Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pinckney Blind Lake Backpacking Dec '17 (In the snow)

Potawatomi Trail:
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Trailhead Elevation: 888 ft.

Dec. 15 Hike In: 
  Distance: 11.06 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 433 ft.
  Start Time: 3:01pm
  End Time: 7:38pm

Dec. 16 Hike Out:
  Distance: 4.30 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 206 ft.
  Start Time: 8:20am
  End Time: 10:19am

Trip Report:
The opportunity once more arose to get a good backpacking adventure in this December. I've grown to love and enjoy these winter excursions as they add a number of logistical challenges not present in the summer. That, and hiking in 20-30 degree weather in Michigan is much to be preferred to hiking in 70-80 degree humid weather in the summer. About two weeks out I started watching the forecast and it appeared I would have low 20's and almost no precip to deal with on my planned dates. That was looking pretty good to me. Two days before my event I was thrown a curveball. Southeast Michigan was hit with a pretty good snow storm. Where I live it was only about 4 inches of snow, but at Pinckney it was more like 8 inches. As the storm was happening I didn't fully reckon how it might impact my hiking plans.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Island Lake Blue Loop

Island Lake Blue Loop:
Island Lake State Recreation Area
Trailhead Elevation: 919 ft.
Distance: 10.01 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 238 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 4:59pm
End Time: 6:41pm

Trip Report:

On my drive up to northern Michigan I finally found an opportunity to try Island Lake once more. I planned an hour for myself to start out at the shopping center, run the 4/10 of a mile to the Blue Loop and do a 6-mile out and back run. The trail starts at the far east end of the shopping center which is just off of US-23. It is a fairly obvious trail near signage. The first four tenths are mostly flat and good trail which a few small side trails that break off. I found the "main" trail to be relatively evident. It picks up the blue loop at a bend in the blue and immediately heads south. I ran into two bikers in this early section whom I moved aside for.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Zion Watchman Trail

Watchman Trail
Zion National Park
Trailhead Elevation: 3,923 ft.
Distance: 3.88 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 635 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 7:05am
End Time: 8:38am

Trip Report:

My friend Matt and I set out from our camp site in Watchman campground and walked the camp road out until we got to the bridge over the Virgin River. Just before the bridge was the trailhead for the Watchman Trail. We began there. We each only carried a nalgene in hand and had basic clothes on. It was probably in the 50s when we got started and the skies were mostly clear. The initial trail is mostly flat and follows the river a bit until curving away from the river and then crosses a side road that heads out of the campground.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Zion Observation Point

Observation Point Trail
Zion National Park
Trailhead Elevation: 4,372 ft.
Observation Point: 6,532 ft.
Distance: 7.48 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 2400 ft. (rough estimate)
Start Time: 11:15am
End Time: 2:37pm

Trip Report:
As an encore to our morning of hiking on the Emerald Pools Trails my friend Matt and I set our sights on the Observation Point Trail. Actually, this is really better described as the main event than an encore. When our itinerary allowed us a free day on Friday this trail quickly rose to the top of the list. We had also given eye to the East Rim Trail and the thought of completing our Zion Traverse but in the end decided to give this one a go. And we weren't disappointed.

Zion Emerald Pools & Kayenta Trail

Emerald Pools Trail
Kayenta Trail
Zion National Park
Trailhead Elevation: 3,923 ft.
Distance: 3.19 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 400 ft. (rough estimate)
Start Time: 9:14am
End Time: 11:01am

Trip Report:
After having finished our big Western Zion Traverse on the previous day we were looking to start our "free" day with a nice easy, almost touristy, hike. None of us had ever done the Emerald Pools trails and so this became the chosen option. We hopped the shuttle from our campsite and took it to the Zion Lodge stop. Getting off the shuttle we followed the pathways to the road crossing and an obvious bridge over the Virgin River which would be our start. There was some nice signage that gives us hikers an idea of the length of the Emerald Pools trails as there are a few options to be taken along the way.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Western Zion Traverse

Route Name: Lee Pass Trailhead to La Verkin Creek Trail to Hop Valley Trail to Connector Trail to West Rim Trail to Angel's Landing to Grotto Trailhead

Lee Pass TH: 6,082 ft.
High Point: 7,480 ft.
Angels Landing : 5,790 ft.
Grotto TH: 4,296 ft.

Distance: 43.96 mi.
Elevation Gain: 5,396 ft.
Elevation Loss: 7,017 ft.

Start Time: Monday, Sep. 25, 10:51am
End Time: Thursday, Sep. 28, 12:28pm

Trip Report:

It's quite a blessing when you're able to enjoy time out in the wilderness with friends.  This year marked the third triennial backpacking trip I've been able to make with my friends Matt and Ken.  In 2011 and in 2014 we made our way out to Yosemite and enjoyed hikes in numerous areas of that wonderful park.  This year we laid out a list of ideas of hoping to try something different.  Amongst ideas, the Teton Traverse and the Zion Traverse came out as our finalists.  Both would have promised amazing views and plenty of good trail miles.  Zion was our winner.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pinckney Blind Lake Backpacking Aug '17

Potawatomi Trail:
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Trailhead Elevation: 888 ft.

Aug. 24 Hike In: 
  Distance: 4.56 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 167 ft.
  Start Time: 5:49pm
  End Time: 7:58pm

Aug. 25 Hike Out:
  Distance: 4.27 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 156 ft.
  Start Time: 10:18am
  End Time: 12:15pm

Trip Report:
In my 2nd annual boys backpacking trip this year I got Jonah to join Luke and I as we headed up to Pinckney for a hike into Blind Lake. We had company coming into town on Friday night so we made this a Thursday night excursion. It was two weeks til school starts so we had to make a go of it before then.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Legend Trail Half & Lake Ovid Kayaking

The 2017 running of this race marked my third entrance into it.  The Legend Trail Half Marathon is on my list every year as races to plan for.  The course itself is essentially a loop around the park and lovely Lake Ovid which is at the heart of the park.  Its not an overly difficult course.  Parts of the trail are thick with roots and there are a few modest hills along the way.  Large sections of the course are a bit grassy with other sections a wide single-track in the forest.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Quandary Peak 2017

Route Name: East Ridge
Trailhead Elevation: 10,850 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,265 ft.
Distance: 7.13 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,396 ft.
Start Time: 8:57am
Summit Time: 10:36am (5 minutes on top)
End Time: 11:51am

Trip Report:

My wife and I were fortunate to have an 8pm flight out of Denver to head home which meant that on our last day out in Colorado we actually had time to go out and do something.  Of course, for me, this meant hiking and climbing.  I had initially been looking at a large hike if the time would allow it.  One of my leading thoughts was to attempt Torreys Peak from Loveland Pass.  I didn't have 4WD and the prospect of getting into the trailhead mess in Stevens Gulch just wasn't enticing so the standard routes weren't good.  From Loveland Pass though I could be dropped off, hike the ridge to Torreys, possibly on to Grays, and then down to the standard route trailhead.  I would like then trail run the road out and then be picked up.  It was ambitious, but, it would need an early start.  Today didn't quite work out that way.  Thus Quandary rose to the front as an option.  I had done this in 2014 where I went all in for a speed ascent and it went well.  Today's plan was to help pack up the family camp in the Buena Vista area by 8am, drive over to the Quandary trailhead, get dropped off, and then hike til noon.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Huron Peak 2017

Route Name: Northwest Slopes
Trailhead Elevation: 10,567 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,003 ft.
Distance: 6.84 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,407 ft.
Start Time: 6:28am
Summit Time: 9:18am (46 minutes on top)
End Time: 11:58am

Trip Report:
There is arguably no other 14er in Colorado with better summit views than Huron Peak.  You can see all the Collegiate Peaks, the Elks, and beautiful nearby 13ers like Ice Mountain and the Apostles.  You also really have no interruptive views of cities or any other civilization other than some faint views of mountain roads.  When I was on Huron in 2009 with my brother we spent almost 40 minutes on the summit.  Today I wished to go for the same.   Earlier in our vacation I had only taken 2 minutes on Uncompahgre's summit because of impending storms and the need to get my boys down the mountain.  Just yesterday on Princeton I only took 10 minutes because of my habitual need to keep moving, and some imposing clouds.  Today, I was hoping for a great Huron summit stay.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mt. Princeton 2017

Route Name: East Slopes
Trailhead Elevation: 10,884 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,197 ft.
Distance: 7.99 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,295 ft.
Start Time: 6:10am
Summit Time: 10:52am (14 minutes on top)
End Time: 2:32pm

Trip Report:
For my father and I, many fresh memories were existent of Princeton having been up there just 9 years ago.  I usually describe it with one accurate phrase "a big pile of rocks".  We were staying in the Buena Vista area and this appeared to be a good choice to take my young boys on while also taking advantage of my Dad's 4WD truck to cut the distance down.  We know this isn't the easiest of the 14ers in the area, but with the 4WD we could make it close enough.  My youngest son had a rough experience on Uncompahgre and we could see he wasn't ready for another hike so we left him at home.  My older two accompanied us on this climb and did really well.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

CDT: Cottonwood Pass to UN12792

Route Name: Continental Divide Trail / Colorado Trail
Cottonwood Pass Elevation: 12,196 ft.
High Elevation: 12,792 ft.
Distance: 4.42 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,236 ft.
Start Time: 9:08am
Summit Time: 10:45am (4 minutes on top)
End Time: 12:08pm

Trip Report:
On this day we were given the opportunity to make hiking plans with my Aunt and Uncle who live out in Colorado.  Initially they had suggested a peak reachable from Monarch Pass but the weather in that area was less than favorable.  This steered us toward a hike from Cottonwood Pass, which with slightly better weather report, and a shorter drive, seemed the more reasonable choice.  We made plans to meet at the pass at 9am and to hike out 2 miles along the Continental Divide Trail/Colorado Trail to an Unnamed summit at 12,792 feet.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hartman Rocks Trail Run

Looking for a trail run near our campground in Gunnison, I noticed that I would be able to run some roads just to the south and pickup what looked like a trail system. As I researched this further I realized this was a very organized trail system called Hartman Rocks Recreation Area. This seemed to be the gold mine I was looking for. As I got going this morning I did one final look at things and realized a quick drive down the Airport road from the Gunnison KOA where we stayed would be put me at the main base area trailhead. So I drove on over.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Uncompahgre Peak 2017

Route Name: South Ridge
Trailhead Elevation: 11,415 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,309 ft.
Distance: 8.02 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,200 ft.
Start Time: 6:46am
Summit Time: 11:25am (8 minutes on top)
End Time: 2:20pm

Trip Report:

Since beginning the 14ers in 1991 I have enjoyed in recent years making returns to the hikes done in those early years now so long ago.  Uncompahgre Peak was just my 3rd 14er summit back in 1992.  There are large parts of the hike I don't remember including the beautiful hike into the upper meadows.  I do remember the cliffy plateau nature of the summit area and the precipitous drops off the north side.  Our 1992 hike was especially unique in that we were involved in the rescue of a hiker who had had an accident.  I was hiking with my brother, father and Uncle.  As we approached the summit a hiker came up from behind us.  They had noticed my uncle had a radio antenna sticking out from his pack and asked if we could help.  They had been ascending a steep slope west from one of Uncompahgre's saddles and a girl in their group had an accident. I can't remember if it was a rock falling or if she simply feel and hurt herself.  My uncle helped coordinate via HAM radio with one of the county sheriff's and eventually a helicopter was brought in to help extricate the hurt climber.  We spent quite a lot of time up on the saddle of Uncompahgre that year.

Monday, July 17, 2017

North Vista Trail to Exclamation Point (Black Canyon NP)

Route Name: North Vista Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 7,703 ft.
Distance: 3.06 mi.
Elevation Gain: 321 ft.
Start Time: 4:22pm
Exclamation Point: 5:20pm
End Time: 6:19pm

Trip Report:

For our first afternoon out in Colorado we were looking for a good hike at Black Canyon National Park.  We hadn't been here since 2005 and when we were here last we did some short hiking along the south rim.  Ahead of time I had done some research on the options and the North Vista trail looked intriguing.  I could also see Exclamation Point as a viable turnaround point.  It didn't show up on all maps but just looking at the route on Google Earth I could actually see the bits of trail segment out on the point and so it looked like a go.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Two Hearted Trail Run (Marathon)

Route Name: Two Hearted Trail Run Marathon Course (much of it on the North Country Trail
Start Elevation: 709 ft.
Low Elevation: 610 ft.
High Elevation: 832 ft.
End Elevation: 776 ft.
Distance: 26.2 mi.
Elevation: 700 ft. (est.)
Start Time: 7:23am
End Time: 12:38pm

Trip Report:
One cannot overstate the beauty of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Lake Superior.  For me one visit and I was sold.  Though I had been up to Houghton, Michigan, as an older child I never recalled much of the visit.  My real introduction to the fullness of the U.P. came in the summer of 2016.  My family and I did a road trip from one side of the U.P. to the other.  We made stays and hikes at Tahquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks, the Porcupine Mountains and even Isle Royale.  Aside from the well known mosquitos and black flies, the trip and the hiking were outstanding.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Grand Canyon Rim Trail

Route Name: Rim Trail
Start Elevation: 6,817 ft.
End Elevation: 7,117 ft.
Distance: 3.12 mi.
Start Time: 6:30am
End Time: 7:48am

Trip Report:
For our last morning at the Grand Canyon we had about 2 1/2 hours to work with before the long drive out to Phoenix.  We had 3pm flights and I'm usually paranoid about getting there early.  We were up right around 5am, tore down our camp, loaded up the car, and head for the Visitor Center parking.  There we hopped the Village Shuttle to ride it down to the Bright Angel Trailhead.  We actually got off at the shuttle stop titled "Hermit's Rest Route Transfer".  The plan was to hike the easy Rim Trail all the way back to the Visitor's Center.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Humphreys Peak

Route Name: West Slopes
Trailhead Elevation: 9,294 ft.
Summit Elevation: 12,635 ft.
Distance: 9.52 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,656 ft.
Start Time: 6:57am
Summit Time: 10:10am (13 minutes on top)
End Time: 12:52pm

Trip Report:

For my brother David and I we were looking for a good hike to spend our third full day on after having spent the first two hiking Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon.  Its not like us to have a vacation and allow a full day to slip by without making the most of it on some trail somewhere.  We've also come to learn that mountain and alpine environments are definitely our strong suit and personal preference and so after two days in the desert heat of the Grand Canyon going up in elevation seemed preferable as our best option.  So with that in mind we took a look at the maps of the area and sought out the tallest peak we could find and in Arizona, that is Humphreys.  We're not "State High-pointers" in the sense of those who are checking off the list, but we are mountain climbers and for that Humphreys was great.  We're even wondering after having done South-to-North and North-to-South in the Grand Canyon, with the high point Humphreys in addition, if this could be considered some type of "Arizona Triple Crown" for epic hikes in the state.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Grand Canyon R2R2R

To hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim is an especially beautiful thing and certainly a hike that is on the bucket list of many.  For a number of reasons this is typically done with a backpack and over multiple days.  The physical exertion alone necessitates most to camp somewhere in the canyon to make this a 2 or 3 day hike across.  For many others its also about taking the time to enjoy the scenery and sights along the way.  For the wise among us its about timing the hiking to avoid the heat of the day.  On the other end of the spectrum are a crazy few amount of people that not only hike the canyon rim to rim, but they hike it rim to rim and back to rim in a single day!  These crazy antelope are usually ultra-runners who just know how to keep moving.    My brother David and I have had our sights set on the infamous R3 (Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim) but we wanted to settle on a plan that was somewhere between crazy insane and physically do-able while also being enjoyable and challenging.  Our plan would be to do the R3 but over the course of two days with a night camping in between.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pinckney Trail Half Race 2017

This was my third go-around racing the Trail Half and I was excited as ever.  This year's training has been some of my best ever.  I was finally approaching this race with preparation that had me at about 100%.  With that came higher personal expectations so I felt a little bit of the self-imposed pressure. 


This was the warmest morning I've experienced at the Trail Weekend.  The temp was around 50° which meant I could do my pre race routines without having to huddle in my car with the heat running.  I left my place about 5:40a this time and made a stop at Panera in Ann Arbor for a bagel.  I also ate an apple and an oatmeal square along the way.  I kept a banana in the car which I ate about 10 minutes pre-race.  Upon arrival I found that this year they were checking for the Michigan State Park Pass at the booth as folks drove by, a change from previous years.  Thankfully they had that streamline and it didn't slow up traffic.  I pulled into the lots just before 7am and had very good parking as usual.  I went to registration where they had folks filling out waivers and then grabbed by shirt and bib.  I did a bunch of walking around, ran into a few people I knew and ran about a half mile warmup on the trails.  I hit the bathrooms once about 7:15a and found the desire to do so again about 7:45a.  I hit the bathroom by the bike trailhead and the line didn't free me up until about 7:52am.  This left me 8 minutes to change clothes, get my bib on, and hop on over to the race start.  I made it with about 90 seconds to spare.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kearney Park Loop Snowshoeing at Leadville Fish Hatchery

Route Name: Kearnery Park Loop (Rock Creek Trail to Colorado Trail to Kearney Park Trail) at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery
Trailhead Elevation: 9,636 ft.
High Point: 10,652 ft.
Distance: 5.85 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,020 ft.
Start Time: 10:18am
End Time: 2:50pm

Trip Report:

Having just completed wonderful days on our winter trip to Colorado with a summit of Mt. Bierstadt and a great day of skiing at Copper, we were looking for one last enjoyable mountain activity before we flew out of town.  In fact, we had flights leaving around 8pm this evening so we needed something without complications.  Snowshoeing fit the bill.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mt. Bierstadt Winter Ascent

Route Name: West Slopes from Naylor Lakes Parking
Trailhead Elevation: 10,867 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,060 ft.
Distance: 10.38 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,431 ft.
Start Time: 11:31am
Summit Time: 3:43pm (10 minutes on top)
End Time: 7:47pm

Trip Report:

Its not often, and for good reasons, that one gets to about 10 in the morning and then finally decides today is the day to do a 14er climb.  That’s where we found ourselves as we decided on Mt. Bierstadt.  On our trip out to Colorado we had originally worked on plans to do Pikes Peak via Barr Camp as we had done in 2014.  We always left the option open to change plans and because of the weather possibilities that were headed the way of the Front Range we did change.  Pikes was due to get 2-4 inches the night before we would be heading to the summit and we decided that was more difficulty than we wanted.  That was especially true this year given we had already done the Pikes climb just 3 years prior.  We began investigating Bierstadt from the Naylor Lakes parking on the Guanella Pass road.  Recent conditions reports listed the upper parts of the mountain and the approaches in good shape.  Even with the possibility we figured 2-4 inches of snow on Bierstadt would be manageable still.  That is, until we decided at 10am this very morning to just go for it before the storm would hit.  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Pinckney Blind Lake Backpacking Jan '17

Potawatomi Trail:
Pinckney State Recreation Area
Trailhead Elevation: 888 ft.

Trail-run - Crooked Lake Loop
  Distance: 4.30 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 208 ft.
  Start Time: 2:37pm

Jan. 1 Hike In: 
  Distance: 6.67 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 240 ft.
  Start Time: 3:49pm
  End Time: 6:01pm

Jan. 2 Hike Out:
  Distance: 4.38 mi. 
  Elevation Gain: 174 ft.
  Start Time: 8:17am
  End Time: 9:41am

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