One more before the road

August 31, 2007 at 5:24 am

We’re leaving this afternoon to spend the long weekend camping with my family and climbing in the desert. It should be a really hot, and really great trip! Here’s a shot from camping last weekend to get everybody excited about the holiday. This is a 4-second exposure of the creek that ran right next to our campsite in the San Isabel National Forest just outside of Buena Vista last weekend. I actually had the tripod and both feet in the creek, and believe me, it was cooooold.

The shot below is from my flickr site, another version is in the gallery.

Evening in Buena Vista

Climbing Mt Belford: August 24-26, 2007

August 30, 2007 at 9:28 am

There’s a whole heap of photos from the day in the gallery. Check them out!

In preparation for my parent’s road trip for the season, we decided to head down to Buena Vista, Colorado and check out the hiking trails up a few 14ers. We left the trailhead for good at around 6:30a, and our original goal for the day was Missouri Mountain (or Misery Mountain as Mark was calling it). But when we arrived at tree line just before 8a or so, we were both feeling tired and decided that the closer Mt Belford would make a better goal for the day.

Our route up the mountain was the steep Northwest Ridge, and while it never got more technically difficult than 2nd class, it was a long slog. We spent our morning dragging our feet up over endless switchbacks, generally without a view of the summit. Eventually, I found a good rhythm: every 4th switchback I stopped standing to catch my breath, every 12th was a sit-down rest. Mark probably could have gone faster, but he was nice and stayed with me.

Eventually, we drug ourselves up over the shoulder of the mountain, and from there is was a shorter and less steep hike to the summit. At almost exactly 11am on August 25, 2007, Mark and I bagged the summit of Mt Belford at 14,197ft above sea level, our 5th 14er.

Hiking down Mt Belford

The summit was a bit crowded, but I always say that more than half the fun of hiking 14ers is hanging out with the people you meet along the way. We sat happily in the sun on the sheltered south side of the summit for almost an hour. We did discuss continuing on the visible and fairly easy trail to Mt Oxford, but our water reservoirs were low, and there seemed no place to filter water along the 3 mile round-trip hike to Oxford. After enjoying the views a bit longer, and deciding the weather was holding out for a beautiful day, we decided to hike down the easier, but slightly longer, trail over Elkhead Pass.

The hike down was fantastic. We found a spring to filter water from just under the pass. The day warmed up and the weather was perfect. We moseyed our way down, enjoying being in the mountains, and found ourselves back at the trailhead at just before 5p.

We spent the evening cooking soup and fresh corn-on-the-cob over the campfire. Our free campsite was just off the road, a little past the trailhead, and while there was room for at least 4 other cars and tents, we never saw a single person stop by. I played with some long exposures of the fire and the creek that ran next to our site. And then the whole family promptly fell asleep at dusk.

The next morning we got up and packed up camp (while munching on tasty burnt bacon). We decided to drive up the Mount Princeton road, and see if it was something that my family might prefer for a hike when we’re out there in two weeks. Yeah, there’s no way my mom would have any fun driving on that road. After three steep, scarey, rocky, holey, miles, we found a wide switchback to turn around in, and decided to head home. We’ll be back, I’m sure, someday to hike all of the other 14ers in the area. The Collegiate peaks are steep and remote, but still my favorite mountains (so far)!

Yesterday’s Sunrise

August 24, 2007 at 5:48 am

Well, I am just full of photos this week, aren’t I? Here’s a shot of the sunrise from yesterday morning. The puffy clouds were remnants of the heavy storms that blew through the night before, and the morning was cool and quiet. A portent of the coming fall and the lateness of the season.


Nature’s Light Shows

August 23, 2007 at 8:39 am

Last night we had a few nice supercells pass through north east of town. The lightening was constant, and beautiful. Quite a bit of hail was reported from these storms, most marble-to-quarter sized. The local storm reports also mention heavy rain and wind damage.

I spent about a half hour standing outside in a quiet neighborhood street at around 10:30p last night, trying to get a nice shot of these storms. They all looked awesome on my little LCD, but when I got home I was severely disappointed in the lack of detail. Where I saw dramatically silhouetted billowing clouds with crackling lightening flashing between them, all that came through in the photos is a vague blue glow and a few dim bolts. I think the light pollution from the bright sodium street lights in my chosen location was just a bit too much, plus it seems that I probably left the shutter open too long, and what was a bright bolt on a dark cloud, over time, is saturated out into less and less detail.

Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get more chances as the fall storm season rolls around. For the fun of it, I added a gallery for Sky Shots on this site, and I’ll update it with new shots from dog walks and random afternoon clouds.

Space Station and Shuttle

August 22, 2007 at 6:36 am

One of Kate’s mailing lists at school informed us of the following…
“Just as before, the Space Shuttle has un-docked from the International Space Station and the two of them are flying in formation about 200 miles above the Earth. They are traveling around 17,000(ish) MPH and can be seen in the night sky at …”

We saw it plain as day.
Space There was a bright spot chased by another less bright spot which shows on the long exposure as streaks. I told Kate “If you use your imagination, it really is a space station getting chased by a space shuttle” to which she replied, “But it really is!”. Sure, but I still contend you have to use your imagination. When I look up into the sky, I am never imagine that there are people in those white dots… That’s just crazy!

And did I mention the mosquitos? If you go outside for only 10 minutes after dark, it is still worthwhile to put on a t-shirt. I’m thinking this could be my year for West Nile virus. I’m hoping for the “feel tired for a couple days” type of West Nile . Not the “brain swells and then you die” kind. It’s still quite rare… the CDC has Colorado up to 72 cases , only bested by California (more detail here ).

Hiking, climbing and sweating on Greyrock Mtn

August 21, 2007 at 6:40 am

Another stinkin’ hot weekend on the Front Range. We had a great Friday night and Saturday hanging around the Fort and being a bit lazy. The plan was to head up to Greyrock mountain on Sunday and climb a new route on the Northwest face of the mountain. We thought the peak might be high enough in altitude to be a little cooler, and that we might get some shade on the north face. We thought wrong.

Photos from the day are up in the new gallery!

The day was oppressively hot and more humid than I’ve experienced in a long time. The heat just sapped the energy out of us, and the long walk up to the mountain (2.2 miles) felt like an eternity of slogging. We weren’t on the trail long before conversational topics like “Well, we don’t have to climb anything to get a good work out today” and “You know, if we were at home we’d be doing such-and-such better things” started to pop up. You know you’re in trouble when these thoughts start to wind their way around your brain.

After almost 2 hours, we popped out below the mountain, and immediately took off through the trees and brush to try to scramble up to the back side of the mountain. We got a bit lost a few times, but eventually found ourselves staring up at a gulley below the northwest slabs. Right at that moment, the first dark cloud of the day drifted into view. The scramble was a bit committing, and I found myself sitting, looking up at three or four pitches of climbing and really feeling I didn’t have the energy, even after all the work to get there.

Mark didn’t need too much argument. We scrambled back down into the trees and took a break for some lunch and to pull hundreds of little grass burrs out of our socks and shoes. Eventually, we made it up to the southwest slabs and I started racking up to lead Fun Flake (5.6). It wasn’t long after I left the ground before the thunder started to roll through the dark, thick clouds above us.

I actually felt pretty good on lead that day. I wasn’t in that cloud of irrational fear, my feet felt stable and strong, the moves felt easy and fun. But four pieces and 20ft up, I knew I wasn’t going to be anywhere near finishing before the rain set on us. The thunder was getting louder, and the prudent thing to do seemed to be to lower off and let Mark run up the climb so we could finish and get off the rock before lightening found us.

So Mark finished the lead quickly, and I climbed and cleaned it. We grabbed our stuff as the first bolt of lightening hit a hill to our west, and booked down to the trees below us.

On our way out, I almost stepped on a large flock of Ptarmigan right below the slabs of the mountain. Mark and I were both pretty surprised, as we had never seen these birds below 10,000ft. Further down the trail, we stumbled on another flock, and had fun taking pictures of them, and listening to their quiet, haunting calls.

As usual, the hike out took much less time than the hike in. We walked out in occasional rain squalls that felt good after the heat of the morning.

Updates Galore!

August 18, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Its a long story, but this weekend I got started on some site updates that I’ve been wanting to play around with for a long time, and I may have gotten a tad carried away. There’s still lots to be finished up, so don’t sweat it if things move around a bit in the next few weeks.

I’m really curious what people think of the new photo gallery. I think the Zen Photo code base is a nice bit of software, and the lightbox effects are just friggen cool! But, if it doesn’t work on your computer for whatever reason, please leave a comment here and let me know! Thanks!

Summertime Joy

August 16, 2007 at 4:49 pm

The evenings are warm, the gardens are full and the grills are smoking. We had a really nice picnic last night with all the girls (and Mark and sons and daughters) in the four townhouses in our building. It was an evening full of beer, tasty ka-bobs and brownie balls! I took some nice shots of Jennifer and Barbara playing with the biggest hula-hoop I’ve ever seen! Check them out in the gallery. Yep, it’s been a great summer!

Hula Hoop!