Snow! Finally!

I know this winter has been a weird or bad one for a lot of the country. Boston and a good chunk of the North East is buried. California’s wildfire season may start tomorrow considering their very low snowpack (with the Northwest not far behind). Even the south is getting hit with a winter storm right now.

Here in Colorado, we had no snow in town at 7,000′ and most of our south facing slopes up to almost 12,000′ were getting patchy. They were calling for some snow and although during my hike with Sprocket Saturday it looked like the snow might actually be coming it didn’t materialize before I went to bed that night.

I woke up Sunday morning to some wet, heavy snow falling. I had to go up to Ouray and when I returned, I shoveled about 3″ from my driveway and headed inside. It never seemed to snow hard but it snowed pretty constantly the rest of the day. I got a phone call as I was getting in bed that school would be delayed 2 hours the next morning. I shut off my alarm (Sprocket would be alarm enough with a delay!) and went to bed.

In the morning, I learned school was canceled. There were about 16″ of snow on the ground and it was time to get shoveling.

Last Dollar Road: Hastings Mesa

Saturday morning Sprocket and I headed out to get in a bit of an adventure before the snow blew in. (As it turns out, it held out until Sunday mid-day and then it hit but that’s a story for tomorrow.) We drove out to the end of winter maintenance on Last Dollar Road and headed out for a jaunt along the road. Last Dollar is fairly heavily used by snowmobiles so I didn’t even need to use my snowshoes as we ambled along the road, enjoying the view.

Last Dollar Road is a fun place with views towards the Wilsons (and yes, I totally think, “I’ve climbed those!” when I look over there) and Lone Cone:

And then you look on the western flanks of the Sneffles Range at North Pole Peak and it’s brethren:

As we were heading back to the trailhead, it appeared clouds were gathering but it felt so good to be out wandering with Sprocket.

Local Exploration: Baldy Peak Hike

A few weeks ago, Sprocket and I set out on a gorgeous afternoon to hike Baldy Peak. Baldy sits just southeast of Ridgway and I’ve been noticing that the southern slopes seemed very free of snow and it was just begging to be climbed. We started our hike from the end of County Road 14 where we were treated to great views of Mt. Corbett to the west. We got a late start at 11am so I wasn’t sure if we’d summit but that’s the bonus of being close to home—it’s always easy to come back later!

At the end of the County Road, I drove just too far on the snow and got the Jeep stuck. I thought about airing down and attempting to extricate it but the snow was fluffy and cold so I decided to hike first and worry about the extrication when I got back down. I was fairly sure I wouldn’t need snowshoes so I left them in the car and set off for the Baldy Trailhead which was about 3/4 of a mile down a snowcovered road. (On the ridgetop leaving the snowshoes behind turned out to be a mistake…)

It was a long slog up the hill. I tried to follow the trail instead of simply pushing straight up the scrub oak covered hill and in a lot of places its in a narrow trough that would have made using snowshoes sort of difficult.

Once we finally attained the ridge, I was really sad I didn’t have my snowshoes. I was getting tired and it was already 2pm. (I should have probably eaten something real before I embarked on a six mile snow-slog as well. My Luna bars weren’t making a dent in my hunger…). We called it a day about a mile from the summit.

I have no complaints though—I get to call this place home:

Back at the Jeep, I aired down the tires to about 15psi which is usually enough to walk right out of a situation (especially when you didn’t panic and bury your tires, which I didn’t). It didn’t work. I aired them down to 10psi. And then, I had to stop, sit, and think so I didn’t start panicing. It really was not a big deal. We could easily walk out, hitchhike home, and find a friend with 4-wheel drive to pull us out but I hate asking for help like that. (Also, normally I have a winch but I’d taken it off so I could sell the jeep…) I got to thinking. It was mostly my rear tires that seemed to be spinning. So I started brainstorming ways to add traction. Eventually, I emptied my pack, shoved it under one of the rear wheels and was able to back out (with some creative steering).

What’s In My Pack: Day Hiking

Longtime reader Sarah asked me quite awhile ago to do a “What’s in Your Pack?” post. I sort of hemmed and hawed about doing one because of a couple reasons. The first is that what I carry varies widely based on what adventure is on tap. The second is that I’m not totally sure that I’m the right example to follow—what you carry depends on your experience, your fitness level, how remote an area you’re traveling in, and so much more.

This weekend, I headed out to the Kanab, Utah area with Josh, Ofa, Prajit and my friend Kelly for some exploring in the desert. Daytime temperatures were pleasant but it was chilly in the mornings. We didn’t hike anything longer than 5 miles and Sprocket was along for all the hikes so dog needs are accounted for.

Day Hiking “What’s In My Pack?”:


My go-to hiking pack is my Teton Sports Summit 1500 and it is almost always loaded with everything I need for a day hike aside from food and water.

In the pack:

  1. Lighter: nothing fancy. I prefer the clear Bic types so I can see how much fuel is in it).
  2. Swiss Army knife: I actually bought mine in Switzerland on a trip with two of my oldest friends. Mine is either the “Spartan” or something really close to it.
  3. Toilet paper: I make a small flat-ish roll of TP and store it in a Ziploc. The bag protects it from moisture but also gives me a way to pack out the paper if it becomes necessary.
  4. Baby wipes: I don’t go anywhere without baby wipes. There’s a package in the Jeep, a package in the house, and a package in my pack. Currently, the one in my pack is Wet Ones, which I don’t really like since I try to avoid anti-microbial stuff but I have trouble finding small (12-ish count) packages of other wipes. If I’m hiking a lot, and actually using them, I sometime just put some from a larger package in a ziploc.
  5. Map: I don’t absolutely always carry a map. Fortunately, I’m a total map geek and usually bring one along so I can marvel at things I see and be able to name them.
  6. Dog water dish: I have a collapsible dog dish that just stays in my pack. I have a small carabiner (a non-climbing one like you’d pick up at the hardware store or as a giveaway) that I use to clip it to the outside of my pack once it’s wet so stuff inside stays dry.
  7. Nalgene (between 2-3L): Some people are fans of bladder systems when they’re hiking but I’m a a huge fan of Nalgenes. Mine are, yes, covered in stickers and mountain dings–sorry, not sorry that I’m so cool.
  8. Food: I hate being hungry.
  9. Extra snacks: There’s always a couple of bars in my pack that aren’t actually intended to be eaten during the hike. They’re there in case I wind up hiking longer than I intended, as emergency food, or to stave off being hangry.
  10. Extra layers: I hate being cold. I hiked wearing a base layer, light jacket, and a vest and carried a fleece and my Turbo Down with me just in case.
  11. First Aid Kit: My first aid kit is pretty bare bones. I’d actually like to beef this up a little bit this year. Right now, I carry Bandaids, triple antibiotic ointment (I use the generic stuff so I can keep a little bit in a lot of places for the same price), some athletic tape, a few 3×3 bandages, and some heavy duty pain meds.
  12. Camera: My camera equipment varies from just my iPhone to having the iPhone + GoPro + DSLR + tripod. It really depends on the hike and how ambitious I’m feeling about recording the adventure.

One of my goals for 2015 is to work on packing lists for car camping, day hiking, and backpacking trips so as I work up first drafts and think of updates, I’ll be sure to keep updating you all!

Piñon Mesa Ridge

Sunday Sprocket and I drove up to Grand Junction to do a bit of shopping. I wish I would have had the stroke of brilliance just another hour earlier but at about 2pm I decided I’d had enough of the “city” and decided to head for Piñon Mesa—the prominence point of Mesa County. As it turned out, the short mid-November day was too short to accommodate about 13 miles of snowy driving and the short, but partially off trail, hike to the summit. I’ll definitely be back though—I couldn’t believe how close the La Sals and the Abajos looked from here!

Even though we didn’t get to the summit, walking through the cold, crisp sunlight made my heart so happy. Spending some time outside with Sprocket doing a bit racing and laughing through the snow and a little quiet staring off in the distance was just what I needed.

Gear Review: Columbia Omniheat Baselayers

While I was in Park City with Columbia Sportswear and the #omniten, I was pretty much always wearing one of the Omniheat baselayers. After leaving Park City, I was too far south to need the warmth of Omniheat (although sometimes I wore the tops on chilly mornings for running).

When we moved north of Phoenix, I started wearing the tops over camisoles because it seemed like the right weight for the cool high Arizona spring weather. One afternoon, I set out for a hike wearing my 1/2 Zip Midweight long sleeve top. When the hike unexpectedly turned in to a bushwack I initially freaked out, I was going to shred this top. After a minute I realized I could give up, or I could decide that I’d been given this top in the spirit of #tryingstuff and I could continue. I decided to continue and put the shirt through some abuse. It came out totally unscathed.

Since then, we’ve found ourselves in the colder temperatures of high elevation New Mexico and I’ve relied in them more as baselayers. They’ve worked awesome. I actually #omniOVERheated snowshoing in just the baselayer at 45 here in Colorado last week.

Both the tops and the bottoms are really comfortable. I have a long torso and often have issues with baselayers like UnderArmor riding up around my waist rather than staying down over my hips. I haven’t had any of those issues with the Columbia Omniheat. I have also been caught wearing the tights as pants. Sorry, not sorry.

Photo Courtesy Anne Carney Photography

On The Road Again

Aaaaand, we’re back!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here as we prepared to leave Ridgway and head south for the winter. First we had to figure out what to live in, where we were going, and what we were taking. It turned out that we bought a toy hauler so we could bring a whole lot of gas powered toys. It’s a new experiment for us (after the Sprinter, the Scamp, and our Chevy van).

Whenever you buy a new vehicle there’s always a flurry of activity while trying to get things ready for use. On top of that, there’s the transitioning from apartment living (with a grocery store next door) to living on the road.

Sprocket for one, is totally excited to be traveling again. This is how our dog shows excitement:

As it turns out, we’re pretty used to this style of living. It didn’t take me long to be on the lookout for free coffee, an electrical plug in, and some sunshine:

Handsome is pulling wizard-like feats of giant trailer turnaround on Forest Service roads and throwing sticks for SP in reservoirs:

I’m trying to incorporate running in to the day:

And we’re back to blogging to you from McDonalds:

It’s adventure time!

Friday Sprocket Flashback

I’ve been horrible about posting this week. It’s just been kinda busy and internet access hasn’t been super forthcoming for me. Anyway, it’s Friday for most of the world (I don’t ever know what day it is anymore) and since Sprocket mentioned his awesome 1st snow experience on his reverse bucket list last week I figured I’d share some of the cute.

Superstitions Backpacking

Sprocket I had the opportunity to go backpacking with Maryanne and her dog Kiva (her husband Seth even joined us for some of the fun). We headed up the the Superstition Mountains and hiked throughout La Barge Canyon, Boulder Canyon, and out the Second Water Trail. It was a wonderfully relaxing trip: there was tons of talking, some hiking, a touch of swimming (well, a lot on Sprocket’s part), and even some whiskey drinking.

The area had been pretty drenched in rain the weekend prior which meant that there was lots of water in the creeks and in waterholes along the trail. Sprocket, of course, was delighted.

Our first campsite was in La Barge Canyon between Geronimo Head and Battleship. It was a beautiful location but by far the best part was getting to catch up with Maryanne (a close second was watching the dogs play). The sunset light on the rocks went really well with the comfort of conversation with an old friend, a sipper of Jameson, and some dog cuddles.

The next morning, we awoke to frost on the ground. Rather than wait for the sun to reach us in the bottom of the canyon, we scrambled up to the base of some rocks to bask in the sun. Once we walked into camp, Seth was there waiting to start our adventures for the day.

We hiked over into Boulder Canyon, set up camp, and prepared day packs for a hike into a box canyon. It was a lovely hike on a way trail that skirted the southern base of Battleship and then descended into the mouth of the box. When we reached the large pool, we all took turns jumping into the water. It was freezing but totally worth it.

Back at camp, we started a fire, cooked dinner, and relaxed under the stars. Just after midnight, some clouds rolled in to keep us much warmer than we’d been the night before so in the morning we just were not in any hurry to move. We restarted the fire, ate our breakfast, and started back to First Water Trailhead at about 11 so that we could make it back to Maryanne and Seth’s for pizza, beer, and Superbowl!

We’ve come a long way from biology class twelve years ago: