Hot Sulphur Springs

It’s never too early to start prepping for the upcoming Winter! Last weekend, we went terrain scouting up at Berthoud Pass just for kicks:


Afterwards, we dropped by Winter Park to check out their downhill mtn bike park “Trestles.” Then we hit up Hot Sulphur Springs out in the middle of HoDunk, Colorado where there is literally one stoplight and a single hamburger stand at the side of the road! We dropped in at this place that had 21 mineral hot springs. The water bubbles up from 35,000′ underground smelling like sulphur and 15 other minerals. Jacuzzis now seem like such a knock off. ūüôā You mean, I can get 98-113 degree water au naturale?


Royal Arch

After visiting Arches National Park in Utah, I insist on hiking any trail that leads to a natural rock arch. So, when I read that Boulder had a “Royal Arch” to which one may hike, I insisted we hike it! As it turns out, the hike to Royal Arch is one of Boulder’s most popular hikes (rightly so) and the trails get awfully crowded in summer. We also hiked this trail the same weekend as dorm move-in dates at CU Boulder so everyone and their mom (literally) were on the trail that weekend.

The trail starts at Chautauqua Park and goes through a meadow towards the Flatirons:

After the detour we hit the toughest section of the trail, still a non technical climb, the trail had a few class 2 scramble sections that kept it interesting. 

With heart rates and crowds picking up, we reached the end of the trail and the Royal Arch itself.  Great views up there that make the climb well worth it.  Just be careful to pick a time other than the first week of class to hike it. 

P.S. Great work on the navigation J!Vitals:

Length: 3 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult

Elevation Gain: 5,680 to 7,130

Estimated Time: 2 hours

Let’s Get Epic

When it comes to snowboarding, I wish I could be the equivalent of Pat in Endless Summer and feel like any small slope was “the best [ride] of my life!” But, no. I got burnt out riding the 500 vertical feet bunny-hills-dubbed-mountains in Pennsylvania last year. I mean, it cost $65 a ticket to ride the same trails over and over and over and over and over again. Turns out it’s possible to go broke on boredom.

Then one day about a year ago, while flipping through some magazine, Ryan came across the Epic Pass. And, I was, like, “Whoa! Another reason to move to Colorado.” So for a year we started collecting coins and saving dollar bills in a pickle jar that still smelled like distilled vinegar.

A year later we moved to Colorado and like a couple of 7 year olds learning the value of a buck, we marched into a bank with that pickle-jar-piggy-bank and a couple of ziplock bags filled with ironed dollar bills. (I was feeling bored and OCD-ish one night so I ironed one dollar bills for a few hours.) And then we got these Local Epic Passes!

It’s an unlimited, no black-out dates, season ski pass to:
Arapahoe Basin

Limited (i.e. not on blackout dates) to:

(10) restricted passes to:
Beaver Creek

So the plan is to brush up on skills this season and to get reacquainted with actually riding down real mountains. And, I need to learn to ride powder proficiently this winter. Then we’re planning on transitioning to backcountry for the ’12-’13 season. (That also happens to be the Mayan’s projected Apocalypse season. How convenient.)

Oh, and of course we got a (souvenir) pass for our Adventure Dog. We couldn’t resist. We took Rogue to Boulder Ski Deals where she posed for her own little Dog Epic Pass. Proceeds went to the Denver Dumb Friends League.

Caribou Peak

I’m still pinching myself… some days (today, for example) it still seems like we’re vacationing in Colorado. It hasn’t completely sunk in that we LIVE HERE now.

The plan was to double-summit two 14ers (a peak that is 14,000′ or higher in elevation.) But, I’m that person that doesn’t care much for gambling and a 50% chance of thunderstorms by noon was too much of a gamble for me. Rule #1: You do NOT want to be on a mountain, above tree line, during a thunderstorm!!! This is why “alpine starts” are so important. You start your hike at sunrise so you can be OFF the mountain before the afternoon storms roll in. So, instead, we decided to summit a 12,300′ peak called “Caribou Peak.” It may not have been a 14er but it was undisappointingly (woohoo! made up word!) gorgeous.

We drove up to the trailhead to find that the trails were closed for reconstruction. There went our alpine start. After an alternate route that involved some 4WD, we drove the Kia as far as we were willing to take it – just short of running it into a river.

The detour tacked on an extra mile onto our already 6.5 mile hike but we didn’t mind. We crossed a river – thank goodness for hiking poles and gortex boots…

… and encountered a moose. A MOOSE!!! It stared at us for awhile, we stared at it…. while it continued to chew on grass. And then it just walked off. It must’ve weighed 800 pounds easy. That was the highlight of our hike. I mean, we saw a MOOSE! In the wild!

We hiked for a mile on a rocky road. Yes, this is a road that certain capable cars drive on!

Then we happened upon a nice, wide, meadow that led to the peak. It’s amazing how little these geological features can make you feel. We made sure to keep Rogue close because, you know, mountain lions and stuff.

After the meadow it was more or less a trek uphill, past another high altitude meadow with snow fields, rocks (so many rocks) and wild flowers:

There was really no trail leading up to the summit and this afforded me the opportunity to practice orienteering. After a while of just walking and walking and walking, it was, “Ooooh! SUMMIT!!:

We reached the top around 10:00 am, right on schedule. And within 30 minutes, we started seeing some clouds roll in:

Knowing thunderstorms were in the forecast, we decided it was time to jet. After quick get-oriented session and we were on our way downhill and back over a couple of streams.

Rogue was very afraid of crossing the river, but she made it out alright:

I seriously love this place. Seriously. Love.

Read Maps Not Blogs

I started learning Orienteering last weekend! Ryan worked with me on how to, well, get oriented with a topo map and compass – old skool style, no GPS. It’s about time I buckle down and learn how to read the land because orienteering is a crucial aspect to Adventure Racing and that’s the kind of racing we eventually want to go all in on. Adventure Racing has been on the Dream Board for a couple of years now. There are just a couple more skills I’d like to have under our belts but we’re coming for you in 2012, adventure races! Just a heads up. I’m doing my part.

Bouldering Ralph Stover

Earlier this Fall, Ryan and I went for a quick bouldering trip to Ralph Stover State Park!

Here’s the thing about bouldering – it scares me!¬† Yeah, I just found that out this past trip.¬† It would’ve been nice to know AHEAD of time.¬† I would much rather do a multi-day climb up El Cap and sleep on the face of a rock like in those Patagonia ads than to boulder 10′ off the ground.¬† There is something to be said about having a rope and harness attached to me!!

Long story short:¬† It was cold and the air was moist.¬† My hands were 10-11′ above the ground with my feet about 6′ off the ground… and the ground had a sudden drop off into a river.¬† So, yeah, I’m thinking:¬† Don’t mess up!!!¬† And that was a very helpful tip that I should’ve remembered when BOTH my feet SLIPPED off the rock and I was hanging on by my finger tips.¬† Because, newsflash, OUTSIDE on a real rock, sometimes the rock face isn’t littered with big jugs with cushy crash pad underneath you!¬† I do believe I cried out for Ryan to “spot” me and, thankfully, he did spot me so I could get my feet back on the rock so, no, I didn’t die.¬† (But mostly I was really rusty at any and all types of climbing and I kind of suck at it since I don’t climb nearly enough.¬† I just need to boulder or climb more often.)

Oh!¬† And another cool “discovery” is the fact that Rogue absolutely FREAKS OUT if you climb over 2′ above the ground.¬† It’s like she thinks you’re doing something far more dangerous than playing in traffic.

But, all in all, it was a really great time just being outside with Ry and Rogue and enjoying some of the terrain out here.

Super Sick Setup

Well, it took months of stalking Steep & Cheap and REI during the off-season but Ryan and I managed to piece together almost entirely new setups before 2010/2011 snowboarding season! I have a super sick setup now – one that I don’t feel worthy of – and all my latest additions are brand-spankin’ new.

When the 2009 season ended, Ryan and I put together our Dream List for snowboarding gear. We printed out pictures of what we wanted and tacked it up on our 3’x5′ Dream Board. And before we knew it, our dream gear kept popping up! I feel awful for having Burton‘s top-of-the-line Feelgood ES board when I’m stuck on hard-packed groomers because PA never gets enough good snow to scout out any backcountry rides! But, the deals we got on these were just too good to pass up. From my Oakley Stockholm goggles for just $49 (reg $100) to my new $4.99 Giro helmet (reg $110 at the time) to my $16 Burton Lexa bindings from REI over the summer, I’ve got quite the Gucci gear for a Walmart price!

I knew I wanted gear that I wouldn’t even have to think of upgrading for atleast another 7 years so my strategy was to get classic, timeless-looking pieces. So, almost everything is either black or white in color.

My best upgrade? The Norrona bibs (sooo comfy!) and the Burton Supreme boots – warm toes make ALL the difference! I’m definitely glad Ryan and I had the foresight to shop off-season!