Thursday, December 27, 2012

Stay classy, Colorado

Colorado is a beautiful place, but there's not much snow there at the moment, leading residents to visit Canada or someplace....or maybe Utah:

We feel bad for Colorado. One of our dear friends moved there, but he can always visit Utah to reacquaint himself with the fluff. Here he is, saying hello to an old friend.
When asked by a fellow tourer we encountered where he skis in Colorado, our friend exclaimed "Utah," to which the tourer nodded in agreement.

And boy was it hammering:

So Utah's doing all right, but its still early season:
Utah is known for the "greatest snow on earth" but its a little known fact that it also has the greatest brush on earth. Really, this shot skied remarkably well....

But coverage on the whole was good. Check the contrast in turns. Mine's the middle one.

Low-angle rooster tails all the way to work---can't do that in the CO front.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lone Grizzly

I made this stupid video by holding my point-and-shoot camera between my fingers and my ski pole. The terrain was low angle south facing slopes in Grizzly Gulch, so the avalanche danger was low. There was a few inches of powder in the afternoon, after a early day at work. It was a fantastic day. A great little session by myself, fiddling with a camera while skiing. Obviously people do these videos much better with the GoPros, but whatev. And I clearly need to hold the camera more upright while descending, but again, this is amateur hour.

Anyway, the whole point of this exercise was to portray what a day of touring in the mountains feels like. I hope you enjoy:

Music credit: (1) Breakbot---Baby I'm Yours, and (2) Steve Earl---Johnny Come Lately

And I leave you with this:

Monday, November 12, 2012

The manner of mountains in times of neglect

Lots of hiking in the mountains.

Since late June I've logged 200k of vertical towards my arbitrary goal, mostly from running/hiking in the mountains. So I'm on track for logging the 365k in a year, but I'm actually closer to a half-million, but we will see how that goes as Winter arrives...

The mountains in a neglected season: As a creature of habit I usually only visit the mountains during choice times, but my arbitrary goal is leading me to explore and observe natural environs in all conditions, being adaptable and attuned to wonderful surprises everywhere. Mud and rocks, snow and slush, half-frozen in-betweens. Wet boots.

Kessler Peak Fog.

White Pine dusted white.

The first big dump of the season put nearly 4 feet of powder over mostly dry ground this last weekend.

And there you have it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Joy of Marginal Gains

The Pheifferhorn: parking lot to summit in 1:33:55. Previous best time: 1:38---about a 4% improvement over a month of training. First off, that time is not going to win any medals, given the known record time is around 1:05---about 40% faster than my best.

No matter. I spent all Summer mountain running in the Wasatch with one expectation: cover a lot of cool terrain with the engine running high. Over the course of the whole year I guess my top sustainable split time on mountain terrain improved about 20%. My main proving ground for speed is Wire Peak, where I was first clocking in times around 42 minutes, then inching down to a sub 35-minute time recently: exactly 20% improvement.

Knowing how marginal gains work, I bet another season of directed training at the same effort will yield 10% better time, perhaps less. That would net a 1:25min Pheifferhorn time, or a 31.5 Wire Peak time. Time will tell.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Year of the Hike

I don't know where the idea got started, sort of organically I Guess, but after a few hikes here and there, we got some momentum.

 It started with a trip to Dog Lake on Father's Day, followed quickly by a trip to Willow Lake:

And then a few fishing trips to Cathryn Lake:

And then it really got going with hiking the White- and Red-Pine drainages with their onerous 2400 vert each. With new jobs and all the pressures that come, we wanted to be anti-goal this year. Then ironically we made our hiking into a goal to visit all the major lake drainages of the Central Wasatch. We needed Desolation, Broads fork, and Maybird to finish off the list....

We did Maybird this weekend to check the last box.

This was cause for celebration:
Maybird may be the most majestic with the Phiferhorn looming over the diminutive lakes.

Imogen was psyched seeing the Phiferhorn---she knew its legend, but had not seen it up close till now.

Our girl is getting big. Most of the lakes in the Wasatch require 2000+ feet to achieve in 3-5 miles. Hauling a 35 lb toddler with water, food, diapers, and clothing was onerous. This hiking adventure will not be repeated next year since we have not found a way to stop her from growing.

And our final tour of the Wasatch Lakes was punctuated by the yellow aspen leaves of Fall. The snow will fly soon and this year's hiking adventures will end. Desert Season will start soon and new touchstones will have to be felt out, milestones reached. Just off the top of my head, I think Imogen needs to see some Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs, or maybe ruins from other pioneers of the desert who are longer living but must be imagined, specifically in the mind of a little girl.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Boulder Mountain Bikepack---Technical Trails and a Big Brook Trout

Apologies for having no pictures, but the below GPS track describes the journey to the North Slope Boulder Lakes so famed for their giant trout.

If I were to do this overnighter again, I'd ride it in the opposite direction, heading first to green lake, which goes twice as long for the same vertical, but keeps the gradient down to something more ridable.

At Fish Creek lake I managed to land a 14-inch Brook Trout amid an amphitheater of yellow and orange aspens and cliff bands forming the Boulder plateau. If that fish sounds impressive, its not. Every fisherman there practically had one that big. The Boulder Mountain lakes just grow them big. I rode onward still to Blind Lake and camped on the shores for a feast of my trout. I was lucky to land the fish because I only brought cous cous with me for dinner, so the pressure was on. I ate well thankfully. The descent down the following morning was exciting. Technical rocky trails abounded. Even on a fully loaded bikepack rig the trails were fun to pick through the rocks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Big Fish

Waist-deep in the reeds of Lower Bowns Reservoir, I landed this big one, probably a full pound.

Camping in the pines above the reservoir.

The pines were a labyrinth of fun.

Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. 

Imogen's first fish of the trip. We trolled a deep section of Lower Bowns and had hits every time we passed by---the canoe is a highly effective fishing tool.

Imogen learns to cast... There was a mayfly hatch and the fish were rising everywhere on the banks too. 

Sunday was apple harvest day. Note the grotesquely large size of the canoe.

Tonnage of apples = lots of pies.

Heart rocks in Broad's Fork, Wasatch range.

Imms learning to climb.

She's carefully explaining her polling technique.

And then execution... She went down this steep terrain for about 1/3 of a mile till the fatigue set in.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

1,000 feet per day for a year

A while ago I read about this ski mountaineer, Greg Hill, who strapped on a GPS-altimeter one day and set out to climb and ski two-million vertical feet in one year's time.

Me on the summit of Gobbler's Knob---a 4,000-foot day.

I decided to try something similar. Being a dad with a full-time job, and being only an amateur athlete, I figured 1K per day---365,000 feet in a year---seemed like a fun and doable goal. My rules: the vertical gain can be anything human powered: bike, run, ski, hike. Of course, biking is much easier to gain vertical quickly, and 1K a day on the bike could be done with minimal effort, so in the spirit of Greg Hill's feat, I've committed to doing most of it through hiking, running, and backcountry skiing, but I go on rides as well, most notably my bike tour of the Wasatch plateau where I tallied 25,000 vert in three days, but I also count my 300-foot vertical gain bike route to work and back every weekday.

In a little over two months since I bought a GPS-altimeter, I've tallied about 110,000 vertical feet, so I'm way ahead of my quota. For now. Doing a half-million in a year would be really cool, but probably not realistic. We will see.

So I spend a lot of time in the mountains. Consistently. It looks here like an inukshuk escaped Canada and decided to summit the Phiperhorn!

 Most of my vertical is done on trails, but sometimes scrambling.

The Red Pine Lakes---true high country.

Not everyday is agro. In fact most days are pretty mellow. I do some road running in the hills above my house and some hikes with the kiddo on my back.

Relaxing at Desolation Lake with the Fam after casting a few flies.

Sometimes the run/hike has another goal entirely.

Too little to keep, so I keep on casting, and running....

Mostly its a good excuse to keep visiting the mountains in every season.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

East Fork of Black's Fork

We hiked in about one mile from the trail head. Given we hiked with a 2 1/2 year-old with all the gear, this is about equivalent to a ten-mile hike in normal backpacking miles.

Right down by the river, plenty of fun for a girl to run about in a meadow. Showing her the milky way took the cake.

And I got to cast a few flies in the creek as well. I caught numerous small fish, but none big enough for dinner.