Saturday, December 29, 2018

Pinckney Blind Lake Backpacking Dec '18

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

Dec. 28 Hike In:

  Distance: 6.94 mi.
  Elevation Gain: 185 ft.
  Start Time: 2:15pm
  End Time: 4:45pm

Dec. 29 Hike Out:
  Distance: 4.18 mi.
  Elevation Gain: 208 ft.
  Start Time: 8:40am
  End Time: 10:18am

Trip Report:
Amazingly, it had been a whole year since I was able to get out the backpack to head to my favorite spots at Blind Lake. Last year I had the great adventure in 8 inches of snow and my first taste of snow camping. This year there would be no snow, at least not expected. When I set out on a Friday afternoon the temps were nearing 50 degrees and it was nearly perfect hiking weather. There was little-to-no precipitation in the forecast and it seemed the right time to hike. I even had bits of sun on the hike in. I brought along all of my usual winter gear and plenty of things to keep me warm overnight. For the hike in I wore just a tech short-sleeve and tech long-sleeve shirt with wind pants and that was more than enough. As I hiked in the temps did continuously drop from that nice 50 at the start. I was probably nearing low 30's when I finally hit camp.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Lake Charlevoix Kayaking Loop

Kayaking from Young State Park on a southern loop to Boyne City and back.
Distance: 7.02 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Start Time: 3:28pm
End Time: 6:28pm

Trip Report:
I was up in the Boyne City area during my annual Pastor's Conference and had brought my inflatable kayak along this year to get in some paddling. The weather, in terms of temperature, was going to cooperate wonderfully. Temps were in the 60's today and quite comfortable for outdoor activity. I had originally looked at something very simple like Deer Lake which is right next to Boyne Mountain Resort. It would be roughly a 3.5 mile loop around the lake and pretty straightforward. As it came to it I felt like I wanted more. I figured Lake Charlevoix would offer that. And its a big lake, Michigan's 3rd largest, not counting the Great Lakes. The question would be where to find a public access point to put in my boat. I've come to realize that Michigan's wonderful State Park system is very friendly to personal watercraft and provides great access to water systems. So I charted a plan to head into Young State Park, down to the public beach, and I could put in there.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Middlesex Fells - Boston

Skyline Trail -> Silver Mine Path -> Middle Road - Skyline Trail
Distance: 3.63 mi.
Elevation Gain: 341 ft.
Start Time: 7:07am
End Time: 8:01am

Trip Report:
The Middlesex Fells Reservation north of Boston is a treasure trove of trails that all Boston-ites should consider themselves lucky to have. As a guest, I also found it wonderfully easy to access and enjoy. I did a minimal amount of research on the trails, stumbling upon the Skyline Trail first of all to get an understanding of what I might want to do. There are also a number parking lots providing immediate access to the trails. I opted to park on the very southeast side to gain quick access to the Skyline Trail.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Hunt Trail and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 1,089 ft.
Summit Elevation: 5,269 ft.
Distance: 9.78 mi.
Elevation Gain: 4,186 ft.
Start Time: 6:46am
Summit Time: 9:24am (13 mins)
End Time: 12:01pm

Trip Report:
When my wife and I set out to plan a trip to the Northeast to celebrate our anniversary and we settled upon New Hampshire and Maine as our destinations, I knew that Katahdin would have to be a target high on the list of attractions. I haven't fully put a finger on it yet, but for me there has been something majestic about this mountain and how it feels in my mind compared to many others I've hiked. Certainly it is famous and that has something to do with it. Katahdin is the highest point in the State of Maine. Katahdin is also the northern terminus of the epic Appalachian Trail. That latter point is perhaps the most moving for me. All of that aside, it is also just a wonderful hike and mountain climb and one to be enjoyed with great care. As I reflect in hindsight on this hike I have to admit it was much more than I was expecting, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Precipice, Champlain South and Beehive Trails (Acadia NP)

Precipice Trail to Mount Champlain to Champlain South Ridge Trail to Beehive Trail and Bowl Trail to Sand Beach
Precipice TH Elevation: 117 ft.
Mt. Champlain Elevation: 1,054 ft.
Beehive Elevation: 529 ft.
Sand Beach Elevation: 24 ft.
Distance: 4.15 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,337 ft.
Start Time: 10:07am
End Time: 12:17pm

Trip Report:
The Precipice Trail and the Beehive Trail are noted as being a couple of the classic hikes in Acadia, well loved by visitors. On one hand this is a bit surprising given the inherent danger each contains, particularly on the Precipice Trail, on the other hand, given the thrills and views, I can see why many partake anyways. Each trail has high exposure and the use of iron rungs mounted into the rock to assist with climbing and safety. Its not quite a full blown via ferrata where you are walking over nothing, but a few sections get close. There was also no use of ropes or clipping into any anchors as other even more exposed routes have. As I hiked each of these I kept pondering just how one ranks a route such as this. There is some rock climbing involved and the use of iron rungs on rock which would otherwise be class 5 climbing. There is massive exposure in many places on the Precipice Trail and there is the effort to do all of this. I certainly would put this in the category of a full class 5 climb with ropes and protection. On the other hand, even with the iron bar assists this is a bit more than your typically class 2 or class 3 climb. I think in terms of technical ability I would classify this in the range of easy class 3. But the exposure in parts on Precipice goes pretty high up on the scale.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Wild Gardens Trail + Ocean Path Trail (Acadia NP)

Elevation: from 20 to 108 ft.

Wild Gardens
Distance: 0.90 mi.
Elevation Gain: 44 ft.
Start Time: 1:05pm
End Time: 1:35pm

Ocean Path (Sand Beach to Thunder Hole) (8/14/2018)
Distance: 1.81 mi.
Elevation Gain: 144 ft.
Start Time: 2:08pm
End Time: 3:05pm

Ocean Path (Monument Cove to Otter Point) (8/15/2018)
Distance: 1.22 mi.
Elevation Gain: 111 ft.
Start Time: 2:34pm
End Time: 3:09pm

Trip Report:
At the Sieur de Monts Nature Center we began a lovely little hike walking through the various Wild Gardens. They had sectioned areas of different environments and the types of plants that would be found there. There were simple pea gravel trails all about the gardens to walk upon. When we had our fill of the garden we decided to get a little more hiking in and moved south on the Jesup trail towards a pond we could see on the map. This was perhaps a 3/4 mile walk and we ended up at what was called The Tarn. Due to the foggy weather of the day the views were limited but still found the Tarn to be a rather beautiful spot. On the hike back we worked a parallel trail called the Wild Gardens Path and returned to the nature center.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mt. Washington to Lakes of the Clouds

Mt. Washington to Lakes of the Clouds
Crawford Path and Appalachian Trail
Summit Elevation: 6,228 ft.
Lakes Elevation: 5,051 ft.
Distance: 2.80 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,214 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 3:18pm
End Time: 4:32pm

Trip Report:
The hike up Mount Washington is a classic for anyone. It is perhaps the most iconic summit in America east of the Rockies. It has many enticing routes and the allure (or danger?) of crazy weather. When my wife and I flew into Manchester, New Hampshire for our anniversary trip we drove on up to Washington to enjoy the auto road to the top. Here, I had debated finding a hike to the top, likely on the Tuckerman Ravine trail, but time wouldn't allow it this time around. Instead, I had shared ahead of time that when we drove to the summit I would look for a short hike down from the summit and back up. That became the plan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Anglemeyer Lake Backpacking

Anglemeyer Lake Backpacking
North Cottonwood Creek trail into Horn Fork Basin + Bushwhacking to Anglemeyer Lake
Trailhead Elevation: 9,887 ft.
Distance: 3.59 mi. (each way)
Elevation Gain: 1,399 ft.

Hike In
Start Time: 3:29pm
End Time: 6:01pm

Hike Out
Start Time: 9:06am
End Time: 11:14am

Trip Report:
As with all good vacations plans changed. We had come into this trip hoping to take Sunday and Monday to hike into the Holy Cross Wilderness and then summit Holy Cross on the second day. The weather on Sunday July 15 changed all of that. Nobody wanted to be backpacking and camping in the rain that night. Nonetheless, we had hauled my family's backpacks and gear all the way out west and we still wanted to take my kids out to backpack before heading home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tenmile Traverse

Frisco -> Mt. Royal Trail -> Mt. Victoria -> Peaks 1-10 -> Breckenridge Ski Resort
Trailhead Elevation: 9,094 ft.
Distance: 16.63 mi.
Elevation Gain: 7,423 ft.

Start Time: 4:39am
  To Peak 1 -- 2:33:46
  To Peak 2 -- 33:47
  To Peak 3 -- 1:14:16
  To Peak 4 -- 59:19
  To Peak 5 -- 19:52
  To Peak 6 -- 41:08
  To Peak 7 -- 43:44
  To Peak 8 -- 16:33
  To Peak 9 -- 48:07
  To Peak 10 -- 49:08
End Time: 2:54pm -- a total of 10:15:49

Our splits help tell the story of the challenges of the Tenmile.  You can see how the technical terrain from 2 to 3 and from 3 to 4 really slowed things up.  The timing from Peak 5 to 6 was merely about the distance.  From 6 to 7, as well as 8 to 9 and 9 to 10 the timing was all about the 800+ foot climbs (and with Peak 10, our haste to beat the weather).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Mt. Elbert 2018

Mt. Elbert
Northeast Ridge route (Standard)
Trailhead Elevation: 10,064 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,433 ft.
Distance: 10.18 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 4,370 ft.
Start Time: 6:23am
Summit Time: 10:11am (43 minutes on top)
End Time: 2:16pm

Trip Report:
We found ourselves heading to Mt. Elbert today after having to be adaptable in our vacation's planning. Yesterday was essentially rained out and forced us to scrap our original plans. We wanted to backpack into Holy Cross but doing so in the rain didn't seem all that enticing. This meant Sunday was lost to us. On the other hand, it freed up Monday for a fun dayhike. My oldest son Luke hadn't been up Elbert yet and we decided this would be a fun repeat for us older guys. I had previously been up Elbert in the winter in 2012 and in the summer in 2005. Our winter hike went up the East ridge while the original summer hike went up the standard Northeast ridge.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Quandary Peak Traverse + Fletcher Mt.

Quandary Peak Traverse + Mt. Fletcher
Blue Lakes Reservoir Approach to Mt. Fletcher + Quandary West Ridge + Quandary East Ridge
Trailhead Elevation: 10,842 ft.
Blue Lakes Dam Elevation: 11,707 ft.
Mt. Fletcher Elevation: 13,951 ft.
Quandary Peak Elevation: 14,265 ft.
Distance: 9.81 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,928 ft.
Start Time: 6:18am
Fletcher Summit: 8:59am (12 mins)
Quandary Summit: 11:17am (19 mins)
End Time: 1:15pm

Trip Report:
My brother David and I were looking for a thrilling challenge today that would put us on a peak with a good weather forecast. Our original plan was to ascend La Plata Peak by the classic Ellingwood Ridge but the forecast was less than favorable for a challenge that demands perfect weather. Instead, we decided on the West Ridge of Quandary which had a more favorable forecast and a less-time consuming demand.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Rankin Ridge Trail (Wind Cave NP)

Rankin Ridge Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 4,751 ft.
High Point Elevation:4,992 ft.
Distance: 1.35 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 225 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 3:30pm
End Time: 4:00pm

Trip Report:
Wind Cave has a number of nice, mostly short trails that are worth checking out. If I had a few days and time I would love to see them all. Some of the rolling prairie mixed into the forests of the southern Black Hills would make for fantastic landscape. I wanted to get a hike in somewhere in this beautiful park and in my typical style, I found one that hit a high point. I also needed something short in length to fit the family schedule for the day. The Rankin Ridge trail would check all the boxes for today.

Window & Notch Trails (Badlands NP)

Badlands National Park
Window Trail (7/11/2018)
   Trailhead Elevation: 2,651 ft.
   Distance: 0.27 mi
   Start Time: 7:41pm
   End Time: 7:53pm

Notch Trail (7/12/2018)
   Trailhead Elevation: 2,651 ft.
   Distance: 0.85 mi
   Elevation Gain: 93 ft.
   Start Time: 7:43am
  End Time: 8:30am

Trip Report:
Window Trail - July 11, 2018
This is a very short trail from the parking lot along the east entrance road to the Badlands. There is little to be known or needed for this trail other than to start at the sign in the lot and enjoy it. Signage does warn this could be rattlesnake country so one should be observant to stay on trail. We were on a boardwalk entirely and walked it out to its completion at the "window" where we were greeting to a panoramic view. This trail offers a nice introduction to the amazing terrain of the Badlands. We had an extra surprise as a the sighting of a young rabbit which was munching near the trail. He didn't run away as we stopped and gave us a few minutes to check him out. To the north as we returned to the car we were treated to amazing views of the setting sun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls
Distance: 2.70 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
High Elevation: 829ft. 
Low Elevation (River): 693 ft.
Start Time: 12:49pm
End Time: 2:45pm

Trip Report:
Minnehaha Falls Regional Park is a treasure right in the heart of Minneapolis. While you're hiking on its trails you would never know you're in the midst of the city just a few miles from the airport. The views give wonderful seclusion from the city and the only interruptions are the nearby sounds of traffic. While on a 3 day stay in town with my wife Sarah enjoying a conference I took my boys on a hike here after looking for just the right hike without having to drive far. I put in just a little prep figuring out just how many different paths were available and how to access the falls themselves, and I researched the best places to park and that did it. I settled on an easy to access lot that would give us some reasonable distance to enjoy before reaching the falls. There are certainly places one can park that are much closer if the falls are the only destination. The parking lots are all pay lots but it was only for $1/hour which seemed reasonable for our simple hike today.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Mt. Yale Traverse

Colorado Trail - Silver Creek TH to Mt. Yale East Ridge to Mt. Yale Southwest Slopes
Silver Creek Trailhead Elevation: 9,416 ft.
East Ridge Start Elevation: 11,919 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,196 ft.
Denny Creek Trailhead Elevation: 9,924 ft.
Distance: 10.30 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 4,870 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 6:07am
East Ridge Start: 7:41am
Summit Time: 9:39am (14mins)
End Time: 11:51am

Trip Report:
There is something elegant about a full traverse of a mountain. This may be one of those "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" sort of things, but I believe in it. For years now I have been intrigued with finding and exploring new routes in the mountains, particularly when you can ascend one route and descend another. Perhaps the origin of this desire could be traced to my love of Tom Hornbein's "Everest: West Ridge" where Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld incredibly completed the first traverse of Mt. Everest by ascending the deathly West Ridge and descending the more standard South Col route. It was death-defying.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Mt. Massive - SW Slopes

Mount Massive
Southwest Slopes route
Trailhead Elevation: 10,572 ft.
Distance: 8.27 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 3,860 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 7:34am
SW Slope Route Junction: 8:28am
Summit Time: 11:56am (27 mins)
SW Slope Route Junction: 3:04pm
End Time: 3:56pm

Trip Report:
For a few years now Mt. Massive had been rising up my list of 14ers that I wished to return to. Most of the 14ers that we did in the 90's are in this growing time frame of 20+ years since we were there. They also fit the bill of hikes that, in my teens, I just didn't remember well due to teenage "lack of focus". I'd been looking for the right opportunity to return to Massive and had begun researching all the most enjoyable options. I'd read a few reports, even started researching a particular track of a full Mount Massive Traverse. This would be an epic long day. It would follow the east slopes route up to the summit ridge, would summit South Massive, then head to the main peak and then North Massive with a decent off the north side of the mountain. Maybe a trip for another day, but not this day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Midland Hill - Buena Vista

Amazing Collegiate Peaks view
Trailhead Elevation: 7,923 ft.
Summit Elevation: 9,556 ft.
Distance: 5.12 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 1627 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 9:12am
End Time: 12:22pm

Trip Report:
We had hiked the Barbara Whipple trails along the Arkansas River a few times now and enjoy them as a wonderful local Buena Vista hike. They instantly provide beautiful views of the Arkansas River Valley. Today, with time at our disposal we decided to up the ante and hike above the Whipple Trails and up to Midland Hill. It was all well-marked trail and so we just needed to follow along. Our main obstacle today would be the sun and rising temps. We were quickly at 80 degrees and sunny, dry terrain so sun protection was a must.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Oregon Trail - Windlass Hill - Ash Hollow

Ash Hollow State Historic Park / Oregon National Historic Trail
Windlass Hill Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 3,500 ft.
Distance: 0.63 mi. (round-trip)
Elevation Gain: 150 ft.
Start Time: 11:15am
End Time: 11:25am

Trip Report:
Not much of the old historic trails across the western states still exist in their original form but there is a place in western Nebraska where you can get fairly close. This morning I spent some time exploring the Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa during my drive from Chicago to Colorado. I wanted an afternoon adventure to supplement that exploration. To be able to run/hike on a portion of the old Oregon Trail would be a great thing to do. I found Ash Hollow which was only a 25-30 minute drive off of I80 near Ogallala.

Western Historic Trails Center & Iowa Riverfront Trail

Western Historic Trails Center & Iowa Riverfront Trail
Trailhead Elevation: 969 ft.
Distance: 2.01 mi. (my Forerunner 230)
Elevation Gain: 31 ft. (my GPS)
Start Time: 6:29am
End Time: 6:49am

Trip Report:
I was on a cross-country road trip from Chicago to Colorado along I80 and was looking for a place to explore in the State of Iowa that would fit in with my itinerary. I had flown into Midway Airport around 4pm and was targeting Council Bluffs at the end of my first night of driving. Along the way the options near the interstate were limited. In the Quad Cities there were some State Parks within reasonable distance but nothing caught my eye. Finally, it was in Council Bluffs that the answer came.

I noticed the name of the Western Historic Trails Center on the map. That was enticing. I love trails. It turns out this was a Visitor Center, designed by the National Park Service, with all sorts of information on the Oregon, Lewis & Clark, Mormon, and California Trails. There were also a number of short trails to explore right next to the center. This would prove to be the perfect wakeup run for my morning in Council Bluffs.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

No Wimps - Pinckney 50K Ultra & Trail Half

Over the last few years, as I have continued to run and run and run some more, I continue to grow more attuned to what gives me the most enjoyment while out on the trails.  While I have, at least according to the basic numbers, been more successful in shorter races, my growing passion has been to see if I can continue to run farther and farther.  What started with a road marathon like the Chicago marathon grew into a trail marathon on the North Country Trail which then grew into the big challenge of the Pikes Peak Marathon.  It felt like a great progression over a handful of years and I believed that progression would continue in 2017 when I tackled the Two Hearted Trail Run (marathon) in the U.P. of Michigan.  That didn't go so well.  After having gained such confidence on Pikes in 2016 I thought I'd really nail this more basic trail marathon in the flatter expanses of the U.P. and I ended up having a bad race.  Did this mean I had already peaked?  Had I found my limit?  Was my niche in the running world to stick to trail halfs and the annual attempt at a full marathon.  I say no.  I decided I wasn't going to allow myself to settle.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Surviving the Colorado 14ers

I'd like to happily announce on my Wilderness Wanderings blog the completion and availability of a book co-written by myself, my brother, and father.  Ever since we completed our family quest of hiking all of the Colorado 14ers we've been looking for a way to bring some closure and finality to our decades-long adventure.  You may well know the challenge of devoting attention and heart and effort to something over months or years (or even decades) and the joy it brings when it can be finally realized and fulfilled.  Yet it also brings with it, shortly thereafter, this moment of emptiness where the question is begged: "what's next?"  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Mt. Yale Winter Ascent 2018

Route Name: Southwest Slopes
Trailhead Elevation: 9,925 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,196 ft.
Distance: 10.37 mi.
Elevation Gain: 4,257 ft.
Start Time: 5:58am
Summit Time: 12:10am (25 minutes on top)
End Time: 5:29am

Trip Report:

This hike was all about my 13-year old son Luke's first winter* 14er. (* - yes, technically it was April, so not calendar winter, but winter conditions it was). He has grown and matured wonderfully in the last year and several months before our planned trip Ihad the idea that this was the year to let him give this a try.  The first step was to see if he would be interested.  That's the only way this would work.  I brought it up to him and explained how I thought he could do it and how I would prepare him for it, and he was up for the challenge.

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