Thursday, October 18, 2012

Crested Butte Running and Skiing

The day after returning home from Denver, Jessie and I packed a week’s worth of clothes and baby paraphenelia in the truck and made an exhausting drive through the rain to Crested Butte.  A friend generously offered his parent’s house, who were out of state, and so we had a home base from which to launch run after run and hopefully open the ski season. 

Everyday was a revolving cycle of run, eat, chase Lars, run, eat more, then sleep.  Our week looked a little like this:

AM: We actually drove down valley to Gunnison to run in the W Mountain race which climbs just under 1000 feet over 2.8 miles.  It was put on the the Western State Cross Country teams, who dominated the top 20 slots along with Team Crested Butte and a few others.  Sadly but predictably I took my beating, finishing just under 20 minutes, but had a great time rubbing shoulders with many of Gunnison Valley's finest.  

PM: After returning to Crested Butte to lick my wounds I got out for an afternoon run with Jessie.  We ran up one of the many scenic drainages and found ourselves along the shore of Meridian Lake.  Unfortunately, there were only traces of yellow left on the millions of aspens but the beauty remained undeniable.  

Jessie cruising along a cattle trail above Meridian Lake
What's missing?
AM: I was fortunate to have Team Crested Butte front man and SCARPA/Ski Trab teammate, Bryan Wickenhauser as a tour guide along with the affable Billy Laird.  Our plan was to head up Ruby Peak (12,600ish) and open the ski season after the recent storms had left a thin but adequate coating of white.  Jumping out of the car, I was psyched!  The sun was out, the powder was dry, and after what seemed like a very long 3 and a half months, I was going skiing.  Then I looked at the other guys and noticed their ski boots.  Glancing at my own feet shod in my SCARPA running shoes, I swore violently as I realized that my boots were 40 minutes away where I left them at the house.  The guys kindly offered to drive back down but I took off running so as not to ruin their day.  

About an hour later, we were all standing on Ruby's summit taking in the powerful view of Owen to the north, the massive aspen grove (World's 2nd largest organism?) to the west, and undercast skies punctuated by craggy summits to the south and east.  We laughed that I was in running shoes but I was able to force the regret out of my heart and enjoy a unique day in which I bounded down the slope after Bryan and Billy, who actually made a handful of steep, beautiful turns before the familiar grating sound of rock on metal forced them out of their skis.
Getting a little thin near the summit
Wick and Billy 
Rime on Ruby's summit
One dumb ass (left) and Wick (right)  My footwear wasn't tech binding compatible

Wick dropping in for some October turns

Billy skiing the grass to the lake

Ruby Peak and just barely enough snow
PM: Jessie's dear friend, Heather, and her family were coincidentally in CB for the weekend and offered to hike with Lars, allowing us to go on a rare run together.  At the advice of the good Jon Swain, we ran the 409 trail, which while starting steeply from CB South, turns into a gorgeous switchbacking single track above some unique cave like features in the hillside.

AM: We drove out to Kebler Pass to check out the immense aspen grove I had seen from Ruby.  Fairly well removed from civilization, we pulled Lars out of his torture chamber car seat and put him into another; his running stroller.  We figured the dirt road was smooth enough and we ran along while Lars cooed and hunters drove past with bewildered looks.

10 months and cruising

Kebler Pass 
PM: We drove up the Slate River Valley and went for another mellow run on the newish Lupine Trail. Weaving its way through grazing cattle as the sun settled behind the Ruby Range, it was a nice "western" experience for Jessie.

Another beautiful evening

AM: I got up early and Wick picked me up for another attempt to open my ski season.  This time I was not to be denied even though the high pressure didn't do the infant snow pack any favors.  We summited Baldy just as the the high peaks were beginning to take on various hues of pink and red.  Looking to the north, we were disappointed to find mostly shark fins and wind swept scree.  Sitting on the lee side, enjoying a brilliant sunrise, I changed into boots.  Wick didn't even bother.  Desparate, I skied a small strip of snow for a few hundred vertical until I lost a ski and took a tumble into the talus.  Examining the bindings, they weren't set for my boots correctly making for an inauspicious beginning to the season.

Regardless, it was a beautiful morning with fresh vistas and good company...and I got to make a few turns!  As Wick and I walked down the bone dry SW ridge to the car we agreed that, "It's always worth it."
Wick decides that he does care about his skis after all

Heading home
First turns!
"We brought skis up for this?"  It was definitely worth it though.
PM: I went for a hike with Lars in the pack while Jessie ran ahead on the Lower Loop Trail.  Lars and I  examined rocks, shrubs, and dirt while Jessie got her fix.

"Let me out of here dad!"

Lars had a little trouble with this boulder problem 

AM: We awoke in Durango after making the drive along the Million Dollar Highway the evening before.  Gracious host and tour guide, Dave Hughes, took us up the Perins Trail, which affords a commanding view of the city and the La Plata range farther to the west.  Coming back into form after a nagging injury, Jessie was hard to catch on the down.

On the Perins Trail with the La Plata range in the background

Jessie above Durango
And thus ends our week of vacation and it's back to reality.  It looks like there is some rain and snow in the forecast for later this week so hopefully we can open the ski season right here at home before the end of the month!

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