21 November 2011

Shoulda Brought The Crampons

Dear Snow,

Colorado is beautiful this time of year. Please come visit.


The same gully on Mt Machebeuf in fluffier times:

Started getting dicey for La Perita. Lucy started whining. Need to get her little doggie crampons!

Obligatory Self-Port. Squinting from imaginary snow. The seasonal beard is coming in nicely.

Might have to tackle this couloir next weekend on Grizzly Peak. (Imagine a really cool forking couloir)

Of course no trip to the mountains is complete without stopping at Two Brothers Deli in Idaho Springs. Nomnomnom!

Green chili in a bread bowl. Party in my stummy.

22 September 2011

Sandstone Sojourn

The bustle of everyday life can excuse my absence. West the soul points and follow its wake we will.

Four days unplugged. Four days liberated from deadlines, tweets, emails and bogging down from the mundane.

This palisade shall be my sentinel while I await for the stars to reveal themselves in impossible numbers.

Over a bend on the river shall I rest my head.

Around several corners and with wandering eyes, the humble glory of the desert appears. Corona Arch with a neighboring natural bridge. We spotted two more natural bridges that day.

If you're patient you can find many messages from people past.

The way continued upward. Yet the sun was unrelenting. Lucy took the lead & I soon followed with a siesta in the shade.

A reminder that life is but a balancing act.

A nondescript vantage to watch the river lugubriously slide by.

A blaze to celebrate another passing of a year in life.

We often walk by without noticing the intricate beauty that surrounds us.

Fever struck, sickness crept in. A rest in the high desert, shied away from passing eyes. The migration west continued until the road was out. We scampered and picked our way around and over the sandstone mushrooms until we looked down upon the unattainable oasis of the Green River at Mineral Bottom

We backtracked upriver to the valley of giant mud castles. Around we wandered and climbed in the Fisher Towers.

Silent yet steady, this snag still stubbornly clings on after death has stripped it of life.

28 August 2011

The Riders Invade Denver

Spent a sweltering Sunday with tens of thousands of my closest friends watching the finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in downtown Denver.

I'd never seen a professional cycling event in person. I had a feeling I'd enjoy it after attending and having a blast at several of a friend's cyclocross races.

And after Sunday, I am hooked. These athletes are amazing. The speed at which they pass you is not done justice on TV.

Even watching the support cars zip around the course was fun to watch. It was like a bonus Rally race.

After watching six laps from a great vantage point at Colfax & Speer, we made our way down to Civic Center Park to enjoy the festivities. Beer, food trucks and a free concert, plus plenty of people watching.

Rode back home in a headwind. Thought the hill up from Mile High to Sloan's Lake was going to kill me after so much time in the sun.

The great news is organizers say they plan on coming back and holding the race again next year.

20 August 2011

Hand Meet Rock

After a lengthy layoff due to various nagging injuries, I've been able to get back bouldering again the past couple of weeks. Wow, how did I miss it!

Evergreen Session from Ryan Budnick on Vimeo.

17 July 2011

Flat Tops Camping

This story begins with a basic human function: I had to pee....badly.

So after a few hours driving from Denver to the Flat Tops Wilderness, located about 30 miles south of Steamboat Springs, I found an open campsite -- something I considered a bit of luck on a Saturday evening. The entire journey up from Yampa to the meadow-covered playground I knew I was racing against a looming and expanding storm system.

Luck would have it I got to the campsite with the heavens not pouring down. I immediately got out, found a verge and unzipped... and was completely ambushed by giant mosquitoes.

My calves were completely covered immediately. I swatted them away from my face while still trying to take care of business. I looked down and noticed one daring bloodsucker that decided... well, you get the drift.

Business taken care of, I quickly dashed back to the truck and began pulling out the tent. It decided to proceed to rain at this point. I was forced by the dilemma of do I get the tent up and rainfly on as quickly as possible or do I dig out the bug juice and find some salvation from winged succubus?

I chose to get the tent up while being fed on by a majority of the mosquitoes in Routt County.

Mother Nature made up for it that night. While warmed by a campfire, I was a delighted spectator to one of the more unique skies I have ever seen; due east in the far distance, high-altitude lighting sparked and reverberated, turning the clouds from purple to dusky crimson.

To the southeast, the nearly full moon rose, turning a series of pocked clouds in to floating iridescent patina, hovering over the shadows of small hill of pines, silhouetted sharpen stalagmites forming a curving palisade.

Snowfed and Blooming

The reason I made the trip was I figured the alpine meadows would be in the middle of their bloom. I was not disappointed.

Storm clouds formed early on Sunday, standing at attention beginning at 9:30 a.m. So I scrapped my plans of heading up Mandell Trail and eventually Orno Peak. I didn't want to get caught that far out and in vast meadows if a thunderstorm materialized; I once had to sprint in a meadow to the safety of trees from lightning strikes closing in on that exact trail.

So we made our way up towards Devil's Causeway; my 2nd such trip in as many years. I didn't mind since it is a scenic trail and pretty mellow.

We stopped in the basin below the ridge of the Flat top. There was still quite a bit of snow -- the most I've ever seen in the area this late in the year. I didn't bring an ice ax or even a trekking pole and didn't feel comfortable heading up the snowpatch without that, and a way to belay Lucy in case she slid.

26 June 2011

Indian Peaks Excursion 6/26/11

I hadn't been to the mountains in far too long. Combine that with a forecast that malevolently predicted sinister temps in the 90s in Denver, it seemed like a good idea to gain some altitude.

The National Weather Service though wanted to thwart my intentions; they predicted 60 mph wind gusts in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. That made me pause and reconsider, but decided to take my chances.

It was well worth the gamble as where I hiked remained calm, occasionally interrupted by a stray gust here and there.

There's still a lot of snow up there

This was taken on the banks of Long Lake. The road isn't plowed to the trailhead yet, as a couple of large snowdrifts still loiter on the roadway.

Lucy & I wandered this way and that, making it around the lake. But there were quite a few people around.

I like going to the mountains to get away from everything, including people. They all have a right to be there. Just like I have a right to go where they aren't.

So we went back to the trailhead, up the road, and hiked up the Mitchell Lake trail. We got to the lake quickly -- I'm glad I brought my snowshoes -- and left a couple of small groups behind as we kept heading west up the basin.

A small tarn in the upper Mitchell Lake basin

We finally made our way to a steeper snowfield that led to a low shoulder of Mount Audubon. He made our way up to the talus -- Lucy was a happy maniac on the snowfield, running with a dog smile on her face -- where I slowly led her safely to a small rise that would do just nicely for a rest area.

Mt Audubon and its east ridge

Looking back towards Mitchell Lake and Brainard Lake in the distance

Pawnee ridge

Little Pawnee Peak on the left, Mt Toll on the right

It was nice getting out into my element without being Type A, obsessed with summiting a peak. We just went where we wanted to.

The intrepid author & his camera-shy canine

Lucy slept well that night

Looking back from near the truck

22 May 2011

A Lazy Sunday

Took advantage of a glorious Sunday to take the dog out and stretch the legs.

While the weather was perfect, thunderstorms threatened. So we just went for a short hike at Corwina Park, up to the Bear Creek Trail and then up to Panorama Point.

Panorama Point May 2011 from Ryan Budnick on Vimeo.

15 May 2011

Lucy meet Slickrock

Finally made my annual pilgrimage to Moab. With unsettled weather this spring, it was about a month later than usual.

Saturday Dan, Lucy & I loaded into Ole Whitey and headed out west.

After some searching, we found some kind campers who let us share a group site off Onion Creek. Some beers, good conversation and star gazing made the 5 1/2-hour drive dissipate.

The next day after breakfast and breaking down camp, we made our way to Hidden Valley for some hiking, scrambling and vista gazing. The thermometer climbed up to about 90. Of the 3 liters of water I packed, Lucy drank 2 1/2 of it.

Lucy liked it when we stopped and she could rest in the shade

The trail ends at a pass where it diverges into a few different ways. We continued down to where the trail merged with the Moab Rim Jeep Trail.

Despite no respite from the relentless sun, Lucy did well. I kept a close eye on her to make sure she didn't overheat and gave her shade breaks when we could.

Trusty trail dog & her owner

A look back at the La Sal Mountains. I still remember skiing there a couple of years ago. A trip I'll never forget.