The Outdoor Junkie
The Outdoor Junkie is a blog by Ann Driggers, a backcountry bon vivant who lives to hike, run, ride, ski and climb in the great outdoors, and is most often found roaming through the red-rock canyons and mountains of Western Colorado.
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By Ann Driggers
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I rarely run in the evening, prefering to get my workout done before heading to work early in the morning. Today however, seeing the sky was setting up with some good cloud action, I pulled on my running shoes and headed out from the house just before sunset. And boy was I glad I did.
We've just moved (again) and are now high above the Roaring Fork Valley near Carbondale. It is a spectacular setting with 360 degree views encompassing the Flattops, the Continental Divide, some of Colorado's famous Fourteeners such as Capitol and of course the ever present Mount Sopris.There are some great trails in the neighborhood which loop around wide open expanses of rolling sage brush and through mature pinon and juniper forest. I set off with Tikka to enjoy what turned out to be one of the most dramatic sunsets I've seen in a long time.
I was also excited to see, with the fresh snow we received over the weekend, someone had started to groom the trails for cross country skiing. I ran next to the track so as not to damage it but it needs a little more snow before being truly skiable. With sunsets like these I'll be making an evening workout, ski or run, more of a regular occurence.
By Ann Driggers
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
In the mountains the air is cold, the sky is full of ragged clouds, grey like raw wool, and snow has fallen on rotting leaves and barren trees. Winter is closing in and autumn has fled down river, to the desert where the light is still bright and the trees are blazing. We follow the eddy line, the seam between the seasons, as far as we can in western Colorado and beyond. We take to the river, for what better way to experience the remainder of fall and, if we are honest, hanker for the summer that is gone.
The cottonwood trees at rivers edge are on fire. Bald eagles, more than we can count, settle in to overwinter. They perch still and majestic on the dark gnarled branches amongst the ochre leaves, watching as we silently glide beneath on the languid river.
In thick golden light we camp. Kick off shoes, dig and wriggle our toes in the cool sand. The song of a canyon wren cascades down the walls as the river quietly flows on.
In the evening hours, as shadow settles over the earth, the departing sun paints the colors of the desert into the sky.
The dark curtain of the cool night falls as the Hunter's moon burns bright above. We gather around a fire, warm light flickering on the canyon walls.
Sunrise gilds the river. A heron wades in shallow waters while high above a formation of honking geese fly south. We will the sun closer as the line of warmth creeps ever so slowly towards us shivering in the shade.
Plying the oars we take to the river again. We emerge from the deep fissure in the earth and into open pastures. The sky is bigger here and all around, the sun is warm and I am thinking I will never get tired of looking at golden leaves and the big blue sky and floating on the river. And I am thinking how can it be the winter will come and chase away the fall?
And just as I am thinking all this, it ends. Our eddy line is no more and we take out for the final time.
By Ann Driggers
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
On a short hike in the high country last weekend it was apparent winter is closing in: frozen ground, leaves and grasses brittle, streams and springs rimed with ice. Even at the relatively low elevation of 9,000 feet the thermometer struggled to break 40 degrees at high noon. A harsh north wind blew, shaking the few leaves still hanging on, a death rattle in the forest. The mountains, just a few days ago a riot of glorious color, are now washed to a dull brown while a cap of white begins to accumulate on the highest peaks.
It is only a matter of weeks until we will be skiing these mountains, Ullr willing. In the meantime there are plenty of desert adventures to be had. We wait, some of us not so patiently, while winter bears down.
By Ann Driggers
Thursday, October 4, 2012
Summer has officially ended and, despite my love of fall and the season which follows, I am sorry to see this summer gone. It was a good one.
Adios Summer, thanks for your great times and we'll see you next year.
Above, Avalanche Lake in the Elk Mountains, early summer, we reveled in beachlife at 10,000 feet.
By Ann Driggers
Monday, September 24, 2012
This past weekend we headed to the Grand Mesa for a friends wedding party held at their family's idylic mountain cabin, in a grove of aspen trees near Powderhorn. The autumn colors were off the hook - brilliant oranges, glowing yellows and vibrant reds. Perhaps its because we were shortchanged last year, but they do seem to be some of the best we've ever seen.
A wonderful afternoon and evening were spent in this gorgeous location with many friends old and new, celebrating marriage, family and friendship. Wine and beer flowed, bar-b-que was consumed. The band, local favorites Straygrass played, as we danced under the rising moon amidst the luminous aspens.
The next day, despite the excesses of the night before, we rallied for a mountain bike ride on the classic Grand Mesa trail, West Bench.
Running from Jumbo Lakes across the top of Powderhorn ski area it is fairly mellow singletrack with a few rock gardens thrown in. Although only 11 miles out and back it took an inordinate amount of time due to the fact we kept stopping to take pictures. Here's why:
All photos of Krissy Steele by me ^. Chad ...
Lift Two group photo. We gave ourselves trail names based upon the sign. I was Snowcloud (of course), Krissy was Hooker (haha), Mike was Hooligan and Chad was Warning! No one wanted to be Tenderfoot.
After finishing up West Bench we headed back down to Powderhorn on some secret singletrack Chad knew. I quickly saw why it was so secret.
Beavers had blocked the trail with their dams, water flowed down, there was lots of deadfall. It became a little adventuresome for a short while and I was thinking secret might not be good so after all. More than a handfull of riders a year would certainly help clear the trail a little.
After thrashing through the undergrowth and lugging our bikes through the jungle gym, finally it opened up and super sweet singletrack unfurled through the glowing forest.
^ Me, photo by K.
K, photo by me....
And then it was wheeeeeee all the way home. Or back to Powderhorn for more beer and bar-b-que. Grand!