Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Year In Video

..and finally, we're ending 2011 with our 2011 Year in Video. Below is a collection of all of the best video we took during 2011. Stay tuned for more video in 2012 as we upgrade cameras and video editing software. Can't wait! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Year In Pictures: Part 2

July
In July I went up to Leadville to continue my training for the Leadville 100. Without a doubt, the Silver Rush 50 is a more gorgeous course then the LT100 and is one of the toughest 50 Milers I've ever run. This is a photo of my running into Stump Town.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Year In Pictures: Part 1

It's that time of year again, the end, when we take a look back at the year that was. In the next two posts here on Human Potential, we're going to take a look back at the year 2011, in pictures. We'll also top it off with a year in video montage which I hope you'll enjoy. Sometimes I feel like this past year lacked much of the true adventure that other years have had. The great thing about looking back is seeing how wrong I really am. 2011 was filled with life changes, accomplishments, journey and inspiration. I'm really looking forward to 2012 but for now.. here is what 2011 looked like.

January
You know you wanted to see it again. 2011 started with a very successful streakers program. About 6 of my fellow runners joined me by running 2 miles every day for all 31 days in January, completing with the naked mile on January 31st.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview: Jim Lampman

I've continued to scour the run-o-sphere in search of runners and athletes to interview that not only exemplify Human Potential, but continue to be the voice of ultra-running. Today's interview is just one of those athletes. I met Jim Lampman during the 2006 Damn Wakely Dam Ultra in Piseco, NY. Just 4 miles into the 32.6 mile race.. and we were lost together (Jim was leading). I instantly loved the kid, him eating grape gummy fish (my favorite), a quick wit and a mouth that just doesn't stop. It's easy to get lost with Jim, and tick off the Miles. Without further adieu, Jim Lampman..

Name: James Lampman
Age: 28
Hometown/Location: Cato, NY
Years Running Ultras: 7, almost 8 years (Spring 2004)
100-Mile Finishes: 17 official finishes since 2007 (plus three other 100-155-mile runs: pacing and DNFs of races >100mi.) Vermont 100 (5), Massanutten 100 (2), Virgil Crest 100 (3), Beast of Burden Winter 100, Umstead 100, Beast of Burden Summer 100 (2), NJ 100, Philadelphia 100, Burning River 100.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winter Running

By now, everyone in the country has experienced winter weather in some way, shape or form. For many of us, it's become that time of year when we give our bones a rest, ease back into our lazy boy and allow our joints to get creaky. Using the colder months as an excuse to not get out there and train has become rather common place amongst runners, unless you're one of the lucky few training for that April running of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon. I can remember back to 2007, when I signed up for my first Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, an early May race in the mountains of Virginia, where a few fellow ultra-runnrs of mine told me; "The reason Massanutten is so hard for a New Englander is because it's incredibly difficult to train in the winter."

Certainly I know what they meant in terms lacking the terrain, during winter months, to adequately train for that rock infested race. Though I fear that they actually meant, also, that it really is hard for some folks to train during the winter months. It's hard to motivate yourself when it's in the teens above or below zero outside. Your favorite trails are covered in deep snow or pesky ice. You've been pushed out to the roads where you dodge cars and they don't make much effort to dodge you. Your running shoes fill with slush and are crusted with ice. So the question is, how does one train during the winter and do so comfortably? That's what this post is all about.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mental Lessons

In our last post (DNF 10/27/11), we talked a lot about why it is that we DNF in races. I'm hoping that those of you who read this blog and are not runners/ultra-runners can help tease out the parallels of what we're talking about here, in regards to running vs other activities.. and in some times.. even life. We often say that Ultra-Running is a metaphor for life and much of what we learn while adventuring, much of what we experience while "out there" can be transferred to some other kind of life meaning.

So, in keeping our last discussion in mind, I want to take another stab here at trying to clarifying the things that I was trying to express in that post. I wasn't purposely signaling any one person out when writing the last post and if you took it that way, then perhaps the post just really resonated with you or struck a nerve close to home. Take a few more moments to think about why it bothered you and then come back here and move forward with us.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RR: 2011 Slickrock 100

"You fall out of your mother’s womb, you crawl across open country under fire, and drop into your grave." ~Quentin Crisp

For Video of the 2011 Slickrock 100 CLICK HERE

Pre-Race
Friday night, Runners arrive at packet pick-up which starts at 3pm. At3pm, RD Aaron arrives and is immediately hurrying to set registration up. He looks exhausted, flustered and.. is scrambling. A few of us stepped right in to lend him and Jenna a hand. Things were VERY chaotic and unorganized.. and the pre-race meeting started late. This is when we found out why and what eventually started a maelstrom of frustration from the runners. (NOTE: At this moment... Aaron stepped forward and offered to refund anyone their money who no longer wished to start their race. That's right.. before you jumped into what was about to take place.. you have a sweet offer to back out.. take your money and use it for a great weekend in Moab.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

VB: Slickrock 100

This past weekend was the first annual Slickrock Ultras held in Moab, UT. I had the pleasure of starting the 100 miler, a race I dropped out of at mile 52. Moab is one of the most incredible places I've ever been to on the face of this earth and I, for one, am incredibly excited about the idea of returning to these races in the future. During this weekends race, I took the chance to make a short film about my personal experience in the desert. Enjoy!

[Note: Check back later for the detailed written report on Sherpa John: Human Potential]

For more videos, visit Sherpa John Human Potential's YouTube Page!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A30 Interview: Jerry Armstrong

We're continuing to gear up for the Slickrock 100 and this years Adventure 30. Jerry Armstrong is no secret to ultra-running. A well accomplished endurance athlete with a popular blog, Jerry is looking to lace it up in the 50 Mile Option of the Slickrock Races. He took some time to speak to us about this weekends race and the current ultra-culture in general, here he is.

Name: Jerry Armstrong
Age: 34
Hometown/Location: Born/Raised: San Diego, CA; Currently: Broomfield, CO
Years Running Ultras: 6 years
100 Mile Finishes: AC100, SD100, WS100, 24hrs Boulder
Ultra Achievements: 20 ultras, Solo 281mi run for diabetes, Solo Kida Relay (150mi bike/36mi run), Ironman x2,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A30 Interview: Aaron Kissler

As we continue to get closer to this years Adventure 30 Expedition (Slickrock 100), we thought it would be fun to interview a different kind of ultra-person this time around. It's very seldom in our sport that you read interviews with people other than the front-runners; and it's even more seldom to read an interview with the race director. As we head into this years inaugural Slickrock 100, Human Potential took a moment to talk with race director Aaron Kissler about the upcoming event and a little bit about the current/changing culture of Ultra-Running.

Sherpa John (SJ): Aaron, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the upcoming Slickrock 100 in Moab , UT. We know that as race day approaches, your free time is becoming more and more limited so again, thanks for the time and we're really looking forward to the race.
Aaron Kissler (AK): Thank you for your awesome idea to interview race directors, it has been done before, but not often.

Monday, September 26, 2011

RR: 2011 Steamboat 50 Mile

September 17, 2011
Steamboat 50 Miler - Run Rabbit Run
50 Miles - Steamboat Springs, CO
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“In our lives there is bound to come some pain, surely as there are storms and falling rain; just believe that the one who holds the storms will bring the sun.” ~Unknown

I had just put my video camera down after having recorded a segment for the video blog. I was talking about how much I enjoy camping before a race. I had nestled into my sleeping bag and watched a rented movie on my ipad. Alone and cold at a campground in town, enjoying the benefits of off-season camping. At 11:30pm I remember falling asleep to the sound of torrential rain pounding hard against the top of my tent... it would rain all night.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Frozen

Steamboat 50 Miler = DNF

This past Saturday I ran in the 5th Annual Steamboat 50 Mile Run, also known as Run Rabbit Run. First, I want to tell you how incredible a race this is. It's grass roots all the way. Put on by runners, for runners and proceeds benefit 3 different charitable organizations. The heart and soul that is poured into that race, is unmatched in any other west coast event I've yet to attend. My hat goes off to the race organizers and the 88 brave volunteers who braved the elements with smiles on their faces to help each and ever runner.

The forecast for the race called for temps in the 60's with a 40% chance of showers. This is the weather I prepared for. Instead, we hovered around 40 degrees and it torrentially rained for over 8 hours with 40mph winds. Just when it could't have got any worse.. it did and the rain turned to snow. Temps dropped to near 30 degrees with white out conditions. Without proper clothing and gear on hand, I slowly began to freeze to death. With my hands having swelled to the size of baseballs, unable to grasp my hydration tube to drink let alone eat anything; my jaw only able to chatter yet not open wide enough to speak.. I knew my day might be over. But it was when my body began to dive into Flight over Fight that I decided to call it a day.

The whole story will be read in print this time, as my Flip Cam died... drowned.. in all the rain. I have no pictures, but a hell of a story to tell.

38 Miles in 9 Hours 59 Minutes.. and my day ended in Steamboat.

For the Local Newspaper Story.. CLICK HERE.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Flags On The Front Range

I don't think I need to tell any readers of this blog what transpired on September 11, 2001 and how the events of that day shaped our social landscape here in America. In the days following that horrible day, September 15th to be exact, a group of hikers climbed to the summit of New Hampshire's Mount Liberty to raise an American flag. Instantly, a hiker tradition was started in New Hampshire which has been known annually as Flags on the 48; an event where hikers make their way to the summit of New Hampshire's 48 Four-Thousand foot peaks as a display of solidarity. Since then, every year on the weekend closest to the September 11th Anniversary, the tradition has continued through the dedicated hikers who climb to the tops of these peaks. (http://flagsonthe48.org/)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

GR: NEMO Mio & Tuo

Today on the Human Potential Video Blog (also available on our YouTube Channel), we are providing you with a gear review of NEMO Equipment's Mio 1 Person Tent and the Tuo Standard Sleeping Pad. We'll be showcasing how to assemble the tent and inflate the sleeping pad, taking a closer look at the features of each and then putting it all away.

Product Information
To learn more about NEMO Equipment you can visit their website HERE
To learn more about NEMO's Mio Tent sibling, The Moto 1P visit HERE
To learn more about NEMO's Tuo Standard visit HERE 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rocky Mountain Rambling

I couldn't stop asking myself, "What am I thinking" while standing out front of my bosses house at 11:45pm on Friday night. I've finally stopped feeling sore following the Leadville 100 (all of 5 days ago) and here I am, gearing up for an insanely long hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Then I think of Josh, Josh is my boss who works and works and works. He's also a father of two and rarely gets a day off let alone a day to play up high. So just past midnight we pulled away from his place and headed for the hills. Once in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) we placed the company van at Bear Lake trailhead, ready to roll upon our return from the ridge we were about to hike. We then drove up and over Trail Ridge Road and park my car at Milner Pass. Our adventure would begin here, right on the Continental Divide at an elevation of 10,700'.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

RR: 2011 Leadville Trail 100

2011 Leadville Trail 100
August 20-21, 2011
Leadville, CO
29:38:14
(View The Video HERE)
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Pre-Race
I think all that needs to be said about my thoughts heading into this race have been said in previous posts on this blog. To recap, I ran in the 2010 Leadville 100 as part of the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running. After running in the Western States 100 and the Vermont 100; after a season of lackluster training.. I showed up in Leadville, terrified and tired. From there, the wheels feel off around every turn and after 61 miles of running, I was pulled from the course for missing an aid station cut-off by 15 minutes. My quest for the Grand Slam wear over.. and for the next year Id live with the personal pain and torment of my first DNF via. Time Reaper.

This years race was all about Redemption. I trained hard for the last 4 months, awaiting my shot at Leadville once again. I had many omens heading into this years race. A night of horrendous Thunderstorms heading into the morning of the race. Meeting up with a runner who was actually at the finish line of my first 100, cheering me on (though he doesn't remember). Wearing bib number 495, the same number of the Interstate highway I'd travelled so many times back East. There were a number of great omens and at this years starting line.. I was prepared mentally and physically. This.. is my story of redemption and how I sought it out, fought it out, and walked away from Leadville Colorado with a new belt buckle in hand.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Video: 2011 Leadville Trail 100

The 2011 Leadville Trail 100, hosted by Lifetime Fitness, was this past weekend in Leadville, CO. Runners had 30 hours to complete the arduous task of running "100 Miles Across The Sky" at elevations topping out at nearly 12,600'. After timing out in the 2010 Edition of this race, this years theme for Team Sherpa was Redemption. The below video chronicles how redemption played out. Enjoy!

For more videos, visit Sherpa John Human Potential's YouTube Page!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Redemption

 REDEEMED
After 29 Hours and 38 Minutes. I sprinted across the finish line, on the corner of 6th and Harrison, in the 2011 Leadville Trail 100. After a painful year thinking of how last years run fell apart, I finally had my day in the sun, finally conquering one of America's toughest 100's! I have an amazing crew and the support of the many friends who were cheering me on through the entire event to thank. You're as much a part of this success as Left, Right, Repeat.

A full race report and video to come throughout this week. Stay tuned!




Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LT100 Interview: Laura Bleakley

I met Laura Bleakley back in 2005 during the Damn Wakely Dam Ultra-Marathon. I vividly remember an amazing female running blowing by me on the trail about 7 miles into the run. She dropped a gel as she ran by me. I picked it up and tried chasing her down to give it back. Eight Hours later when I crossed the finish line, I found out she smoked me and ended up coming in 1st Female. This woman is the real deal; one of the best female runners in the country who I feel goes virtually un-noticed. But beyond her results, is an incredible story of a runner who has come back from the brink of an injury related termination.


Name: Laura Bleakley
Age: 41
Location: Bedford, NH
Years Running: 40

SJ: Laura, thanks for taking the time to talk to us as you prepare for the Leadville Trail 100.
LB: No problem....I owe you since you found me a pacer for Leadville.

Friday, August 12, 2011

They Paved The Way

When I run here in Colorado I pass an awful lot of Aspen tree's. When I run by these tree's I think about a few things. They certainly are beautiful and strong, resilient even, and yet they have one of the most incredible root structures of any plant on the planet. Aspen Trees grow into a huge colony, after having started from a single seedling and spreading by means of root suckers. Aspen are also know to clone themselves. Basically if you cut a tree down and leave a stump, the damaged Aspen will send a message down to the root system to send up a new sprout which is a clone of the sprout that was just cut. Where the hell am I going with this?? Lets back up to the part where I mentioned a colony that started from a single seed.. and apply this to ultra-running.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interview: David Salvas

Name: David Salvas
Age: 62
Town: Amherst
Years Running: 33

A few days ago I received an e-mail from a man named David Salvas. This e-mail was to inform me that I could "add another name to the list of those who've run across New Hampshire." I wasn't shocked but I was certainly surprised to receive a e-mail on this subject.. what shocked me was the distance he did. So.. welcome David Salvas to Human Potential as we interview him in regards to his Run Across NH adventure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hope Pass

I met Tim Urbine during the Silver Rush 50 Miler. If you watched that video, you met his son Luke and later watched the two of them cross the finish line together. Tim is gearing up for his first 100 Miler ever and it's this years Leadville Trail 100. It does;t sound like Tim has much interest to run 100 milers beyond this one, with a wife, kids, a job that requires him to travel and his love for Ironman.. he's a bit tied up as it is. Regardless, I was able to get him to agree to go on a little training run with me this weekend and I let him choose where we went. After presenting 3 options to him, he chose the obvious... Hope Pass.

Monday, August 1, 2011

GR: Nathan Endurance Vest

Today on the Human Potential Video Blog (also available on Our YouTube Channel), we are providing you with a gear review of the Nathan Sports "Endurance" Hydration Vest. For this review we talk about this great piece of gear and then take it out for a little run. We'll wrap it up with a bit about how it performed.

Product Information
To learn more about Nathan Sports you can visit their website HERE
To learn more about Nathan's Endurance Vest visit HERE

Friday, July 29, 2011

SIX

It was July 25, 2005 when I toed the line of my first Ultra-Marathon. It's sometimes hard to comprehend that I've been at this thing called "ultras" ever since. I often times look back at how it all began, and the progression I endured working my way up to that first ultra. I also think about the road I've taken since, the amazing places I've been, the things I've accomplished. There's no better time then the present to take time to reflect on the journey.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

VB: 2011 Silver Rush 50

Sherpa John : Human Potential is proud to present its Video Blog Premier! Join us regularly here on the HP blog as we continue to bring you race footage, run footage, gear reviews, interviews and more! Join our YouTube Channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Ultrasherpajohn

Human Potential VB: Episode 1
The 2011 Silver Rush 50 Mile Run

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

RR: 2011 Silver Rush 50

July 17, 2011
Silver Rush 50 Mile Run
48 Miles - Leadville, CO
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"Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain." ~Author Unknown
Pre-Race
It wasn't but 2 weeks ago that I decided to sign up for the Silver Rush 50. A last minute decision I was waiting to make based on my ability to train and my adjustments to the altitude after having moved to the Boulder area at the end of May. I didn't know what to expect heading into this race as most of the information I had research online pertained to the Mountain Bike version of Silver Rush and not much in the way of runners info. What I did find was on youtube, a series of short and rather well done videos of the race, which helped me prepare for the inevitable. The inevitable being altitude, relentless climbs and a very long day in gorgeous Leadville Colorado.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Distractions

Part of my more focused training over the course of the last month has been in dealing with distractions. When running ultra's, or even in hiking, distractions come from two areas. Obviously, these areas are more better known as "internal" and "external" distractions. In this post we're going to talk a little bit about what some common internal and external distractions might be, how they can effect your race and how you can train to deal with them before race day comes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coal to Canyon 50K

With the Leadville 100 just under 2 months away, it's time to kick the training into a higher gear. After a stellar month of training weeks with increasing mileage, intensity and number of days run; everything has been going according to plan. Part of that plan was to run a 50K in the final weeks of June to continue to prepare for the big race. Over the course of June, I bought a map of my area trails and started to run from my apartment in Louisville out to Eldorado Mountain in segments. Breaking each section of trail up into parts and then running them in both directions. My plan for this weekends 50K was to tie all sections together and run an our and back from the old coal fields of Louisville to the grandeur of Eldorado Canyon.

I posted to the local trail runners e-mail list and was happy that someone nibbled on my invite for a long run this weekend. It was a woman named Cheryl. Cheryl ran her first 50k at the North Fork races, she's preparing for her first 50 miler and also the Leadville 100. She's got a wonderful progression going on, not unlike the progression hundreds of other ultra-runners have used on her way to the 100 mile finish. She showed up at my door at 5am and we immediately took off for the trail.

It's so nice to walk out my front door and hop right onto a trail. As we started to head out for Eldorado, the sun was still rising and had yet to crest above the horizon. Just light enough to not need headlamps, we carried on casually. Cheryl and I run about the same pace so it was easy to be comfortable when turning the legs over. Though, we quickly discovered on the hills that my hill climbing stride is still a bit much for those "shorter folks" looking to keep up with me. ;) It was nice to meet someone new who was comfortable enough, not only to simply run together, but to get to know each other more personally. Cheryl has this wonderful, motherly, finesse to her that well... only a mother would have. So talking with her came easy and so did the miles we clicked off together.

As we crossed the dirt road in Superior and onto the Singletree trail, we were treated with a delightful sunrise. The sun was a monster red ball having just risen above the horizon and desperately trying to break free of the morning clouds. As we turned the corner, we watched silently as the Flat Irons turned red from the alpin-glow and the Rocky Mountain Snows in the distance did the same. Breathtaking. As the sun continued to rise and heat the land, the cool valley air turned to clouds as it began to rise and a magnificent morning overcast rose up along the sides of the mountains. I wished I was on top of Bear Peak looking down on the undercast that was. Sunrise in Boulder County had turned out to be this amazing dance of weather phenomenon that one simply could not look away from.
From the Singletree horse and cattle pasture we crossed the next road onto the Marshall Mesa. Here is the home to a few thousand prairie dogs which had yet to wake up in the cool morning air. This was the quietest run I've had across this mesa, without the loud squeaks of the prairie dogs. Along the top of the Mesa is Community Ditch, and after crossing CO-93, we were running along the waters of Community Ditch. It doesn't matter which way you run, it always appears like this stream is flowing uphill. Trippy.
We reached Dowdy Draw and began climbing uphill in earnest despite most of our run having been uphill all ready. Along the first climb I looked down and say the lower section of an elks leg. Hoof and all, I wondered where the hell the rest of him was. As we wound our way around to the top of this mesa, I looked to my left and saw two elk, lying low in the high prairie grasses. I wondered if they were lying or injured, or hiding. Whatever it was, they were silent and I felt like I was looking a a painting. Yet as I turned my head back right, under the new days hot sun, we saw Eldorado Mountain right in front of us, We ran into the trees, finally, and started to wind our ways around the side of the mountain.
Can you spot the elk?
The Fowler Trail is one of the neatest I've ever been on. An old railroad bed, this trail goes along the side of Eldorado Mountain, at times cut right through the stone as it towers above. When you come around the corner an into Eldorado Canyon/Eldorado Springs itself, you can look down on the tiny tiny town below, and up and the towering spires of rock that many a rock climber frequents. It's really humbling to look around in this canyon, helping you almost forcing you to realize how insignificant you are in this huge world. But enough of that as we made it to the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail and began our hike uphill.
We talked and joked as we continued to climb up the steepest section of our. We started at around 5200' today and in a matter of a mile we'd top out at about 7200'. We'd run almost entirely uphill to this spot. Along the trail is a small side path that we took to the top of a tiny ridge. The views are stunning and then, I saw a rock outcropping. I hadn't been there yet so, we walked on over and as I climbed up to the top of the rock, I realized by looking below that this was not the place to mess up. It was a harrowing drop to the valley below, certainly at least 100 feet unimpeded by even a tree. Yet in the distance we saw, right before us in natures theatre, The Continental Divide. We sat in silence, our mouths agape, followed by, "WOW!"
After our brief stop we made our way to the highest this trail would allow us. And that is the train tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad. We took a few photos of the tunnels up here, the ones the train uses to get through and around the mountain. Cheryl's husband is a conductor so we knew he'd get a kick out of these pics. And then, we turned around and began our long winding descent all the way back to Louisville.
Along the way, we cross the stream on a bridge down around Dowdy Draw. I told Cherly we had to run through the water. Initially she wasn't too keen on the idea but I quickly persuaded her to make the run across. "If you don't do it in the game, don't do it in practice." And vice versa, there are quite a few chilly crossings at Leadville. We need to get used to running with wet feet. As Cheryl's feet touched the water I heard her yelp from the cold. As I turned back, she was smiling from ear to ear and even splashing a bit. With that, we ran home with wet sloshing shoes and huge smiles.
Also found this dung beetle pushing a turd. :)
The 50K run ended up taking us 6:35. Good enough for a 13:11/min mi. pace. I'm extremely happy with how well we did and how comfortable I felt. I still have much work to do to prepare for the beast that is Leadville. I'm determined to cross that finish line this year and gaining redemption. Left Right Repeat.. from here, until then.

SJ

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mt. Evans

On Sunday we took a drive up through Eldorado Canyon and headed towards Nederland via a way we hadn't explored yet. Upon reaching Ned, we headed south on the Peak to Peak Highway chomping up some miles of road we'd yet to explore as well. It was much to our surprise when we rounded the bends into the canyon town of Black Hawk. In front of us was a huge building, a hotel in fact, and within a quarter mile it was evident that we'd reached a mini-vegas. Black hawk is a town that seems to have gone through a renaissance where multiple large casino's have been erected and construction plagues the main road through town as they work on building a wrap around thru-way to stave off congestion. It was quite comical to come across this oasis of lights flickering under a hot June sun.

As we made our way into Idaho Springs we inadvertently hopped onto I-70 West and started seeing signs for "Mt. Evans-Open To Top." We had no clue what Mt. Evans was or how high the top was but we dared to venture in that direction to find out. We drove once again through canyon after canyon until the car started climbing higher and higher, eventually sneaking us views of the high rocky peaks all around. We drove past the gorgeous Echo Lake recreation area where it seemed like a few hundred folks had parked along side its shores, enjoying the afternoon sun and trying their luck at casting a line into the crystal waters. On the far end of the lake, we made it to a small visitors center with a sign for the Mount Evans Auto Road.
The Mt. Evans Auto Road is the highest paved road in America. It is also known as America's Highest Auto Road. For $10, we entered the gate and began our climb. We were shocked by the enormity of the krumholz that lined the side of the narrow road. These small alpine trees we knew so well as mini-shrubs in New Hampshire are tall and twisted out here. An impressive sight indeed. The road wastes no time in gaining elevation. It's 15 miles from start to the top. The road, which has no guardrail, twists and turns it's away precariously along the top of many cliffs and alpine meadows. I was terrified and brought new meaning to the term "White Knuckle Ride."
We started winding our way up and into the Arctic Circle.. or what seemed like it. Above 11,000' the world is still very much playing host to winter. Snow fields are HUGE! We managed to snap a few photos on the way up of the cars passing in front of the huge drifts, some of them about 20+ feet in height. The road continued along the top of some pretty precarious cliffs. I won't lie when I tell you I was nearly pooping my pants. Whenever the road narrowed, I drifted my car more towards the upslope side of the road even if it was the wrong side to be on. If a car came form the other direction, I froze stiff in the proper lane and waited for the "safer lane" to open up again. Eventually we reached a parking lot at the base of a gorgeous peak. The lake below it's icy cap was still frozen over and many avalanche trails could be seen. We pulled over and decided to walk around a bit, walking over to a view spot and took some photos of the mountains, many of which are hiding behind the thick cloud of smoke that had drifted north from Arizona's Wild-Fires.
After our "breathtaking" (Literally) break, we drove the rest of the way to the summit. The road got narrower the higher we got, the turns tighter and the air thinner. By the time we reached the summit, we had made it to 14,100' in elevation. We got out of the car to look around. It was 90 degrees down in Denver, it's 40 degrees up here. I'm in shorts and a t-shirt, we hadn't planned on anything today really and this had become a pretty amazing treat. I froze while walking around the parking lot area, the true summit of the peak another 100' above us. The more telling tale is of being out of breath after walking a mere 50 yards on the summit proper.
We turned the car around and began the long roller coaster ride back down the 15 mile auto road. We slowly, and in third gear, made our way back to the bottom. We stopped for a few more pictures along the way. To snap shots of the car along-side the snowdrifts, the marmots that own the place and of course some worthwhile views. For $10, it doesn't get much better, especially if you want to get above 14,000' without walking there. I'm sure we'll return to the Evans Auto Road once the smoke clears and we find more time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

HIGHjynx

It's been an interesting week since I wrote about my soul sucking trek up Bear Peak. I starter my internship on Wednesday and it's been full steam ahead ever since. I did manage to get out on Thursday Night for a sunset run along the Coal Creek Path. This paved path travels right by our front door here in Louisville. If I head north on it, it terminates about 1.25 miles from here at it's junction at the middle school on Via Appia (Street Name). To the south, I can take this trail to it's connection with a vast trail network which stretches for unimaginable distances. No seriously.. I can probably run all the way to the continental divide from my front door without having to run much on pavement. It's 28 miles to the divide on trail by the way. ::wink wink:: Anyway, my sunset run afforded me a chance to watch the sun set behind the Flat Irons of Boulder. It was breath taking.
On Friday we had an orientation at work. We started our morning by driving up to Estes Park. We are currently the only guide service permitted to guide in Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Roosevelt National Forest. We started our morning with some rock climbing just down the road from the lodge we service. After that fun, we drove up Trail Ridge Road to Rainbow curve which is where the gates had be closed prevented cars from traveling ahead. The road was buried with some 22 feet of snow in placed up until last week. Road crews have been removing snow so they can open the road entirely, and allow it to serve its purpose as a thru-way to Granby. At Rainbow Curve (elevation 10,875') we got out of the van and hopped onto bikes. From here, we rode uphill along trail ridge road. While some of my co-workers rode to the highest point of the road, I topped myself out at Forest Canyon (11,758') Getting up here was quite the chore for me as I sucked wind almost the entire way. After a wonderful break chatting with co-workers and enjoying views of the Continental Divide, we turned around in the 40 degree temps and bombed back down the road at high speeds all the way back to the gate and the van. From here, I drove the van as a sag wagon and followed those who wanted to ride all the way back down to Estes Park. What a thrill!
22' of snow

The Mummy Range

Marmot
Finally, after a Saturday or Disc Golf and BBQing with friends in Boulder. I started my Sunday with a run over on the Marshall Mesa/Community Ditch. The Prairie Dogs are out in full force, screeching their ways around the mesa. These things are fun to watch. Cute little buggers too.
On Wednesday, I'll tell you about my Sunday Drive to the top of Mount Evans, 14,100+ Feet in Elevation. Stay Tuned!