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Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

After the Moab Trail Half Marathon, Tara, Brad, Chris and I retired to Milt’s for lunch then repacked for an afternoon rock climbing at Maverick Buttress in Long Canyon.

Brad and Chris tag-teamed a lead up the 5.10 Saddle Sores while Tara and I top-roped after them.

Brad then lead up the neighboring route Texas Two Step and the rest of us top-roped the climb.

Then it was back to Moab where I realized why my climbing shoes had hurt so bad – I’d received a couple large blisters from the trail run earlier in the day.

The next morning Tara and I provided some support (mostly heckling) as Brad and Chris stuffed gear into dry bags and considered swimming across the Colorado River to access a short desert tower. After one aborted attempt without wetsuits, then another where swimming in a strong current proved a tough way to cross. We shuttled the wet climbers up river to a shallower spot.

This time they managed to wade all the way across the river below the Barney Rumble Tower which some interesting hiking, canyoneering and a little bonus pitch of rock climbing allowed them to access and climb.

Since they were now out of shouting range our job heckling was over and we drove on to the Fisher Towers for a beautiful hike.

Next time we come to Moab (for the 2014 Moab Trail Marathon?) we really need to make it at least a 4-day weekend.

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After a night in Escalante cleaning up from our Death Hollow backpack we’d planned to hike out to the Golden Cathedral before heading home. Our plans were spoiled by the political fights across the country and we got the “Sorry kids, Walley World is closed” from a NPS ranger at the beginning of the Hole-In-The-Rock road.

Going with plan B we started the drive home and veered off UT-24 near Goblin Valley State Park to do an 8 mile hike through Bell and Little Wild Horse canyons. Despite a closed sign at the kiosk (this was federal BLM land) the parking lot was full, as was one of the two overflow lots. Even without some other federal lands being closed this is a pretty popular hike.

Most hikers just do an out-n-back up the more spectacular Little Wild Horse canyon, so we started with Bell to ease into the crowds.

Bell ends at a dirt road which connects with Little Wild Horse after 1.5 miles. From this direction Little Wild Horse slowly narrows down.

If doing the loop between both canyons I’d highly recommend doing Bell first, otherwise, I think I’d have been a little disappointed in Bell if we’d hiked through Little Wild Horse first.

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Before leaving Iceland, Tara and I had one final adventure. We boarded a Reykjavik Excursions bus in the morning for a 4 hour ride to Landmannalaugar – supposed to be one of the most beautiful spots in Iceland. We were on the bus since the road there is semi-rough but also includes a few stream fords that generally require specialized vehicles. Once we arrived we were told there was a big storm coming and we should get our tent up in a hurry. Also, a popular 4-day hut-to-hut route that half the bus riders were planning to depart on was closed.

Despite having a rental tent of a brand that Tara and I had never seen before, we quickly had a shelter erected and storm worthy.

Other couples nearby were engaged in a screaming match while trying to keep their tent from blowing away. Tara did comment that the brand of the tent (Helsport) was a little to close to “Hell spot”, a place she probably thought I’d just brought her.

Regardless, the storm brought some wind but wasn’t on par with a thunderstorm in the Midwest or Rocky Mountains. Once it seemed to have largely passed we took a short hike through the lava field above camp.

I spent the hike trying to figure out which mountains were which and forming some tentative plans for the next day (whose weather was supposed to be better).

Around 4am we woke up and the sky was clearing. Tara went back to sleep but I got up and decided to hike to Mount Brennisteinsalda. The start of the hike was the coldest, as I approached by the side of the lava field following a stream. Higher up at the base of the mountain I reached an active geothermal area.

While the clouds were still hanging around the views were amazing.

After two hours I’d made my way back to camp and crawled into bed for a nap. By the time camp really woke up and we’d had breakfast the sky was much clearer. Tara was game for a hike so we decided to do the closer, but higher peak Bláhnúkur.

The hike up when pretty quickly then we descended the far side of the peak on a rougher trail.

Not wanting to wade through the icy stream, we spent a long time walking upstream to make a route through braided channels and emerge on the other side with mostly dry feet.

Back at camp we lounged around for a while before taking down the tent when it looked like it could rain soon. For shelter we jumped on the bus early with 1000 yard stares finally ready to leave Iceland for the next stage of our trip.

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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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To start off the new year, Tara and I ran the Resolute Runner 5k in nearby Arvada, Colorado. I had written down a goal of running a sub 24:00 5k and was a little surprised when I turned in a 22:17 on this fast course. Guess that’s one New Year’s goal I can check off early. Full race results.

For the rest of the week I kept active, taking part in a ViPR fitness class, putting in some maintenance miles, and hitting the rock gym with Tara (my it’s been a long time since I’ve been climbing). Come Saturday it was time to hit the trails and do a little hiking with Tara and other friends up in Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked through a series of frozen lakes (Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald) while enjoying the sun and occasional wind-driven snow exfoliation.

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From rainbow to snow

I figured the rainbow was a good sign for the start my hike.

The forecast was for rain, falling temps and then snow. At least the trails would start out dry.

Starting from the South Boulder Creek West trailhead I followed the South Boulder Creek trail to Mesa to Big Bluestem and back to a junction with the Mesa Trail.

I followed the Mesa trail north past NCAR then took off on a series of trails I’d never been on before.

Skunk Canyon is my new favorite trail in the area, but I also put in some mileage on Kohler Mesa and McClintock before hitting the Mesa Trail again. Having hiked some 8-9 miles already it was time to head back. It was also time for the weather to change.

My hike back included a side trip partway up the Fern Canyon trail then a slalom through the North and South Fork Shanahan trails and a few connectors to the Lower Big Bluestem. Wanting just another mile, I hiked uphill on the Big Bluestem to reach a junction I’d been through earlier in the day. And now the snow was really coming down.

Back at the trailhead my GPS app said I’d nearly hiked 17 miles, a respectable training hike for an upcoming marathon.

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Thursday and Friday’s new snow demanded to be hiked in come Saturday. I figured NCAR would be a less busy parking lot for my later-than-usual start to the day and picked up the Mesa Trail to Bear Canyon and on to Green Mountain.

The sun was coming out and warming up the flatirons while snow still lingered in the canyons (will this last all winter? or melt off before the next real storm?).

Clouds rolled in and cooled off the views.

Winds shook the trees of their snowy burdens.

Few people were seen until the summit of Green Mountain, always a popular destination.

I hustled back the way I’d come, but stopped near NCAR to watch some mule deer feasting below.

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