There is quite a bit to catch up on here. First I'll start with the Aspen trip with the guys to circumnavigate the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Area. Three days, 30 miles, 7 guys, 4 passes through the Rockies getting up to 12,400+ four seperate times. Simply incredible country. Too many people for me as you never really felt "alone" out there despite the massiveness and openess of the wilderness. Very little wildlife. Little even in the way of birds which we all throught was strange. First day was really rough with my head being affected by the 10,000+ in altitude that I'm not used to. We kicked up one long climb to the first pass and then camped that night in a bowl on the other side. Hit 19 degrees that night and we all froze. Second day was a two pass day with the first pass being fairly easy. Dropped down into another valley and had some great single track through some pine forest as we decended back below tree line. That was followed by an EPIC climb up the third pass. This took us from under 10,000 feet to up over 12,500 ft in about 4 miles. The climb continued on and on relentlessly it seemed with one false summit after another. Noah, Clint and I made it all the way up first in the group to get the view of Snowmass Lake in the "new" valley below. Views in all directions were simply incredible. Decended down to Snowmass for a much warmer night at camp (30 degrees) before hiking back out the last pass and down the long decent to the first lakes and our cars. All in all...amazing.
The following Saturday I took a solo trip out to First Water Trailhead in the Supersition Wilderness. EARLY. Wanted to test out a 15-20 mile route along the Dutchman Trail. Right away this trail was verging on magazine worthy with the bedrock trail lined with massive rocks, rock walls, and canyon walls. Following along rivers as it climbs one small hill after another revealing one canyon or valley after another. Weever's Needle was in plain view the first few miles before breaking off to a secondary trail. Down Bull Run and along the Dutchman Trail again where it was clear nobody had been in several months. No trails, no footprints, no sign of humans in some time. The trail was overgrown with catclaw and cactus which was a non stop battle as I crashed through along the trail. I turned around about 8 miles into the morning knowing I was going back a slightly longer way. The trail was amazing minus the overgrowth but that overgrowth is expected after a long hot summer keeping the hikers away. Coming back to the truck I counted a total of 24 river beds I crossed with all 24 being bone dry. This would be an interesting run in the winter with flowing rivers for sure. I saw one person about 4 miles away from the parking lot hiking but otherwise nobody until I was in the parking lot itself. Really, really hot and exposed on the last few miles as I as out there past 9am and into the upper 90's. Back at the truck my legs, chest and arms were a bloody mess and had the look of a horror flick there was so much blood and cuts in so many directions. The shower wasn't pretty but they were all just scratches. I took some amazing photos (posted under Superstition Wilderness) of the trail itself. Better weather (reoccuring sentiment) and I'm going back for the full loop to Peralta and back.
Finally, this morning i did a 17 mile run through the McDowell Mountain Regional Park with Honey, Paulette, and Paul. Had a great time talking to everyone and hitting some great single track. Lot's of climbing (3,700+ ft total up, same down) up Bell Pass and Tom's Thumb and just as much running down. My La Sportiva Crosslites are completely whipped and caused my legs to be gassed about 13 miles in. There is just no supportive traction on the bottoms anymore and I can easily feel every rock and every step feels like a jarring sensation through my legs. Then the heat came in and the 90+ degrees started sapping my energy even more. Luckily the heat was killing everyone else and we walked in the last full mile. I was ok with it as we were out there for 4.5 hours. I tried out my new 100oz Nathan's running pack for the first time with the dual hydration bladders to drink water or pedialyte along the course. Awesome. I could have played basketball in that pack it was so comfortable. We also saw a desert tortoise on the top of the ridge by Toms Thumb. Pretty cool.