park and a very popular destination for hikers, but it's not the easiest "fourteener" to summit. Every recent year, some 15,000 people attempt to make the summit and about 9,000 succeed. Usually weather is the culprit for failed summit attempts, but many simply turn back after reaching one of the five obstacles…

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Pike's Peak Marathon


Listen up; I wanna tell ya about my friend from work. His name's Galen, and he just finished second in the Pike's Peak Marathon, and I'm really kinda flyin' high on his accomplishment. Yeah that's right, Pike's Peak Marathon. A full marathon, all 26.2 miles of it, only you run to the top of a fourteener and back down to the bottom. Roll that one around in your head a while and I'll wait. I ran competitively in high school and never ran more than ten miles in a stretch, but I've thought a lot about the marathon as my uncle used to be rather fast at them in the 70's, and I have always been impressed when friends…

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Top of Colorado


Today Brenda & I hiked to the top of Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in the state of Colorado. At 14,433' above sea level, it's second only to California's Mount Whitney (by about sixty feet) for tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Today, we stood on the top of Colorado, and it was a hell of a feeling. Our first "fourteener". Yeah! Now, Elbert is considered an "easy" fourteener. And it is, I guess. The thing is massive, so the approach ends up being fairly shallow the whole way. But you're still walking six miles across and 4,000' up, and then get to reverse and repeat the process to get back to the car. We were quite…

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Mount Audubon


The Long's Peak preparations continue, and this weekend it was Mount Audubon (our first thirteener!). Once again, the views were amazing and the hike was a huff-and-puff extravaganza as we neared the summit. As usual, the summit revealed views that made it all worthwhile, and something about the effort and the oneness with nature even causes me to eat rice cakes and fresh fruit -- and actually enjoy it -- while I'm up there. So this hiking thing is really healthy for me, all 'round. From the top you could see Long's Peak, and it sorta just stood there saying "yeah, that's right, I'm right over here, bitches; whenever..." Leslie was headed for Peru on the day of the hike…

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St. Vrain's Mountain


Saturday, Brenda & I -- along with our friends Bryce and Leslie -- hiked to the top of St. Vrain's Mountain, a 12,000+ summit. It was amazing, the views great and the thin-air experience interesting. All in all, it was a good start in our training regimen... This all started with an email from my friend Bryce a couple weeks ago. The subject line read "Long's", and the message read "you in?"; the rest of the message was a forwarded email from Leslie who was talking about the campsite reservations she was making for an attempt on the Long's Peak summit in August. Ever since then, vague discussions about trying to hike to the summit of Colorado's most popular…

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My Head is Exploding


Floyd Landis won the Tour de France, and Brenda & I hiked our first "12er" in what was a beautiful day. So much to process, I think I need to get out of the house. More later, for sure.…

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Twin Peaks


Brenda has been busy working a couple of jobs, and I was fairly convinced that this weekend she'd be working all weekend. So when I hiked up to Bear Peak via the Fern Canyon Trail yesterday, I really didn't mind that my knee joints were solidifying as I sat on the couch last night. I figured I was done with physical exertion for the weekend. Imagine my surprise when Brenda emerged from her shop last night, having completed all tasks, and was all excited about going hiking on Sunday (today). We've been meaning to summit South Boulder Peak for several weeks now, ever since we did Bear Peak for the first time last month. Weather and work have conspired against…

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Bear Peak


This past weekend Brenda & I hiked up to Bear Peak, one of the three major peaks in the immediate vicinity of Boulder. It was awesome. Last weekend we had hiked to the top of Green Mountain, and I thought that was gonna be it for difficult hikes for a while, but for some reason Brenda was very excited about doing Bear Peak this past weekend, so far be it from me to decline. I'm still sore from it, but it was great fun and worth every step. We took the Fern Canyon trail to the summit, and this is a steep ascent (I checked with some people from work, and apparently this is suitably hardcore). In just over two…

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