Knee Pains

I’ve been struggling with knee issues for the last two years, but this last October was when it really came to a head and started causing quite a bit of pain. We were 6 miles in to a 12mile RT hike up to Bluebird Lake, when my knee felt like it went pop, and I couldn’t continue up the last 10th of a mile to the lake. After it didn’t heal with in two weeks, I made an appointment with my sports medicine doctor, who sent me to 6 weeks of PT.

I appeared to be making some progress, and purchased a knee brace to help when I went hiking, x country skiing, etc. The doctor told me that if it still hurt in mid Feb to come back, and we would check it out again.

It still hurt, so I made an appointment- and they compared my x-rays from October, and March. She thought something might be floating around, like a bone chip- so she ordered an MRI. Turns out that it wasn’t a bone chip or anything wrong with ligaments or my meniscus- It was deep bone bruising and swelling on the lower mid of my knee.

They are doing some sort of Gel injections into my knee to pad it so I can get back out there, but it means 2 months without hiking, mountaineering, and fun snow conditions. This upset me a bit, but I can rock climb- as long as there is no approach, and I can ride a bike. Which are all amazing things, and can keep my cardio up!

So, in the mean time, I hope to work on lots of projects, read books, go camping, rock climb, and maybe even some cycling. But in the meantime- here are some photos from my last x country ski trip up to Bakers Tank, off of Boreas Pass.

Our  fantastic group.

Looking forward to May, when I can get back out!



First Winter Camping Trip!

I’ve been wanting to winter camp for quite a while, but never had the 4 season tent, the right gear, or the know how- this was about to change!

The original plan for the weekend was to go to Ouray to ice climb, but about 5 days before we had intended to go… the ice park closed for the year due to unsafe ice and warm temps. So we made a secondary plan, hike in, winter camp, and climb Mt. Columbia- however the weather there was worse than up north. AND there comes the third option, winter camp off the Saint Vrain trail, and climb Saint Vrain Mountain in the Indian Peak Wilderness.

There was supposed to be about 5 of us, however last minute two of them cancelled- and I got to spend the weekend with my 2 favorite genetic mutants- Greg and Sarah. Oh yeah, and the pup.

We decided to give ourselves lots of time to find a nice camp, and set up before it got dark. Greg was still getting over being sick, and I was mostly recovered- so we only hiked in about a half mile, when we found a great spot to camp!

Sarah got to work tamping down a space for her tent, and digging the kitchen space.

Sarah starting to dig the kitchen.
Snow Blocks!

Greg and I stamped down a spot for our tent, he showed me how to dig a foot well to take off boots, and make it easier to get out of the tent.

Great view from the tent…. 😀

After we got our tent up, I set to work helping Sarah with the kitchen space. She decided to go set up her tent while I was stacking snow blocks…only to find out that she forgot the poles for her tent at home. Luckily for her, we had just enough space to fit a third person in our tent… with me squish between the two of them.

Sarah with the completed snow kitche, including recessed cook top, and stairs!

We then go to work melting snow, between our two stoves to make dinner.

The our pup was starting to get cold after the sun ducked below the trees, and Greg used our sled, a foam mat, and his big warm puffy coat for her to sleep on.

Dogs life! Courtesy of Greg Miller
Dinnertime at camp awesome! Courtesy of Greg Miller

After dinner, tea, and a good amount of relaxation- the sun set behind the hills. The world got dark,  the stars came out– and we crawled into our “cozy” 2+ person tent. It was a warm night, especially with me sandwiched between gingers, but we all slept pretty good.

The next morning, Sarah and I got up to climb Saint Vrain Mountain, and Greg, since he was still not feeling that great, was going to break down camp and meet us back at the cars. After a leisurely breakfast, we took off up the trail at a relatively slow pace with full packs. I was still being super careful with my knee as it hadn’t been feel 100% since early last summer.

Sarah entering the Indian Peak Wilderness

Me slogging up hill- Courtesy of Sarah Engel

Over all we ended up hiking 2,000 vertical feet before we turned around- the wind had picked up, and the clouds were rolling in. We also didn’t want to leave Greg down there waiting for us too long, so we wandered back down the way we came.

Always a good day with this lady!

We caught up to Greg on his last trip back to the car- he gave us the dog, and skied with the rest of the gear to the vehicles.

I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxed first winter camping trip…though I do wish it had been colder.. but it was awesome. I am lucky to have such wonderful and adventurous folk in my life!

Lake City Ice Fest

I’ve been coming to the Lake City Ice Fest for about 3 years now, a small town event in the town of Lake City, Co. The entire town gets in on the event, helping to manage, and run the climbing competitions. It’s always small, and so much fun!

Greg and I arrived on Friday night- all of our other friends were down at the Hostel…partying it up- we decided to stay in- which was a good idea.

We got up nice and early, and made our way down to the ice park- on a beautiful, decently warm,  sunny day. Unlike a few weeks ago, the roads were muddy, and a lot of the snow had melted from unseasonably warm temps.

First ones at the crag!

It took everyone else  a while to make their way down to the crag, they were all up late- we went to bed early…because we had decided to compete this year!

They started the competition around 10AM, so we warmed up with a few laps before the competition.

Sarah warming up!

It didn’t take long for me to convince Sarah to compete, even though she’d only been out once so far this season- and she did end up doing really well….especially since it was the hardest she’d ever climbed!

Me warming up! Courtesy of Sarah Engel
Sarah  competing!
Ice park Pups!

I wish I had taken photos of everyone climbing, but I ended up belaying most of the time! This year’s fest ended up being fantastic, we met some great new folk- Chad Jukes-being one of them. Definitely one of the most colorful, and entertaining people there.

Chad- being Chad.
Climbing his 2nd lap with a keg on his back. Courtesy of Sarah Engel

It’s always awesome to meet, new and crazy people!

At the end of the day, we all wandered over to Alfred Packer’s Cannibal Saloon- for the awards- Greg ended up winning 3rd place for the Men’s Top Rope Speed Comp! SO PROUD!

Photo courtesy of Sam Sala

I also got an evening with my favorite Gingers!

The next morning, everyone else ended up hanging out at the ice park before they had to drive home- Greg, Jeff and I decided to check out some back country ice at North Clear Creek Falls, off of Slumgullion Pass.

We walked the half mile from the road to the trailhead, then had to post hole over to the mouth of the climb- a waterfall that drops 50′ to the middle of a small canyon. The climbing wasn’t so great, but we got a chance to run a few laps on it before we abandoned and went back to town.

Jeff got some great shots of us climbing. Courtesy of Jeff Golden. 
Greg climbing- Courtesy of Jeff Golden. 

The ice was part hollow, part chandelier, and just part slush shit- not lead worthy, might have been a lot better in December.

We hung out back at the park with everyone for a bit before they left, and then took a nice walk with our dog, then took naps. Our plan had been to go out for dinner, only to find out that EVERYTHING in town was closed… rather than spend a lot of money or drive far- we got shredded cheese, and made a creative, satisfying dinner with what we had.

Mine was this- without the egg. Courtesy of Greg Miller

The next morning, I lead my first route of the year- a Wi-3, and then the weather started to blow in, and we headed home.

We had a great weekend, and as always- enjoyed our stay in Lake City.

Great Post that my friend wrote- follow his blog!

Like a first love, it opened a world of possibilities. I was 23 and a recent transplant to Boston when it found me on the glossy back page of an outdoor magazine. I was newly severed from the Rocky Mountains, for which I’d only just begun to develop an affinity, displaced into a world of brick […]

via Igniting a Life Outdoors: A Jacket, WornWear, and Rebirth — Ice and Trail

Lake Helene Snowshoe

Lake Helene is perched at the base of Notch Top Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, known for beautiful views, and dramatic scenery. I also had not been up to this lake yet, and thought it’d make a nice, mellow snowshoe, for my injured knee- and the Trailblazers. I hadn’t been able to lead a hike since my  MCL popped back in October, and I was itching to get back out.

We arrived at the Bear Lake Trailhead around 7:30, it was sunny and cold,but very windy- but not in the trees. We strapped on our snowshoes, and made our way up the packed trail.

Some of our Happy Snowshoers!

The first mile or two was on the leeward side of the wind, but after that it was absolutely terrible- we went on as long as we could- within a quarter of a mile of the lake- when most of the group was ready to turn back. Only two members of our trip made it to the lake, then came scrambling back to the trees to meet up with the rest of the group.

First really windy spot. 
The wind on the side of Flattop
Notch Top right before we turned around. 

We slogged our way back to the trailhead, tired, cold- but it was a great trip out…despite the wind. After the hike, our whole group stopped at Oskar Blues to have lunch- it’s great when you have such a fun group on a hike!

Escape the Ouray Ice Fest- Lake City

Last year was my first year going to the Ouray Ice Fest, a collection of gear companies, climbers, and one of the most impressive gatherings of ice climbers. I had fun, but I didn’t really get to climb- got lots of free swag- but the point of driving 6 hrs down to Ouray, is to climb. This year, instead of spending the 4 day weekend in Ouray, we originally we going to be there for friday- to get swag- then drive to Lake City so we could climb, unimpeded. Work ended up getting in the way of going to Ouray, but we did get to climb at Lake city for a good 3 days, AND  cross country ski!

We decided to take a half day on Friday, take our dog, and work our way down to Lake City for a long weekend.

We like to stay at this place called “The Matterhorn Motel”, because there is a kitchen, and the woman who owns the place- Debra- is so sweet and wonderful!

We got some in some great climbing over our weekend, and the roads were so well snow packed we could ski right through town! It also continued to snow the whole time we were there, so there was always fresh snow- it was amazing!

Looking towards Engineer Pass from the top of the ice park
Our first climb of the weekend
A whole group of our friends had been there!

We also got to spend some time with an awesome group of our friends from 14ers, everyone decided to escape the ice fest, and get some real climbing in!

Me working my way up one of the climbs. 

We spend Saturday and Sunday climbing with everyone, and skiing in the afternoon- but at about 12PM on Sunday- everyone left- so we had the entire crag to ourselves…which was really cool.

The only way to belay.

Unlike everyone else- we got to stay till Monday- which was fantastic- we got up and went for a x country ski with our dog out near Cinnamon Pass road.

The elk, eating stored hay.
A man and his dog.
Adventure Pup! 🙂 

After we got some exercise- we decided rather than drive home in the bulk of the storm over Monarch Pass- we would drive over Slumgullion Pass, and over towards Colorado Springs to have dinner with my friend. We expected a much better drive than we got- there was no way of actually seeing on either side of the road, it was blowing, and the road wasn’t as well plowed as we had hoped. It was slow going, but we made our way down to Creede- and the snow finally slowed down a bit. Altogether it took us about  9 hrs to get home, but we got to have a good meal at Phantom Canyon Brewing in Colorado Springs- so no complaints.

It was a great weekend- and I am looking forward to coming back for the Lake City Ice Fest at the beginning of Feb!