Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Handies and Grant Swamp pass

Hi Everyone! How ya doing? I'm great, thanks for asking!

Sittin' in Mobius coffee shop in Silverton, CO. I deem the San Juan's the most beautiful place in the world! If you've never been, what the hell you waitin' for?? If you love the great outdoors - If you love sleepy little mountain towns - If you love the crisp, clean, cool air - If you love high mountain tundra covered with wild flowers - If you love awe-inspiring granite peaks - If you love all these things and have never been to the San Juan's you are a poser!

I got here on Tuesday night and have since had two spectacular days of running! Wednesday I went from Grouse Gulch to Handies and back. Today I went from Kamm Traverse to Grant Swamp pass and back. Here are the details:

Wednesday, July 2nd
Grouse Gulch to Handies:

This is a view from the top of American Basin looking at Handies (14er). Most likely I will be going over Handies in the middle of the night so it was a good preview to see it in the day.

This is the trail that I just came up for the final climb on Handies.

This is looking back at American Basin. Last year there was only snow on the pass but as you can see there is a boat load of snow this year. The trail comes over the top at the center of the picture and ends up in the left corner of the picture. Yesterday there were no tracks and it had not been marked yet so I was doing a lot of route finding via rock cairns. Yesterday the snow was soft but will it be soft in the middle of the night??

From Grouse Gulch to Handies and back took me 3.49, getting to the top of Handies in 1.52. I know I'll be slower in the race but at least I have a good idea of what to expect.

Thursday, July 3rd
Kamm Traverse to Grant Swamp Pass:

When I start thinking about going over Grant Swamp Pass I get butterflies in my stomach. It's steep. It's high. It's rocky. It's damn scary! I had to go up and see how much snow was on the top to give me piece of mind.

This is the final climb up to Grant Swamp. The pass is the rock formation in the middle of the saddle. I was happy to see there was not that much snow.

This is looking down Grant Swamp. The top part is shale and the basin is full of snow - great! Now if I lose my balance I will tumble down the shale into the snow.

Here's an unobstructed view of Grant Swamp

Another view of Grant Swamp. This picture doesn't do the steepness justice. What you can't see in this picture is the drop off, the snow looks closer than it really is.

I made it up to Grant Swamp pass in 1.31 from South Mineral Camp ground via Kamm Traverse. The river crossing was fine because someone had laid a bunch of logs together to make a bridge. Last year the river crossing was bad because you had to go across a raging river on a slippery big log. Lots more snow this year up around Island lake right before hitting Grant Swamp but it's firm snow so it should be fast. I made it back to the car in 2.32 where Cooper was sleeping in the back of my car. I don't even think he knew I was gone because he was sooo tired. I've been taking him on an hour hike for the past two mornings so that he'll sleep when I'm running... seems to have worked. I feel bad for him because his hips are not in good shape - major atrophy in the muscles. I'm basically having to lift him in and out of the car because he's turfed it a couple of times.

Since I'm adding pictures and I've got some time on my hands I might as well add one from Desert RATS. I got a CD full of pictures from a professional photographer right before I left. This picture is my favorite. Allen and I on the 52 mile day. Stride for stride, 6 straight days.

11 myles into a 52 mile stage

OK. One more picture with me and my crew

That's about all for now. I'm headed back up to my campground at 11,000ft to settle in for the night. I will be back in touch before the weekend comes to an end. Take care.....
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