BACKYARD ADVENTURES: Weekend trip to Crested Butte/Gunnison

 With opposite schedules and minimal time off work this Summer, Cicely and I haven't been able to get out much. But, a window of opportunity popped up, and we fled the Roaring Fork Valley for a quick trip over the mountains to Crested Butte. Here are some of the highlights:

 Teocalli looms in the background of our camping spot along Brush Creek road.

Teocalli looms in the background of our camping spot along Brush Creek road.

BRUSH CREEK ROAD / TEOCALLI MOUNTAIN

We got into town Friday afternoon, and after grabbing dinner at Pitas in Paradise downtown, made our way to the Teocalli trailhead and to find a camp spot. Brush Creek road is not a drive I'd recommend to anyone that values their car's suspension, but it offers some beautiful camping (although most of it was taken the weekend we were there!). Continuing on to the Teocalli trailhead gets progressively worse, but nothing a mid-size truck couldn't handle.  

 Views from camp on Brush Creek road. 

Views from camp on Brush Creek road. 

Teocalli has been one of my favorite hikes in the area ever since I explored it two years prior. It offers great views of the surrounding mountains and is a pretty straightforward, non-technical hike. That being said, it is still super steep towards the top, without a defined trail or switchbacks. At a leisurely pace with plenty of breaks, it took us about three hours to get to the false summit. We opted to turn back however, due to some darkening clouds looming over us and distant thunder rumbles. As it would turn out, they cleared and passed once we were back to the truck, but we were still happy to have gotten to the false summit. 

 Cicely and Riley start off on the Teocalli trail. 

Cicely and Riley start off on the Teocalli trail. 

HARTMAN ROCKS & CURECANTI

Unfortunately for us, the Teocalli hike had taken up most of our Saturday and rain had forced us inside for the afternoon. Sunday we spent exploring some of the easier trails around Hartman Rocks and working on Cicely's bike handling skills. The drive back to the Roaring Fork Valley past Curecanti National Recreation Area offers dozens of short to long side hikes in and around the Upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison, without ever entering the National Park. We only had time to stop at the Curecanti Creek overlook, but have plenty of hikes to add to our bucket list after peering down into the dramatic canyon. 

 Gazing down on Morrow Point reservoir in the Upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison. 

Gazing down on Morrow Point reservoir in the Upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison. 

 Cicely peers over the edge at the Curecanti Creek overlook.

Cicely peers over the edge at the Curecanti Creek overlook.

A short weekend trip will never do the Gunnison/Crested Butte area justice, but it was a refreshing change of scenery that kept us inspiring to keep getting out there and experiencing the natural beauty that the Western Slope of Colorado has to offer. 

Winter Adventure Pack List

Winter Adventure Pack List

(For cold-weather snowshoeing, hiking, or base for backcountry skiing)

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CLOTHING

 (NO Cotton! Synthetic or Wool only.)

·      TOP

o   Base-layer (T-shirt or long sleeve)

o   Mid-layer (like a polypro hoody, ex. Patagonia capilene)

o   Insulating layer (puffy jacket, down or synthetic)

o   Outer shell (Waterproof, non-insulated)

o   Wind Shirt – Optional (one of my preferred layers. Ex. Patagonia Houdini)

o   Extra insulating layer – Optional. Let temperature dictate this. (vest, fleece, etc.)

·      BOTTOM

o   Base-layer (long underwear, hot chili’s, underarmour, etc)

o   Technical shell pants, snow pants, or whatever activity dictates.

o   Insulating pants – optional (fleece, down, etc. for super cold weather)

·      EXTREMETIES

o   Wool or synthetic socks, mid-weight or whatever is comfortable.

o   Insulated snow boots or just sturdy hiking boots.

o   Sun hat – to keep sun out of eyes and off face.

o   Warm hat – wool beanie or dorky fur bomber hat.

o   Sunglasses or goggles. Snow blindness sucks. Keep them on croakies, pro tip.

o   Buff or bandana- to soak up all yo nasty sweat.

o   Thin insulated gloves. For aerobic activities

o   Thick insulated gloves. For when you’re sitting around getting cold.

o   Gaiters – Optional. To keep snow out of boots.

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ESSENTIALS

·      Comfortable pack (obviously). 20-40L usually good. I like my 36L (on the bigger side)

·      Navigation – Map & Compass, or GPS. (Know where you’re going. Stay found!).

·      Sun protection – Sunscreen, lip balm, sun hat, sunglasses.

·      Illumination – Flashlight or headlamp. Extra batteries if you want.

·      1st aid kit- And the knowledge of how to use it.

·      Repair kit – Multi tool, knife, duct tape. Extra stuff depending on the equipment you have. What happens if something breaks? Can you limp out on a busted snowshoe?

·      Nutrition – Protein bars, trail mix, energy goop, snacks, leftover meatloaf, etc.

·      Hydration – Container (I use a 2L bladder) and water treatment like AqauMira.

·      Emergency Shelter – Like one of those giant tinfoil bivys that come in a tiny orange bag.

·      Fire – Matches, lighter, fire starter… in case of impromptu bon fires or emergency situations.

EXTRAS

·      Foam sit pad to take a break and not freeze your ass off.

·      Hot Buttered Rum

·      Field guides

PHOTOS: Olympic National Park with the Alderleaf Wilderness College

Hello from the Pacific Northwest!

I’ve left the high plains of Wyoming and ski towns of Colorado for a nine-month adventure learning to reconnect with nature and be a steward of the land with Alderleaf Wilderness College, based just outside of Seattle. It’s an awesome alternative to traditional college that focuses on permaculture design, wildlife tracking, naturalist skills, ethnobotany, and so much more. A huge perk of Alderleaf is all of the field trips we get to take to beautiful places like Olympic National Park. More specifically, we spend most of our time around Lake Ozette and the Hoh Rainforest. Here are some photos from the beautiful Olympic Peninsula:

 A short ferry ride from Lynwood to Kingston is an adventure in itself. We saw plenty of glaucous winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, and even a sea lion. 

A short ferry ride from Lynwood to Kingston is an adventure in itself. We saw plenty of glaucous winged gulls, pelagic cormorants, and even a sea lion. 

 The lush coastal ecosystem provided plenty of mushrooms for foraging. We were able to harvest a few choice chanterelles for cooking that night. 

The lush coastal ecosystem provided plenty of mushrooms for foraging. We were able to harvest a few choice chanterelles for cooking that night. 

 Although it was late in the season, bog cranberries were still present, and a favorite snack among the students. 

Although it was late in the season, bog cranberries were still present, and a favorite snack among the students. 

 An Alderleaf student hunts for bog cranberries amongst dense grasses.

An Alderleaf student hunts for bog cranberries amongst dense grasses.

 After miles of hiking, we finally broke out of the forest and arrived at the coastline. The tide was just beginning to go out, and we ambled along the tide pools, investigating tiny crabs, weird aquatic plants, and some petroglyphs nearby. 

After miles of hiking, we finally broke out of the forest and arrived at the coastline. The tide was just beginning to go out, and we ambled along the tide pools, investigating tiny crabs, weird aquatic plants, and some petroglyphs nearby. 

 Seeing fresh bear tracks is always exciting- especially when you scare off the bear that left them. We came across a medium sized black bear looking for food on the coast (a regrettable time not to be carrying a zoom lens). 

Seeing fresh bear tracks is always exciting- especially when you scare off the bear that left them. We came across a medium sized black bear looking for food on the coast (a regrettable time not to be carrying a zoom lens). 

More photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskwoDX5X

TRIP REPORT: Chasing snow in British Columbia with the WSCU freeride team

TRIP REPORT: Chasing snow in British Columbia with the WSCU freeride team

Skis and bags are stuffed frantically in the back of a black rental SUV in the parking lot of Western’s Mountaineer Fieldhouse as the sun sets Thursday, January 5th; two days after the big mountain team’s planned departure for freeride world qualifiers in Revelstoke, British Columbia. With over a foot of new snow at their home mountain of Crested Butte, however, who could blame them for the late start?

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