Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Remnants of 2013

Telluride
Matt Anderson, Stuart Cohen, Maria Danz, and the late Esa.

North Table Mountain, Golden

West Chicago Creek

Clinton Gulch Reservoir

On Mt. Massive

Echo Lake


Esa overlooking Murray and Silver Dollar Lakes

Upper Fish Creek Falls, near Steamboat

Guanella Pass

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Late & Lame

This is my end-of-year blog post.
It is late.
It is lame.
In 2013, I learned that I hate one of the most trendy things on the internet: infographics. Geeeeez. Pleeeeez.

After years of doing 20-25 events a year, in 2013 I only did three races. But I did more big adventures, like R2R2R, All American Man in Canyonlands, Four-Passes Loop, Pawnee Buchanan Loop, and smaller stuff. So I'm still quite active, but not into organized, expensive events that require me to get up early, pay money, or follow someone else's schedule. Work isn't nearly as satisfying as it used to be, my stress levels have gone up, and the last thing I need is stuff that requires me to be at certain places at certain times.
The theme of this year for me has been to plan stuff of my own, then back out of it. Or change it. Whatever I want whenever I want. More times than ever before I've been packed and driving out of town, not knowing where I'm going yet. I just leave town. Sometimes the only concrete decision is do I want to leave on I-70 west? Or do I take 285 west? Leadville? Salida? Buena Vista? Elsewhere?
I am sooooo lazy. Really very bad, worse than ever. Not going to running groups as often as I used to these past two years, but I still go often enough to stay in touch with various people.
I've become quite the hippie, sort of. Sleeping on the ground (or even snow) under the stars with other lazy people who don't want a ceiling blocking the view of the stars or paying for lodging has been the trend. Thought I'd never find anyone else willing to do that, but somehow have found a couple of people as mentally deficient as myself.

Finally made it through a whole year without anyone I know dying on me. Only friends or relatives of friends have died this year. And one friend who miraculously survived 2013, but will probably die within the month.

No resolution - I don't believe in them. Basically, if you ever think of something you want/need to do, just do it then, don't wait for the beginning of a year. If you can't stick to it during a year, it won't be any different at the beginning of a year.

I've had to think long and hard about relationships this year. There are so many different levels of friendships, types of friendships. Plus a loving or romantic/sexual thing can vary tremendously. Not that I'm an expert in that area, mind you, but some things seemed to spell themselves out to me.
The way it works is, relationships aren't necessarily about someone being awesome or perfect. It's so much about flaws. Odd paradox, flaws are actually important in a relationship. Can humans even love each other if neither has a single flaw? Maybe most of you will claim they can "of course", but I'm not convinced they can. It's like being flawless is boring and unattractive.

I definitely don't believe that opposites attract - at least not so for "healthy" people.
Still, finding someone just like you is not healthy, and is also boring. "You know..." "Yep" "And..." "I know." "Like" "Exactly!" "Uh-huh." You wouldn't actually be sharing anything interesting, you wouldn't gain anything new, you wouldn't grow. It'd be like being with a carbon-copy clone.

The thing about flaws, though, is they shouldn't have to be fixed, necessarily. Some serious flaws, yes, no doubt. Someone is a kleptomaniac, yeah, not okay. Someone has a belief you find politically abhorrent, maybe not so important to change.
Misery loves company, but if you try to pair with someone who has the same really damaging flaw you have, it could make you less healthy. It could even doom you. Flaws need to be compatible for each others' health.
I hear lots of my friends, and many strangers, criticizing the opposite sex scathingly itemizing their alleged flaws. After a while it seems most people just don't get it.

1) We all have to allow ourselves to be flawed, and think that in many ways, to certain extents, it's perfectly okay.
2) We also have to be okay when someone notices our flaws. Granted, there are ways mean people will try to capitalize on your insecurities and rub any/every flaw they notice in your face. That's not okay. But if you have a flaw, and someone simply mentions it, you have to allow that.
3) We even have to allow some of our friends the right to talk about our flaws behind our back. This might sound counter-intuitive, but this is important. If friends love you, and they're concerned about you, then talking amongst themselves when you aren't around is how they figure out if maybe they should leave it alone, or maybe they should figure out what to say or do for your best interests. Talking behind your back about your flaws is only bad if they intend to undermine you, not if they're trying to figure out how to collectively do what's best for you. The latter is a version of love.

I've had the unique opportunity to witness a close friend's decline into bitterness because this friend found out that people "they thought were freinds" were talking about them. Unfortunately, hatred and an obsession to return alleged harm is ruling this friend's objectives.
You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. Well, sometimes your friends become your family. At least, that's how I'm wired. I somehow can't simply stop caring, even when someone seems profoundly fucked-up, and a hassle, and even kind of scary. That's probably the kind of friend most people would breathe a sigh of relief that they can simply walk away from. Except for me, this friend has become a family member I can't seem to divest from.

And another friend moved away.
And I've kind of "moved" myself further away from many "friends" here in Denver.
So I've thought a lot about these things. I'm more accepting, even as I distance myself. I've distanced myself because I'm not feeling the need to be with friends as much, even as I still go to parties and trips and runs.
Life has no meaning without relationships. Nothing we do, no matter how "fun", has any meaning devoid of attachments and sharing with others. I'm a recluse, so this is important for me to remember, and I've been practicing what I preach. Socializing has been my therapy. In 2013, I've felt the urge to crawl under a rock and stay hidden there more than ever, but I keep forcing myself to involve myself and stay somewhat active with people. My friends are flawed, and I like that. Because I'm flawed too, and they know that. And that is okay.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Running

Mt Massive from Silver Rush 50 start
Looking down from Pawnee Pass
Climbing down from Pawnee Pass



















The ice-cold pool where I went swimming - and lost a $220 pair of prescription sunglasses



















 The Four Passes group somehow fractured right before the trip. So two people ran it from Crested Butte and two from Aspen. Didn't really matter. Everything went smoothly throughout the run and we met many other ultra-runners from the region.

North Maroon, starting the Four Passes Loop






















Snowmass Peak from Buckskin Pass






















Snowmass Lake from Trail Rider Pass

























video




























































From West Maroon Pass pointing south

From West Maroon Pass pointing north












Camping and Hiking

Castlewood Canyon is a state park southeast of Denver near Franktown. Most people have never heard of it, since they tend to head west tot he mountains. But it is a beautiful park.

Castlewood Canyon Dam


Castlewood Canyon with Dam in distance

Cherry Creek in Castlewood Canyon
Crawdaddy!
 I've spent some time running near Leadville, running into The Usual Suspects that haunt the high trails for the unique training they offer (and the views).
 
Along the road to Mosquito Pass east of Leadville
I don't remember a better year for wildflowers.


East of Leadville, looking west to Mt Massive
Deer Creek Canyon park southwest of Denver



Monday, June 24, 2013

Lucky Weekend

"Luck" is not necessarily good. This long Memorial Day weekend was a roller coaster of good and bad luck that had my head spinning, wondering if we'd get back alive.

The itinerary was to hopefully do the Knowles Canyon, Mee Canyon 36.8 mile loop.

Instead of leaving Friday after work, I was repeatedly ordered to attend a birthday party until they wore me down. I opted instead to take a Tuesday vacation day and attend the party.
Paul G and I left after 10am Saturday and drove to Fruita.
On the way, a big bug splattered artfully across my windshield. Not being a Jackson Pollock fan, I hit the windshield fluid and wiper. IMMEDIATELY after covering my windshield with fluid, and before the wipers came up, I barely noticed a full-sized deer bolting in front of my car. Because of the bug, I let off the gas slightly and was moving at 71mph (in a 75mph zone). I swerved sharply, barely missing the deer and almost certain death.
Good luck/bad. The timing of the deer was PERFECTLY bad, timed to coincide with partial blindness from the fluid, but I put extra effort into seeing through the fluid for safety sake and nearly couldn't believe my eyes. Illusion? NO!!! SWERVE!!! OK, we were awake. Who needs coffee? Not me. Maybe some coffee would help calm me down!

We arrived in Glenwood Springs and ate lunch at the Brewpub. Time to pay. No wallet. That's right, its in my long jeans. I decided last-minute the weather forecast wasn't going to allow any cold or wet weather, so why bring my jeans? Guess who got to drive the rest of the way?
Sunset from Mee TH

We decided to drive to Mee trailhead first. We read a report that said we could cut a couple miles off by start/finishing at the Mee trailhead. So we tried to find the Mee trailhead. It was hard because the maps were CRAP!!! We had several different references from paper maps and my phone with intermittent weak signal. To make matters worse, there are a few land features and road features that, from ground-level, look similar. If you've never been there before, you can mix things up.
From Mee TH looking west
We parked the car where we thought we should be and were about to leave. That's when my phone got enough signal to pull some emails and it chimed. When I unlocked the screen, I saw the map app was up, and our GPS signal pinpointed us... a couple miles from where we thought we were! Lucky that email came in and I saw it before we left the car.
So we drove further west and found the actual place we were supposed to be.
videoAt that point, we decided it might be better to stay there for the night, looking over the lay of the land from our high campsite. That could help us in a lot of minute ways in the days to come.

The trail down into Mee gets rugged and precarious. Neither of us had heard anything about any of it, so it was all completely new as it was experienced. You come off the upper rim, and immediately go through a hole in the cliff and down a rickety ladder. Then down slanted rock and then a dirt/rock gully until you reach the mid-level rim.
We hiked all over the place. Our different maps said there were two trails. One went to "The Alcove", turning south. The other went straight down the lowest drainage to the canyon below. NOT! There is no such trail. There are 30ft drops to bushwhack around, ending in a dead-end drop of over 100ft.


We spent hours going every possible alternative, being hampered by cryptobiotic soils that blocked our paths (not supposed to step on that stuff). We finally determined that the only trail is the one to the Alcove, and it ends with a shelf-to-crack rock climbing situation that was beyond our prudent skills, especially with camping backpacks.


So as we returned, we crawled through the little keyhole slot and Paul put his pack down. But his pack had a curvy shape that resists holding still. No matter how you try to lay it down it wants to roll, so it rolled right off the cliff. We were lucky that this particular cliff was short, and the pack caught on a tree before going hopelessly all the way down, rim after rim until it reached the bottom. No, bad luck sent it over the edge and good luck caught it on a tree not far away. So I jumped off the ledge, retrieved the pack and a few items of other people's garbage, then jumped and tried, tried while Paul pulled to get back up.


So this ended in failure - we returned to the car and drove to Knowles trailhead to spend the night.


The nights were perfect temps, about 50F, and the winds mostly mild.



The the west at dusk, Mercury, Venus, and Jupitor were visible in a small triangle. In order to see Jupitor aligned closely with Mercury and Venus, it had to be way beyond on the other side of the sun. The scale and perspective was interesting.





We headed out to Knowles a bit late, at about 8:30am(?). I was still stuck on stupid. I learned in Mee that it would have been more prudent to bring more water. I brought enough, but only barely, anticipating the water at the bottom, but we never reached the bottom. So for Knowles, I brought a measly extra 16oz Platypus. Dumb. I had other bottles I could have brought, even if empty on the way down. Again, I ended up not really needing them, but it was stupid.




Dumb again, we brought no cord to hoist our packs into the trees at night.




When we got to the bottom of Knowles, we saw digging. Lots of digging. Claw marks, bear footprints, bear poop with berries in it (thank god no bits of Garmins and sunglasses!). Lots of tracks. Lots of poop. Lots of digging. Narrow valley. Felt very uncomfortable.



We did spook a mama turkey in tall grass, and the little chicks shot in every direction, including one that went our way, saw us, freaked, whirled about and ran the other way. It was hilarious. Then ma-turkey started calling them back, and you could see the grass moving as each chick homed in on her call.




There was plenty of water, but some of it looked pretty gross. We had that taken care of, though. We each brought water filter pumps, each had Steripens, and Paul even had chlorine-dioxide tablets. When we found a decent looking pool, we each filtered several liters and drank until we were drowning. Then we lay under the shade of a rock and took naps.



A hummingbird was our alarm clock. Knowles is like a jungle on the upper end. We didn't think we could make it to the Colorado River as we'd hoped, so we turned around, not wanting to camp up-valley with the bears.

 


We climbed up on the rim back into dry, desert terrain. There was no water, I swear not even if you dug for it, but up there we saw the Biggest Black Bear prints I've ever seen. I wondered if it was a grizzly, but the symmetry of the prints said it was black bear. In sand, on a windy day, you could see the little creases in it's pads, so they weren't old prints. Where the hell do they get water? The only berries are juniper. Surely there's not enough water from their diet to survive?



We also saw unshod horse prints. At least four horses. One set of prints was shod, so I'm not sure if they were broken or wild.



We kept climbing out until we got to the upper rim. There, overlooking the western Colorado canyonlands, we made a bivy camp.
The sky was mostly clear and a large bat kept the mosquitoes under control.

The last day, we decided to try our hand at Rattlesnake Canyon. We ended up getting a very flat tire. We took it off, poured water on it to find the leak, plugged it with a tire repair kit, and aired it up with my bike pump. You always have a tire repair kit and bike pump, right? And snowshovel (even when it's not winter), and battery jump unit?

Eventually we made it back to Denver, more tired from stress of wondering WTF will happen next than from our leg work.

Monday, May 13, 2013

More runs and snowshoeing

Been doing far more than this blog would have you know.
I totally left out that I ran Red Hot 55k back in February.
Left out a weekend in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park with friends.
I never got any photos of doing slot canyons in San Rafael Swell. Oh, well.
Here's a smattering of photos from many weekends.

Waterfall and water wheel in Idaho Springs

R2R2R





































 
R2R2R

Waterfall on North Kaibab
 Returned to the Grand Canyon to do Rim2Rim2Rim. Wow, Colorado ultra-runners were swarming the canyon! There were over 40 of us.
I won't return for R2R2R. There's too much else to do in the Canyon, and elsewhere.
Partially caved-in tunnel near North Rim

My bedroom on BLM land, La Sals in the background

Rabbit food! Yum!

Sparkling cold snow

On shoulder of Quandary
Quandary summit


Sheep on top of cliff looking down on us
Black bear tracks (yes, they use Blistex)

Partners in crime, Maria, Alicia, Matt on Crater rim near Salida



Crater rim

Rock arch off beaten track near Salida



Salida from the east

Leadville from the mining district
Princeton, Antero, Yale, etc.