Archive for October, 2011

Corn Maze

Tara picked the perfect activity for this fall day – a corn maze orienteering event run by the Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club. We showed up a bit too early, then tried to sandbag the competition by getting Jeremy to talk to some Scouts who were out acquiring an Orienteering merit badge.

Thankfully, the wunderkind of orienteering was in a different division (he and Jenn nailed 1st place in the team division), as I was the one who tried to blow by the scouts and ended up missing the 2nd (2nd!) checkpoint, found myself lost at #3, then doubled back and stayed on target for the rest of the race finishing in a respectable (I think) 7th place for my first orienteering event. Full results.

Post event activities included consuming “meat-on-a-stick”, ramming each other with pedal-carts, flinging gourds, riding tractors and generally making fools of ourselves.

Enjoy the video:

A few of us might even be psyched for some future orienteering events.

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Step one: determine we’re going camping this weekend.
Step two: create a list of possible locations sorted by driving time and expected low temperatures
Step three: pick the warmest place to go

That’s pretty much how Tara and I found ourselves camping at Lake Pueblo State Park for two nights.

Saturday morning we drove another 90+ minutes to La Junta, Colorado (I felt closer to Kansas than Colorado here), then headed south past a nude photo shoot (no kidding) on the way to Picketwire Canyon. I was interested in visiting Picketwire for the “largest dinosaur tracksite in North America”, but we quickly found other attractions on the 10.6 mile round trip hike.

Mid-afternoon wasn’t really the best time to visit the dinosaur tracks for good light, but with the canyon “closed” from dusk to dawn, there weren’t too many good options for obtaining photos during the magic hour. Instead we had to do a little historical reenactment.

After terrorizing other visitors to the tracks with our theropod calls, we reversed our earlier hike back to the trailhead.

Another long-ish drive back to our campsite and we were ready for some comfort food and to sleep off the hike. I was up for sunrise however.

Complete photo album

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Last fall I spent nearly every weekend rock climbing and went into my sweep duties at the Tecumseh Marathon way under prepared for a 26 mile walk and run. I vowed to get into real hiking shape before the beginning of December this year and decided to start with a long-ish hike in the Boulder area. Leaving the Chautauqua trailhead a bit before 7am I didn’t need a headlamp but could still catch sunrise.

The Chautauqua, Ski Jump, Bluebell/Baird and Amphitheater trails got me warmed up and on the back side of the peaks with a view west.

I got to spend some quiet time on top of my first peak, Green Mountain, with no one else around. The peak finder on top was a nice addition, even if I didn’t really need it to tell me what peaks I was looking at.

From the summit of Green, I followed the Green Bear and Bear Peak West Ridge trails to loose some of the elevation I’d gained then climb up to a higher summit. At least a few stands of aspens provided some nice scenery for the extra work.

Just below the summit of Bear Peak I decided to skip the top for now and continue on to my highest peak of the day, South Boulder Peak (8,549 feet). After hanging out on top I hiked back towards Bear Peak’s slightly lower summit.

From Bear Peak I was able to take a new trail, Fern Canyon, down the front side of the crest and meet up with the Mesa Trail.

About three miles of hiking brought me back to my car after an 6+ hour round trip. The mileage wasn’t that high, but the elevation gain and loss was certainly more than I’ll have on the Tecumseh.

Complete photo album

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The Hessie Trailhead was a new departure point for me, and Tara and I lucked out with a prime parking spot just before the road turned to a 4wd bog. A short hike took us to the real trailhead.

The aspen trees were all past their prime and had dropped their leaves at this elevation.

While we were hit by the wind, the large open meadow along the Devils Thumb Bypass Trail was our favorite section of the trail.

Above the meadow we hit a few trail junctions to take us up the Woodland Lake Trail.

The wildflowers are likely beautiful here in the summer months, maybe we’ll have to come back then. Until then I can watch the clouds and wait for winter’s snow to start falling.

Due to a miscommunication and scouting out a less-than-obvious section of trail, Tara walked up to Woodland Lake and I sat and waited for her to rejoin me.

Reunited, we set off down the Devils Thumb Trail and back to the trailhead.

Complete photo album

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After the exciting alcove swing on a wet Thursday, we decided that Friday morning should be lazy and give the rock some time to dry out.

What started out as a reconnaissance trip to locate the Five Open Books and Sunnyside Bench climbing areas became a scramble through the rocks at the base of Yosemite Falls.

The wet rocks were “interesting” to scramble over, and our return trip involved some combined tactics of Piper crawling over me to get up a slab.

We later realized our antics were directly in view of the crowds at the bridge and hope some of them got pictures.

Driving up to Crane Flat we found much of the snow melted, but still had to press cooking implements into snow-removal duty.

Since it was somewhat close to our camp ground, we spend the afternoon getting a couple climbs in at Knob Hill before night set.

In the morning we drove back into the valley to fight the crowds.

We visited the popular Church Bowl area where we each led Uncle Fanny (a 5.7), and then we stood in line for me to lead Church Bowl Lieback (a 5.8).

I wasn’t feeling to psyched to climb, so we called the day early and Piper did a bit of RV shopping.

For our last day we decided to visit the inspiring base of El Cap and Piper wanted to repeat Pine Line (a 5.7).

Returning from the climb, we hung out at “the bridge” and talked briefly with Tom Evans.

Returning to the high country around our campsite, we hiked out to one of the sequoia groves and traveled through a couple tunnel trees.

One of my stated goals for the trip was to get a moon-lit shot of El Cap at night with climber’s headlamps on the walls. Thin clouds during dinner made me think I’d missed my chance, but at dusk they dissipated and we drove back into the valley for these results.

Complete photo album

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Tomorrow night’s campground was under several inches of fresh snow.

Luckily, we had one night reserved in the valley, complete with waterfront views.

After locating Piper’s friend Dan in Camp 4, we hiked to the base of El Cap armed with a harness and a couple locking carabiners.

The captain was looking mighty impressive as the clouds cleared off the summit.

Dan led us to the alcove and its fixed line.

I’d heard of the alcove swing before, but committing to running down the slab and swinging out a 100 feet above the trees off a rope of unknown vintage with unknown anchors was a little unsettling the first time. I was glad Dan volunteered to go first.

After we each took a few swings we hiked back down and visited the lobby of the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Complete photo album

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Crater Lakes

Clouds and a bit of afternoon rain hardly dampened my enthusiasm for a hike during the prime aspen golds of a Colorado autumn.

Our group of 5 meet at the crowded East Portal of Moffat Tunnel parking lot. I’d only been here in the winter before and barely recognized the place without a ground blizzard.

It would be difficult to pick a nicer lunch spot than the shores of one of the Crater Lakes.

Figuring we had just enough time to make a quick foray to the upper Crater Lake we started up a trail-less steep slope and then rolled over a small hump to drop down on the upper lake.

Following closer to the main drainage on our return we circled back to the lower lakes and the trail to hurry out and make it to evening plans.

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