I’ve been working my tail off but last week, I didn’t work until early evening so Sprocket and I headed out to savor summer a little bit. It was warm but not near as warm as it’s been this past week so we headed to the Stealey Mountain Trail to do some exploring. The start of the trail was pretty flat so I made a bit of an impulsive decision to start running.
Less than a mile from the car, the elastic fell off my braid so I was rocking the long hair down which was hot. Sprocket seemed to be enjoying the run so we kept on going.
We took a little bit of the long way around which opened up views to the Sneffels Range and Uncompahgre as the trail trended downhill.
As we doubled back to the east, Courthouse mountain dominated the skyline. Our pace slowed a bit as we started to move up hill but we were totally just out enjoying the day.
The highlight of Sprocket’s day was crossing a couple of streams that were low enough to allow him to just splash around and cool off a bit.
We tried to find a pack trail that was supposed to take a very direct route up to the saddle but it just seemed to be gone. It was pretty steep and starting to get hot so we just took it slow and savored the views back towards Castle Rock:
We finally rejoined the quad trail route and made the final push to the summit of Green, or Stealey Mountain. The summit was heavily treed so there weren’t a whole lot of views but the green and the sun was heavenly.
Not too shabby, SP, not too shabby:
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting The Bro’d Trip‘s Justin and Adam for a few days. I’ve known Justin via the internet for a few years but I interacted with Adam for the first time as he stepped out of their rental RV. Justin and Adam are traveling the country for a year in their Sprinter van but when there was a valet company … incident, they continued on in the RV. (Happily they’re back in Arizona to retrieve their van now!)
As we all know, I’ve been working a lot so I wasn’t the best host. Fortunately, the guys had some work to do so they availed themselves of all the best work spaces in Ridgway (Provisions, Cimarron Books & Coffee, and the lovely Ridgway Public Library). Life on the road can’t always be pretty views; I well know the busy life of a traveling blogger!
Sunday afternoon, however, I pretty much insisted that we all get out and do some adventuring. While they’d taken Sprocket to the reservoir while I was at work, I couldn’t let them not get into the mountains while they were here! Sprocket was clearly happy to be on the road and quickly abandoned me to hop into “his” spot in the front of the RV.
I always struggle with where to take people hiking when they visit me since most of our trails around here are pretty darn steep so combined with elevation most of my guests really struggle. (Have a Ridgway-Ouray area hike that doesn’t kill people but also shows off the mountains? Let me know!!!) We went to Twin Peaks trail because the views are pretty darn amazing but there is also some pretty good shade. It’s steep but there’s also the option to bail and do the Perimeter Trail. My guests elected to continue up the “steep and difficult trail” route towards the summit and I was more than happy to oblige.
I’m pretty sure I hiked the whole time with a really dopey smile plastered on my face because these mountain views just do not ever get old. I’m totally happy to just stare out at them. Sometimes Sprocket is a jerk and whines at slow people but I really am just happy to be outside.
Hi, Ouray! You’re really quite pretty.
I think Sprocket was pretty happy to be outside checking out the views.
We weren’t able to scramble up to the true summit (to my chagrin) since it is on a sort of separated knob with a really exposed climb to the very top. We all hung out on the almost-summit and enjoyed being surrounded by mountains. After we couldn’t handle the hunger anymore, we jogged our way down the mountain and headed to the Adobe Inn for dinner.
My next goal for our little roadtrip was Pettingell Peak (13,553′) just off of I-70 near the Eisenhower Tunnel. Pettingell is the highpoint of Grand County and I was itching to give it a try. Unfortunately, Sprocket seemed a little bit tired when we got to 12,100′ above Herman Lake and I wasn’t super comfortable with going up the steep snow slope (especially since Sprocket has a bad habit of rolling on snow slopes). Not really feeling up to pushing it, I decided to turn back.
The day, despite the lack of a summit, was glorious. It was beautifully sunny and we had the whole basin all to ourselves. I am so excited that it’s summer and is alpine time!
My friend Heather is training for her first marathon and I’m always seeing her posts on Facebook about wanting running buddies and it totally kills me; I want to but I’m just too far away for it to be practical most of the time. Last weekend, though, I was in Ridgway so I joined her for a 10 mile run. She left planning the route up to me so I made the most of the fact we’d have two cars and mapped out a route from Ridgway to the north end of Ridgway State Park at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk.
We’re really spoiled with a pathway that runs from Town Park along the river to the State Park that only climbs above the river and near the highway for a short distance. Otherwise, it’s quiet and relaxing down along the Uncompaghre. I’d never run in Ridgway State Park but there are really nice gravel and paved paths that run the whole length of the park!
We ran northbound because the general trend would be downhill but I’m not so sure that’s the best way! The elevation gain would be pretty minimal to go back to town except for the steep climb right at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk which I’d be fine with and then you’d look at these mountains the whole way. Talk about amazing.
Heather’s been running a lot with her marathon training and I really started to struggle a bit for my ninth mile. I alternated running and walking but was able to push through all of the final mile though. Besides, those aforementioned views didn’t hurt anything.
After we wrapped up the run, we loaded up the pups in the Jeep (Heather was dog sitting for Meadow) and took them down to the river.
Sprocket always loves the river:
After our swim time, we headed back north to get ready for the school week!
As convenient as it is to just walk out the door of your house and start running, I’ve really started to embrace driving a few miles out of town to explore. Sprocket seems to hate running on the road and his pace literally drops minutes when we’re out on the trails.
I have found some good trails but dry washes also make good runs this time of year and provide Sprocket with all the sniffs that he could dream of.
This time of year is really busy for school teachers so getting out for happy runs is totally necessary for my sanity and I’m so happy that I have places to do that!
Last Friday, I headed out V 2/10 Road towards the Wild Horse area looking for a spur road that I could go explore on my run. I settled on the road heading down Wagon Track Ridge and got in a great almost six mile run. The only downside was that the whole return run was uphill but I figured that it all equaled out.
I was a little bit bummed that I only made it partway down the ridge but some pretty solid elevation gain and an unknown precise mileage was a little bit more than I wanted to bite off so I simply enjoyed the sunshine and headed back to the jeep.
At home, later, I started studying the map and realized that I could access the base of the ridge at the river baring any crazy washouts or mudholes so Saturday, Sprocket and I set off to run the lower part of the ridge and hopefully meet up with where I left off the day before.
We parked Ruth just above the Colorado and then the road pretty quickly started climbing up the ridge. The very bottom of the climb was pretty washed out and I might have been able to maneuver the XJ up but I was happy to be running up instead.
Once we reached the high part of the ridge, we trended upwards as the road went up and over what seemed like many small hills. The weather was excellent, however, and I had absolutely no complaints.
One of the things I really like about running here is that I almost never see anyone so it’s quiet and relaxing. We did run into a couple people in ATVs today, one of them assumed that I must be broken down somewhere—I don’t think they see a lot of runners around here.
At almost four miles, we reached the point where I’d turned around the day before and headed back. I’m loving that my mileage is starting to stretch out which lets me do some of my exploring on foot: jeep + run = amazing exploring.
In the past year, I’ve found myself in this weird place of not knowing how to describe myself as an outdoor blogger. I hike but my hiking is more than just hiking. I’m not a mountaineer, I’m not a climber, I’m not a runner but my hiking has elements of all of those things. When I decided to get my butt in gear for 2016, I realized that I wanted to grow each of those elements within myself. I really wanted to be a Jill of All Trades in the outdoors. So, one of the easiest (and cheapest) things to get better at is running.
I’m not fast and I’m sure my form is terrible but I’ve been loving my runs. Why? Because they’re joyful. I look down and see Sprocket loping along, pausing for sniffs, and then sprinting to catch me. I find myself smiling ear to ear because it’s sunny. Clearly, I prefer running on either less traveled gravel roads or on trails where I can let Sprocket be himself (although we won’t shy away from a road run, especially in the gorgeous sunset light).
It’s mud season though, which presents its own host of issues. I don’t have a lot of actual trails to run around here but there are a ton of small spur roads and ATV trails and we’re trying to work around the mud as best as possible trying to stay off of muddy trails until they dry but sometimes, this time of year, you unexpectedly find yourself in the middle of it. Considering that I’m joyful running though, I usually wind up giggling through it.
And then, there are the views that just make me smile. I’ve felt a little weird sharing some of my paces on Twitter lately because they’re slow. They’re slow because I’m slow. They’re slow because I’m taking photos. They’re slow because I’m battling mud. But ultimately, I don’t care. I’m outside, I’m active. My mood is better every day because of it.
I seriously think “joy running” to myself because no matter what problems I’m facing in the “real world” (money, relationships, job, etc.) it doesn’t matter when I’m running. It can just be me and the pup loping along enjoying the world.
Climbing Mt. Garfield had me scheming of what other summits I could grab this winter even with snow on the ground. With a large snowstorm predicted, I decided to head up Mt. Low (5,801′). Mt. Low stands immediately above De Beque which meant I’d spend very little time traveling and more time out hiking the impending snow.
I couldn’t find any information about Mt. Low (which I have seen as Mt. Law somewhere but of course I can’t find that now) so this was all just a giant experiment. My thought was to head up one of the ridges coming off the summit and then shoot for a break in the cliffs—pretty typical desert country sort of thing.
Sprocket was having a much better time sniffing deer and rabbit tracks than this photo makes it appear that he was:
“Hey, Mom? I think I need a boost.”
We sat at the stop for a bit taking in the views and procrastinating on getting laundry, house cleaning, grading, and other mundane life tasks.
As we descended, a little snow began to fall and I realized that each of my boot prints had a perfect Sprocket stamp. <3
Going into the last weekend of January, I started to panic a little bit. Last year, I’d hoped to summit at least one peak per month, I figure that way I can’t ever get too removed from doing something that really revitalizes me. I didn’t quite make it and scratched in both January and April of last year. Not wanting the same thing to happen this year, needing some good elevation gain, wanting to capitalize on a brilliantly sunny day, and celebrating Sprocket’s return to activity, we headed for Mt. Garfield.
Sprocket and I had attempted Mt. Garfield last April with Josh but we started too late in the afternoon and the southern facing slopes that make for such amazing winter hiking were way too hot for late April. (We did have a sweet beer sampler at Palisade Brewing so all was not lost.)
Mount Garfield has a reputation for being steep and that reputation is definitely deserved (it gains about 2000′ in a litte under 2 miles). Sprocket and I slowly made our way up the slope enjoying the views to the south that just kept getting better and better.
I found that about 1300′ of the elevation happened in about 0.7 miles, after that the grade flattened out a lot and we made even better time. Sprocket loved the flat snowy sections of the trail.
Finally, we were almost at the summit. The last bit of elevation gain was on a more northerly aspect so there was a lot more snow. I hadn’t tossed any traction devices in my bag which would have been really nice for the ascent (and especially the descent on this section!) but we made our way up pretty easily.
The summit was amazing. I couldn’t see as far into the Book Cliffs (or Roan Cliffs…the nomenclature changes right about on top of Mt. Garfield so I think either is okay) as I thought I might but it was still amazing what I could see: the Book Cliffs stretching off to the west, Battlement and Grand Mesas to the southeast, the Sneffles range to the south, and the Uncompahgre Plateau to the southwest.
After taking in the views, we ran down the trail and made it back to the Jeep pretty quickly. I’m sure this is a hike I’ll do again, the option for snow-free elevation gain in the winter is a huge, huge plus.
“Beam me up.”
He really just sat there totally still FOREVER. Check it out.