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Archive for July, 2012

Since I signed up for a 3-day cycling event in the fall, I figured I needed to spend more time on the bike getting ready. My longest rides had been near 50 miles, so today I wanted to do 60+. Starting at 6:30am before it got too hot, I took off on a loop from South Boulder to Lyons, then across to Hygiene and Longmont before heading south back to Boulder.

In Lyons I stopped at the Stone Cup for a huge baked good and could only eat half of it before getting back on the bike and with some extra rations. If I wasn’t trying to put in the miles before the temperature reached 90, I would have enjoyed staying around for a relaxing cup of coffee before riding back.

I was planning on going out easy, but when I ran across a huge group racing the Athleta Iron Girl Boulder Women’s Triathlon I couldn’t resist picking up the speed and seeing how many of the racers I could pass on 63rd and Foothills Pkwy. Anyway, congrats to all the participants who did more running and swimming than I did today.

Using home like an aid station, I stopped to refill my water bottles, snack and then head right back out to get another 25 miles on the rolling hills east of Boulder.

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My brothers were running the Epic Relays Rocky Mountain Relay for the second time and needed to supply volunteers. That’s why Tara and I found ourselves driving up to Buena Vista after work, barely finding a campsite at Ruby Mountain (yes, I should have reserved a site), grabbing a quick dinner and trying to nap before our shift. About 10:30p we “woke up” and drove into town and took over the duties of recording team exchange times at the 23rd exchange. Said brothers showed up just after us to check in.

Their first vehicle then drove off to the 24th exchange to get some sleep before their other team members caught up.

Tara and I set about trying to keep the exchange organized: keeping runners from loitering in the parking lot entrances, getting times and team numbers for each group, bugging the Texans about wasting fuel and not idling their engines forever. Yes, we ran a tight ship at exchange 23.

That was until we got bored waiting for some of the last teams and things had slowed down enough that we took a couple long exposures with the lighted wand. When a cop pulled over to ask if we were okay we decided to return to acting serious.

Finally, a bit after 2am we rolled back into our campground and got some 5 hours of sleep.

The idea of rafting after so little sleep seemed ridiculous now, but we were already registered and committed. Next time, we’ll just plan on sleeping in and doing a lazy drive home.

The Arkansas River wasn’t flowing very big, which was entirely expected for this time of year after a dismal snow year and early runoff. But easy is what I wanted for my first rafting trip.

Our guide Dan was full of stories and jokes to keep us entertained between the short rapids of Browns Canyon.

The scenery wasn’t bad either.

Tara, Dan and I were placed in our own boat, and the other 6 clients went into the second raft.

Towards the end of the float, we passed a cliff perfect for jumping off and watched as another group was just cajoling their last jumper to make the leap.

Nearly all of our group made the leap as well, a couple of us going twice – which may have been pushing my luck as my glasses came off when I hit the water the second time and sunk to the creek bed. Thankfully we were able to retrieve them so I could still see.

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It was a dark and stormy weekend, so we held off attempting any 14ers until Tuesday when I could grab a day off and keep our streak of annual father-son 14’er hikes alive. We started at 7am and only a couple cars were at the trailhead. We ran into two groups fairly early before hitting the step slopes and going above treeline. The wildflowers weren’t to spectacular, but we saw an abundance of smaller wildlife.

A surprise was seeing ultrarunner Anton Krupicka sprinting down the trail.

At our much more mellow pace we continued up, finding some loose dirt near melting snow patches.

Two younger guys from Aspen were on the summit when we arrived and took our picture before starting down and leaving us alone with the summit pika.

Our descent was straightforward, more so once we got past the blocks of rock and loose dirt onto decent trail.

Besides spotting more ptarmigan, chipmunks and pika we watched a pudgy marmot run from us then turn and keep an eye on our passage.

Below the ridge we hit the numerous switchbacks and finally reached the trees on this hotter than I’d expected afternoon.

6 and a half hours later we were back at the car and driving back to Breckenridge for a post-hike wheat beer.

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Given another stormy forecast, Tara and I decided to chance a trip out to the plains to visit the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.

Tigers were the first major animals we saw from the 3/4 mile long walk way above the enclosures. Lions, black bears and wolves came next.

The stories of these animals’ rescues were disheartening, but it’s wonderful there’s a place like the Wild Animal Sanctuary that can provide them a safe home to be rehabilitated and to live with others of their own species.

The orange-shirted volunteers were also extremely friendly and shared a wealth of knowledge. We learned we’ll have to come back on a feeding day (Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday), visit again in the evening when they’re more vocal and active, and come after a snow.

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After talking about hiking together for months, Alex and I finally found a mutually agreeable time and drove up to the Moffat Tunnel/East Portal trailhead to hike to Forest Lakes. This below-treeline hike was turned out to be perfect for a cloudy day with a high chance of storms.

Once at the lake we took a stroll around its parameter and found the overcast skies perfect for photographing the huge density of wildflowers.

A few sprinkles hit us at the lake, but the real rain only lasted for about 10 minutes during our hike back to the trailhead. It appeared we lucked out, having one storm cell pass just north of us. The 7-plus mile round trip hike was about perfect for a semi-lazy, bad weather day. The conditions were also much better than the last time I’d visited the lakes.

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If it hadn’t been so scorching hot in Boulder I might not have been as willing to join Pete and Luke for a drive up to the Gore Range after getting back from Africa only days before. However, the prospect of a cool night’s sleep camping off the Shrine Pass Road was a major enticement. Having a deer and a hummingbird visit our quiet camp was an extra bonus. Getting up at 3:30 to start hiking at 4:30 wasn’t.

The miles passed as we hiked up the valley and eventually turned towards Gore Lake. Somewhere the sun rose and when we branched off trail just below the lake we found our own corners of beauty in this rugged range.

On one of my good days Luke is still a faster hiker than I. Today wasn’t even close to a good day for me. I’d ridden 28 miles on my road bike after 3 weeks off the saddle and was feeling the effects. I had a companion in my misery however, as Pete had rode for 40 miles and done about 4 times the elevation as I had.

Luke was generally far ahead in another biotic zone, then having time to nap and rest before Pete and I stumbled upon him.

Above the tundra we just had rocks to traverse – slopes which we’d heard were loose but turned out to be far more solid than we could have hoped for. From the ridge crest we first turned left and headed for 12,904 foot Hail Peak.

Some five hours after leaving the trailhead we reached the summit and picked out what peaks we could of the rest of the Gore Range. Returning back to the ridge and some cached water we started to our main objective – Mount Silverthorne.

Eventually we convinced ourselves to stick close to the crest of the ridge and found excellent scrambling.

11am and we were relaxing on the summit. I even had time to check the day’s stage results for the Tour de France before we started back.

Returning part-way back along the ridge we detoured down a south ridge towards a bump known as Zodiac View.

Ahead of us as usual, Luke still had the energy to run up and claim another point. Pete and I just caught our breath and watched. Resuming our descent into more heat, life and eventually some shade we hit the Gore Lake Trail and just put the legs on autopilot to finish a 10-hour day.

Complete Hail Peak and Mt Silverthorne photo gallery

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After our Kilimanjaro climb and safari we were ready to really relax. Off to Zanzibar we flew and were over the island when we learned a disabled plane was blocking (only?) runway at the airport and we couldn’t circle long. Plan B was to land in Dar Es Salaam, refuel and return for a second try. At least it was only 30 minutes away and so a little delayed we finally arrived. Local transportation met us at the airport and drove us across the island to the Zanzibar Retreat hotel – perfect we’ll take it.

The weather wasn’t perfect for sitting out on the beach, but the local fisherman had a picturesque collection of boats anchored and the bar was right outside our door.

We spent a whole day doing much of nothing. Well, Georgia and I did wander out through the corals and sea urchins to the reef and breaking sea.

We could have easily spent more than 2 nights here, but were on a schedule and had a night in Stone Town before starting our journey home.

Tara and I decided to sign up for a spice tour at one of the mom and pop plantations while the others got a jump start on exploring Stone Town.

Besides seeing nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon and more in their original form the guide made us a few new fashion accessories.

Tour over we returned to the Dhow Palace hotel and promptly crashed for a couple hours before rallying and walking around town. Then we met up with the rest of our crew for a final dinner at a Indian place. In the morning I took a few shots around the hotel before we began a seven flight and 48-hour odyssey back home.

Complete Zanzibar photo gallery

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