Zen On Dirt

AZ Friends in CO

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It was CTR start day (and yes, once again, behind on the blog), which meant two things: Scott would have to work in the morning and that a bunch of friends from all over would descend on Colorado. And since we were camped just a quarter mile off of the CT, we would get to see people, both racers and those driving across the state to pick them up in Durango at the finish.

Luckily for us (and the racers), the monsoons were still refusing to build, so Scott and I headed up to Independence Pass after he made sure that all of the blue and pink dots were smoothly cruising down the map.

Our master plan was to hike up a 13,700 foot peak, guaranteed to be pretty much devoid of people because it wasn’t a 14’er in 14’er Country. Plus, there wasn’t a trail. That’ll deter most.

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The flowers were still going nuts up high.

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It sure is pretty country up there.

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We made a half-hearted attempt to traverse a ridge to make a loop out of our hike, but once the rocks got big and the terrain scrambly, we were more than happy to head towards home. Anyhow, apparently doing a hot-lap on Elbert trashed my legs and I was sore.

Then the friends started showing up. First, Shannon, Jason, and Jennifer swung by our campsite, ready to ride. We opted to take them around Twin Lakes, heading out on the CT and then returning on the CDT.

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Apparently I was feeling exceptionally lazy because the moment we got to a good swimming spot, I insisted we get in for a soak. It’s been too long since I’ve gone lake swimming.

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Somehow, the threatening clouds held off. It had stormed the week before, it was going to storm the week after, but CTR week was turning out to be cloudy and dry-ish. Lucky them!

Then Alexis and the doggies showed up!

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Morning was spent at the lake throwing sticks for the four crazy pups. Well, for three of them while Poof wandered off doing her own thing.

We’d gotten a request for a ride and then an above treeline experience for the day. I knew just what to do. When Shannon, Jennifer, and Jason arrived, we headed up the CT, northbound. Our first stop was to wish Heather Rose good luck as she passed by racing. I knew she was somewhere in the area, but was shocked to see her. She said that the 10-mile Range traverse was hard. Yes, yes it is.

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Then upwards through the aspens. This is maybe one of my favorite sections of trail, anywhere.

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There was some level of griping about the elevation, but definitely more smiles than frowns.

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We picked up a bikepacker, Dave, from the Front Range who was on his way to Leadville. Our casual pace and his matched up and many miles were rolled together.

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After a picnic lunch back at camp, it twas time to get high. Up to Indy Pass. But first, the dogs had to be loaded up.

DSCN2238It’s like herding cats. Except that they’re dogs.

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There really is not much better than being above treeline. Poof had the right idea of laying down in the snow. It’s hard work to run at least 4x as far as your human companions walk.

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Shannon in Magic land.

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Poof in Magic Land.

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It was rare to be able to catch all four dogs in one spot.

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And back down, dogs leading the way.

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Alexis had one more day before she had to head down to Durango to pick up D. All three of us had work to do in the morning, so after the morning stick-throwing party with the pups, we all buckled down with our computers.

Around 2pm, ‘Should we go hike La Plata?’ It was the nearest 14’er, and we figured that given the late hour and middle of the week day, we’d pretty much have the trail to ourselves. Some would frown on impulse 14’er hiking, but the clouds looked fine, and it was less than 10 miles round trip.

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Scott looks really good with dogs. Almost like he was meant to have his own…

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Poof, showing proper resting form.

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Aside from a few people coming down, we really did have an empty trail. Poof and Blanca, the elder stateswomen of the pack, did great, a full 9 years after they first climbed the peak.

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Ellingwood Ridge in the background looked crazy.

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It was finally starting to feel like altitudes over 13k weren’t that bad. Which was pretty awesome. It may also have had something to do with the fact that every patch of snow was an excellent reason to stop and rest.

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The top! One other person was there, which was crazy for a 14’er.

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And back down. We drank Vihno Verde to celebrate. The dogs passed out in various dug out holes around the truck. Humans ate leftover burritos. It was a most excellent impromptu adventurita.

The next morning, Alexis rolled out, as did we. The CTR had passed us by. It was time to move on from our spectacular little spot. But, there were mountains to climb and new trails to explore.

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