Day 150: Back at it for one final push

Elaine and I have been laid up for the past week or two with a fairly bad summer cold, curbing our activities. Elaine has gotten the rawer end of the deal, so it's exciting that we're both finally feeling decent enough to go do a little ski in the hills. Nothing big – more of a walk in the woods with a 600 vertical foot shot of snow – but it was oh so good. It felt good to use the lungs and legs for what they are meant for.

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Campout!

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It seemed like a fine couple of days to head into the high country and seek out some turns. Elaine and I did just that. Nothing too complex – packed our ski and camping gear, and a bit of food, and it was off. A nice evening at a lake, a aromatic fire and mac and cheese, a chilled 20° night with stars abound and some of the best turns of the year this morning. Then, lazy reading on the tundra before heading home. A darned perfect two days if you ask me.

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Thundersnow!

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A fog rolled in last night, and with it snow flurries and the rarest of conditions, thundersnow. Basically, it is what the name says…it's snowing at the exact same time it's thundering out. Of course, the thundering part is no problem…it's the lightning that can be bad, especially when skiing above timberline at 11,000 feet. In the dense fog, you can't see where it's coming from, but you can hear it. On this day, I heard it to the south, which made me feel OK about sneaking in a quick skin and descent.

The woods were delectable this morning – damp, frosty, pungent pine. When the fog rolls in, the woods are the most peaceful place to be. Now it's off to the desert for a few days with Neptune staff to learn the sport of canyoneering. We'll see about that!

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Reverse paths

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We had a rep meeting Wednesday morning, so our adventure plans for the day involved taking the 7 am bus to Boulder and then walk home. Basically, a reverse of our walk down, with a different beginning. We decided to head up Bear Canyon and then take the Bear/Green Trail and West Ridge Trail to the top of Flagstaff. From there, it was the usual trails back to Nederland.

The hike yesterday went well. I was quite sore after the first jaunt, espcially in front of the calves, and I feel relatively fine today, albeit a bit dead-legged. It took us exactly seven hours, but the route was longer and of course there was much more climbing. We both much prefer climbing to descending though, and don't really feet like there was much of a loss in speed going up Bear Canyon versus coming down trails to Boulder.

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All in all, a great hike. Saw tons of hawks, blooming flowers and just enjoyed moving through the mountains together. We got some spiffy new carbon fiber hiking poles, and I must say I really like them. Hiking poles for me always had a bit of dork factor, but the truth is you can travel considerably faster with them than without. That, and it makes hiking feel like nordic skiing. Sometimes I'll even double pole with them and pretend I'm skate skiing up some World Cup course. Great fun. When we got to Ned we put them away (wanting to hide that dork factor), and I was amazed how less powerful and quick I felt walking, even just through town to the Park-and-Ride.

Of course the poles will serve multiple functions on our Colorado Trail trip. They're going to be the support for our shelter, so we don't need to carry an extra pole. And, if one of us gets hurt, poles can make a nice brace. I started using them on NOLS courses, and wouldn't imagine doing a big backpacking trip without them. These ones just happen to be super light, strong and gucci, but I suppose I've graduated to gucci!

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The overall stats for the day we're exactly seven hours of hiking, 22 miles, 4,373 feet of climbing and 1,713 feet of descending. Thirty minutes longer than the hike down, but also two miles longer. A good second effort. Our goal is to feel confident hiking 20-miles average at the start of the trip. Then as the trip proceeds, we'd like to dab in the 25-30 miles range. Our lungs and muscles are there…our feet and tendons are not – hence the training. We've decided we both want more of a hiking trip where we camp, versus a camping trip where we hike. As such, consistent moving and lightweight packs will be our goal.

In other news, through the graciousness of some wonderful folks who hiked the Colorado Trail a few years back, we've managed to borrow a dehydrator for the next two months. Call it our first dose of "trail magic." So in our spare time, when we're not working, hiking, biking or skiing, we'll be dehydrating food and packaging it. Those pre-dehydrated packets you buy in the store are incredibly expensive and loaded with nasty chemicals. This route will be much, much better.

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Elaine has a thing for classic cars. Here she is posing with a Maverick in the Table Mesa Parking lot right before the start of our hike.

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