Getting humbled, one way or another

The Half Eaten Enchilada October 17, 2011

Filed under: Biking — sarahallen24 @ 12:03 am

The Whole Enchilada is a trail in Moab that starts high in the La Sal Mountains and ends 4,000 feet below in the canyon along the Colorado River. A few of us finally scheduled a weekend to tackle the enchilada, but due to recent snow we couldn’t start from the very top. Instead we started a few miles below the trailhead and rode the remaining 20 miles. So rather than officially getting The Whole Enchilada, we got the half-eaten enchilada…which is exactly how I leave my plate at mexican restaurants.

We arrived in the Moab area around 4pm on a Friday…and it being October…we were fighting every other Coloradan for a campsite. We hit all our usual spots first. It was like those kids in Forrest Gump, “seats taken.” As we rolled through the campgrounds I could see what they were saying with their eyes: “can’t camp here.” Sometimes you can see the pity in other campers eyes: “aww poor saps…good luck gals.”

After the usuals, we drove out to some outskirt sites on the other end of town. People were gobbling up every spot of legal camping ground available, diving on it like it was the last bite of food for days. As we approached 2 hours in to the hunt, the competition grew. An older couple snagged the last spot up Kane Creek just seconds before us. I even saw the guy mark the spot like a dog then kick the dirt around to make his point. Ok that didn’t really happen. But it was that serious for sure.

Finally we drove up to a slightly secret area that I’ve always had good luck with. It’s got a great view and it’s FREE…which is a very rare word around that area. As we drove along the highway, approaching the unsigned dirt road that led to our last hope, we saw a Subaru ahead of us that was clearly on the same desperate hunt. We were alarmed…what if they get the last spot? They slowed, spotted the dirt road…..but missed the turn! Here was our chance, “Carrie punch it!” we yelled as the Subaru turned around. We flew down the dirt road, letting the Subaru eat our dust. Hey it’s every man for themselves here. We reached the secret camping area and thankfully found several open. So we snagged a great spot and were also glad that the Subaru folks got a spot too.

Sunrise over the La Sals the next morning

As Carrie puts it, we slept “like the cowboys” out under the stars…actually under a huge moon. I wore my headband like a blindfold to sleep.

We took a shuttle to the trailhead with a bunch of smelly guys that were already 2-3 days into Moab with no showers. I was shoved in the back where the van had extra bounce and the air was extra ripe. Hello nausea. Being green is not the best way to start a ride. But the view made up for it!

This ride launches you immediately down the mountain, shooting through colorful aspen groves. I got up close and personal with one particular aspen, hitting it with my right handlebar. A great Superman impression (if I do say so myself) immediately followed. Thankfully nothing hurt and I went and found Carrie and Emily who were wondering what happened. I swear, whenever I wear my knee pads that just guarantees I’ll crash. Crash #1

Me and Em before leaving the mountains behind

The trail flirts with the edge of Castle Valley at least a dozen times. So at least 12 times I held my breath and everything puckered until I passed the death zone.

Narrowly-avoided crash #1 involved me not seeing a 3 foot drop, riding through and punching myself in the stomach with my handlebars. I did avoid the front flip though. Had there been gum in my mouth, I estimate it would have flown at least 15 yards.

Carrie enjoying one of the 10,000 ledges on Porcupine Rim

If you look close you can see what we’ll call Emily’s “YIPES” face

Riding along in the wonderful shade on Porcupine Rim

Crash #2 saw a part of my body, located in the northern region and of which there are two, colliding with a large tree branch. Owweeee.

Anyhow, it was a great ride and I’d love to come back next spring to ride The WHOLE Enchilada!


Government Trail July 31, 2011

Filed under: Biking — sarahallen24 @ 7:55 pm
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In honor of the US Congress playing a game of chicken all weekend, I decided to check out a ride on the Government Trail in Aspen. Being named the Government Trail, one could expect it….

1) To have a bad reputation

2) To involve excessive regulations

3) To shift dramatically to the right or left every 2 miles or so

4) Could randomly end with a sign stating “DEFAULT”

Thankfully none of these things were true. The trail came highly recommended by several people. In fact it was probably the funnest ride I’ve had this season!

The trail begins at Snowmass ski resort. We took the easy way up.

We got a nice, quick warm up shooting through the trees and across the ski slopes.

The trail takes you from Snowmass to Aspen through aspen groves and meadows full of wildflowers.

About halfway along the trail we came upon a couple guys stopped on the side. One, clad in Livestrong gear, was fixing his cleat. His buddy was wearing a full Honey Stinger get-up. As we rode up I thought, “ha, that guy looks like Lance Armstrong.” When we pulled up and said Hi, I realized…”oh, that IS Lance Armstrong.” We exchanged greetings and wished each other a fun rest of the day. It was a fun little bonus on an already spectacular ride.

After splashing through creek crossings and over a couple minor rock gardens, we popped out on the slopes of Buttermilk.

From there until the pavement just outside Aspen, we enjoyed a FAST flowing ride complete with whoops and weeeeee’s all the way down.

We definitely had a more fun and successful day than the actual government! I can’t wait to come back in the fall for ride #2.


Zippety-Do-Dah Day June 13, 2011

Filed under: Biking — sarahallen24 @ 4:00 pm
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Last night’s ride on Zippety-Do-Dah out at 18 Road was one of the most fun rides I’ve had yet this season. Put together a good group, perfect singletrack, sunset light, no one else on the trail and you have a good time.

Zippety puts one of those goofy grins on your face all the time. And you can hear your friends whooping as they shoot over rollers.

You have to sing the Zippety Do Dah song while you ride.

In this pic, the owner and doggy have similar facial expressions.

Peyton and the Bookcliffs

This trail is a free roller coaster!

What a gorgeous Sunday evening

This one reminds me of Uganda!



3..2..1 Summer June 6, 2011

Filed under: Biking,Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 3:19 pm

Anyone in Colorado (and surrounding states) will tell you right now that this “spring” has been odd. Temperatures have been below normal, we’ve had late freezes, the wind has been relentless and we’ve had consecutive days of rain here in the high desert. We’re not used to much of that water from the sky thing. The mountain towns are still shoveling snow when they should be getting the BBQs out. My chiro told me of a friend in Breckenridge who said, “everyone is either depressed or drunk.”

Well all that snow is on the move now because this weekend the weather decided to make up for lost time; we jumped right into the 90s.

I got so excited about the warmth that I must have forgotten how to play in the heat. On Saturday I went out for a ruke (run/hike) in Monument Valley….at noon. I started off with a “woo hoo!” Soon I was panting and dripping sweat, sucking on my Camelback hose like a pacifier. I ran into a lot of people…who were all heading down. They started in the morning like smart people.

Independence Monument

You’d think I would have adjusted to the desert activity guidelines (get outside early) but no. On Sunday my adventure buddy and I started out at 3pm on the Butterknife trail. The thermometer read 92. Problem is, my body has been used to about 66 degrees.

Carrie on Butterknife

My energy was sucked out pretty quickly which led to a wrestling match or two with my bike. Couple the heat with about 1 billion no-see-ums (biting gnats that LOVE me) and you’ve got yourself a pretty ridiculous Sunday afternoon.

I felt totally justified in having ice cream for dinner.


5am Wake Up Call May 16, 2011

Filed under: Biking,Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 2:38 pm

Now I remember what it was like when I was still in school. The beginning of the school year loomed over my head about one week out. From then on the clock was ticking…I had to ride bikes with friends just one last time, get that last ice cream cone in the park, get one more burger at Arctic Circle.

Like the summer break, my time of Funemployment has come to a close. The alarm went off at 5:00 this morning making me wonder 1) why is there some guy in my room talking to me? Should I be finding my softball bat for self defense? and 2) why am I getting up in the middle of the night? I’ve enjoyed snoozing until 8am lately. I also discovered that the shower knobs & shampoo bottles are difficult to operate in the alternate dimension of the early dawn hours.

But here I am back at my desk with a Big Gulp of coffee. I’m welcomed by a little over 800 emails, 10 voicemails and a stack of mail up to my knees. So as I work on emptying my inbox, which keeps locking up because I’m trying to delete so many emails at once, I’m posting a few pictures of the last couple weeks. I tried to squeeze every last drop out of the freedom.

The view of the wonderfully contoured Grand Valley from Mt. Garfield

The view from Liberty Cap, directly opposite Mt. Garfield

The Joe’s Ridge roller coaster

A night hike through Rough Canyon and part of “The Butt Crack.” Apologies to Emily, whom I incorrectly told this would be a quick 3 mile hike. When we delivered her home at 1:45am she had to be at work in just 5 hours. I owe you coffee.

I’m thankful for the rest and the play time. And I’m thankful for a job. My body will just have to come to terms with a little lifestyle shift!


Spring Slickrock April 11, 2011

Filed under: Biking — sarahallen24 @ 7:47 pm
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The ski season just ended for us here in western Colorado. That means I get to stop sprinting for a few months! My body is still waking up at 5am thinking it’s time for the snow report. After I talk myself back to sleep, I’m probably babbling 24 hour snow totals. I’m readjusting though thanks in large part to this past weekend. I shut my phone off and headed for Moab.

It’s become a little tradition to go ride the Slickrock Trail first thing in the spring. It’s good timing as it’s not too crowded there yet and the temperatures haven’t matched the surface of the sun.

Due to the tradition of wind in the spring, we opted for some more shelter this time. This is Dan’s tent on our trip last year:

With some wind in the forecast, we took this rig:

Note: driving this rig in the wind will earn you a whopping 9 miles to the gallon…adds some extra sting to those already high gas prices.

The wind mellowed enough to have our first campfire of the season. Carrie had saved some of the Christmas tree for firestarter….I think it worked. An inventory of eyebrows took place immediately following this photo.

The adventure buddy got more adventurous than I.  Doing her monkey thing on the boulders along the Colorado River

The rock there is so cool

We loitered around town on Saturday waiting for it to hurry up and rain. Which of course it never did. But the Peace Tree Cafe is back open again which means the world is blessed with their delicious smoothie magic!

The clouds parted on Sunday and we got on the bikes.

Butt, meet bike seat. You’re gonna have to get used to each other. You’ll be spending lots of time together this summer.

A nice view for lunch

Please excuse the hairyness of the legs

And that’s the game! A great ride and a great time to slow down the pace.


14 Reasons Why the Grand Valley is an Outdoor Paradise March 31, 2011

Filed under: Biking,Hiking/Backpacking,Skiing,Uncategorized — sarahallen24 @ 5:42 pm
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This is a rough draft of a little project I’m working on…

For outdoor lovers, the Grand Valley seems to be overlooked in Colorado for places like Boulder or Ft. Collins. But I would argue that we have some of the best and most diverse outdoor adventures for any activity. And, perhaps most importantly, we don’t have to fight traffic to get out there!

1. Not too big, not too small….juuuuuuust right. The 2010 census puts Mesa County at 146,723.

2. World class biking between the Lunch Loop trails, 18 Road, Rabbit Valley, and Kokopelli system. The new Lunch Loop Bike Park has been so successful that another is being constructed at the Kokopelli system. Enough dirt for everyone!

3. Use your legs instead of wheels? Those trail systems are perfect for runners.

4. Skinny tires enjoy the road riding through orchards, vineyards, over the Colorado National Monument, or over the world’s largest flat-topped mountain. Take your pick.

5. Taking a hike after work is a perfect way to blow off steam. Mt. Garfield, Liberty Cap, Serpent’s Trail or Devil’s Canyon are just a few that are hikeable almost year-round.

6. That brings me to the next point: Very little winter driving in the valley. We all own the ‘all wheel drive’ but it rarely gets use on our commutes.

7. Skiing and snowboarding is just 45 minutes away. The Grand Mesa can act like The Grand Snowfence at times and force the clouds to drop copious amounts of snow. Powderhorn offers uncrowded slopes with sweet aspen glades. Or kick out into the backcountry throughout the mesa.

8. Multi-sport days? All the time! Go skiing in the morning then _________ in the afternoon. Fill in the blank with any of these: biking, climbing, hiking, running, golfing.

9. The Grand Valley has water. Between the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers you can do whatever floats your boat. (See what I did there?)

10. There’s rock too. All the climbing and bouldering you can get your chalky little hands on.

11. Incredible backpacking routes are within a couple hours drive: Grand Mesa, San Juan Mountains and Elk Mountains.

12.  This is canyon country. Canyoneers enjoy exploration in Dominguez Canyon, Escalante Canyon, The Colorado National Monument and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

13. Post-playtime food and bevies in all directions: Hot Tomato of Fruita, Palisade Cafe of Palisade and Suehiro’s of Grand Junction just to name a few.

14. And finally, local beer and wine is flowing all over the valley! There are 18 wineries/tasting rooms, 3 breweries and our Peach Street Distillers crafts the perfect vodka.