Despite the late start to 14er season this year, due to the massive amounts of snow over the winter, my friends and I managed to get in just as many peaks as in other years. Dedication to the cause! Not that I ever plan to hike them all—Class 4s with full climbing gear are definitely not for me—but it simply wouldn’t be a summer in Colorado if I wasn’t on the tippy top of the state at least a few times. Here are the five I ticked off my list in 2019.
Saturday: Spent seven hours in the car
Sunday: Went grocery shopping
Monday: Called into an all-hands at my full time job
Tuesday: Did half an hour of work for a freelance client
Wednesday: Got my oil changed
Thursday: Groomed the dog
Friday: Woke up to a 6:30 AM alarm
Saturday: Cleaned up the house
Sunday: Got stuck in a traffic jam (until I was crafty enough to find a way around it because I carry an atlas in my car since I often travel places where there is no cell service, as in this case)
At the end of June, I flew my dad out from Buffalo for a little visit. The last time he was here, four years ago, I lived in downtown Denver, by Union Station, so we did a lot of city activities. This time, I’m a Boulder gal and much more outdoorsy, so the itinerary was quite different. We made a huge loop from Boulder to Glenwood Springs, down to Ouray and Durango, across to South Fork, and then back up to Boulder. We visited some natural wonders, like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Great Sand Dunes National Park, but the main purpose of the trip was to check out old mining towns. My plans were somewhat thwarted by the massive dumps of snow Colorado had all winter, even as late as June 21, which meant some of the back country roads I wanted to take to get to the most remote places were still closed the last weekend of June. But we got to roam around plenty of places that were good fodder for the imagination. And I’m sure my dad was happy that he was saved from more jostling around in my SUV than he already got.
Despite my love of big cities, I somehow didn’t make it to Chicago until I was 35 and then never made it back. So when Solar had a week long conference there—giving me a free place to stay right on the river—I decided to join. Why not? And when he suggested we extend the stay through the weekend since he has friends there we could stay with, again, why not? And so my United rewards ticket carried me off. With the exceptions of the view of Trump tower from my hotel and the weird sewage smells that hit my nostrils from time to time as I roamed the city, the trip was fantastic. Every day brought fun experiences, and here are the three best days.
After basically not running all winter, I ran three races in four weeks and hit some exciting personal bests. But doing well makes me want to do even better, so I’ve signed up for the 14 mile Devil on the Divide race on September 7. It features 3,300 ft of elevation gain with a summit at 13,200 feet. Every summer weekend I’m not hiking a 14er (which is never going to happen because they’re all still covered in snow!), I’ll be running up Flagstaff, Sunshine, Four Mile, Magnolia, and all the other Boulder roads that head straight up from the canyon floor into the foothills. But why get ahead of myself? That race is many months away, so right now I should be celebrating this year’s early wins!
Back on April 28th, Trotsky and I hiked up to the Eagle’s View in Reynold’s Park. When we got to the 250 degree view at the top with a sea of green trees below and unique rock formations poking through and the snow-capped Rockies way out in the distance, I must have gotten a little dirt in my eyes because they got red and watery. Okay, okay, fine. I confess. I teared up. I had waited so, so, so long for this winter to be over, to be able to linger in the sunshine at the top of a trail and not hurriedly push through, shoulders hunched against the cold. To inhale the scent of the pine needles with every step and listen to the birds singing about the arrival of spring. To find a dry spot to sit down and share a picnic with my old dog. I was unbelievably happy in that moment and got a little carried away.
My two year unofficial hiking project is complete. Yeah, I missed my mark by a few weeks (February 19, 2017 to March 9, 2019) but close enough. In just about two years, I’ve completed 100 distinct hikes. I use word “hike” loosely in this context to mean anything from a two mile stroll up a wide, well-maintained, packed dirt road at sea level with no elevation gain to a nine mile, 4,000 ft + elevation gain, nine-hour slog that sometimes required my hands to pull myself up the steepest spots. Some of these were trail runs, some were on snowshoes, and one was completely through water that was waist high at some points. What they all have in common is that they were in nature, not on any kind of pavement. Sure, I put hundreds of additional miles on my feet in this time, roaming around Zurich, Venice, Milan, Madrid, Beijing, Shanghai, Portland, Kansas City, and so many other great urban areas, and I completed countless recreational runs on pavement and duplicated many hikes, but this post only counts unique wilderness missions. Continue reading →
Summer may be perfect time to play in the Rocky Mountains, but there’s so much happening that time of year that I sometimes have a hard time getting out of town. So while I did some camping and hiking 14ers in July and August, when fall officially arrived, I suddenly panicked that I didn’t get out there enough. I was overcome by a need to be in the mountains as much as possible before the snow. But sometimes the snow comes sooner than you hope. The weekend of the 6th & 7th brought snow to the mountains and the weekend of the 13th & 14th brought snow to the Front Range. And if it’s snowing down here, you know it’s really dumping up there. Continue reading →
Last weekend, Trotsky and I took our first ever solo camping trip. In almost nine years, it’s never been just the two of us. Between trips with partners, casual lovers, friends who live locally, and friends who are far away, finding time to go places on your own is difficult. But last weekend, it happened. Not at first. At first there were several different plans. Meeting some people Saturday, meeting other people Sunday, having a camping companion…but eventually all the plans crumbled and it was just me and the beast. And how wonderful it was! Of course I love travelling with other people, sharing the moments of awe and excitement, experiencing the thrill of getting intimate in an exotic or wild location, and building common memories and bonds, but travelling alone is special in its own way.