30 July 2008

Quick glimpse home

One shouldn't be worn out before heading into work, but such is the condition I face here. Just running around doing chores after getting back from Chicago - the trip to and back are worthy of another story and some of you know some of the tribulations I encountered there and back again.

Now to the photo show of my niece and nephew:

Ryan doing what he does best, sleeping. Really I'm not jealous. Really.



Hannah and Dane playing racing cars.




Heather carrying Ryan en route to his baptism.




Nonna holding Ryan at church.



Baptism. And as you can see, I was not smite by lightning as I crossed the threshold into St Viator's Church.




Big wheel action! Once again, I'm not jealous. Really.

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Dude & Lil Dude





Hannah standing up on Dude




Captain Morgan's anyone?




ARTIST OF POST - The Duke Spirit. English group bringing rock back.

19 July 2008

When life hands you dog vomit, go mtn biking.

It's smelly, sticky hot outside. Should be pushing triple digits for the weekend. Good bless air conditioning. It's not the heat relief I was expecting today. But hey, you gotta take what you can get.

The alarm went off at 6:15 am in its normal gentle manner. I signed up for this kind of misery, I told myself. Just get on your feet and slurp some coffee. My house guest for the past few days was eager to get going. And she showed her enthusiasm to me not with the sometimes-undetectable ways that women do. No, the wagging tail was quite easy to decipher.

I was to met Rak and a couple of his buddy's for what Eric called Full Value Day. We were to meet in Boulder Canyon, carpool up to Brainard Lake and get our peak-bagging dance going. He planned an itinerary of 3 named peaks and some unnamed bumps along the way.

All packed, well-caffinated and fed, the last thing I needed to do was take Hachiko out. That's when my day changed. Apparently sometime during the night the little muppet vomited. Then I spotted another pile, and another, and another...and two more upstairs. She upchucked a couple of more times on her walk as well.

Well I can't leave a sick dog now can I? She has been fine since early this morning, so I'm writing it down as separation anxiety from her parents. But why couldn't I have discovered this before I had a cup of coffee?! I called Eric and wished him a fun and wonderful day and spent the next 20 minutes cleaning up doggie puke.

Well, I'm up and she was fine it seemed. I changed quickly, grabbed the mountain bike and headed down south. Might as well get something in before the thermometer burst.

The last time I had been to the Greenland Trail was a couple of years ago. This time there was no threatening thunderstorm ready to zap me with lightning. But I have to say it was great motivation, having lighting and thunder in close proximity to kick it up a notch and stop being the tallest thing in the meadowed area.

The 8+ mile loop was a cakewalk, much, much easier than the last time I remembered. But then I'm also a lot more active than I have been in recent years and able to go at my pace.





Got back to the parking lot and took up the nearby dirt road to the new Spruce Mountain Open Space. Jumped on the Spruce Meadows Trail to double my distance. Calling this a trail is a misnomer. It more resembles a ribbon that goats gnawed down some. In some areas, there isn't trail, just open prairie with an end of a trail 30 feet away. Sometimes the riding was sandy and felt like I was riding on the beach.

Still not feeling tired, I hit the connecting trail up Spruce Mountain Trail. The thing climbed steeply at first but not nearly long enough into into the cliffy gendarme that guarded the pine-clad summit of Spruce Mountain.

Got back to the car unimpressed with either trail. What good can I say about them? Well I've ridden the Spruce Meadow and Mountain trails and...... and I've ridden the Spruce Meadow and Mountain trails.

Still over 20+ miles and nearly 2 1/2 hours of continuous riding with over 1,000 vert. And it wasn't even 11 am yet.

Came home to some wonderful company:

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ARTIST OF POST - Yael Naim. Had no idea this was a cover of a Brittany Spears song. This French-Israeli singer gave it something the deranged chartreuse never could: soul.

16 July 2008

Postcard picturesque

Insomnia paid me a visit Friday night and after keeping me company for close to three hours, I finally scraped together a few hours of sleep before hearing my phone chirp and vibrate - twice. Got up and checked the message, it was Jessica, and instead of calling to say she was on her way, she was already waiting downstairs, a half hour early. Yikes! She was patient as I slurped some coffee, showered and ate - though she would comment that I was taking as long as a girl =( - before we got on the road.

Met Danielle at the Morrison Park n Ride and soon found ourselves jostling up a dirt road up away from Vail. At the Piney River Ranch we arrived shortly before a group of climbers with intentions of getting up Peak C. These guys packed everything including the kitchen sink. One guy had ice screws on him. ICE SCREWS?! It's friggin July in Colorado!

Passing Piney Lake



You can see where we camped in this photo



The trail passed the ranch and its affluent guests and made it's way up a wide flat river valley that was very reminiscent to those I've seen in Alaska. We passed through grassland and then into lush green meadows speckled with aspens.






Further up, we left the main trail as it crossed the Piney River and made our way upstream on a side trail. Somewhere along the way we missed a turnoff to get up and over to the Enchanted Basin. I blame myself. I was rather cavalier with checking with the route and when to turn here or there.

The trip originally was going to be me going solo and camping up high and then taking the couloir up to the ridge line and climbing Peak C. If energy and time allowed, I was going to check out the ridge traverse to C Prime or drop down to Kneeknocker Pass and run up Mount Powell.

Jessica got onboard with the trip and her friend Danielle also was eager to get some mountain air. So when that happened the trip went from goal-oriented to "Let's just go someplace pretty and have a good time". And I probably had a better time because of it with good company to spend this gorgeous place with.

When we reached a stream which spilled over a thousand feet above from a magnificant waterfall, I knew we went too far. I switched into trailblazing mode and took us upwards by the best possible route I could scout out. We started on some wonderful granite ramps and sidewalks.



I scouted ahead and had way too much fun on the ramps and headwalls. I forgot sometimes that I was scouting out an "easy" way up, instead settling for some Class 4 and 5 slabs on fantastic granite. There were many lines I spied which made me yearn for my rope, rack and harness. I finally saw a traverse back west could get us to a talus field which bypassed anymore headwalls or horrendous brush.



Finally when I sensed the energy of the party was ebbing, I spotted an area in the basin which showed promise. I was right for a change and a great vantage point in a meadow became camp.



The views couldn't be beat. We could see from where we started from past the lake and further up the Piney River basin.





I had aspirations of getting high on something. But after setting up camp, taking a break and then filtering water, I waited too long. I bonked from dehydration and altitude and from not keep going.

This had caught my eye. It is one of the "Cataract Points", referred to by Theron Welch on his wonderful website. Some steep talus hopping followed by what looked like 4th class to low 5th class slab-city. Oh man!




I made it across the basin and started ascending before coming to the conclusion I didn't have it in me. I was sedentary for far too long. Plus I noticed on my "Don't try this at home" scrambling/climbing that my hiking boots are getting rather floppy. Time to retire them after this summer. But I'm sure I'll be back here very soon.

Some flower and scenic picture porn







This rock was really, really comfortable.



ARTIST OF POST - Coldplay. This song helped fuel a new chapter of a story I'm writing.

09 July 2008

Simple pleasures

Ahh, nothing can stir the memories like the smell of home-cooked marinara! My brutha Craig pleaded with me for years for the recipe. I finally relented the last time I saw him and gave him the two secret ingredients. I vividly remember many childhood weekend mornings waking to that aromatic delight as my mother would be cooking in the kitchen.

It's funny how the sense of smell is hardwired to the part of the brain that inventories memories. Lilacs remind me back to my time of blood poisoning and living in a bad trip for weeks on end. The smell of sage reminds me of Badlands and sitting on top of a crumbly mudcastle watching a herd of buffalo congregate below my dangling feet. The tinge of granite mingled with that of conifers wafting on the breeze reminds me of many climbing trips to Squamish with people who are dear to me, both those who now remain close and those who have moved on.

The weekend was good. The Fourth saw me biking to work and getting slapped with a little bit of heatstroke as I rode up a hill in the 90+ heat. Since it was a skeleton crew, I marinated some steaks larger than most small dogs, chucked them in my backpack and Tetzler and I proceeded to grill up a feast at work.

Saturday, Jessica and I met up and went climbing at The Flatirons. I swear it was already 90 degrees when we started hiking up the trail at 9:30 am. We got to Front Porch and dumped our stuff. We walked over to it and took a peek, and I will admit I was happy to hear her say, "That's really tall."

It was friggin hot. The thought of spending three pitches on dark-hued rock was akin to taking a nap in an oven. So we climbed the flatiron in front of us. Typical Flatiron climbing; 190+ feet - 3 pieces of pro (#8 nut, and two tri-cams). I set up an anchor on a ledge with a small tree and added a small cam and another tricam (Pinky!!!). Leaning back over the ledge and weighing the anchor I began pulling up the rope and looked down to see Jessica already about 10 feet up climbing. Heart skipped a little bit since I had just put her on belay. We worked on our communication skills when she got to the anchor.

Lowered her off and she went over a lip and reported it was scramble terrain. I set up the rappel, daisychained into a cam and tested the tree. Solid. Even though the thing was maybe 10 feet tall, it was probably 40 years old (hey, you try growing on a giant rock.) and rapped down to her, leaving about 3 feet on the tails when I got down.

A couple of beers and lunch at Southern Sun (Mmmmm, golden ale!) followed. Saturday night was a party at a friend's place. Arrived to catch the Village of Glendale's firework show. Pretty friggin impressive for a small little city. Good times with a, um, awkward moment, but we won't get into that.

Sunday I finished sanding, treating and staining some bookshelves for Sandi & Jason and then proceeded to tenderize my legs into pulled pork by going for a trail run. While jogging at a methodical pace, two things hit me: I could feel it had been three months since I ran with any ernest, and I'm finding running to be tedious and boring. Much more fun to mountain bike.

I have people hating me though since I can decide to just go for a run, tick off 4 miles and change, including .75 mile of hill, and think nothing of it. To them I say, now you know how I feel about my buddy Steve. The guy is a freak - in the nicest sense. His cardio fitness level is off the charts and I will never, ever go cycling with him.... maybe if an alligator chomps off one of his legs. But even then, only maybe and he would have to be inflicted with a bad head cold. THEN, I might have a chance.

Sorry no photos. Brought the camera on the climbing trip but left it in the backpack.

ARTIST OF POST - Badly Drawn Boy. One of those artists who makes me wonder, "How did I go so long without knowing about you?" Hour of Bewilderbeast is incredible.