De Beque, Colorado: Twin Peaks

On an absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning, Sprocket and I set off to climb Twin Peaks (7400’+) above De Beque. On one of our De Beque Canyon Project drives we’d found a fairly major drill pad up towards Twin Peaks and I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be one that was going to be accessed during the winter and I was right! We drove right up and headed out.

Twin Peaks

I had a vague idea of how to go about getting to the summit but I have to admit that I could probably have done with more map and satellite imagery study before we left. I definitely broke trail up a gully … and at the top ran into the same road that we’d been on. (We took the road down and although it was a lot longer, breaking trail there would have been a lot easier).

Views

Sprocket was not impressed with the foot deep snowshoe trench I was making for him. Although he was following the trench, he kept finding himself punching through to the sage below.

Sprocket with snow trench

I chose to pretty immediately head for the ridge, aiming for the end of a cliff band on the south eastern end of the Twin Peaks ridge. I made pretty good progress through the trees but Sprocket wasn’t having a very good time. A few hundred feet shy of the ridge and about a mile from the true summit, he started whining and in short order made it clear he was not having a good time. There was no need to push the pup more than he was willing to do so we paused for a photo and headed back down the mountain.

Beth and Sprocket

The next morning, sans puppy companion, I headed right back up. I reasoned that I’d already trenched in a good chunk of the trail, had a hunch about a slightly higher parking spot, and not only learned about the road but had walked it down so now was as good of a time as any. Besides, it looks like it’s going to be pretty warm this week and the road was definitely better driven snow-covered than muddy.

Along the way, I rather impulsively decided to attain the ridge closer to the higher of the Twin Peaks rather than the spot I’d been aiming for with Sprocket reasoning that I wouldn’t have to walk over the lower summit, down to the saddle and then up.

Twin Peaks, Part Deux

I’m not sure that was the best plan. Going uphill in the trees was a lot easier than walking across a flat meadow and ascending a slope of sage, Mormon’s tea, and some unidentified leafless things. Unlike the trees that seemed to encourage compacted snow, these “fluffier” plans stood above pockets that compressed unexpectedly under my snowshoes.

Selfie

Not really wanting to need to come back yet again, I pushed on. The summit looked so close and the ridge didn’t look THAT steep.

Slow progress

ha. Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha. Between the aforementioned plants plus the challenge of moving upwards in really fluffy not so kickable snow, it took me almost two hours to go the mile from where I left the road to the summit. (It had taken me 40 minutes to that point and only 1:10 from the summit all the way back to the car…)

Finally, I attained the ridge and realized it was all worth it. I could see all the way to the La Sal Mountains in Utah, way out onto Grand Mesa (even spotted Leon Peak!), an amazing view of the Battlements, and sweet views of the Roan Cliffs around me.

Ridgeline

It didn’t take me long to walk up the ridge to the true summit. I’d worked hard to get to this summit but the whole time I felt capable, strong, and confident and on top of that, to be rewarded with this view? Amazing.

Twin Peaks Panorama Views Excitement selfie

On the way out, I was tired but made good time. My pants were drenched and I was ready to get a shower ASAP!

Descent Look back to Twin Peaks

January Fitness: New Years Resolutions

2015 was a pretty great year for my hiking goals. It wasn’t perfect and there were some mountains I wanted to climb that remained unattempted but I made peakbagging a priority and it turned out well. I did, however, climb some mountains out of pure grit and determination as I felt tired and exhausted a lot of the way up. Outside of reaching summits, I was lazy and didn’t do the work to be ready and make long hikes more enjoyable.

Colorado RiverIn the fall, I kept thinking I was going to fix things. And I procrastinated. And procrastinated some more. By the time December rolled around though, I was starting to lay the groundwork for kicking things up after the holidays. As cliche as it is, I resolved to do the work in 2016. I was going to save towards a house (as far in the future as it may be). I decided to be in summit shape and to drop the pounds that had crept onto my frame.

De Beque Running

I dove into Training For the New Alpinism and within the first section, I realized that before I could dream any huge mountain dreams that I needed to combat my severe lack of aerobic capacity that had crept in on me over the past year and change. And guys? I’m impressed with myself.

January 2016 Fitness

I’d started to lay the ground work for running more in December by carefully (ever so carefully) building up the mileage on my neglected legs. I said yes to “Yoga Camp“; a perfect companion to keep flexibility going when running. I, kinda impulsively, bought a cross-country ski setup right after the New Year. I’ve found myself running at 9pm because I needed to get it in, 10 degree temperatures be damned.

And everything has gone exactly as I would have hoped. I’m feeling so much better when being active and the magical effect of exercise that makes you only want to exercise more has kicked in.

By The Numbers:

Running: 16 runs, 53.25 miles, 11 hrs (um. This is more mileage than all of 2015..)

Hiking/Snowshoeing: 5 hikes/snowshoes, 14.8 miles, 10.8 hrs

Cross Country Skiing: 2 sessions, 11.3 miles, 3hr 40min

Yoga: 20 Yoga Camp sessions, 10hrs 20min

Yup, it’s on 2016

Colorful running
Sometimes I dress like a muppet when I run.

Snowshoeing: West Fork of the Cimarron

From Ridgway, the Cimarrons look like a single ridge but what is visible from town is really the two ridges that surround the West Fork of the Cimarron. This basin is astoundingly beautiful and isn’t that hard to get to, provided that in the winter you have access to a snowmobile. The basin is accessed from Owl Creek Pass which is groomed from the Forest Service boundary on the west side (Ridgway) down to Silver Jack Reservoir and parking on the east side.

When a plan was hatched to go snowshoeing in the basin a small problem was presented: there were three people and one snowmobile. Turns out, that if one person is willing to brave some bruises and an awkward ride (ahem, that person was…me), crazier things have happened.

As silly as the ride to the basin was, just being in the basin was the highlight of the day. Initially, we’d hoped to head up Courthouse Mountain but with an unsettled snowpack, we decided to spend our time in the shadow of Dunsinane, Precipice Peak, Redcliff, Coxcomb, and an unnamed 12er.

Snowshoeing, West Fork Basin

Not only were our views of the peaks immediately surrounding us awesome, but so were the views north towards the Elks and Mount Lamborn.

Views to the Elks and Lamborn

As we climbed higher into the basin the views just got better and better. The sky was an amazing amazing blue and the temperatures were perfect for ambling around the snow.

West Fork Basin

Cimarron Basin

Carefully, we made our way through the trees to the western rim of the basin between Courthouse and UN 12725. I always love getting up above Ridgway; while the Sneffels Range and the Cimarrons are very visible it’s really easy to forget that Utah’s La Sal and Abajo Mountains aren’t very far away. Even the Henry Mountains are visible south of Hanksville, Utah.

Beth

Ridgway

Ridgway

After enjoying the view, we descended back into the basin and headed back to the snowmobile. It’s been a long time since I’ve done almost five miles on snowshoes and my legs were feeling it! It didn’t help that my snowshoes are designed for snowshoe running and are a bit small for the task of tromping around in powdery stuff but the day was so glorious I didn’t care one bit.

Cimarrons

Snowshoeing: Ouray Amphitheater Campground

A couple of weeks ago, freshly primed for outdoor adventure after a visit to the Outdoor Retailer show, I decided to do a short snowshoe above Ouray. I’d originally thought about going up to Red Mountain Pass but I was feeling the Ouray basin love and stuck around in the Amphitheater.

Life was really, rough, let me tell you. 😉

Ouray Colorado

Ouray Colorado