Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Training

Now that I've signed up to run the Pikes Peak Ascent again (a borderline-masochistic move), I need to start getting in shape (all over again--winter isn't the best time for running up mountains, so I've gotten a bit slack). Fortunately, my brother-in-law is an enthusiast, so I never have to go out alone, and he sets a good pace, so I have someone faster than me to keep up with. Yesterday we set out to charge up to a spot I'd only seen from (way) below. To give you an idea, this picture was taken from a spot about 1500 feet above our starting point, and the spot we were headed for is well above the highest rock.

Why, you might ask, am I doing this? One part of the answer is that I'm enjoying the challenge, it's making me feel very good physically, and I get to do it all in gorgeous surroundings, breathing brisk, clean air. The other part of the answer is that since I switched to an all-plant-based diet, I'm out to prove to myself (and my incredulous doctor) that I can do all the same stuff as before, only better. This was the initial story behind "vegan ascent."

We set out around 8:30 AM with three dogs. My wife came with us part of the way. It was about 35 degrees out, with a fairly fierce wind blowing down the canyon as we began our ascent. You can't see it, but there is a trail that runs along what looks like a massive rockfall, called "Ice Cave Creek," which begins just to the left of that boulder at the bottom left of the picture. It leads to another trail that eventually takes you to a high ridge, and that's about halfway up. I won't lie, this was a grueling enterprise, but the payoff was well worth it.

The view was spectacular. Toward the east, we could see halfway to Kansas (slight exaggeration); to the southwest, Pikes Peak towering over every other mountain in the area. Just check out these shots:

At the summit, Bill checks his email.

Remember that first picture? This is taken from behind and above those rocks.

Some amazing rock formations, with trees growing out from the cracks.

Pikes Peak, about 40 miles to the southwest.

My cheerful little dog, always glad to see me. She was pretty beat when we got home.

Running back down (shot by holding my iPhone at arms length).

After a 2-hour climb, a 45-minute descent.

I had planned to finish working on my taxes after we got back, but that never happened. I had also planned to put up this post that afternoon, but let's face it--I was only good for non-interactive stuff, like reading, web-surfing, napping and eating. I went to bed early and slept like the dead--except for that one time I woke up with a foot-to-groin cramp in my left leg; after cursing and walking around for about 20 seconds, I went back to sleep until the alarm at 6 AM. Tonight I went to the gym, and did mostly upper body stuff (why should any part be spared?). Believe it or not, I'm really enjoying this!


  1. Running at that altitude makes this even more amazing. My only question is who is this and what did you do to my friend Alan?

  2. He died. I'm his reincarnated avatar, and I'm having the time of his life.

  3. Hey Alan: As tall as you are, you could have jumped at the summit and seen Dorothy with Toto.
    Good job, good fun, good description of your new venture.
    Life is good.

  4. lol to Dan~~~ and better you than me doing this~~~ great pictures~~~ my favorite part~~