A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Decalibron (four 14ers)

The “Decalibron”, an ~8 mile loop connecting Lincoln, Democrat, Bross and Cameron, is considered a simple outing. A set of peaks typically climbed in a single summer day, with a light pack, and ample time leftover to grab pizza in Alma and still be back in Denver for pre-dinner cocktails. In a word: easy. Yet, after five separate forays into this cirque I have never managed to piece together this seemingly simple quartet of high peaks. Weather, weakness and snow conditions, sometimes two of those three, have barred the path.

Alan, Brody and I planned to climb an adjacent peak, but upon arrival at the trailhead the lure of extra mileage in the alpine proved too much. And with what amounted to a sneak attack, the mountain had inadequate time to prepare unsavory conditions, so beneath blue skies we began.


A trio of men in action suits: from left to right, Brody, Sandy and Alan


Headed up to the saddle, with Mt Democrat on the left.

The climb up Democrat was quick. Like a bunch of chatty Cathy’s, we whiled away the vertical feet while topics ranged from the ribald to life changing. It was the first time the three of us hiked, but with a surprisingly high comfort level this degree of rapport would see us around the circuit. Whoever spoke took the lead, thereby setting a pace that was conversational.

Brody leapt into the goofiness of flex shots with a zeal usually reserved for gift giving holidays and porn. Thus, we settled into a series of high altitude yoga poses throughout the day.


Brody throwing down half-moon atop Mt Democrat


Alan easing into Warrior III atop Mt Democrat.

The remainder of the climb came off without a hitch. The traverse to Cameron, while laborious, was quick, and the walk across its broad summit with no discernible high point lead quickly to Mt Lincoln. The traverse to Mt Bross, whose summit is closed and whose true apex I can neither confirm nor deny we trod upon, had the feel of a frontage road. A wide trail across the moonscape feel that is characteristic of this route’s highpoints.


Brody and his new ice axe. The angle was shallow, but the axe was new and begging for use, so out it came. Anyone who has ever bought new gear and experienced the jubilant anticipation of using it knows exactly why that ice axe got its first bite through sastrugi.


Traversing towards Bross with thin air, blue skies and smiles abundant.


The newfound and perilous activity, ice axe juggling. Due to fear, or in this case common sense, this effort was a complete failure, unless success is measured in tossing an axe into the talus.


We left the trail and dropped down a gully, allowing for a speedy descent in the shallow snow.

All in all, a successful outing with perfect weather and ideal partners. An alpine respite, whether or not earned, is in effect, but I hope to find the crystalline air and heightened focus of high places in the New Year.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hey Everybody, This Guy Does Not Have a Car (Volume1)

Like ex-smokers and iPhone owners (I have an iPhone!), those of who are carless can be quite smug. Thus, since I have recently gone carless, the parade of smug blog posts shall begin now.

It has been a snowy this week, with two storms rolling through in the last five days and another scheduled for tonight. Practicing nonattachment extends to all aspects of life, including comfort, so I am embracing (sort of) the feeling of snowflakes sticking to my beard.


I embrace this!


Crisp and clear sunset looking across Cheesman Park


Pedaling through 5” of fresh powder

The immersion of cycling is underappreciated. Whether it is the sounds of birds, the quiet beauty of the city waking up, or the biting cold on your nose, you have an enhanced environmental awareness. You note where long shadows are cast, meaning that snow and ice linger, and plan accordingly. You seek efficiency, whether it is route planning or knowing that your lock is in the right pocket of your bag and the keys in your left front pocket. With a very real cost, calories and time, you simply pay attention. And in all that, you still get lost in the joy of pedaling.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

5K Run and Food, a Sunday

Tracy ran a 5K today. Cheering her across the finish line and then getting brunch was a genius idea. This plan was conceived in October though, before anyone knew that the start time temperature would be 19* and the course splattered with intermittent snow and ice from two snowstorms over the last five days.

Still, it is easier to bundle up and stay warm versus running 3.1 miles in the cold. Thus, Lori and I took our places amongst the fans, free coffee in hand, chatted, cheered and laughed at the antics of a clumsy puppy.


Making it look easy

To remedy a chilly start to the day I roasted root vegetables, made a risotto and cooked pasta over the course of 3 hours. Windows were (still are) steamed and I ended up shirtless as the temperature and humidity were in the 80’s, but I have food for the week.


Parsnips, with a bitter edge to them, are a new favorite


The finished product


Chanterelles, on sale for $10/pound, which normally sell for $50/pound!


Butter dancing across a hot skillet


Creamy rice, chanterelles and parmesan cheese. Few ingredients and a rich flavor.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Trot

Jen, Aleka and I participated in a 5K Turkey Trot in Virginia. All three of us have completed at least one 1/2 marathon this fall, so a leisurely 3.1 miles to justify a bit of Thanksgiving gluttony was perfect. Also, coming from Denver meant that Aleka and I were packing more red blood cells than most, so our oxygen delivery was enhanced.

We all run at different paces so we decided to each run our own race. I was listening to Wolfmother, music I had just picked up and not yet heard. The starting gun sounded, I hit play with no idea what to expect, and was greeted with a sound that has been described as “a balance between meaty vintage metal and crisp, stoner-rock melodies”. The verdict is out as to whether or not Wolfmother will get heavy rotation within my music collection, but with the opening of “Dimension” I knew leisurely was an afterthought.

Having started in the middle of the pack it was runners, joggers and strollers from curb to curb. I hit the sidewalk, which was instantly crowded too, so I took it one step further, giving runners a bad name, and headed straight into the forbidden…front yards. I hurdled shrubbery, darted across driveways and cut around neatly piled leaves, all at a pace I knew I could not maintain, but that put me into a part of the pack with room to pass.

I crossed mile one at an even 7:00 and knew it would not last. I saw no mile marker for mile two, began to appreciate the hilly nature of Arlington from minutes 12-20 and was elated to rasp and cough by mile marker three. I crossed the line in 22:27, averaging 7:14 per mile, a personal best. With chest still heaving minutes later Jeff, Jake, Morgan and I cheered Jen and Aleka across the finish line, both of whom finished at a sub-9 minutes/mile pace.

The kids want to play on the playground, I desperately want to sit

Parking was scarce so it was a bit of a walk to where we had parked. Luckily, Arlington County picks up leaves if piled at the curb so Jake, Morgan and I had plenty of distraction, and offered plenty too, en route.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Cyclist is Born

My niece, Morgan, told me she had balanced on a bike and wanted to practice with me while I was in Virginia. To hear her tell it she had managed to stay upright while coasting downhill. Not exactly riding a bike, but a huge milestone and a necessary step on the way to full blown pedal crankin’ glory.

So, on Thanksgiving morning, with seven enthusiastic onlookers, Morgan, bedecked in a pink shirt and matching helmet, took a gentle push from her Mom and did not just balance, but also pedaled, used brakes and executed turns with aplomb. In short, she rode. She took a spill, heard an encouraging word and shrugged it off and rode more. For the second time on a bike, she absolutely killed it. She bounced off a curb and brushed some bushes and showed some mountain biking chops that will have me upping my trail game when she is older. 


Cranking uphill on the Bicycle Proving Ground (church parking lot)


Solid left lean, allowing her weight to make the turn


Me and Jake racing while Mom looks on

I was on training wheels for a year before I took my first wobbly ride down Rogers Street, at age 6. Since then I have ridden countless miles for pleasures, for commuting, for adventure and sometime just for the experience of moving. Seeing Morgan’s smile made me appreciate the simple joy of riding a bike and the freedom it entails.  Here is to a lifetime of riding, for Me, Morgan, Jake and anyone else who finds happiness upon two wheels.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Six of one, 1/2 a Dozen of the Other

A lesson in the importance of battening down one’s cargo.


This dozen (duo of sextets?) fell to their demise from my courier bag. Not one survived. As a utilitarian cyclist of 13 years, I cannot recall an incident like this. I now bring a high level of paranoia to my bag packing and check all contents three times prior to departure.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Minimalist Running Shoes

Always a little late to the game, I just got my first pair of minimalist running shoes. I am used to trail runners, which are almost always dark, the better to hide the dust and mud. Now though, the most comfortable shoe I found, is the same color as a tennis ball that has yet to bounce off the court.



It started with Born to Run, by Christopher MacDougall, which examined runners in Mexico’s Copper Canyons, the advent of Vibram Five Fingers and then numerous outlets and individuals extolling the virtues of barefoot running.

Given my belief in evolution and the construction of the human foot a homage to our running past, it is time to give this a shot. “This” being a release from the heel strike method of running and learning to come down on the forefoot, softly. I plna to start slowly, with a a prancing gait, and likely not run more than a mile to start. I have suffered no significant injuries from running, so I doubt this will redefine my relationship with loping along, but hope it is investment to making it a long-lasting relationship.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snowy Commute

Awoke to snow this morning. A light snow, but wind driven and wet, and the perfect penance for multiple margaritas the night before. Thus, scarf clad and listening to a playlist of running favorites, I headed out to a musical pace far faster than conditions allowed. I went out of my way to add a few miles to the ride, seeing only two others on bikes. There is a camaraderie in such conditions. Most riders will not even offer up a head nod, but when squinting into a cold wind while ruing the fact I just shaved my beard, I was greeted with knowing smiles and waves. 

 Hitting up the sledding hill before work.

  Looking south along the South Platte River

Monday, October 31, 2011


In a departure from the norm I got crafty this year. Crafty to the point I visited Joann Fabrics, two hardware stores and made two trips to Fancy Tiger. It started with an announcement by Aleka  that not only would she host a Halloween party, but she would also recreate the swan gown worn by Bjork at the Emmy’s.

With the bar set high I put my sights on Beaker, of Muppet fame. And 10 hours of work and $100 later I was happy with the results, but surprised by the total effort.


Completed Beaker outfit with ominous lighting


Beaker and Bjork (the gown turned out great)


Beaker transport

Now I have a Beaker costume sitting in my living room, if anyone has a need…

Start ‘em Young

Saw this kid’s bike outside the grocery store.

photo copy

The parents walked and the son was learning to ride his bike. This bike rack is always full, but I am glad to see some crowding caused by a younger generation learning the ease of getting about bike.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mount Bross

Alan has a goal of standing a top a 14er in every month. Perfectly reasonable, until you realize how cold tall mountains are in the winter. With a few months of summer climbing behind us, the trail running shoes and wildflower filled cirques were exchanged for insulating layers and wind driven snow.

The temperatures were a shade below freezing and complemented by a wind that only grew stronger with elevation. We took the tortoise approach, just slow and steady, with no breaks between the valley floor and Bross’s upper reaches.


Alan with wind driven snow streaming off the summit ridge


Me ruing cold toes

The summit of this mountain is closed to public access. We may or may not have reached the summit. The descent was fast, but into a headwind. The wind was such that you could feel it hold you back against gravity’s command.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Scream Scram

A 5K? Alright. Benefitting the Boys and Girls Club? You bet. Wear a costume? Holy shit, show me the start line!

We, that being Nadine, Ted, Mike, Aleka and I, ran the Scream Scram 5K. A charitable race around Washington Park in which participants are encouraged to dress in costume. I went as a gorilla in an American flag speedo, meaning I went as myself. Aleka wore a dress she picked up for a bridesmaid dress party. It is an aggressively tacky dress, but another runner, as she passed us by, said she had the same dress for her 8th grade dance!


Minus the accentuated pecs, that is what I look like naked


See those hands in the air. That is Ted.

There was a group of people dressed as serious runners near the front. Super short shorts, no body fat, synthetic tanks tops. They looked the part and when the starting gun sounded they went at a pace that would turn the head of a pronghorn. My mistake, those were real runners, who would be enjoying finish line festivities the same time I hit the halfway mark.

As for our time...at 2 miles I had sweated out 3 liters of water and was having heat induced hallucinations, convincing myself that I was going to medal at the Hirsute Olympics. I began walking to cool down, crossing the finish line 37 minutes. My overall pace was a shade above walking. Luckily, it being a birthday celebration for Ted, I attacked my bruised ego on two fronts, beers and a burger. It was no contest.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


When riding a bike with a front basket piled with snow beware bumps. I took, with laughter, a large poorly consolidated snowball to the chest when bouncing through the park.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I met Tracy at the Farmer’s Market, which allows us to combine a bike ride and food talk, which when coupled with a cup of a coffee makes for an excellent start to the day. A discussion of making pickles led to inspiration, and the desire to meet my ancestors halfway and store food for the winter, set me on a path of a vinegar infused afternoon.

The end result, 6 jars of refrigerator pickles, 5 jars of pickled carrots and 1 jar of pickled garlic. If that was not excessive enough, I doubled a batch of black bean soup, and could now feed a small village.


Carrots, which need 48 hours in brine before they are ready


Garlic, which I cannot crack into for 30 days


3 hours later…


Doing what I can for America

Monday, September 26, 2011

Autumn Color Run

I ran a 1/2 marathon a couple of weekends back. It was the Autumn Color Run in Buena Vista. The run was great, but was secondary to spending a weekend kicking about mountain towns with friends. Matt flew in from Virginia and managed to win his age group in the 10K. Alan, true to form this entire summer, was in attendance, and threw down a 1:42. I followed with a 1:45, by far my fastest run to date. Aleka came in at 2:00, crushing her expectation for her first half-marathon.

Post-run recovery included a stint in hot springs, a no-holds-barred game of Scrabble, whose competition outstripped anything seen on the race course, dinner overlooking the Arkansas River and a few games of pool.

Cheap beer will never top a list of ideal post-run activities, but I will trade the laughter of friends, old and new, over electrolyte drinks any day. With that said, I was more sore than I have been in years. In fact, the only comparable experience I could conjure was an off-the-couch of two 14ers in 2000.



Ominous skies above the southern Sawatch Range the night before the race


This rainbow greeted us upon arrival in Salida

The race team post-hot springs, little did we know that we would be limping for days


I am glad to count both of these guys as friends


Harking back to high school, Matt and I shot some pool. We are still mediocre, but now of age to buy beer and overlook this fact

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Labor Day Weekend (in pictures)

Alan and I headed to the southwestern corner of Colorado to climb some 14ers in the San Juans over the long weekend.

Day 1: Wilson Peak

We had hoped to climb Wilson Peak, El Diente and Mt Wilson Peak in a single day.  We were on the trail before 4 AM and lost by 5 AM. The solid trail simply petered out amidst an intersection of historic mining roads, rock piles and a snowfield. In what amounted to a coin toss we elected to skirt up the snowfield, thinking the trail lay beneath it, and ended up thrashing about for well over an hour. It is frustrating to see where you should be, but not know how to get there. Upon finding our way the decision was made to only summit Wilson Peak and enjoy the afternoon in Telluride.



Alan leaving the saddle and heading up the ridge


Dramatic change in rock color, it looked like mulch from a distance

Just below the summit

Hack sack on the summit

This flag is from Park Burger, we earned free burgers for this picture


Post-hike hacky sack and log juggling, it ended with Alan kicking a log

Day 2: Mt Sneffels and Handies Peak

We hit up some hot springs in Ouray, grabbed dinner at the Ouray Brewery and went to bed with a 4 AM wake up call. The first peak of the day was Sneffels, which ascended the southwest ridge and was soaked in a stunning sunrise.

From here we made some poor route choices on a 4-WD drive road and ended up at “the Wall”, one of the more challenging 4-WD features on the Alpine Loop. After watching a 4-Runner repeatedly beat and bash it way to the top we opted to backtrack. We got to Handies at nearly 4 PM and after hours in the truck took our frustrations out on the trail. We climbed ~2,400 vertical feet in 1:15 hours and had the summit to ourselves given the late hour.


Alan in alpenglow on Sneffles



The “Kissing Camels” rock formation


Cruising the southwest ridge

Sneffels_Pan copy

Panorama from summit of Mt Sneffels

Alpine Gorilla

Panorama from Yankee Boy Basin


The Toyota commercial picture


Chilly atop Handies Peak


Trying to look casual on Sneffels’ southwest ridge


This sunrise was the best I have seen all year

More burgers!


My hat and sunglasses are at my feet. I had taken them out of my pack when gearing up at the saddle. I wear sunglasses in all conditions so the thought I would not find them left me mortified.

Wandering along the tundra

Post-hike sideshow once again featuring juggling and hacky sack.


More burgers

In my haste to leave the trailhead I forgot gloves. A hat on one hand and a bandana on the other, it was mostly comfortable.


Basin and lake coming off Handies

Day 4: Uncompahgre Peak

I had climbed this one before, and after three peaks and two days of being up before sunrise, I sat this one out. Alan headed out shortly after 5 AM and I buried myself in my sleeping bag for a few more hours of sleep.

Alan looking as though he has been fired across the summit of Uncompahgre from a cannon.


Me, finally waking up, about 30 minutes after Alan had hit the summit. I felt lazy, but the hot cup of coffee I was drinking 10 minutes later soothed any misgivings I may have had for forgoing a summit.