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, May 30, 2011

Spring Rides

Wednesday afternoon was a beautiful spring day, with low angle sunlight pouring across the Front Range and temperatures in the mid-60’s. On the heels of two stormy days the siren’s call of a leisurely bike ride could not be resisted.

It got off to a good start, as Tracy brought me a pork and fruit bar! She is a vegan who got the bar as part of a race packet. I am an omnivore who willingly vacuums up unwanted pork products from friends, so we are well matched. The bar was delicious given pork’s ability to pair well with nearly any fruit.


Loaded up on pork it was off to Washington (Wash) Park to ride laps. Wash Park has a 2 mile interior loop road that is split between pedestrians and cyclists. There was a witch hunt against cyclists a few years back for exceeding the 15 mph speed limit. Cyclists are far from perfect but I would have like to seen users whose dog leashes extend across the bike lane ticketed. Or parents whose unwatched toddlers dart into the path. This is all water under the bridge though because Tracy and I do not ride faster than 15 mph, more having to do with physical limitations than a respect for the law.

Spring is in the air, meaning all park users were checking each other out. As for nature, she had the jump start, as illustrated by the goslings and ducklings that were present.


The ride necessitated a fuel stop in the form of a scoop of peanut butter cup ice cream at Sweet Action Ice Cream. They have vegan ice cream, so it is an easily agreed to stop.


I am not sure why water tastes so good after ice cream, but we learned that a pint of beer from the Hornet works well too. All in all, I hope these Wednesday rides become a summer tradition.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mt Lincoln

This climb occurred on April 23, 2011.


  • Route: Standard Route from Kite Lake
  • Distance: ~9.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ~3,000 feet
  • Start time: 8:00 AM
  • Time: unknown
  • Climbers: Alan, Stam, Sandy

Mt Democrat, Mt Cameron, Mt Lincoln and Mt Bross sit in a high cirque and in summer conditions are often all climbed from Kite Lake. This trailhead begins at 12,000 feet and allows one to climb 4 14ers in 7.5 miles. Being early in the season the approach road is not maintained during the winter, so the first 2.5 miles are an easy walk, but do add additional distance. It was here we met Mike, who was out on a solo effort and joined our trio. The wind was up and it was snowing, so visibility was limited. Below is Alan with Mike and I snowshoeing into the white.


This was supposed to be a climb of Mt Democrat, which Alan has not yet climbed. I have been thwarted on Mt Lincoln for a variety of reasons, missing the summit on every one of my four attempts. When we reached the saddle Alan graciously agreed to climb Mt Lincoln, although we would have to go over Cameron to get to it.

The winds on the summit ridge were stiff, but merely a warm up for the gale force breeze awaiting on Cameron’s summit plateau. We quickly donned every piece of clothing we had and then continued onto Lincoln. Dropping off the summit of Cameron we were out of the wind and instantly overheated. Knowing the winds would return atop Lincoln we opted to keep moving.

It has been a while since I have stood atop a new summit. I was surprised by my excitement. I was borderline giddy, which is nothing new, but this was definitely an order of magnitude greater. It is these moments, whether experienced in the alpine or the desert, that makes me know I am spending my time in the places I should be.

Alan and I atop Lincoln


Stam, Alan and I lower on the mountain


Monday, May 23, 2011

Mt Elbert

This climbed occurred on the weekend of 4/15, so the write up, while not on time, should still not be overlooked.
  • Route: Southeast Ridge
  • Distance: 10.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ~5,000 feet
  • Start time: 7:30 AM
  • Time: 5.0  up, 3.0 down
The Texan came to town for two reasons, to eat and drink his way through Denver and climb a 14er. Given his hospitality a few weeks back, I was determined to succeed on all accounts.
We stayed the night in Dillon, which allowed us to dine at the Dam Brewery. Every trip should be so lucky to begin with extra pale ales, even if there is a price to be paid in dehydration that must be remedied in the morning. We left at 6 AM and reached the trailhead shortly after 8 AM, after my misreading the directions and driving around an extra 30 minutes.
The trail begins in an aspen forest. It was somewhat ghostly as none of the trees had begun to leaf out, but it added a spartan beauty to an already stunning landscape.
Sorry about getting lost, let’s hike!
With a lengthy walk along the road and a fairly gentle grade, at some point there is a price to be paid in terms of elevation gain. One does not summit the highest peak in Colorado without a punishing climb somewhere in the mix. And then we saw it. You gain a ridge right at treeline and then climb ~2600 vertical feet in ~1.5 miles. The steep grade is tough, but it is the elevation that makes it brutal.
At this point we ran into Chris, who was in town for two weeks from Pennsylvania for work training and getting after it by climbing 14ers and snowboarding on his weekends. The elevation was taking a toll on his motivation and immediately decided to climb with us.
David and Chris ascending a snow slope at 12,000 feet.
The climb from this point on was a snowy slog in which the three of us strung out on the slope. All three of us made the summit, just at different times.
Lounging on the summit
Really lounging on the summit!
David abandoning the flex shot in favor of an impromptu dance to celebrate Colorado’s highest point.
The descent was never ending, but ultimately took us back to Denver. Chris met us in town, and Alan and Heather came out to join in a post-climb food tour that included the Green Russell, the Cruise Room, Great Divide Brewery, Vesta Dipping Grill, Biker Jims and Steubens. If a trip should begin with extra pale ales, it should end with gourmet hot dogs, ceviche, pork belly and cocktails.
The physical efforts and caloric rewards continued the next day as David and I knocked out a 5 mile trail run followed by brunch with Heather. We then proceeded to nap the day away until we left for the airport.
Below are a few more pictures from this weekend.
Me climbing up behind David and Chris
One of the Twin Lakes.
View from the summit

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mt Shavano


  • Route: Angel of Shavano
  • Distance: 7.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,600 feet
  • Start time: 5:30 AM
  • Time: 4.5 hours up, 2.25 hours down

Standing tall at the southern end of the Sawatch Range, 14,229 Mt Shavano dominates the western skyline of the Arkansas River Valley. Given its aspect and location, Shavano can often shed its snow earlier than others peaks of similar size. Yet, in late spring, a snow feature known as the “Angel of Shavano” forms, allowing for nearly 3,000 vertical feet of climbing on snow. Native Americans thought this to be an Indian Princess who, after sacrificing herself to end a drought, returned each year to provide water.

Pictured below is the Angel, with less snow than we experienced, but it shows the arms and head in clear relief. Photo compliments of Rex Headd.


Alan and I drove up Friday night and in what is likely a combination of redneck meets efficiency we slept beneath his truck. This saved us the effort of setting up a tent, yet kept the sporadic precipitation from falling upon us.

The morning dawned humid, which put an unwelcome chill in the air, and we could already hear the wind howling at higher altitudes. We hike fairly quick and thus reached the base of the Angel to be greeted by shadows, wind and wind driven snow. Much of the haze in the picture below is wind driven snow.


Alan was feeling great and making it look easy. I was lagging, cursing the altitude and the effort of walking uphill with a headwind and questioning my decision to enjoy the liquid refreshment the night before at Amicas. With little to be done about it I simply headed up. That is me in the picture below, getting hammered by one of the many squalls that poured over us. The trip up was constantly breezy, but it was punctuated by violent winds that knocked you around, especially since their direction was not consistent.


We hit the summit at 10 AM, to be greeted by even stronger wind and snow. When we removed our goggles and balaclavas for summit shots, made your face sting. The summit pictures were squinty affairs.


We made short work of the descent by plunge stepping and hugging the edge of the left arm to minimize exposure to avalanche danger. IMG_5870

As always, I felt great on the descent. With the specter of elevation gain behind me and a comfort level on snow, we jogged down most of the Angel. The sun came out when we neared the bottom and the effort combined with the albedo of the snow had us quickly shedding layers.

It was a solid effort and the 4th 14er on the year, which I think is likely a personal record for early in the season. Pictured below is the view of Shavano from near US 285. It is a sight we will see often this summer as we travel to the southwest part of the state to climb other high peaks.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Timely Delay

More often than not my daily commute has me in the thick of traffic as I opt for the most direct route, using the same logic as motorists in an effort to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner possible. The other morning traffic behind me was stopped to allow a truck entry into a construction site. This gave me over 48 feet of completely empty laneage to enjoy, and enjoy I did. It was me versus myself as I raced green lights from 12th Street to Colfax Avenue, carving slalom turns and grinning like a kid the whole time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Costa Rica

One day at work, while wallowing in dissatisfaction with most everything, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. Not having sat on a beach in over 9 years I was confident that the heat and humidity of the equatorial Pacific coast would prove adequate distraction from day to day life. I was right.
I flew into San Jose, took a hard left out of the international airport, which is fairly new and quite nice, and went to the domestic terminal, which comparatively is a garage. Regardless, instead of a 4-6 hour bus trip I took a 18 minute flight on a 12-seat puddle jumper and found myself sitting on the beach in Manuel Antonio by 9:30 AM. In a move that I only would only employ when on vacation I was enjoying an Imperial, the beer of Costa Rica, by 11:14 AM.
Manuel Antonio is known for its national park of the same name. Cooled by the beer above and with surf crashing in the background, I hired a guide and entered the park. The guides are great as they are all certified and can speak to the flora, fauna and natural history of the park. Without a guide I would have walked by most of the things I really wanted to see. Sightings included:
3-toed sloth, of which I saw several. IMG_7280
Lizards, which were everywhere.
White faced monkey
Titi monkeyIMG_7288
From Manuel Antonio I went to Jaco. Not looking for a party scene or being propositioned by prostitutes, the city quickly lost its appeal so I stayed only a night and headed to Montezuma. This included a ferry ride across the Gulf of Nicoya as the sunset.
I spent my remaining time in Montezuma, a small beach village with a smattering of hotels and restaurants. One of my goals from this trip was to surf. I have never surfed but leapt into it with abandon. Day one was a small beach break where we practiced standing up and carving some turns. You start in whitewater waves, meaning catching rides on waves that have already broke. Typically easy, but not without the risk of failure.
Day two and three was at a reef break with larger waves and more locals, many of which I got to know amidst the pummeling I took. I caught a couple of good waves and had lengthy rides and could see why people love it. With that said, I enjoyed the part where we sat on the beach, enjoyed a few drinks and the conversation ran the gamut of ocean knowledge to the politics of being an ex-pat.
I had not traveled on my own before, but enjoyed it. There were times I wanted company, especially every time I stumbled into an incredibly romantic open-air beachside restaurant, which happened with frequency, but otherwise liked moving at my own pace. If all goes to plan I will make financial decisions in Denver that lead to more travel abroad.
Below are a few pictures with no real theme, just shots I enjoyed.
Leaf cutter ants
Green poison dart frog