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Archive for March, 2013

I’d seen the signs a few times on the drive from Boulder to the Denver Airport. Since I was shuttling my beloved to the airport on Sunday morning I packed my camera gear and finally stopped by the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge on my return trip.

I arrived before the visitors center was open, but already a couple other photographers were gathered in the bison area with their big lenses.

Shooting out of the car on this cold morning was a great way to settle in for an hour or more and let the bison wander around us.

I finally left the bison and headed to the rest of the refuge’s roads and spotted many of the other mammal species that call the Arsenal home.

Lake Mary was also a worthwhile stop with its floating boardwalk and plentiful bird life.

The white tail and mule deer seem to largely hang out around the eastern roads in the refuge.

This place isn’t really too far away (closer than the Wild Animal Sanctuary) and I hope to visit again, probably in a different season.

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Looking for dry trails and to get back into hiking shape Tara and I settled on a drive to northern Boulder County to the Rabbit Mountain Open Space.

We started on the Eagle Wind Trail and saw our first wild flowers of the year.

After completing the Eagle Wind loop we did the out-and-back on the Little Thompson Overlook Trail for a total of 6.5 miles of hiking.

While dry, the area hasn’t really greened up yet and wasn’t as pretty as it will be in another month or two after some rain.

Afterwards we tried Julie’s Thai Kitchen in Lyons which I can’t recommend enough.

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One of my goals for the winter was to do at least one race in the Breckenridge Ascent Series up uphill races at the resort. The first two events were early morning climbs and my schedule worked best with their evening races (starting at 5:30p). In the interest of getting a little acclimation I drove up to Breckenridge on Tuesday night and went out skate skiing in the morning.

I hoped a sit in a hot tube would revive my legs enough for the evening’s race. About 45 people lined up at the base of Peak 9 for a quick race instruction and then they released us.

I settled into the back of a pack that seemed to be keeping a good pace as the leaders started to disappear. We went up Lower Sawmill and Sawmill runs with only a few people charging ahead or dropping back. The group seemed to stay pretty consistent. I pushed the pace once or twice, but mostly keep just below redlining for most of the ascent. A steep black diamond climb broke up the group even more and I lost some time on the skiers just ahead of me. In the flatter terrain nearing Sol Vista I closed the gap a bit, but continued to lose time on the steeper gradients. I considered throwing a final hard push, but wasn’t exactly sure where we’d be finishing (not being familiar enough with the ski runs here), but all I really managed to do was to lock in my position, finishing about 22nd in the field with a time of 1:04:10. The leader won in 47:52 (full results). The route had just shy of 2,500ft of gain, so I figured this was the most elevation gain I’d ever done in a hour (my race track).

At the top layers were zipped up, skins stripped off and bindings locked for the descent. I was glad this race was uphill-only, I’m a horrible skier and would finished lower behind more of the field. At the Sol Vista restaurant we picked up our drop bags and added extra layers and turned in the race bibs. I descended the same track that we’d gone up then headed home.

There’s 2 more events in this race series, I’d like to get to at least one more. I figured my performance would have improved if I’d acclimated longer, done more long uphill hikes and if this hadn’t been my first time skinning up anything this winter.

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Towards the end of February, Tara and I took part in one last ski orienteering race, this time up at Snow Mountain Ranch. Besides the score-O format (picking up controls in any order), they added a biathlon scoring bonus for accurate shooting of a marshmallow gun. Tara out shot me (getting 2 minutes taken off her time vs my one).

Overall we both won our respective distances (I took the small medium course field, beating one other participant, while Tara rocked the stacked short course). Full results. I’m looking forward to the next events in March and April when we’ll be off the skinny sticks and able to run.

The first weekend in March saw us visiting the Lost Valley Ranch for a full, but relaxing weekend filled with plenty of eating and horse back riding. Two other couples joined us for the fun and little Emma adopted us for the weekend.

Somehow I motivated myself to go for a 3.7 mile run after our second trail ride on Saturday. The trails were muddy, slushy and snow covered and I went out too hard forgetting I was about 2,000 feet higher than Boulder. Still it was a fun run and helped to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Spending the weekend near the gateway of the Lost Creek Wilderness reminded me how much I need to get back to that spot. Already dreaming of a return trip during the fall’s aspen colors.

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