Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday

I am notoriously anti-Black Friday. One would never catch me in a line at Kohl's at 3:30 AM. For as long as I can remember, my plans for this day have been located somewhere in the backcountry or on a bike. I have been itching to check out Hall Ranch near Lyons, so when I got the text..."Park at Oskar Blues. Friday 9:30," I was pretty stoked.

About a minute later, I got another text..."On the Superfly?"

Ha, I wish. I had been saving, shopping, and watching ebay and Craigslist for about 5 months hoping I could find one that met the price I could afford. So, just for fun, and remembering it was going to be Black Friday I jumped on the Boulder Trek Store website.

No way. 35% off everything in the store except for 2011 bikes? 8AM-12PM only? Really? One Large Frame Superfly left in inventory. At this price?

I was going to be passing directly by the store en route to the trailhead. I sat back on the couch and smiled. Yep, I was going to go shopping on Black Friday for the first time in my life.

So, like a 6 year-old on Christmas Eve, I tossed and turned with anticipation most of the night. I am too embarrassed to say exactly what time I pulled in the parking lot in Boulder, but this picture may give a reliable hint:

My limited experience with the Black Friday crowds assumed there would be a line outside the store. One bike left. At this price, I wanted to be the first in line....And, well....yah, I definitely was;

Crickets....not a single person in the parking lot. Wow, I truly am a huge dork. But I was on a mission and couldn't wait to get on the trails on a new Superfly. Three hours and a cup of the best Toasted Marshmallow hot chocolate ever from the coffee shop next door, I walked in the door.

After some set up and adjustments, I floated out the front door with my new ride about 30 minutes later:

I was soon driving to the trailhead with a bike I had been dreaming about for months. The ride was phenomenal as we covered about 25 miles on a brisk, sunny, gorgeous November morning. When I went to reach for my camera, I realized that, in my excitement, I didn't put it in my pack. So, no pictures to post of a truly beautiful place.

This bike is ridiculously fast. I am used to a completely different style of mountain bike, so I was a little apprehensive on the rocky downhill at first, but after about 30 minutes, I was getting used to the feel of the shocks and the much quicker and highly responsive EVERYTHING. It is a full 10 lbs lighter than my old bike and climbing took (seriously) half the effort of my old bike.

I am still in shock...99% that I actually have this bike sitting in my living room right now and that I am going to climb Bergen Peak in about 2 hours, and 1% that I went shopping on Black Friday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


      There is an intense but simple thrill in setting off in the morning on a mountain trail, knowing that everything you need is on your back. It is a confidence in having left society behind and entering a world of natural beauty that has not been violated, where money has no value, and possessions are a dead weight. The person with the fewest possessions is the most free.
     I thank God everyday that I have been granted the opportunity to explore His beautiful creation. I am eternally grateful that I am healthy and capable of navigating around within His perfect masterpiece. I am also thankful that possessions and money cannot begin to satisfy the place in my heart that nature has the ability to fulfill. Simplifying brings me my true freedom.
"In His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also"

    "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

"I lift my eyes unto the hills
    Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
   The Maker of Heaven and Earth"

      I sincerely wish you all a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving. I am so blessed to have all the people in my life whom I love and care about so much.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dumping a Bit of Garbage...

"We summitted Capitol in 13 hours roundtrip."

My ears literally perked up when I heard Mr. TalkReallyLound on his cell phone in line ahead of me at a grocery store in Aspen. Wheels (my black lab shadow and oldest friend in the world) and I were on Day 4 of a week of freedom in the San Juans and Elk mountains. Final destination of the journey was Moab to meet up with friends to preride the 24 Hour course. I had been riding a few trails in between hiking and living in my tent. This was the first time I had come into town to get food and head back out. I had just stood solo atop Castle, Conundrum, Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn and Snowmass. And, oddly enough, I had not seen another human being on any of the trails leading to the summits. The Front Range 14ers and many of the Sawatch 14ers are always littered with weekend warriors and I was very surprised to only have seen people at my camp at Snowmass Lake and on the road into Castle and Conundrum. I reasoned that it was September and everyone had put their hiking boots back in the closet. Whatever the reason, I really felt thankful for the solitude I was granted over the last four days.

Capitol Peak was really not in my plan for the week. I had never done a class 4 route, but I heard it call as I stood on Snowmass and looked across the ridge of rotten rock so typical of the Elks. And when I heard that two guys did it roundtrip in 13 hours, well, that settled it for me--I was going to summit solo in 10 hours.

I grabbed some food and left the store en route to the trailhead. I inflated my Thermarest, tossed my sleeping bag out under the stars and fell asleep dreaming of the next morning. It was like Christmas Eve when I was ten.

This is what I saw in the distance as I left the trailhead:

My anticipation turned quickly into adrenaline as I floated through the first 6 miles to Capitol Lake. I stopped only for a brief minute to let the morning light coming through the aspens caress my face. I watched a sunrise that left me speechless.

As I approached the Capitol-Daly saddle, I finally met another living, breathing human. A guy was just coming out from the boulder field and had cut his shin to the bone. I quickly offered some iodine swabs and bandages which he gladly accepted. It was a nasty cut that was the result of misnegotiating a loose boulder. Not uncommon on this route.We quickly talked about the knife edge, an extremely exposed ridge on the way to the summit, and were soon on our separate paths again
Capitol Summit from below the saddle:

I was a bit anxious about the knife edge. I had seen many videos and read many trip reports, but always kind of thought it was a bit over-hyped. I was about to see for myself I thought. The next 90 minutes was strickly rock hopping through huge boulders leading to K2, a 13er on the ridge to the summit. I quickly reverted to my 10 year-old mindset and played in the rocks. I came to what I thought was K2 and began climbing. I scrambled up to the top like a little monkey and looked ahead of me. Good Lord, the next part was a purely vertical wall.

Said vertical wall:

Um, yeah. I was off route. I looked to my right and saw K2. CRAP! I now had to downclimb and continue another 1/8 of a mile to begin scaling K2. I looked down at Pierre Lakes on one side of me and the ice field I had just crossed below me The ensuing downclimb was a bit unsettling. The wind had picked up and my hands were cold. The loose rock was more apparent as I was inching down and I remember looking at my SPOT wondering if I would have to use it. I was in a bit of a predicament, but my logical and collected mind took over and after a few self-scoldings, I was down and en route to K2 in 15 minutes.

This is what I climbed up and DOWN...Note: Do not do this :)

After summitting K2 and taking a few more pictures, the next hour to the summit changed my life. Yah, yah, yah, blah, blah, blah....everyone says this. Each step along the knife edge and on the final pitch to the top was essential. The route is very manageable but I had to remain focused on where I put my foot every time I took a step. The exposure is EPIC (ha, I got the word "epic" in this post too) and the snow and ice in the shaded areas was potentially deadly if I were to slip.

In this hour on the ridge to the summit, all my worries, my old, lingering insecurities, my disappointments and failures from the past slipped on that snow and ice and plunged to their respective deaths. My vibrant, energized, strong, confident self arrived at the summit and I danced in the perfect sunlight as God's fingertips again tickled my face.

This is the knife edge:

This is what I saw looking east from the middle of the knife edge:

And looking west:

Looking back at K2:

And the summit from K2:

And looking at the summit block:

I sprawled out and soaked up as much of the sheer majesty one experiences at 14, 130 ft. Having to convince myself that, no, I could not live up here forever, I retraced my journey along the ridge, back over K2, out the boulder field, back to the lake and down the valley back to the trailhead.

Somewhere on the ridge between K2 and Capitol, I dumped the garbage that sometimes keeps me from fully living, feeling and loving. The remaining ashes disintegrated into the thin air on that sunny September day...

Oh, and Wheels was sure glad to see me back at my truck after  9 HOURS and 40 MINUTES, but, hey, who's counting?  hehe   :)

Truly an epic week. Route Description

Monday, November 22, 2010

An EPIC Pursuit....The beginning.

"I am pretty tough."

These words I had spoken just days earlier, echoed in my head as I approached the frozen waterfall at Lair of the Bear Open Space last January. Me and my mouth. The very thought of going down this ice and snow ridden slab of rock on a bike meant bruises and cuts. It was insane to ride this! And, yet, something inside me was smiling ear to ear and doing heel-clicks in the air as I rolled my front tire to the edge....

No, I didn't make it down the waterfall. And the bruises on my legs and elbows healed. But the hook was set and I am now a hopeless addict. I thrive on riding a bike up, down and around any ridable (and sometimes not so ridable) trail.

I ride a hand-me-down  2006 Specialized Enduro Pro. It weighs 33 lbs and cruises downhill like a dream. The first comment from one of the Yeti Bettys when I showed up to ride Alderfer this summer was in regards to the two broken spokes on the back wheel. I smiled. Neither shock works correctly anymore. The propedal is shot so 85% of my wattage on flats and hill climbs seeps into the earth. I remember wishing so badly for a functional propedal on the roads of the 24 Hours of Moab course. My wishing quickly turned into planning to buy a Superfly 100 (as it blew by me on mile 12 at 3AM).

In spite of her age and maladies, I have a fondness for the trusty steed that has carried me over everything I can possibly find to ride in the front range and Pueblo, Monarch Crest Trail, and the Colorado Trail. She has taught me that speed is my friend in some cases and she has left me on my ass,  groaning in pain, in the middle of some rocky sections as well.

This coming January will mark one year of mountain biking for me. I still ride my road bike, but I rode trails 4-6 days a week all year long (think snow, mud and sand) except for the times in I was in the backcountry chasing summits. I have improved my technical skills drastically, but still have much improving to do. I love being out on the trails giving my all to try and catch Mr. Uberfast blazing up and downhills and I secretly smile as I blow by Mr. Ego. (We have all met THAT GUY out on the know the one who refuses to let A GIRL by until his lungs are about to implode).

Point of my first post? I have found something that will save me from myself...Mountain biking brings my intense love for the mountains together with my passion for bikes and extreme adventure. My spirit, my senses, my awareness of the present, and my mind, heart and body come fully alive when I swing my leg over the seat.

Stay tuned if you are interested :) Guaranteed, this blog won't be a chronicle of my daily grind you will end up snoozing through, but rather a record of my EPIC pursuit of a dream. A dream I will fully disclose in the coming involves mountain trails, a bike, a lot of hard work and training and the fierce desire burning in my soul. And so it begins...