Friday, August 31, 2007

Where's Dave?

I'll be trekking with a llama or two until September 7, then off to run Imogene Pass September 8, then, hopefully, I'll be climbing the Wilsons September 9. Then I turn 30. That's how we roll in the 719.

NOTE: The photo at top is from the Avalanche Ranch out near Carbondale. You can stay there and you can hang out with llamas. You can even take your pet along on your vacay at the ranch.
Regarding the giant "Stop, Thief!" note: Apparently Dave used a photo of Tim and Cindie's to illustrate his travel plans. And, obviously, they didn't like it. I hope the note doesn't take up bandwidth.

What's the story with this fence

I was up on Sheep Mountain today and came across this old rail fence made of fallen timbers running up the ridge. Does anyone know the history of this region. The fence looks like it could be 100 years old, but may only be 20. Who knows? I'd like to find out more. Incidentally, it's a great hike to Sheep Mountain. We'll run it in Happy Trails in Out There in a few weeks.

They need more than Friskies

Our big kitty friends roaming the mountains are hungry and, apparently, finding easy prey in the yards of hillside homes.

The Gazette's Andrea Brown wrote last weekend about household pets going missing near Garden of the Gods park.

Today, the Rocky has a story about a guy whose impeccable timing probably saved his yellow Lab.

Ski deal weekend!

It's a Colorado tradition: every labor day the big sports retailers sell last year's gear at 40% to 70% off in huge parkinglot sales. If you need something, and you don't have a line on a pro deal, you better get it now.

The Sports Authority's holds its annuall Sniagrab sale. Saturday, September 1 through Monday, September 3 at the Sports Authority. Several ski resorts will also offer preseason pricing on their ski passes at Sniagrab.
Colorado Ski & Golf has it's own upstart version called Ski REX. REX also offers 40 - 75% discounts on last season's ski equipment, and also allows skiers a chance to buy season passes for the 2007 - 2008 season. Parents might want to check out the Junior Trade-In program, which allows youngsters age 4 - 18 to swap out outgrown ski equipment every year for a fee.

So, what about those season passes, and the awesome four-pack deals?

Most passes go on sale Labor Day Weekend.
Vail's $129 four-pack gives skiers four non-transferable days (restricted during peak holidays, not that you'd want to ski then anyway). You can pick them up at Colorado Ski & Golf or REI.

Copper/Winter Park also have non-transferable four-packs. They cost $119 for Copper or $129 for Winter Park. They're not good during Christmas week. Copper/WP also have a transferable fourpack for $179. New pass purchasers can visit Front Range Christy Sports stores beginning Sept 1.

Season Passes:

Vail's Summit Pass (formerly known as The Buddy Pas) provides unlimited lift access at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, the most skiing and snowboarding in Summit County, with no date restrictions, at $379 for adults, $299 for teens and $189 for children.For just $40 more for adults ($20 more for teens and $10 more for children 5-12), the Colorado Pass provides the benefits of the Summit Pass plus ten days at Vail and Beaver Creek (Vail and Beaver Creek days are restricted Nov. 23-24, Dec. 27-31, 2007 and Feb. 16-17, 2008).
Pass renewals are available at and new passes are on sale this weekend beginning Friday at Colorado Ski and Golf (Aurora, Arvada, Colorado Springs and Littleton), REI (Denver Flagship, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Englewood, Boulder and Colorado Springs),

Copper/Winter Park have the Rocky Mountain Super Pass: $389
Offers unlimited skiing at Copper Mountain and Winter Park. .

NEW! Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus: $489 70
“The Plus” pass offers skiers unlimited access to Winter Park and Copper along with six unrestricted days at Steamboat and free skiing and riding at Steamboat Friday afternoons.

Gore Canyon Video

In the Gazette's Out There section today, we take you down Gore Canyon, Class V whitewater that is one of the toughest commercial runs in the country. Here's another look:

My favorite is this one, where the guide gets sucked out of the boat on Tunnel Falls.
Although, this helmet cam of a flipping raft is pretty sweet too.
But perhaps the one with the most panic, is this raft surfing in a hole, with only one lone client left in it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

See 'Steep' free in Telluride

"Steep," a feature documentary about big mountain skiing, will show for free Saturday at 10:30 p.m. at the Abel Gance Outdoor Theater in Telluride. It's part of the Telluride Film Fest, which continues through the long weekend.
It was written and directed by Mark Obenhaus, and features Aspen resident Chris Davenport as well as Bill Briggs, Stefano De Benedetti, Eric Pehota, Glen Plake, Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Ingrid Backstrom and Andrew McLean.
The film will be released to theaters Dec. 21.

Trickster bikester

My brother sent this video link, which puts any idea of our "trick" riding as kids to rest.

Not impressed? Send us your video!

I'm not above celebrity gossip

Perpetually stumbling starlet Lidsay Lohan is in outdoor-oriented rehab, including rafting and biking in Utah. People Magazine says the 21-year-old actress entered the exclusive Cirque Lodge program in Utah following her July 24 DUI arrest in Santa Monica after a car chase. Since then, she's been spotted in the Rocky Mountains on field trips from the facility. She and a group hit the road Aug. 16 for a 90-minute bike ride around Orem, Utah. The next day, Cirque took Lohan and others on an afternoon rafting trip on the Provo River, dressed in a pirate bandana, with some of her companions wearing black painted-on pirate moustaches.
While I'm a big believer in the healing and character-building power of the outdoors, I'd like to point out, if she was poor, her rehab would be sitting in jail.

Inversion alert!

An updraft may have made it cloudy and misty in Colorado Springs, but the mountains are clear and blue. It could be a great morning to hit the trail.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rock tosser repentant

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Tears in his eyes, an Iraq war veteran recounted for the first time publicly the desperate remorse he felt after tossing a large rock off a cliff that killed a climber below.

“I’d do anything to change it,” 23-year-old Luke Rodolph said Tuesday.

On Aug. 11, Rodolph was sitting on the rim of a canyon with three others when he picked up a 15- to 20-pound rock the size of a bowling ball and looked over the edge. He said he didn’t see anyone below.

“I picked up a rock and threw it off,” he said. “Looked over just a little further to watch it fall, see where it was going to hit, you know, kinda leaned out further than what I was comfortable with normally, and watched it hit Pete Absolon.”

There was no time for a warning, Rodolph said. He said he didn’t see Absolon, 47, until the rock struck him in the head.

The group called 911 on a cell phone, then rushed down to Leg Lake Basin. Steve Hirlihy, a National Outdoor Leadership School instructor, had been climbing with Absolon, the school’s Rocky Mountain director, and asked Rodolph and his group what had happened.

“Luke looked him dead in the eye and said, ’I threw it,’” said his brother, Aaron Rodolph, who was with him. “I’ll never forget, as long as I live, that Steve looked Luke dead back in the eyes and said, ’I forgive you for that’.”

Absolon, who had a wife and daughter, had been climbing with Hirlihy along a new route up the cliff face of Leg Lake Cirque in the Wind River Mountains near Lander.

“It’s unbearable for them to have to go through this. It’s my fault,” Luke Rodolph said.

He stayed with Hirlihy and Absolon’s body in the basin overnight while the rest of the group went back to their campsite.

“Steve and I just talked for a while, sat around the campfire,” Rodolph said. “I told him I’d go into town with him and talk with the sheriff and give him a statement, and whatever happens, happens.”

The morning after Absolon’s death, Rodolph and Hirlihy hiked out of the area to Lander. Later that day, Rodolph spoke with Fremont County Attorney Ed Newell and an investigator before returning to his home in Casper. Absolon’s body was recovered the same day.

Eleven days later, Newell announced that Rodolph would not be charged. He cited several factors in his decision, including the fact that Rodolph took responsibility for his actions, was extremely remorseful, didn’t intend to cause harm, had no criminal history and served in Iraq.

In an e-mail to the Casper Star-Tribune, Absolon’s widow, Molly, said she didn’t have a comment on Newell’s decision not to charge Rodolph.

Gary Wilmot, an instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School, said that while he feels compassion for Rodolph, throwing a rock from a cliff is irresponsible. “We recognize that he is hurting, but we are also working onfilling a big void in our community and a family here in Lander,” Wilmot said.

How interesting can watching ultra-running be?

There's not a lot of speed. There's not a lot of action. There's no interesting fights or crashes. I've always thought ultra-running was the ultimate anti-spectator sport. But now there's a documentary film, call The Distance of Truth, about one of the toughest races the Badwater 135, and one man's quest to beat it. Watch the trailer here.
Speaking of ultra-running. We need to give a belated shoutout to Tony Krupicka, who won the 2006 Leadville Trail 100 two weeks ago for the second year in a rock and knocked more than 47 minutes off his 2006 time, finishing in 16:14:35.

The 24-year-old from Colorado Springs has now run the second- and third-fastest times ever on Leadville's grueling course, which tops out at 12,600 feet. He's also closed within 32 minutes of the seemingly unbeatable record that Matt Carpenter set in 2005.

Wind and temperature on Pikes Peak

For those of you who, like me, are annoyed that you can't get real-time weather data from the Pikes Peak summit, especially since Colorado Springs Utilities has a weather station there, this may be the next best thing. A CSU meteorologist has created a site that uses airport winds aloft data to extrapolate what's going on up there. See it here.

Prairie dogs get second chance after partisan shinnanigans

The Gunnison Prairie Dog, which lives in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico and Utah will get a second chance at landing on the endangered species list after a suit filed by Forest Guardians and 73 other plaintiffs reached a settlement last month over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency's decision not to put the prairie dogs on the endangered-species list.
The plaintiffs claimed the decision reflected interference by former Interior Department official Julie MacDonald, a political appointee whose meddling in other cases forced the agency to reconsider listing decisions on 10 other imperiled species.
One internal agency e-mail, sent two weeks before the decision not to extend endangered-species protection, read: "Per Julie please make the pd (prairie dog) finding negative."

The Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that the prairie-dog population has declined by 97 percent because of poisoning and shooting, sylvatic plague and habitat destruction.
Basically, it's the justice department, U.S. Attorney debacle, but with furry woodland creatures. At least the little guys are getting a "do over."

Vail cuts Breckenridge from four pack deals

The ski pass season just started rolling. This week resorts announced their pass deals. Most passes go on sale Labor Day Weekend. But there's a major change in the sweet Vail Resorts fourpack. It is now only good for Keystone and A Basin. The $129 pass, which gives skiers four days (restricted during peak holidays, not that you'd want to ski then anyway) used to be good at Breckenridge as well. Not sure why they cut it, but I do know Breck always beats Keystone in terms of skier numbers, so maybe Vail is trying to funnel more weekend traffic to Keystone.
Even without Breck, it's still a screaming deal. You can pick them up at Colorado Ski & Golf or REI.

Copper/Winter Park also have four packs. They cost $119 for Copper or $129 for Winter Park. They're not good during Christmas week. New pass purchasers can visit Front Range Christy Sports stores beginning Sept 1
By the way, for most Front Range Skiers, the fourpack is really the way to go. I heard once that most Front Range season pass holders only use their pass an average of 5 times. If that's the case, it's much cheaper to get a fourpack or two.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Closing Monarch Crest to Bikes?

There's talk, albeit nothing concrete yet.
The popular Monarch Crest Trail near Salida uses parts of the Continental Divide Trail. A new proposed directive from the United States Forest Service, issued in June, calls into question whether mountain biking is a legitimate use on the trail. Read more about it in Bicycle Magazine.

The directive does not specifically ban bikes, and both the Forest Service and the CDT's private partner organization, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance, are receptive to mountain bike use on some portions of the trail. But that hasn't stopped the local bike community from cranking into action. I rode the crest Sunday, and the folks who run the shuttle van were passing around a petition to the forest service to keep the trail open.

We'll see what happens. It would be a shame to lose such a great trail, I will say, though, that it needs a little more maintenance, given the traffic it gets.

Leaf peeping

It's about that time. Time to hike, bike, stroll and drive, oohing and aahing over the aspens and other deciduous trees that color fall with yellows, oranges, reds and browns.

Plan ahead, and you can catch the leaves and take in a fall festival or two. (And think about an overnight stay - lodging can be dead cheap in fall.)

To get your brain in gear, check out "Rush to the Gold," a brochure of eight "fall color" trips from the folks at State Parks. You can download it from the Web site or ask for a copy.

You can also track fall color at the State Parks site. As soon as the leaves begin to turn, rangers and others ad comments week by week, sometimes day by day, through the season. It's great for planning.

We'll share some favorite views by foot, bike, horseback, vehicle... in Out There. And if you've got a treasure to share, comment below or send an e-mail to Dave and

A worth-while read on altitude sickness

The Motrose Daily Press had a nice story Sunday on the effects (and history) of altitude on would-be hikers.
Read and enjoy.

Will the clothes be full of little holes too?

Crocs, Inc. announced it it will introduce its first apparel line this October. The stuff (which no one has seen yet) is all made from a new form of Crocs' proprietary material, Croslite, which, the company says, makes garments lightweight, versatile, breathable, and durable.
Rarely has their been a piece of clothing that has garnered as much love, and corresponding backlashes of scorn, as the Croc sandal. We'll see if Crocs can do something as ground-breaking with T shirts.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Season pass season starts now

Just got an email from Vail Resorts saying skiers only have through Monday to buy ski passes at these prices. After that it will probably go up slightly.
The Summit Pass (formerly known as The Buddy Pas) provides unlimited lift access at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, the most skiing and snowboarding in Summit County, with no date restrictions, at $379 for adults, $299 for teens and $189 for children.
For just $40 more for adults ($20 more for teens and $10 more for children 5-12), the Colorado Pass provides the benefits of the Summit Pass plus ten days at Vail and Beaver Creek (Vail and Beaver Creek days are restricted Nov. 23-24, Dec. 27-31, 2007 and Feb. 16-17, 2008).

Pass renewals are available at and new passes are on sale this weekend beginning Friday at Colorado Ski and Golf (Aurora, Arvada, Colorado Springs and Littleton), REI (Denver Flagship, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Englewood, Boulder and Colorado Springs),

That's a lotta elk

Where have all these elk been hiding?

From the AP:
State wildlife officers say the Bears Ears herd of elk is 2-3 times as large as they thought. They say the herd has 23,000 to 45,000 elk.

The new count is based on a spring survey of elk herd ranges using three helicopters and one airplane.

Some northwest Colorado landowners had complained for years that the DOW elk estimates were faulty.

“There’s way too many elk in some places,” rancher John Smith said. “They move into these meadows too early and rub out the growth. They kill the edible brush.”

At a meeting last week, rancher T. Wright Dickinson told wildlife officers they have an obligation to make sure elk range is protected, just as ranchers are expected to make sure cattle range isn’t overused.

“You need to survey for the health of the range. It can’t handle the numbers (of elk) it has now,” he said.

Fourteener round-up

There an unusually thoughtful essay in the syndicated "Writers on the Range" column this week called "In Defense of Peak Bagging" that is worth checking out. We often use "peak bagger" as a pejorative term, but author Steve Albert says there is value in the act of climbing peaks to cross them off a list.

Closer to home, on Colorado Springs' own fourteener, Pikes Peak, a story in the Gazette today lays out how the city-owned Pikes Peak Highway is taking bids for a new concessionaire to run the Summit House. The city plans to double the yearly fee for the contract to $1 million dollars, and want the concessionaire to assist with adding more interpretive displays and building a new summit house.

Any improvements to the top of Pikes Peak will probably be broadly welcomed. For decades what could potentially be a valuable interpretive experience, comparable to a national park visitors center, has instead, been a rather tacky emporium of knickknacks, comparable to Wall Drug.

Obviously, there are huge physical plant hurdles at 14,115 feet, and building a new visitor's center is going to take serious cash, but I think a lot of people feel the top of Pikes Peak deserves something more than donut and T-shirt shops. If we're going to have a road up there, let's do it for a purpose. After all, you can buy T-shirts in Manitou.
Oh, by the way, you can print up a coupon good for a free Pikes Peak donut here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Alleged Peeping Tom tied to tree

From the AP in Portland:

A group of campers tied a peeping Tom suspect to a tree, keeping him bound until police arrived.

Richard H. Berkey, 63, was charged with private indecency, a misdemeanor, by sheriff’s deputies who were called to the Big Fan Campground near Bagby Hot Springs last weekend, according to Clackamas County Detective Jim Strovink.

Campers told deputies they recognized Berkey from a similar incident at the campground last year and wanted to make sure he didn’t get away.

The 2006 incident was reported to police but did not result in charges.

“Last year, we took down his license plate number and turned it in to the sheriff, but there wasn’t a lot they could do really,” said Jason Dugan, one of the campers. “This year, that wasn’t happening."

Dugan and another camper, Michelle Brandow, said several friends were playing chess, eating and relaxing last Saturday, when they heard rustling in an area the women used as an open latrine. Dugan went to investigate, saw a man running from the area and tackled him.

With help from two other campers, Dugan led Berkey to the group’s campsite and tied him to a tree. Another camper left to call police.

Berkey told KGW-TV in Portland he was surprised by the response. “I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” he said. A phone call to Berkey’s house in Beaverton was not immediately returned today.

Berkey is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 18.

Powder alert!

The highcountry got its first snow of the season Thursday night.
The folks at Breck emailed to remind us opening day at Breckenridge and Keystone is just 77 days away (Friday, Nov. 9). Time to start thinking about pass options.


The Colorado Division of Wildlife is looking for information about a deer killed at the Rampart Shooting Range. The deer was discovered Thursday, August 23 by Forest Service employees and volunteers from Fort Carson who were doing a clean-up project at the range.

Any information would be helpful. If someone witnessed the crime, or has heard anything about it, they are asked to call Wildlife Officer Trina Romero at (719) 227-5284 or 1-877-265-6648.

Cruising in Style

The Gazette's Out There section looks at the growth of cruiser bike popularity. It's the only sector of the bike industry that is consistantly growing. But cruisers are more than a business statistic. Since their primary appeal is asthetic, I thought it would be cool to showcase some of the best, old and new.

1936 Schwinn Aerocycle
1946 Schwinn Autocycle
2007 Phat Cyles Super Stretch
1940 Elgin Four Star Sport
1936 Elgin Bluebird
2007 Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe
2007 Nirve Chopper

Bears: Go wild

Seen any bears lately? Wildlife officers say this will be a tough fall for them, as they struggle to bulk up for hibernation, chowing down 20,000 to 25,000 calories a day. They're looking for those yummy berries we were talking about last week.

Officers have killed at least six bears around Aspen that had become too attached to people's garbage cans and kitchen fridges.

First offenders are captured and taken into the wilds for release. Officers even give them a shot of "aversive conditioning" - blasts of rubber pellets to the butt. That's still not enough for most of the bears. They're just too hungry and locked in survival mode.

The Denver Post has a story today -- -- about the struggle for the bears to keep up with their eating and the struggle of officers to keep up with bear removal.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ludacris at Vail

Tickets -- $40 -- go on sale FRIDAY at 8 a.m. Click here.

Ludacris and The Roots will play in Vail Dec. 8, headlining Vail Snow Daze, which is Dec. 3-9.

The week will be filled with on-snow action, demos, parties, lots of music and, we're told, more.

The Ludacris and The Roots concert will take place late in the afternoon Dec. 8, following Vail Snow Daze’s Dummy Gelunde World Championships event at Golden Peak. Tickets are $40 until Nov. 30. Then they bump up to $50.

(Photo from

Where the deer and the antelope play...

(National Park Service photo)
Remember that great story Dave did about the cat and deer friendship? If not, check it out.

Anyway, apparently there's a similar kind of friendship in Greeley: a young antelope (I guess, a pronghorn) that is pals with a dog.

The AP reports a "friendly young antelope" has been seen "cavorting with a dog" along a walking path.
The 3-month-old, 15-pound buck was spotted Wednesday, running and playing with a neighborhood dog named Skeeter along the Poudre River trail, a path that runs through Greeley and the nearby town of Windsor.

“It’s just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Ronda Underwood. “We were just riding along the trail and saw this antelope playing with a dog.”
She said the antelope came up to her, nuzzled its head and neck along her leg and seemed almost to beg to be petted. Larry Rogstad, a district officer for the state Division of Wildlife, was summoned for fear that the antelope would be attacked by the numerous coyotes in the area. The animal, dubbed “Poudre” by passers-by, was taken to a wildlife refuge where handlers will try to get it ready to return to its natural habitat.

Plan Red Rock's future

A meeting aimed at developing the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Master Plan begins at 6:30 tonight in the upstairs courtroom in Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St. The meeting will focus on the canyon's flora and fauna.

There are many ways to get involved with what's going on at Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Another way is to get involved with the Friends group and its activities.
If you're a regular, go to the Friends' Web site and fill out the Interpretive Master Plan Questionnaire. Let people who are making decisions and allocating dollars know what you think of the signage, whether you'd buy a history book of the area, what you'd like to know about local geology and more.

Don't just visit the park, be a part of what happens next.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Orphaned crane finds a home

We told you about this bird a while back. And now the Division of Wildlife reports:

A greater sandhill crane that had been raised by a ranch employee in western Colorado is finally moving to a permanent home.

The crane, affectionately named "Baby" by caretakers (no, that's no Baby in the photo, just an anonymous crane), is being given to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo by the DOW. The crane was a chick when it was found by a ranch hand in 2005 near Nucla. It is rare for sandhill cranes to nest and hatch young in Colorado.

Believing that the young bird had been abandoned and couldn’t survive on its own, the rancher took the bird home, fed it cat food and treated it like a pet. When the ranch hand became ill with cancer late in 2006 he asked some friends to care for the bird.

Late last winter they took it to the area near Nucla where large flocks of sandhill cranes gather during their migration north for the summer. When they released the bird it wanted no part of its free-roaming cousins.

The bird was taken to the Schneegas Wildlife Foundation near Silt, a wildlife rehabilitation center. The professional trainers there saw quickly that the bird couldn’t be retrained; so they called the DOW, which placed the bird in its wildlife rehabilitation facility near Del Norte and began searching for a permanent home.

Baby will live in the Omaha Zoo's Crane Meadows with about 75 other cranes. Most of the cranes are unable to fly because of injuries.

Crane Meadows is part of the zoo's 400-acre Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, a drive-through preserve 25 miles west of Omaha.

Baby's hand-over is scheduled Monday.

To prevent other such dramas, the DOW reminds us all not to touch or pick up wildlife.

Google Earth releases Google Sky

From the New York Times:
After turning millions of Internet users into virtual explorers of the world with Google Earth, the Internet search giant is now hoping to turn many of them into virtual stargazers.
Today Google unveiled a service called Sky that allows users to view the skies as seen from Earth. Like Google Earth, Sky lets users fly around and zoom in, exposing increasingly detailed imagery of some 100 million stars and 200 million galaxies.
The Sky imagery was stitched together from more than 1 million photographs from scientific and academic sources. Google said that it developed the project strictly because some of its engineers were interested in it, and that it had no plans to make money from it for now.
Sky already has layers showing various constellations, a users guide to galaxies, the position of planets two months into the future and animations of lunar positions To get Sky, you have to download the latest version of GoogleEarth.

REI introduces green label

REI , America’s largest consumer cooperative and outdoor gear seller has added a label to help shoppers find of Eco-Sensitive materials. Garments made from the bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, post-industrial recycled polyester, recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, polylactic acid (PLA), or organic wool will wear a little hang tag, such as you see pictured above. On its Web site is a link which rounds up all the apparel. The tags themselves are post-consumer recycled content, which is a good move, because by REI’s own estimates its own brand packaging used about 370 tons of paper last year.

It's part of a growing trend in green outdoor gear, in which companies are trying to eliminated useless packaging and develop sustainable raw materials. REI is working with 40 other stakeholders from the Outdoor Industry Association's (OIA) Eco-Working Group to develop standards to measure, report and ultimately improve on the environmental impact of outdoor gear and clothing.

Trailhead burglars nabbed

The Gazette reported today that a ring of ID thieves who specialized in breaking into cars at trailheads has been caught.
Joshua Dickerson, 27, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and was being held at the El Paso County Criminal Justice. More arrests are expected, police said. Police said the thieves specialized in car burglaries, breaking into vehicles parked at trailheads in Colorado Springs and in motel parking lots in the south metro Denver area, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

What a bunch of scum. I've seen way too many cars with broken windows at trailheads. And I'm not alone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Busy day on the peaks

File these under "Be careful out there":

+++ Two hikers from Michigan were rescued from the 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross after they became stranded on a ridge below the summit Monday. They were escorted to a Colorado Air National Guard helicopter and flown to Minturn.

Jeff Snapper, 28, and his stepbrother Adam Van Essen, 23, called 911 on a cell phone to report they were stranded on a ridge and couldn’t go up or down safely. They said they started hiking early but at some point lost the trail.

+++ A hiker rescued from Longs Peak on Monday after she was injured in a 200-foot fall was identified today as Sheila Townsend of Chaska, Minn.

Townsend, 48, tumbled from the False Keyhole down to the Ledges area and lost consciousness Sunday, then spent a cold and windy night on the mountain at about 13,000 feet. Other hikers found her Monday after hearing her calls for help.

She was carried on a litter to a waiting helicopter and flown to a hospital. She suffered multiple injuries, including head injuries.

Heading to the hills

Anyone in grades 6-9 can sign up for a program beginning this week that'll get you into the wilds. It's Saturdays for a month.

You'll learn about "Leave No Trace," be challenged by a ropes course, fly fish on the Platte, mountain bike at Red Rock Canyon, and rock climb.

Orientation is Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Cost is $102 and includes transportation to field sties. Call 385-5996 or e-mail

Monday, August 20, 2007

A new record! For me, anyway

The 2007 Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are now history. Matt Carpenter won both for the Men. Maria Portilla from New Mexico won the Ascent, and Salynda E Fleury from Gunnison won the marathon for the women.
I was way back in the field, but did post a best ever time of 2:45:41! Which warranted hoisting a chi-weenie over my head!

Great Ascent / Marathon photos

Check these two slide shows from the weekend's Pikes Peak Ascent. I'll see if Gaz photogs can give us a look at the marathon, too..

This one is from the aid station at the cirque, by Christian Murdock:

This one is a collection of images from start to finish, by Mike Terry:

To see other photos of various topics, check out our photographer's blog (they answer questions, too, if you want advice about how to get an action shot or take a photo at night, say).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rescue off the peak

An Ascent runner manages a smile (thanks for the photo, Christian!)
OT reporter Dave Philipps looked strong this morning as he hit Barr Trail after about 1.5 miles on the pavement at the start of the Pikes Peak Ascent. I haven't called to see how he did - and didn't see him in town afterward. (That's a photo of him below, closing in on the summit - by Gaz photog Christian Murdock.)

But there's a lot of chatter in the last 40 minutes about rescues on the mountain. Bad weather has hit and apparently there are still entrants on the course. I'm sure rescue teams, the aid station workers and Neal and Teresa at Barr are ready to help.

I have to say, it looked like there were a lot of people entered this year who I believe should probably join a charity hike of Pikes Peak instead of enter the Ascent. They were planning to hike it, no running or jogging involved. It's a challenge, either way, but when you're still on the trail more than 8 hours later... And when there were people who wanted to run it and couldn't get a bib...

Just sayin'.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Still room to camp

(Illustration by Nichole Montanez, The Gazette)
Parks officials dropped a line to say there are still camping spots open throughout the state for Labor Day weekend fun.

Reservations can be made online or by calling 1-303-470-1144 or 1-800-678-CAMP.
Special events include:
Golden Gate Canyon State Park: 9:30 a.m. Sept. 1. Discover Green Ranch, a beautiful area of the park usually closed to the public. This guided hike will include encounters with flora, fauna, historical sites, and amazing vistas that will rejuvenate and inspire.
Eleven Mile State Park: 6 p.m. Sept. 1. Join the volunteers of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Auxiliary for a fun look at the relationships that exist between the predator and prey species of Colorado. Adaptations will also be discussed and there will be plenty of hands-on demonstrations for kids.
John Martin Reservoir State Park: 6 p.m. Sept. 1. Learn about the Sand Creek Battle Site with Chuck and Sheri Bowen. The Bowens promise artifacts from the battle site and their expert knowledge of the historic area. Plan to settle in at the West Picnic Shelter for a thrilling evening of yesteryear.

Head to the hills

Somehow we missed the listing for events at Mueller State Park through this week in today's Out There section. Mueller's off Highway 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek. A day pass is $5 a car. These are free events. Check the Web site or call 687-2366.
These are all easy to moderate hikes, but remember to wear appropriate shoes and take water, a snack, insect repellent and sunscreen.

TODAY at 2 -- Red-Tail Overlook Hike. 2.8 miles. Meet at the Outlook Ridge Trailhead.
TONIGHT at 7 -- A talk, "Mountain Lions & Bears, Oh My!", at the amphitheater. Also, touch a black bear pelt; see a mountain lion skull, and more.

SATURDAY at 10 a.m.-2 or 3 p.m.. -- Fishing at Brook and Rock Pond. Meet at the Rock Pond Trailhead. Take your own fishing gear, fishing license, and barbless hooks for catch and release. Children 15 and younger fish free.
SATURDAY from 1 to 3 p.m. -- Skins and Skulls at the Visitor Center. Examine specimens and talk to a naturalist.

SATURDAY at 2 p.m. -- Stoner Mill Hike. 2 miles. Meet at the School Pond Trailhead.

SATURDAY at 7:30 p.m. -- See slides and learn about hummingbirds in the amphitheater.
SUNDAY at 9 a.m. -- Grouse Mountain Overlook. Short hike. Meet at Grouse Mountain Trailhead.
SUNDAY from 1 to 3 p.m. -- Skins and Skulls at the Visitor Center. Examine specimens and talk to a naturalist.

SUNDAY at 2 p.m. -- Black Bear and Mountain Logger Hike. About 2 hours. Meet at Black Bear Trailhead.

SUNDAY at 7 p.m. -- Learn about "Elk & Mule Deer" at the amphitheater.

The virtual race

For fans of the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent, here's who will win if everyone runs the time they predicted for themselves when they entered: (time first, then name, then home town)

2:00:00 Colling, David Russell Sand UT
2:00:00 Kercher, Kristina Marie Wauke IA
2:00:00 Ohmes, Kimberly Olathe KS
2:00:00 Riley, Heather Denver
2:05:00 Call, Hobie S Laverki UT
2:05:00 Gutierrez, Simon B Alamosa
2:08:00 Carpenter, Matt Manitou Springs
2:10:00 Ilfrey, Campbell McIntyre Boulder
2:14:28 Silvis, Jeffrey Alllen Green Mtn Falls CO
2:15:00 Booth, Christopher Craig
2:15:00 Parker, Daryn Manitou Springs

OK, now for some discussion. The four people who predict they will beat Matt Carpenter's all-time record of 2:01:06, which has stood for 14 years, are deluded. Especially the ladies from Iowa and Kansas. But look at Simon Gutierrez, who holds a few course age group records, and has won the race a few times. He's predicting coming in ahead of Carpenter by three minutes. Should be a great race, especially with cash prizes to push the competitors.

Of course, predictions are worthless. If predictions were right, I would finish the Ascent in 3 hours, in 192nd place. In fact, I hope to finish in under 2 hours, 50 minutes, which will probably put me in the top 25. Let's hope. My plan is to try to hang with the top women, who will finish in about 2:45.

Good luck to all!

Backflip over a pit of gators? No problem

Today in the Gazette's Out There, we feature a profile on Jason Lee (blue shirt), the godfather of mountainboarding. Besides being nice and a cool guy, Lee developed the first mountain board (with his best friend and brother), founded the largest mountain board company (MBS, based in Colorado Springs), and has won the title of national champion 5 times. Read the story here.

As if that wasn't enough, his spirit resides on YouTube in a clip of him doing a 22-foot backflip over a pit of man-eating gators. Watch the clip here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Weather on Pikes Peak

With the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon just days away, we're getting a clearer picture of what the weather will be like for the thousands of people who will be running/walking/swearing up the peak. Up high, we're looking at a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms and a high of 54 degrees. That means it will probably get pretty nasty, if the last few years are any indication. Expect hail and cold, probably lightning, any time after about 11 a.m. I may not happen, but who knows? Dress accordingly.
Here are pics from 10 a.m. Thursday on the summit

Cheyenne Mountain State Park is open!

OK, so they recalled the press release saying the place was open, but I called this morning and both park and visitors center are open 7 days a week from 7:00am - 10:00 pm for hiking and mountain biking. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00am - 5:00pm.

More on hiker struck by lightning

28-year-old Justin Eggleston from Boulder was struck in the head by a bolt of lightning while descending Mount Elbert during an afternoon storm Wednesday. Read the whole story here. It was his first fourteener. He and his girlfriend had summited the mountain sometime after noon, and were running down, still above treeline, amid hail and lightning, when he was struck. He blacked out, but came to, and with help of other hikers, was able to walk down to his car.
Eggleston told the Vail Daily his ordeal won’t stop him from hiking more peaks in the future. He’ll just work out his timing a bit better. “(I’m) definitely not going to be coming down any mountains at 3 o’clock. I guess the rule of thumb is to come down by noon so I’m going to stick to that,” he said.
Good rule of thumb. But for the inexperienced climber, it's not enough. So here's a better one.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Whoops, they did it again

I forgot to share the latest Cheyenne Mountain State Park delay.
The park, which was purchased in 2000, and was slated to open in 2003, then 2004, then 2005. Well, you get the idea. In 2006, the park held a grand opening with a ribbon cutting and all kinds of top brass. But the park didn't really open then. It stayed on a weekends-only schedule and the visitor's center stayed closed while workers finished putting in roads and other infrastructure.

Anyway... a two weeks ago I got this email from State Parks:

Cheyenne Mountain State Park celebrates Visitor Center opening

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Cheyenne Mountain State Park will be hosting a Visitor Center Open House on Sunday, Aug. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Open House will celebrate the opening day of the Visitor Center and gift shop and will be a preemptive kick off to Aug. 13, when Cheyenne Mountain State Park will have new hours and be open on a daily basis.
The open house will include door prizes, giveaways, special discounts, park information, guided hikes, refreshments and free soft drinks for the first 200 visitors provided by Coca Cola and fun activities for the entire family.

I thought to myself: great, finally.

Then, a minute later, I got this message:

Parksnews would like to recall the message, "News Release: Cheyenne Mountain State Park celebrates Visitor Center opening".

I should have known.

It's berry pickin' season

Dave is out and about, but shares this:
The wet weather of August is always the best time to go picking wild raspberries, those perfect little red fruits with a fierce, woodsy flavor that's quite distinct from their plastic package siblings at the store.

(Those aren't wild raspberries, above, they're the ones growing in my backyard. -- Dena.)

Some people have told me over the years that we should leave the berries for the birds and the bears, and I agree. So when I go, I never collect any fruit to take home. I just pick them one at a time and pop them directly into my mouth. That way, I never eat too many, and there are always plenty left over.

Some favorite spots for gathering: near St. Mary's falls, along Ruxton Creek, up on the Pipeline Trail from Barr trail to Artist's Glen. But you can find them anywhere there's good sun and moisture.

Know any other good spots?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Headed to Yellowstone?

Wyoming travel folks just sent this:

The East Entrance to Yellowstone NP has reopened, and all lodging, campgrounds and amenities are open.

The Columbine Fire burning in East Yellowstone is about 53 miles southwest of Cody and 0% contained. It has burned about 7,000 acres, but is said to be no threat to people using the park. Check here for updates if you're headed that way for an end-of-summer fling.

Growing SUV use in the mountains

Out There alum Deb Acord had a story in the Rocky Mountain News today about the growing trend in recreational SUV use on public land.

She notes "A survey conducted by the U.S. Forest Service in 2004 showed nearly 48 million Americans turned their SUVs, ATVs and motorcycles off the pavement onto trails and roads on public lands that year. Nearly 2 million of those drivers headed to trails and backcountry roads in Colorado."
Unfortunately no mention of how Pike National Forest is unable to keep up with the damage from off-road driving. It's serious. In the last 10 years, I"ve noticed considerable degradation of some of our nicest mountain meadows, which have been turned into high-clearance mud wallows.
As an owner of a high clearance Tacoma, I say, have fun on the old mining roads, but leave the meadows alone.