July 2006
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Month July 2006

into the great wide open

blue water known as the tennessee river. i figured since i signed up for an xterra coming up in 2 weeks, i should get in the water – the last time i really swam (ie, not in an adventure race wearing my pfd and a 15-20lb pack), was in the gulf coast half ironman last may (yup, something like 15 months ago). so the opportunity arose to join a group that swims down river about 1.5miles. i thought sure, why not? i wasn’t sure if i could do it, but hoped i’d survive. (and if not, there were kayakers there to save me). well, despite water so cloudy i couldn’t see an extended hand and occasional smells that were really too fishy, i did it. it felt pretty good and i was able to relax and settle into my stroke ok too. i definitely need a ton of practice before i look ok doing it (i’m sure it’s a bit of a sloppy stroke), but i survived and know that i’ll be able to get through the race.

now to get the rest of that icky water out of my ears & nose!


I finally put Google Earth on my computer – a bad thing, as I can see much time spent looking around. But, I pulled up some of the areas I went in CO and thought it was pretty cool to see a 3D rendering of the area.

shows Gilpin and Gold Creek Lakes from the Thrusday Hike with Lorraine. Big Agnes & Mt Zirkel can also be seen.

Mt Elbert, with the left ridge showing our path of ascent.

shows Leadville nestled between the mtns. The wildflower field is in the Alps Gulch in the foreground. In the back, Twin Lakes can be seen (with Mt. Elbert just behind).

CO Pictures Posted

a ton of pics from my trip are now up.
plans being made for the winter edition too!


Day 5: Going for the Summit

Monday Amanda & I woke up early – today was the day of the planned summit of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak and the US’s 3rd highest peak (after Denali & Whitney): elevation = 14, 433′. We took the East Ridge Route, beginning at 9am (1 hour later than anticipated) with near-perfect weather. We hiked through a gorgeous aspen forest for a bit over an hour, then hit the treeline (around 11,500′). Hiking above this was very different. Back east, I’m used to being surrounded by a forest unless we’re going through a relatively small field. Here though we’re on our way to the top of a mtn, following a ridge where there is just a bit of grass and rocks on the ground. Very exposed. (meanwhile, Amanda says she feels claustraphobic in a forest).

We had our eye on a small storm that had popped up behind us. As we climbed higher, we watched as a few small ones formed ahead. The one growing near the summit concerned us, as we couldn’t see the other side to guess what was happening. We took a bit of a break to eat & watch the clouds. The winds were picking up and sprinkles starting. The small storms ahead and begun to merge into one larger storm. I deferred to Amanda’s expertise in alpine weather conditions and we made the decision to turn around. Yeah, it sucked. We were about 1400′ from the top, perhaps an hour or so more of hiking. I was moving slow, but feeling good. I equated it to hour 20 or so of an adv race, where I’m falling asleep and have to walk slow and with a bit of effort, except I was alert. The altitude had kept me breathing pretty hard the entire way, but I was otherwise ok.

We started our hike down briskly, as we figured we had about an hour until we hit treeline again. Soon the thunder got closer and we picked up our pace to a steady run (finally, my CO trail run! not exactly what I was thinking though…) When some thunder came from overhead, we found the nearest boulders to lie next to for a few, to wait for the storm to pass a little bit. (An exposed ridge, while offering incredible views, is the last place to be during a brewing storm!) We then set off on our run until we hit the treeline and felt a little safer.

blue skies….

the storm brewing

amanda and i around 13k’, before turning around

After we got to our car and drove off, we had mixed feelings – it looked like it had cleared a bit, but we knew we made the right decision to turn around. We had been watching other hikers on the trails ahead of us and realized if we had started on time, we would have been right around the summit with them when the storm hit – an even worse location than where we turned around. A silver lining perhaps…

We headed back to Leadville and met up with Susan & Lorraine at the Provin’ Ground coffeeshop. Then we headed to the east mountains to find a wildflower field that Cannon had mentioned. We hiked around about 2hrs and saw some beautiful flowers (and some cool old abandoned mines).

That night we me met up with Cannon & Uncle Jan for dinner at the local brewhouse, then back to the nordic center for the night. Tuesday we loaded up and headed to the airport in Denver – the end of a wonderful week that has me already planning the next trip – winter!

Day 4: The Tennessee Pass

The Saturday night party was fab – live band, fajitas & margaritas, bonfire, + a chill in the air. The festivities continued as I joined Hennie & his German friends at a local bar then went back to their place for some lounging while they played guitars & sang. Getting home at 7am Sunday made for a lazier than planned day, but hey, it’s vacation so I can do this. In the afternoon, Aunt Susan and I drove to Leadville, for part 2 of my trip. We met Amanda up at the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse. Visitors ski, snowshoe or hike in and are treated to a delicious 4-course meal. That night we camped out in the nordic center (Cannon, Amanda’s ex, is partial owner of all this, so we got the grande treatment).

the cookhouse

view of mt. elbert from the cookhouse – pointed peak near the center. tomorrow’s destination!

CO, Day 2 & 3

Friday started with some sleeping in finally, then a road ride with Henni (Lorraine & Steve’s friend’s son). Luckily his forte is skiing, so I kept up on the bike. It was a beautiful ride in rolling terrain, about 2.5hrs. It’s crazy hot out here, so we ended with a dip in the Yampa River downtown – there was a great rapid to play in but the water a bit too cold for my taste, so I only went in half way. Then I rushed to get over to the Moots factory for a tour (they make incredible bikes that I could never afford). At night, lots of Lorraine & Steve’s friends came into town (big party tomorrow), so there was a pre-party going on, with an emphasis on ribs and premium tequila. These people party harder than I have in a long time!

Saturday, Susan, Jan & I went on a whitewater rafting trip on the Cross Mountain Canyon section of the Yampa River. It took about 1.5hrs to get there, but was totally worth the drive. The water levels were low (see the first picture!) but once you got in the canyon a mile down, the rapids were plenty big enough for me. We picked up a forest ranger that we ran into at the put in (he was new to town and hadn’t been on the river before), and also had 2 guys from L.A. The rapids had names like “The Osterator”, “The Human Pizza” and “The Death Ferry”. (who names this stuff?!) We even got to swim 2 of the rapids (that’s me in the red helmet). Fun!! I didn’t however indulge in the cliff jumping at the end – a bit much for me. Shortly we’ll be headed to the big party that’s rockin’ the city this weekend (a combined wedding celebration and birthday party). It’ll be in a guy’s airplane hangar and accompanying field, complete with catered food & a band from Boulder. Should be good times… tomorrow it’s off to Leadville to visit with Amanda!

vacation: steamboat springs, day 1

today started early, as i joined my uncle for a 7am session with his trainer. (yes, even though this is my vacation. it was fun, so whatever!) then aunt lorraine and i headed north to the zirkel wilderness area for an awesome hike, dubbed the zirkel circle: an 11mile loop trail that went around gold and gilpen lakes. their new addition, 6month old sophie (a jack russell terrier) also joined us (and is going to be one fab trail pup!) this hike was simply amazing. there was even large patches of snow that we glissaded down. yeah! :) the terrain was awe inspiring. peaceful, simple, beautiful. i was lucky that i didn’t feel any of the effects of altitude (was a bit worried about this as i haven’t been this high before). my feet felt ok, although my blisters leftover from last week’s race didn’t get any better with the multiple creek crossings and constant pounding. afterwards, we headed for a much deserved soak in the strawberry park hot springs. then on to dinner at a new chinese restaurant and now goofing off and staying up way later than i should be.

approaching the pass to gilpin lake, elevation: 11,164′

lorraine & i at gilpin lake

sophie relaxing during our lunch break at gilpin lake

me in front of gilpin lake

more Siege pictures



on sunday, i headed east to the ocoee area with some friends for some mtn biking. ideally we would have gone to tanasi, where a group of my atlanta friends were riding, but we ended up at chilhowee instead. we parked in a lot at the bottom of the mountain, which meant there was only 1 way to go: up. (and up, and up). what a way to start! after a steady spin for a long time, we arrived to a point that, while not the top, at least signalled some rolling action. we were drenched as temperatures were surely in the mid-90s. thankfully we were usually in the shade. this was the first time i’ve ridden at chilhowee and i thoroughly enjoyed it (the A24 race was supposed to feature singletrack here, but it had been closed to do the bear attack). i know i could have ridden some areas better, but that at least gives me something to look forward to during my next trip out here. during the ride we went through diverse vegetation – lush, wet, rainforest-like to sandy rooty areas to dry rocky stuff. i always find it interesting that we can hit all of that within a short 3hr ride. (and oh yeah, did i mention the poison ivy? apparently it loves growing in the TN dirt. it’s love is spreading over to me unfortunately.) i didn’t whip out the camera much, but here are some shot from one area.