Monday, June 16, 2008

We've done gone and moved

T'wasn't my choice. I could have spent my whole life under Blogger's big sky, but corporate winds have driven us to wordtype. Change your links, we've moved to

Captain Jacks motorized designation

Turns out Captain Jacks, a Colorado Springs trail developed by motor bikes, is not officially designated for motorized use. So parks is holding a hearing on whether official motorized use should be granted.
What interests me though, is Captain Jack herself. Here is a nice article on the woman who lends her name to this popular trail (above) and the guest house she ran at the top of the high drive (below.)

First run up Pikes Peak

I did my first run of the year all the way up Barr Trail Sunday. All things considered, it went pretty well. There were only three or four stretches of soft snow. The weather was calm and sunny, and I got up to the summit in 3:04, only walking for a short time on the Golden Stairs.
I saw a number of runners up there, and the usual crowd of tourists amazed that people run at all, let alone up a mountain. Hitch-hiked down. A good time, but I need a little variety, I think next week it will be a different fourteener.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Caught in blizzard on Raineer, man dies to save wife

This is a sad story. Three climbers on Mount Rainier in Washington were caught in a blizzard this week. To survive, they dug a trench for shelter. The man insisted on lying on the bottom to insulate his wife. She made it. He died of hypothermia.

What's in bloom

Here are a few things I've been seeing on the trail. For a great online flower guide courtesy of CSU, click here. Boulder Raspberry, a gorgeous and widespread bush
Chiming bells (seem to prefer dry areas)
wild clematis (a very cool vine)
Unidentified composit (these guys can be tough to correctly identify.)
Rocky Mountain Pentstemon

Barr trail clear of snow

Less than 300 steps in the snow now on the front of Pikes Peak. It's officially open for running.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Colorado Springs has long been a partner in bringing back the nearly extinct black-footed ferret thanks to a breeding program at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Young ferrets are shipped from the zoo every fall to re-introduction sites around the West. One of the must successful is Conata Basin in South Dakota, mostly because the prairie dogs there don't carry plague (which kills both the rodents and the ferrets.) But now, plague has shown up in the basin. Several federal agencies and organizations have begun the battle against plague. They've zeroed in on killing fleas, a known vector of plague, by spraying dust into prairie dog burrows. They are also vaccinating ferrets against plague. But all this is expensive. You can help by “adopting” a black-footed ferret at The funds go directly to protecting ferrets in the Conata Basin.

Keystone bike park delayed by snow

Keystone's Bike Park will open June 28, one week later than planned because of a stubborn snowpack (backcountry skiing is still in excellent condition.) The resort plans to open more than 16 trails, bringing the total mileage of this downhill Mecca to 57.
An adult, unlimited run lift ticket costs $30.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bear captured in downtown C. Springs

This happened today near Platte and El Paso

Speaking of biking with Obama...

The AP reports he rode his bike this weekend with his family, causing much speculating and hand-wringing amongst pundits (slow news day anyone?). The Right Wing generally questioned whether his somewhat geeky-looking helmet would be another Dukakis moment.
Newsweek says no, this is good politics: "While the press has tended to focus on Obama's connection to black culture in recent weeks, from his reference to Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" to his fist pound with wife Michelle, the bike photos prove, once and for all, that Obama can be painfully, embarrassingly white as well."

A legend returns... somewhat diminished

Big Sur, a mythical wave of the Colorado River that only appears during flows above 20,000 cfs is back after several years and well... it turns out it is not that exciting. A good story in today's post details how modern boats and kayak parks have diminished the allure of this prodigal wave.
Photo by Scott Willoughby

One expensive commode!

According to the AP, Mount Rainier National Park is "celebrating" the installation of a $70,000 ecologically correct toilet at Cougar Rock Campground.

The toilet was donated by Groundwork Mishima, a group that promotes volunteerism at Mount Fuji, which has a "sister mountain" relationship with the park.
The toilet was installed with the help of students from the Japanese Volunteers-in-Parks Association.
The toilet uses cedar chips and natural composting to operate with little water or odor.
Here's a volunteers group blog post about it.


When asked to choose an answer to the following question, “You are lost in the woods and a storm is coming, who would you choose to lead you to safety?” respondents to The Great Outdoor Survey voted for Homer Simpson more often than George W. Bush. Barack Obama came out on top when it comes to leading Americans out of the woods during a storm, while Sen. Hillary Clinton was a close second and Sen. John McCain ranked third.

If the choice is finding a conversation partner for a long day hike, Oprah Winfrey tops the list with Bill Gates coming in second, the Pope garnering third, and George Clooney nabbing fourth. President Bush was a last choice yet again.

And who wins as a partner for a long bike ride? The nod goes once again to Obama. I just hope he really stopped smoking.

Aspen reopens this weekend

Don't put those skis away.

Aspen Skiing Co. said it will open the top of Aspen Mountain for skiing this weekend because there's so much snow.
It's a first for the resort, said spokesman Jeff Hanle.
An average depth of more than 3 feet on the upper slopes will allow the ski area to open seven runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. About 45 acres of mainly intermediate terrain served by the Ajax Express chairlift will be available.
Aspen/Snowmass Premier, Silver and 6-and-under passholders can ski for free. Other pass- holders pay discounted rates.
Adult single-day tickets will be $29 a day, youth and seniors will pay $26, and children's tickets will cost $18.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Roan Plateau goes on the block

The Bureau of Land Management in Colorado plans to auction oil and gas development rights on 55,186 acres in the Roan Plateau
Planning Area August 14. It is the latest development in an on-going struggle between energy needs (evidenced by higher prices and an explosion of gas wells in the surrounding mesas) and a wide-spread local effort to preserve the relatively pristine and wildlife-rich plateau which rises north of Rifle.
As a compromise, the BLM requires stipulations to protect the area’s streams, wildlife habitat and landscape views. Leases on top of the plateau will requird phased, ridge-by-ridge development, in which only one operator conducts operations on behalf of all leassees, which in theory, allows the BLM to exert tight control over oil and gas development, while consolidating infrastructure like roads, power lines and pipelines.

Elk Park Trail Clear

I just got back from a trip to Barr Camp, and except for a six-foot stretch of snow, Elk Park Trail is good to go. Already have seen several bike tracks on this popular ride and hike, and passed a pick-up full of down-hillers on their way up today.

Friday, June 06, 2008

No one boats until body is found

Sanchez Reservoir near Alamosa is closed until a recent drowning victim is found. Efforts to recover the body of the victim by the Costilla County Sheriff's Department have turned up nothing.

More fake Rockies?

The U.S. Postal Service will release this stamp next week as part of the "Flags of our Nation" series. Looking at the stamp, my question is, what mountain is that? Certainly it's distinctive enough that Out There blog readers can name it... that is, unless it is another example of using a non-Colorado peak and calling it a Colorado Peak. (The flip-side is the state quarter, which clearly has Longs Peak on it, but officially has a generic mountain scene.) On the stamp, the profile looks volcanic, so if it's really a Centennial State summit, it's probably in the San Juans. In the background are uplifted mesas. Could it be a scene from along Highway 160 between Wolf Creek Pass and Durango. Study it, then offer your best guess.
Anyone who can provide a convincing candidate gets the first-ever Out There Blog shout out.

Independence pass opens in snow storm

Independence Pass, the high, narrow, twisting back route to Aspen, finally opened for the season Thursday, two weeks later than usual due to serious snow, but not before cold, soggy weather churning over the state added one last taste of winter. As of now the conditions are "wet with intermittent snow, open weather permitting."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bike racing in Mexico

A drunk hit a pack of riders in northern Mexico recently. 1 dead, 14 injured.

More on Harvey Carter

On, Lou Dawson, prompted by my profile, tells a good story of climbing with Harvey Carter. Read it here.

Harvey Carter Photos

Today in The Colorado Springs Gazette's Out There I published a profile on Harvey Carter, the influential pioneer rock climber. Read it here. I wanted to include some more photos.Harvey was a star football and baseball player at Colorado College in the early 1950s, but always preferred the freedom and creativity of climbing. He learned to climb from locals at Colorado College when the sport was still in its infancy.Harvey in May 2008 showing off old angle pitons from his rack. Bolts from Harvey's rack, many of which were cut from climbs where he felt they didn't belong. A photo by Stewart Green of Harvey climbing Montezuma's Tower in Garden of the Gods. Check out that run out. Harvey in 1967 during a trip to Fisher Towers, Utah. Harvey in May, 2008 on his deck on the west side of Pikes Peak. Harvey with the first issue of Climbing magazine, which he started in Aspen with two friends. Harvey has kept detailed, hand-written notes on every climb. He claims to have over 5,000 first ascents. A 1982 Stewart Green Photo of Harvey in Garden of the Gods, where he pioneered several routes. Harvey climbing in Colorado National Monument in the 1960, courtesy Stewart Green.

Snow advisory, but no snow yet

Cold wet weather is expected in the state today, including snow advisories for the Elk and Gore Mountains. So far, the cams aren't showing any snow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Did $4 gas kill the Hummer?

GM announced this week it would close four large truck plants and look at selling off its Hummer line. Apparently sales have been in the tank... which makes me wonder who would buy Hummer. It could be that the giant SUV will fade into history like so many Cadillac fins.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Learning the lingo

We invited some friends to go camping with us this weekend up in BV for some mountain biking and possibly kayaking. My wife sent out an e-mail that mentioned we had a double duckie if anyone wanted to do a float down the Milk Run.

After receiving the e-mail, my co-worker Christopher came over to ask what a double duckie was. And a Milk Run. And BV.

Which led me to observe that if you floated the Milk Run in a double duckie at 5,000 cfs, you would likely get maytagged and end up yard saling all the way through Browns before the Suckhole spit you out.

All of which is a long set-up for the money quote:

"My god, you're 37. What are you talking about? It's like kindergartner-speak."

Moth watch 2008 - a big year?

State entomologists say large numbers of army cutworm caterpillars on the plains suggest this could be a bigger year for miller moths than we've seen it two years. I've still only seen one here and there, but they could be coming.

Steepandcheap for the bike crowd just launched it's new bike close-out site, Do, or do not, there is no try.

Tent facotries seized by Chinese government for earthquake victims

Today Coleman announced today it donated 1,000 tents for aid to people displaced by the massive May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China.
Also today, SNEWS, an outdoor industry newsletter, announced pretty much every other tent manufacturer is donating its tents too, whether they like it or not.
SNEWS says the Chinese government seized control of all Chinese-owned tent factories and existing inventory throughout the country as part of the disaster relief effort for the earthquake-ravaged region of central China near Chengdu. Textile factories that supply tent fabrics have also been seized. In all factories, military personnel are stationed on the factory floor to ensure that for at least the next 30 days, and perhaps as many as 45 days, all tent production coming off the factory floors is designated for the earthquake relief efforts. Fair enough. The latest reports out of China have indicate 3 million people have lost their homes. Almost all U.S. tent brands (and everything else) are manufactured in China, including Mountain Hardwear, Coleman, Eureka, Marmot, MSR, GoLite, Kelty, The North Face, and Slumberjack. It's unclear how this will change tent availability and price in the United States, but hey, who cares? You have a home.

County budget plan keeps nature centers open

The county plan approved Monday to make up for the $9 million budget shortfall will cut $280,000 from the Department of Parks and Leisure Services but keep open the county's two nature centers. The plan does not sell any park land. Since lackluster tax revenues will continue for the foreseeable future, treat this as a temporary reprieve, not a solution.

Another wild ride

Swift water on the Eagle River flipped a raft Monday, dumped a couple rafts sending one woman on a five-mile unintended swim. The rafts flipped near Eagle. The woman was picked up on an island near Gypsum. Of the 19 people tossed in the drink, none were seriously injured. This is normally a very calm stretch of water, but is running at flood stage due to a huge snowpack.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Gondolas through downtown Denver

Just in case you're not seeing enough concrete in your life, downtown Denver offers gondola rides from Larimer Street to Confluence Park and back. I didn't know this, but the city has been doing this for 10 years. The boat rides start and finish at Larimer Street, a half block west of Larimer Squarea and somehow takes 60-70 minutes.

3 die in rivers this weekend

The Rocky Mountain News reports three people drowned in river accidents this weekend. An Aurora doctor who was rafting on the Gunnison River, a man who saved a friend trapped by currents in the Little Dolores River, and a New Mexico woman who tumbled into the Cache La Poudre River while toobing died. Water is high now as a big snowpack in the mountains starts to melt in the summer heat.

The trade-off for Front Range crowds

Yes, skiing of the Front Range is a crowded, traffic-ridden affair (unless you ski Monarch or Cooper). But, on the up-side, you get amazingly cheep season passes starting at about $300. Compare that to Telluride, which just released its "summer sale" price for a season pass: $1,198. Yikes!