Getting humbled, one way or another

Photo Dump November 14, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 3:29 am

I’ve been anti-computer lately…at least in not wanting to use one after work. So here’s the random photo dump from recent adventures.

The view from Upper Cascade Falls above Ouray

Tree roots

Crazy trees

Happy Dogs

The bunkhouse at Chief Ouray Mine

The lady that lives in the mine

Just liked these leaves


Flash Booms & Blue Lakes August 31, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 3:48 pm
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I’m not sure how many times I’ve been to Blue Lakes but I bet it’s been 8-9 times by now. It’s so gorgeous I just keep going back each year and taking more people to see it. The Forest Service should hire me, I’m already running an “introduction to the awesomeness of the San Juan Forest” program. Perhaps they could just cut me a little slack on my taxes each year to compensate? No? Ok in all honesty I’d settle for a cool ranger hat.

This past weekend a gaggle of us (5 humans, 3 doggies) enjoyed the little trek, two of the group for the first time. Lisa has been looking forward to this hike for a whole year.

We camped at the trailhead, enjoyed the fire, star gazed and watched lightning way off in the distance. Lisa brought a tent the size of the house I lived in during college. So all 8 of us spread out comfortably. Around 2am I awoke to a loud rumble announcing the coming storm. My bladder told my brain that this moment was a very important opportunity that I shouldn’t ignore or I would regret it later. So I climbed over one of the gals, she decided to join in the brilliance of my bladder, and stumbled outside the tent. Immediately a flash blinded me, causing a loud HOLY CRAP which woke up the rest of the pack. It’s kinda hard to pee when KABOOOOM naturally causes muscles to tighten up.

As soon as we settled back into sleeping bags the Flash Booms really fired up and the rain came. It was an awesome storm. But thankfully the morning brought clear skies.

And Lisa made it!

Carrie swam out to this little island. After her screaming died down I chickened out. Little too cold for my blood.

The gang at lake #1. It’s so gorgeous up there!


Kin Folk August 19, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 5:04 pm

A suburban loaded with Wyoming kin folk came to see me!

At the Mica Mine in the Bangs Canyon area.


Mt. Massive August 14, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 6:35 pm

It’s perhaps the most obviously named peak in Colorado. Mt. Massive is, well….massive. It’s the second highest in the state but has several summits over 14,000 feet. I was able to sneak out recently with adventure pal Leah for a quick summit. We chose the backside route rather than the popular main route. Our route was shorter, only 8-9 miles, but significantly steeper than the main route. For 2.5 miles of the hike, you climb 3,300 feet. And just when you think you’re about to level off, your hopes are dashed by a couple false summits.

A few years back, while on a nasty backpack out of Conundrum hot springs during hours of pouring rain, Leah and I coined the rule, “You’re not even close until you’re there.” We had to start using this phrase because Leah was bonking and I kept encouraging her that, “I think the trailhead is just around this bend.” I really did think that…several times…for several miles. So my encouragement actually led to a series of punishing false hope. Therefore, I’m not longer allowed to guess at the finishing point. Instead, we’re just not even close until we’re there. The Massive hike was gorgeous, but with false summits just keep that in mind.

“The hills are alive…with the sound of music…”

Me and my farmer Joe hat

The view from the top, looking toward Aspen & Snowmass

A great treat while hiking down, wild strawberries! The flavor-to-size ratio far exceeds any of those you can buy in the store.


Packing Without Planning July 7, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 10:47 pm
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Plan? We don’t need no stinkin plan.

Adventure pals Leah, Carrie and I briefly sat down last week to “plan” a 4th of July weekend backpacking trip. We knew our destination would be the San Juans. I can’t get enough of that mountain range lately. Our “planning” session consisted of us pulling out a map and picking a trail based on wherever our pointer finger landed. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but just about. We saw a trail just out of Ouray that led up to Engineer Pass and it looked like it would pass a couple old mines. The group said, “ok cool. Let’s go get dinner,” and abandoned any further research.

When we arrived at the trailhead there was literally not one single space I could wiggle my car into. The parking area is on the highway leading up Red Mountain Pass, so getting creative to find a parking spot could mean you going Evil Kenevil to the bottom of a very large canyon. Oh well. We went back into Ouray and bummed around until the day-hikers would be done.

Starting out on Bear Creek Trail

3 things we failed to think about when “planning”:

1) You’d think out of 3 of us, someone would have looked at the topo lines. This trail climbed quite a bit very quickly. With hefty packs it was a bit of a slog at the hottest part of the day. With the late start we only went in a few miles.

2) It’s like the winter temperatures numb my brain on how to pack for backpacking. Carrie and I took in turkey meatballs, a pound of buffalo meat*, a bag of trail mix the size of my head, jerky, cliff bars and plenty of other snacks. You’d think we were planning on starting up one of these old mines and living there all summer. *The buffalo meat leaked blood all over everything in Carrie’s bag causing her to be constantly afraid of being jumped by a bear.

3) There were 4 big creek crossings. A good thing to remember is that as the day goes on, the snow melts and the creeks rise. Where you first walked through in your Chacos, you’ll need the Queen Mary to cross in a few hours.

Grizzly Bear Mine

Our campsite had a great front porch

We day hiked up through Yellow Jacket Mine and to the top of Engineer Pass

Hanging out on Engineer Pass looking at what Carrie and I climbed the previous weekend. Wetterhorn Peak is on the left. Uncompaghre Peak (an adventure still to come) is center.

Us gals with Yankee Boy Basin and Mt. Sneffles area in the background

The way to ski without packing in the skis

The most mellow creek crossing we had

We were treated to God’s 4th of July show that evening. I’d say He well outdoes anything we can pull off.

Time to head back to civilization…and a shower.

Good luck to all the Hardrock Endurance racers tomorrow! A very hearty (i.e. crazy) bunch of people will be running this section as part of their 100 mile race.


Puckering Up On Wetterhorn June 26, 2011

Filed under: Hiking/Backpacking — sarahallen24 @ 5:20 pm

I enjoyed the feet upon feet of snow all winter and still talk about the powder days. But come spring I noticed that I’ve been complaining about all the snow still up in the mountains. Can’t have it both ways Sarah! So instead of complaining, my adventure buddy and I decided to force a backpacking and 14er trip this weekend\

The original plan was to hike Uncompaghre Peak the long route past Wetterhorn and Matterhorn. Eventhough it’s not really necessary, we wanted to backpack in so we could camp up high and get away from any civilization.

Backpacking in with Wetterhorn peeking out above us.

When we arrived at about 12,000 feet you could finally get a full view of Wetterhorn. We decided to plop our tent down right there.

It’s such a spectacular looking peak, we changed our minds and decided to climb it. As I read the peak description that evening, I started to worry a little. It would be my introduction to more exposed scrambling. I don’t mind Class 3 scrambling at all. It’s the “exposed” that I worry about. In my opinion, “exposed” is the nice mountain climber term for “if you slip you’ll tumble right off the mountain.”

Well, I thought, I’ll at least give it a good try.

Starting out early, we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise.

Hello lungs.

As the book said, the route would get more and more difficult as you ascend the ridge. We scrambled around, me performing some kind of new climbing techniques that while not pretty, got the job done.

Then we arrived at the final summit pitch. Just 150 feet to go. Unfortunately, that 150 was the exposed Class 3 I was worried about. Thankfully it has great ledges and handholds the whole way up. It just has no real bottom to it. Right before we started, Carrie said, “ok the key to exposure is not to look down.” So what did I do? Yep, I looked down. I couldn’t help but picture where I would land on those snow fields below if I were to slip.

If you thought this post would be about the nice kind of “puckering up”…well it is not. It’s about the parts of your body that “pucker” when you’re scared. On this, just about everything in me that can pucker, was fully puckered.

I took this picture before climbing back down. No way was I stopping for scenic views or pictures when climbing up! At one point, Carrie asked if I wanted to stop and rest. I flew by her saying, “Can’t stop. Will freak out.”

Obviously my visions of cartwheeling down the mountain didn’t happen.

The view from the summit was amazing! That’s Uncompaghre Peak on the left.

Enjoying perfect weather on the summit.

The great thing about all that snow, is you can get down very quickly…and in a much more entertaining manner. I had never glissaded before, but was really looking forward to it. It’s like big mountain sledding and you use your ice axe for a break. We had seen a couple other guys bail off the ridgeline and slide through the gap in these rocks. We decided to do the same. Walking up to the edge, I got that pucker again and wished I had my skis. It was steep…and those rocks looked sharp. But I grabbed my axe and decided to go for it before thinking too much. What followed was the most uncoordinated, flailing, spinning and twisting glissade this world has ever seen. In fact I wish a mountaineering instructor was there to film it. He could use it as a “How Not to Glissade” training video. When I finally came to a stop in the bowl below, there was laughter from the ridgeline above and I had the worst wedgie of my life.

Carrie’s glissade was much more graceful.

My butt mark on Wetterhorn.

In perfect backwards fashion, I decided I should teach myself to glissade on slopes much less steep.

Back at our campsite.

I’m still pretty amazed that I got on top of that thing. I’m all puckered out.


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.