Tuesday, November 26, 2013


July 2013 was arguably the most scenic and diverse month of running in my life. I started the month out with “Mummy Kill” on the fourth, with Craig and Cyrus. This hike was composed of six separate summits starting at the Chapin Pass Trailhead and ending at the Lawn Lake Trailhead. We hit the first 4 summits in about 2:30 and slowed down a bit to take in the Mummy Range views. Chapin, Chiquita and Yipsilon were all straight forward hiking but Fairchild required a bit of scrambling. After taking a short break in the valley we ascended Haugues Peak, this one was the most challenging of the route, with only a .75 mile hike to the top it was the steepest and most technical. After spending some time at the top with picked our way across the ridgeline and finished out the day with an easy hike up Mummy Mountain. We descended the south side and did a good bit of bushwhacking until we stumbled upon the Black Canyon trail and did some backtracking to the Lawn Lake Trail. After some additional hiking it turned out to be a solid 18 mile day.

On the 6th, Apryle and I traveled down to Alma to hike the Lincoln group of the Tenmile Range. This offered some great alpine hiking with very little elevation change, probably the easiest way to knock out four fourteeners very quickly. We started on the Mount Lincoln scree and then ran over the small hill that was Cameron and made a small ascent to Mount Democrat. We elected to just veer off to the side of the peak of Bross (No trespassing signs). Then we jogged down the scree strewn hillside back toward the car; all in all about a 4 hour trip. On the way home Apryle dropped me off at the Ute Trail on Trail Ridge Road and I ran the last 10 miles back to my apartment from there. This trail exhibited every zone of the park, making the flora diversity unmatched in my opinion.

The next day Apryle and I met up with Andrea, a coworker at the park, and we knocked out Bierstadt and Evens. Bierstadt was another incredibly easy jog to the top, but we elected to take the Sawtooth Ridge over to Mount Evans. I am not by any stretch a strong mountaineer and I am deathly afraid of heights so this route made me a little nervous. However, it was much more interesting route than the road up to the top. I refuse to ever drive to the top of a fourteener; the idea seems ridiculous to me. Almost as ridiculous as the idea of owning a fourteener (Bross) and not allowing people to hike to the top. After hitting the summit we took Gomers Gulley back through an upland bog to the car. Trudging through the mud and willow made for an interesting finish to the hike.

The next weekend was a bit of an off weekend for me I ran up Estes Cone from my apartment for a 20 mile roundtrip. Then on the 14th Apryle and I climbed Batman Pinnacle, which was my first multi pitch climb. On the 18th my parents arrived in Colorado and we explored the park. This was a chance for me to be tour guide, which I loved. It was great to catch up and great to see my dad bushwhacking up the side of Eagle Cliff.

July ended as epically as it started with a Longs Peak / Continental Divide traverse double. On the 26th, I was supposed to meet up with Andrea to hike Longs but we were off on the starting time, so we took off separately. I happened to catch up with her in the Boulder field and we finished up the hike. The homestretch was a little icy but we managed to get the summit in fairly good time. After very little sleep I was up early again to traverse Boulder Grand Pass from the east to the west side of the divide with Apryle and Andrea.

We started the hike from Wild Basin specifically, the Thunder Lake Trailhead. We really took our time and enjoyed the sights along the way so the pace was pedestrian. We stopped at Ouzel Falls, Thunder Lake and I took a dip in Lake of Many Winds before ascending Boulder Grand Pass. The views from the top of the pass along with the prolifically growing alpine wildflowers were some of the most impressive I had seen in RMNP yet. We bushwhacked down to Lake 4 and hopped on the East Inlet trail. The west side much more lush in comparison to the east and the trail was dotted with waterfalls and lakes along the way. This was by far the most memorable hike of the summer, which ended with the three of us hitching a ride back to our car on the east side.

The pictures will explain the trip more effectively than I can…

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Summer Training 2013 PART 1

In June I started working 10 hour days four times per week as opposed to the traditional five 8 hour days. Basically this meant that I needed to overload my weekend mileage so that I could take it easier on the work days. As the weather warmed and the snow started melting I did some runs to the lakes around Bear Lake but realized that this was a horrible place to train. The views were awesome, but the trails were heavily traveled as well.

On June 2nd I did my first fourteener of 2013, Grays Peak just outside of Georgetown. This hike is traditionally extremely easy, but the deep snow made it a little more interesting. Apryle and I trudged up creating some new post holes in the snow and I ran the last quarter mile to the summit. I also witnessed my first avalanche, which occurred on one of the couloirs of Torreys Peak. In addition to my first avalanche I caught a glimpse of the first Mountain Goat I had ever seen. Somewhat to my dismay considering that Mountain Goats are an invasive species in the Colorado portion of the Rockies.

Craig traversing snow field
On the 8th Craig and I did a hike run to Chasm Lake. There was a spectacular view of Longs from the Lake and it was well worth the traverse of the large snow field. Although, I am not certain Craig would agree…

On the 16th I ran my first marathon since 2011. I knew that I would not be able to match my 2:39 effort from the Cleveland Marathon simply because I had done very little speed work and I did a long hike the day before. Also because Estes Park is about 7000 feet higher than Cleveland, but I was happy with the way the race unfolded. I held the lead from about mile 5 to mile 11, and only lost two spots to the finish. I met up with one of my coworkers, Cyrus Van Haitsma, who I oddly enough, ran against in college. He ran with me from mile 9 to mile 23, which broke up the monotony of road running. I ended up finishing 3rd in 3:10; which I could live with considering the race was a bit of a last minute addition to my schedule.

To close out the month I really hit it hard in terms of peak hunting, Apryle and I summited Mount Audubon in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and then hiked Hope Pass the next day. The following weekend I ran a Flat Top and Hallet out and back in a solid pace. Followed by a Mount Ida Chief Cheley Peak scramble the next day. The alpine trail leading to Ida provided amazing views of the west side of the park and ample Big Horn Sheep sightings.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Winter/Spring Training 2013

Sunrise from my apartment (February)

Training runs and hikes ranging from January 2013 to May 2013

Greenhouse from Eagle Cliff Mountain

Though I was surrounded by countless peaks I really failed to take advantage of much winter mountain running. My first summit after moving to Colorado was Deer Mountain off of Trail Ridge Road. It was a relatively easy jog to the top, but the snowy patches added an element of difficulty. From my apartment the round trip was 16 miles, with about 3000 feet elevation gain. I next ventured out to Lumpy Ridge and found quick winding little trail up to Gem Lake. This eventually became a weekly jog once the weather warmed. I believe it was about a 13 mile round trip from my apartment and I always liked to better my time ascending to the lake. I believe my best was right around 22 minutes, I still never really mastered the art of uphill trail running.

Longs Peak from Deer Mountain (January)
In March I finally tackled the short steep hill to the south of my apartment, Eagle Cliff Mountain. This was a great little ascent if I needed to tack on an extra two miles to the end of my run and wanted a bit of a challenge. As the month progressed I had to do some pet-sitting in Boulder and got a chance to run Mount Sanitas and Green Mountain. Sanitas was a fun run and clear of snow. However, the last mile of Green gave me some trouble because I am an extremely weak “snow” runner. Back in Ohio, I loved post holing through a few inches because I did not have to worry about sliding down a mountainside. However, in Colorado I became much more cautious running mountainside in the snow.

In April I started ramping up mileage on the trails and added a few new adventures. I explored more the trail network around Lumpy Ridge, like Balanced Rock, McGreggor Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Additionally I put in a 17 mile day at Crosier Mountain running from the Glen Haven trailhead to the Garden Gate trailhead and back. Headed down to Colorado Springs and ran a half marathon in the North Cheyenne Canon. I was appallingly slow, about 35 minutes off my personal best. However, it  was a difficult course and solid measuring stick for my training.

April was a fairly snowy month and May started with about 20 inches and a park “snow-day”. However, as I headed to the Buena Vista for the 50, there was no snow in sight. A week after my first 50 mile race, I continued the trend of firsts by partaking in my first snow mountain hike. This was added a unique component to my training and made for a tremendous resistance workout. Aside from stressing some rarely used muscle fibers, I caught my first glimpse of the majestic west side of the park. In the middle of the month my old friend from high school Craig moved to Estes Park. Craig accompanied me on many hikes throughout the summer, but on his second day in town, we hiked to the top of Twin Sisters.

I ended the month on an interesting note when a relatively routine run turned into an 8 hour bushwhack through the Mummy Range wilderness. I started the day at the Alluvial Fan and ran up to Lawn Lake with little difficulty. However, the snow drifts were still deep on the last few miles of the run. I reluctantly turned onto a snow covered Black Canyon Trail on my way down from the Lake in order to finish up the run at McGraw Ranch. This proved to be a mistake, I was diverted from the trail because of the snow drifts and wound up following a drainage for several miles over fallen trees and chest high snow drifts.

After realizing that I would not make it to Cow Creek trail via my current route before night fall I scrapped the plan and started traversing hills heading south. Eventually I came to a high point in which I spotted Aspenglen Camp Ground and knew that if I followed the creek leading toward it I would run into Old Fall River Road. Traversing the rocky and tree strewn terrain was no easy feat but I managed to make good time and avoid any injury. Luckily, my plan worked and just as night was falling and I was dehydrated and fading I reached a trail that lead to the Fall River Entrance Station. Thankfully I have great friends and both Apryle and Craig came to give me a ride back to the apartment.

It was a rewarding winter and spring season, I visited a lot of new places, met a lot of new people and ran a lot of miles. The weather was changing and summer was approaching, bringing many new opportunities to explore new places and higher summits.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Start of Ultra Season: Collegiate Peaks 50 miler (May 5th 2013)

Start of Ultra Season: Collegiate Peaks 50 miler (May 5th 2013)

Arkansas River
Started ramping up the mileage and the net elevation gain in May. I kept a 90 mile a week pace all through the Estes Park winter to be ready for the Collegiate Peaks 50 miler in Buena Vista, Colorado. I believe the training paid off because I felt comfortable throughout the race and managed to jog around a bit before taking the long drive home.

I arrived in Buena Vista Friday afternoon, May 3rd and took a walk/jog along the trail paralleling the Arkansas River. Took in the view of Mount Princeton and scouted out the trails I would soon be racing on. After a few hours wandering around the area I picked up my race packet and was lucky enough to get a race elevation tattoo from a guy stationed at the headquarters.
Then I headed down to Salida and got a restful sleep and high calorie breakfast before toeing the start line.

The race started off extremely quick, and as usual I got wrapped up in the moment and took off much quicker than I should have. However, I managed to pace with someone doing the 25 mile race and we kept a comfortable speed for several miles. I arrived at the 25 mile mark in around 3:35 minutes and immediately turned around and headed back out to run the loop in the opposite direction. As I was coming into the start/finish I noticed I was in about 5th place and I wanted to improve on it.

Mount Princeton
As I got to around mile 35 I realized I would not be improving on my place, or even holding on to it for that matter. I was rolled up by 6 people in the second half while I was walking up many of the rolling hills. It was a warm day in the Banana Belt and it was taking its toll on me. I jogged the final 6-8 miles but it was a pedestrian pace and as my final time indicates I ran nowhere near my first 25 mile split.

I took my first fall in a trail race, it was an intimidating stone protruding about 2 inches out of the trail. As I was lying there bleeding I fantasized that it could have been something intense that caused this, like jumping down a rocky hillside or fighting off a mountain lion, but I looked behind me and barely even noticed the culprit. Either way I jumped up, took a quick glance to see if anyone was hysterically laughing in the brush somewhere and continued on the trail.

I was happy with my first 50 mile race, albeit was somewhat anticlimactic because I had already done a 100. Regardless I had a good time kicking up dust with some of the most beautiful sights the Sawatch Range has to offer as a backdrop. My final time was 8:25:39 and I finished 11th. The victory for me was being able to run the very next day and not lose a beat in my training.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Peak Bagging

Mountain Summits 2013
View from Grays Peak

I started 2013 in Estes Park, Colorado, working in the Rocky Mountain National Park greenhouse. It was a great and rewarding job and allowed me the opportunity to explore the mountains. I did a few winter runs and hikes in the mountains but really ramped up the summit hunting in the summer. I managed to hike Longs a couple of times, knock out some 14er groups and “Kill” the Mummy Range. Having the start of the Front Range in my backyard I would be remised to not spend every free moment wandering around in it. To highlight my adventures quantifiably I created a comprehensive list of all my summits from January to August this year.

Exotic Mountain Goat near Mount Ida
31 Different Peaks and a total of 45 Summits for 2013

8 14ers to add to my 2 from 2012 = 10 Down 44 To Go

14 Over 1300 feet

Mountains/Passes                            Location                                    Height                  Summits

Deer Mountain                                  Estes Park, CO                        10013’                          3

Eagle Cliff Mountain                        Estes Park, CO                        8905’                             6

Mount Sanitas                                    Boulder, CO                            6843’                             3

Green Mountain                                Boulder, CO                            8144’                              1

Crosier Mountain                              Glen Haven, CO                      9225’                             2

Flat Top Mountain                            Estes Park, CO                        12324’                           2

Twin Sisters Mountain                     Estes Park, CO                        11428’                          1

Greys Peak                                         Georgetown, CO                       14278’                          1

Mount Audubon                                Allenspark, CO                        13223’                            1

Hope Pass                                          Leadville, CO                              12600'                           3

Hallet Peak                                         Estes Park, CO                        12713’                             1

Mount Ida                                          Grand Lake ,CO                      12809’                              1

Chief Cheley Peak                              Grand Lake ,CO                      12804’                            1

Mount Chapin                                    Estes Park, CO                        12,454’                            1

Mount Chiquita                                  Estes Park, CO                        13069’                             1

Mount Yipsilon                                  Estes Park, CO                        13514’                              1

Mount Fairchild                                 Estes Park, CO                        13502’                             1

Hagues Peak                                      Estes Park, CO                        13560’                              1

Mummy Mountain                             Estes Park, CO                        13425’                            1

Mount Democrat                               Alma, CO                                 14154’                              1

Mount Cameron                                Alma, CO                                 14238’                              1

Mount Lincoln                                   Alma, CO                                 14295’                               1

Mount Bross                                      Alma, CO                                 14172’                               1

Mount Beirstadt                                 Georgetown, CO                     14065’                            1

Mount Evans                                      Georgetown, CO                    14265’                              1

Estes Cone                                         Estes Park, CO                        11007’                                1

Batman Pinnacle                               Estes Park, CO                        8600’                                 1

Longs Peak                                        Estes Park, CO                        14255’                               2

Boulder Grand Pass                          Estes Park, CO                        12077’                             1

Mount Dunraven                               Estes Park, CO                        12562’                              1

Sugar Loaf Pass                                 Leadville, CO                          11600’                                 2 
 Mount Audubon Summit

June 21st 2013

 Mummy Kill

Fairchild Mountain

July 4th 2013
Key Hole

Longs Peak

July 26th 2013
Mountain Summits, Passes & Land Marks Prior to 2013

Summit                                   Location                                 Height                         Year

Mount Tamalpais                  San Fransisco, CA                  2572’                          2011

Garfield Peak                         Crater Lake, OR                     8245’                          2011

Mount Scott                           Crater Lake, OR                     8934’                          2011

Upper Table Rock                 Central Point, OR                   2091’                          2011

Glacier Point                          Yosimite, CA                           7214’                          2011

Upper Yosimite Falls             Yosimite, CA                           6936’                          2011

Clingmans Dome                   GSMNP, NC/TN                     6644’                          2011

Heavens Gate Lookout         Riggins, ID                              8429’                          2011

Hope Pass                              Twin Lakes, CO                      12600’                                    2012

Mount Elbert                         Leadville, CO                          14439’                                    2012

Mount Massive                      Leadville, CO                          14429’                                    2012

Sugar Loaf Pass                     Leadville, CO                          11600’                                    2012