Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colorado. Show all posts

Off to Denver!

Another quick note to let regular readers know that I'm off to Denver for a couple of days on assignment once again. That means either no updates or limited posts for the next few days, although once again I'll be keeping an eye on a couple of stories to see how they develop and will post news if it is warranted.

Most notably, I'll be continuing to watch the progress of Alex Txikon on Everest as he prepares to return to Base Camp and continue his attempt at a winter ascent of the mountain. The Spanish mountaineer is currently in Kathmandu, but should be headed back to BC any day now. He and his team are rested, acclimatized, and ready to make a final summit push. Right now, all they need is some good weather, which may still be a few days off. Still, we'll keep an eye on things and update his progress if anything changes.

In the meantime, I'll be back soon with more adventure and travel news.

Some Final Thoughts on the 2017 Winter XGames

If you've ready my blog over the weekend, you saw that I posted a couple of stories from the 2017 Winter XGames (part 1 and part 2). After an eventful day again on Sunday, I'm now back home and ready to dive into our usual updates here at The Adventure Blog, but before I did that I wanted to share some final thoughts on this amazing event held in Aspen, Colorado.

Yesterday was the final day of the competition, with only three events on the schedule. But because all three received air time on ESPN, there was plenty of energy around those competitions. The first of which was women's ski slopestyle, which was won by 14-year old Kelly Sildaru, who simply looked amazing on the slopes. At 14 years of age I was barely able to keep myself out of trouble, but this young lady is already dominating the freestyle skiing world circuit. Don't believe me? Consider this: it was Kelly's second XGames gold medal in this event in a row, which means she started winning last year at the age of 13.

From there it was on to the men's snowboard slopestyle final where an another amazing young athlete took center stage. Norway's Marcus Kleveland, who is just 17 years old, showed off moves that are going to make him a force to reckoned with for years to come as well, winning the event in impressive fashion. With just over a year to go until the next Winter Olympic Games, I think it is safe to say that we're going to see both Marcus and Kelly on that very big stage next year.

The final event of the XGames with the snowmobile best trick competition, which was won by Daniel Boden. Unfortunately, I wasn't around to see this event go down, as when it was getting underway I was heading to the airport to start my trip back home. The big story around this event was the attempt by two of the riders – Colten Moore and Heath Frisby – to do the first ever double backflip in a competition. Neither man was able to accomplish that feat however, leaving the door open for others to show off their moves instead.

So, after a very busy weekend filled with some great athletic performances – not to mention a few dramatic moments – my main takeaway from my first ever XGames competition was just how approachable and relaxed the athletes all were. Everyone was having a great time, with these world class skiers and snowboarders mingling casually with fans, speaking freely with the media, and generally having a great time. I've been to similar events in the past, and it isn't always so relaxed or easy to enjoy the proceedings, but the entire vibe of the XGames is so positive, its hard not to get caught up in what's happening there. It doesn't hurt that Aspen is a great place to hold the competitions, with plenty to offer spectators and athletes alike.

I want to thank my friends at LifeProof for inviting me to take part in the event. It was a great experience, and I was happy to be a part of the crowd that saw everything go down over the past few days. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go back again in the future.

Winter XGames 2017 Day 2: A Well Oiled Machine

Yesterday was my second day at Winter XGames 2017 in Aspen, Colorado and much like Day 1, it was filled with lots of energy and excitement, not just from the athletes, but from the spectators too. With great weather, relatively warm temperatures (25ºF/-3ºC), and lots of things to do in and around the XGames arena, the fans turned out in large numbers to cheer on their favorite actions sports athletes, who didn't disappoint.

The first competition of the day got started early was some of the best skiers in the world hitting the slopes for the men's slopstyle skiing final, which was won by Øystein Braaten of Norway. He started a bit slow on his first run, crashing out early on some rails. But but his second attempt was nearly flawless, giving him a solid win agains some great competition, which weren't far off in terms of scoring.

Next up, was women's snowboard slopestyle finals, which went Julie Marino of the U.S. This competition wasn't quite so hotly contested as the men's ski final, but the ladies did put on a good show, with a large crowd starting to gather in the XGames village. With music, food, contests, entertainment, and plenty of fun booths to visit, the fans had a lot to do between competitions.

The big draw for the daytime events was without a doubt the snowmobile freestyle final. This is the crazy event in which snowmobile riders attempt to push their powerful - but heavy and ponderous – machines through some amazing stunts in the air. Each year, this competition seems to get more intense, and 2017 was not different. This is one of those sports where I'm much happier watching than actually participating, as on more than one occasion I thought to myself "these guys are crazy."

As the event rolled along, the riders continued to push the envelope, with Colten Moore setting the pace with some high-flying stunts that wowed the crowd. But at the end of the day, the gold medal went to Joe Parsons, who on his final run strung together an impressive set of tricks that impressed the judges enough to just edge out his rival.

Following the crazy antics on the snowmobiles, we had a bit of time to catch our breath before the start of the next competition. During that period, I had the chance to chat with a couple of different athletes, including skier Kevin Rolland and snowboarders Sebastian Toutant and Christy Prior, who wasn't on hand to compete as she recovers from injury. The take away I got from chatting with each of them was that the XGames are as big for these athletes as the Olympics, and that they all look forward to competing with their friends in Aspen. This is a tightly knit group of friends who also happen to be rivals, and it was clear that they all knew each other well and enjoyed going head to head with one another.

In speaking to with Rolland in particular we chatted about the number of crashes that had been occurring on the superpipe over the course of the week. I mentioned this yesterday, and said that it marred the competition to a degree, as not everyone got the chance to truly shine. Kevin told met hat the edges of the pipe were not quite what the athletes were use to, and it was making it very difficult to stick the landings after coming off some of their high flying antics. He had crashed badly on one of his runs the night before, but fortunately was just a little bruised and shaken up the next day. After we chatted, he was getting on a plane to fly to Europe, where he would be skiing at the World Cup next week. Fortunately, he should be ready to go for that competition.

Early in the evening, the focus of the games shifted back to the slopes, where the ladies gathered once more for the ski Big Air finale. That competition was won by German Lisa Zimmerman, who is amongst the best big air competitors in the world. She edged out the competition with some serious height and tricks that had the crowd cheering, even as they regathered for the evening's events.

After that, the snowboarders returned to the superpipe once again, with the ladies final in that event. American Elena Hight took her first ever gold in that event, fending off some stiff competition from a who's who list of female snowboarders. Fortunately, there were fewer crashes in the pipe for this event, although the same problems that had caused the men issues the night before were still somewhat common for the ladies too.

The final event of the night was the men's skiing Big Air final, which got off to an auspicious start when Swiss rider Luca Schuler crashed badly on his first run of the night. That accident brought a hush to the crowd, which looked on with obvious concern as medical staff slowly stabilized him, placed him on a stretcher, and rushed him off the snow. The prognosis later would be that Schuler suffered a concussion, and he spent some time in a local hospital where tests were negative and he was later released. It seems like he'll be just fine, but it was a scary moment for the games for sure.

Once the competition resumed, the rest of the field put on quite an aerial show. The skiers flipped, tumbled, soared, and spun through the thin Aspen air, quickly reenergizing the crowd. In the end, it was Brit James Woods who took home the gold, the first person form his country to earn that honor at the XGames.

After the competitions wrapped up for the evening, the crowd moved over to one of the music stages to listen to some of the bands booked to entertain them at the XGames. For me, it was time to head home and get some rest. It had been another fun, but long day, during which I had yet another chance to see these athletes not only shine in their field, but interact with their fans too. The one thing I'll definitely take away from my XGames experience is how down to Earth and grounded all of the athletes are, and how happy the are to be here. That includes meeting and greeting their fans, who find them accessible and accommodating at every turn. There are other pro athletes that could learn a thing or two from that.

The XGames Bring Winter Fun and Excitement

I'm on the ground in Aspen, Colorado at the moment, where I'm attending the 2017 Winter XGames. After a full day of watching a wide variety of competitions, it is easy to see why this event has grown into one of the premiere skiing and snowboarding showdowns on the winter sports calendar each year. But beyond that, there is plenty of other fun to be had in the snow too, including a new event that looks to have a big future, both at the XGames and beyond. 

Held each year at Buttermilk Mountain, the XGames attracts some of the top winter athletes from all over the world. The resort is a good one to serve as host, as it has all of the facilities needed for the wide variety of events that take place over the course of this long weekend. That makes it a popular place not just for the athletes, but also the fans in attendance, who turned out in droves last night for the women's Ski Superpipe final,the LifeProof Ski Superpipe men's final, and the men's Snowboard Big Air final, despite the fact that the temperatures hovered around 0ºF (-17ºC), with windchills dropping it even further. 

Likewise, Aspen is a great host city as well, in part because it is such a popular winter playground. The quintessential mountain town, Aspen is well situated right in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and has plenty of hotels, restaurants, and other amenities to keep skiers, snowboarders, and XGames attendees very happy. 

When I arrived at Buttermilk yesterday afternoon, the XGames village was already jumping. Crowds were already gathering to watch snowboard qualifying runs, while also visiting various booths, tents, and interactive displays from event sponsors. A steady stream of music played throughout the area, and there was an electric excitement in the air. Blue skies and a warm sun made it very comfortable to enjoy watching the athletes, although it was just as fun to watch attendees compete in various games, cheer on their favorite XGames personalities, and queue up for athlete autographs. 
One of the first competitions that I had the opportunity to watch in its entirety was the first ever Snow BikeCross final, which was one by Brock Hoyer. During this event, the competitors ride Snow Bikes, like the Timbersled that I had the chance to ride and write about last year. For those not familiar with these machines, they are a cross between a dirt bike motorcycle and a snowmobile, with some of the best elements of both of those vehicles. 

As I mentioned last year when I had my test ride, these bikes are fast, agile, and fun, which is what the crowd saw yesterday during a wild and crazy final. I think it is safe to say that the snow bikes were very popular with XGames attendees, and I could see them taking a more prominent role in future editions of the event. 

I had the chance to talk to one of the riders – Darrin Mees – following the event, and it was clear that he was excited about the possibilities of the sport. He told me "This is just the beginning. The future looks really bright for snow bikes, which are just incredibly fun to ride." Judging from the crowd's reaction to the race, I think that is very astute prediction. 

After the Snow Bike Cross final, I had some time to before the evening's festivities. During that time, the afternoon crowds began to swell to larger numbers, but once the sun dropped behind the mountain, the temperature plummeted. By the time the ladies Ski Superpipe competition got underway it was getting down right chilly. That event was won by Marie Martinod in an event that set the tone for things to come. 

Most of the attention on Friday night centered around the superpipe, which several athletes indicated was the fastest half-pipe they had ever skied on. That speed and challenge was evident, as there were a number of missteps and outright crashes for both the men and women, which marred the competition to a degree. The winners were certainly deserving, but it quickly became evident that the medals for the evening would be won by the athletes who could survive.

This was especially the case for the Lifeproof Ski Superpipe men's final, which was won by Aaron Blunck, who definitely put down the best run of the night. But some of his competition took themselves out of the running with frequent crashes. I think the crowd would have liked to have seen the skiers get a chance to show off their skills without so many missed maneuvers. 

The evening was rounded out with the men's Snowboard Big Air competition, which is a rapid-fire event that involved the 8 competitors pulling off their biggest and boldest tricks, then racing back to the top of the mountain in an effort to get as many runs down the slope as they could in a 25 minute time limit. This event turned into a highlight reel with the boarders pulling off some amazing stunts, many of which had never been done in competition before, including 17-year old Marcus Kleveland of Norway completing the first quad-cork ever completed in competition. 

This event was eventually won by Max Parrot, but it was certainly a spirited event that also featured a number of crazy, and painful, looking crashes. In this case however, it was more due to the athletes pushing the envelope as far as they possibly could in an effort to win the event, rather than the course being too fast or icy. 

This was my first day ever at an XGames event, and it was a lot of fun. These winter athletes are incredibly gifted, but all of the ones I met and talked to are also very down to Earth, accommodating of fans, and are just happy to be here. They are great ambassadors for their various sports, and the kind of person you'd enjoy spending a day exploring the backcountry with. 

I can't think of a higher compliment than that. 

Video: Meet The Snow Guardian

Meet billy barr (yes, that's how he spells it!), a man who has lived alone in a cabin near Gothic, Colorado for 40 years. Over that time, he has been keeping meticulous records of the weather, how much snow has fallen, what the temperature on any given day is, and so on. Those records are now proving invaluable to climate scientists, who view billy as an invaluable resource. This is his story, as told by National Geographic.

Video: The Living Landscapes of Colorado

We'll end the week with this beautiful video shot in Colorado where the stunning colors of autumn are in full display. We all know that Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., but this is a great reminder of just how amazing the landscapes there can be. All it takes is one clip like this one, or a brief visit to the state, to understand why the people that live there love it so much.

Colorado - A Living Landscape 4K from Jason Hatfield on Vimeo.

Video: Skiing the Hardrock 100

The Hardrock 100 is considered one of the toughest ultramarathons on Earth. Held each summer in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, it challenges endurance athletes to cover 100 very tough miles (160 km) as quickly as they can. It is a difficult trail to run, even in the best of conditions, and no one has ever attempted to cross it in the winter. That is, until now. In this short documentary film we join ultrarunner Jason Schlarb as he attempts that very thing. In brutal conditions he sets off to test himself on the Hardrock trail in January, when swirling winds, deep snow, and cold temperatures are at their worst. Does he make it? You'll just have to watch the video below to find out.

Skiing the Hardrock 100 from Schlarb-Wolf Productions on Vimeo.

Colorado Adventures: Fly Fishing in Crested Butte

Earlier in the week I shared a post on my recent trip to Crested Butte, Colorado where I had an amazing time exploring the mountain biking trails there. If you read that piece, you already know that CB is considered one of the birth places of mountain biking, and as such there are plenty of trails to ride. In fact, there are more than 750 miles of trail, spread out over 150 different routes. That's enough to keep even the most dedicated rider busy for awhile.

But, Crested Butte isn't just a great mountain biking destination, as it has a lot to offer other visitors too. For instance, in the winter it has excellent skiing both at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort and backcountry options for the more adventurous. There is also plenty of great snowshoeing and nordic skiing too, if you prefer your winter adventures with a bit less adrenaline-fueled downhill action. During the warmer months, the hiking and trail running routes are spectacular, and the most of the mountain bike trails can be done on horseback too. This being Colorado, there also plenty of options for camping, climbing, and paddling as well, with even some good whitewater to run.

While I didn't have the chance to try each of those activities while I was in town, I did get the chance to do a little fly fishing. And while I'm mostly a beginner at that sport, I found it to be a relaxing, yet still engaging, way to explore the local culture.

For my fly-fishing experience we drove about 20 minutes outside of Crested Butte to reach the Three Rivers Resort, located in the small town of Almont. Three Rivers not only has a some wonderful rooms, cabins, and houses for visitors to rent, it also offers some active day-trips for those looking for some adventure. In addition to guiding rafting and kayaking excursions, travelers can also book stand-up paddleboard sessions, and skiing and snowboarding outings during the winter months. They also have a knowledgable and friendly staff in a well-stocked tackle shop for local and visiting anglers, as well a guide service that can get you out on the water and reeling in fish in no time.

We dropped by one morning to find out what fish were biting (trout and salmon it turns out!) and to hire one of the guides to take us out on the Taylor River. His name was Patrick, and he brought years of experience and excellent knowledge not only about the best places to fish in the area, but the different ways of setting up your pole to try to land a few big ones. As someone who has fly fished before, but is still relatively new to the sport, he proved to be an invaluable asset out on the water.

For those who have never fly fished, there is a bit of skill involved with learning to cast, letting your line drift, setting the hook, and bringing a fish to shore. All that can be picked up fairly quickly however, and after a brief refresher course, I soon found myself casting relatively efficiently. Patrick provided good tips on how and where to cast our lines, and he gave plenty of encouragement as we stood hip-deep in the refreshingly cool river.

It is often said that fly fishing is a bit of a zen-inducing activity, and after spending a couple of hours out on the water, I began to understand why. There is certainly a skill to getting the casting motion down, and the patience required to lure in a fish requires a sense of calm. Add in a dramatically beautiful back drop like the ones found in Gunnison County, and you have all the ingredients for a great day. Standing in the middle of that river, watching salmon swimming upstream around you, while learning to cast efficiently was an amazing experience, and even though we didn't end up landing any fish that day, it was still a terrific way to spend the morning.

That isn't to say we didn't have several bites. On more than one occasion our lures were stuck hard by a salmon or trout, and just like that we found ourselves with fight on our hands. On some occasions, the fish would leap clear out of the water in an effort to free themselves from the line, while others escaped just before we could get them into the net. Considering this was a catch-and-release stream, we didn't end up minding too much, and half the fun was just getting them to strike our lures in the first place.

One sure sign that you're having a great time on any outdoor adventure is when you look at your watch and are shocked to see how much time has passed. That was exactly the case during our fly fishing excursion. Before I knew it, several hours had gone by and it was time to move on to another activity. But, after even that brief time in the water, I think it's safe to say I'm hooked (ha!) and I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to give it a go again. It will be tough to match the landscape I was immersed in while visiting Crested Butte though, as the surrounding mountains looming overhead were exactly what you'd expect for a fantastic fishing trip.

If you're headed to CB and you're looking to take a break from mountain biking or hiking, or you're simply looking to go fly fishing while you're in the area, the Three Rivers Resort will certainly do a great job of helping you land some fish. Even if you don't hire one of their guides to lead you out on the water, drop by their tackles shop to pick up any items you might need, and get some hints and tips on where to go and what is biting. They'll be more than happy to help you out. Check out the resorts website here.

After my all-too-brief fly-fishing experience, it was time to move on to more mountain biking. Obviously that was not something that I would object to, but the next time I visited Crested Butte, you can bet that fishing will be back on the agenda. If you're headed that direction, it should be on yours too.

Colorado Adventures: Mountain Biking Crested Butte

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Crested Butte, Colorado – a place I had heard about for a long time, but had never had the chance to see for myself before. As an adventure destination, CB's reputation proceeded it, as I had long heard that it was a great place to go mountain biking. As it turns out, the town easily exceeded my expectations, delivering great opportunities for riders of all skill levels.

For those that don't know, Crested Butte is considered one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. As far back as 1976 local riders were heading out across mountain passes on single-speed bikes that were hardly made for the conditions. In the 80's the sport really started to gain traction as riders took part in a number of grueling races and group rides, including the Pearl Pass Tour, which has been around for nearly four decades. CB is even home to the oldest mountain bike association in the world, something that they are rightfully proud of.

Located about 4.5 hours southwest of Denver by car (or a short hop to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport), Crested Butte is a quintessential mountain town, complete with plenty of outdoor activities and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. With just 1500 permanent residents, you would expect it to be a sleepy little place, but the opposite is actually true. Not only is CB home to an interesting and eclectic blend of locals, it has plenty of visitors who come to partake in its outdoor playground pretty much any time of the year.

During the winter, the town is a wonderful ski destination, with Crested Butte Mountain Resort just minutes away. With more than 120 ski runs, and an average snowfall of about 300" (7.6 meters) each year, it has plenty to offer snowboarders and skiers alike. And for the more adventurous amongst us, the area also has outstanding backcountry opportunities as well, giving visitors a chance to shred untouched powder on a regular basis.

My visit came just after the end of the summer rush, but still prior to the start of the fall season, when the local aspen trees begin to take on their legendary golden hues. At some of the higher elevations that was already starting to happen, giving me a hint of what was to come. But while I was there summer was still in full swing, with cool mornings but warm afternoons that were perfect for hitting the trail.

With more than 750 miles of trails to explore, my four days in Crested Butte was only going to be enough to give me a small taste of what the area has to offer. Still, it was enough to give me an idea of what to expect, and it most definitely did not disappoint.

One of the things that I loved about Crested Butte was that riders can access a wide variety of trails without ever having to load their bike onto a vehicle. You can quite literally hop into the saddle and set off down the road, and be on a spectacular trail within a matter of minutes. As someone who has to drive a half hour or more just to reach a decent mountain biking trail, this came as quite refreshing change of pace.

On my first ride, I grabbed a rental bike from The Alpineer, a local bike shop with a very knowledgeable staff that will not only set you up with a great bike, but give you some good intel on where to head out for a ride too. After getting acquainted with my bike, I was soon headed off down the road in search of a trail. After about 10 or 15 minutes on pavement, my tires found some dirt at last.

For that afternoon, I rode the Lupine Trail which I'm told is covered in wildflowers throughout the summer. My guide for the ride was none other than Janae Pritchett of Colorado Backcountry Outfitters, and organization that not only teaches mountain biking but organizes excursions into the surrounding mountains on both bikes and skis. Janae offered plenty of insight into the local bike scene, and even had some good tips to help improve my own riding.

The Lupine Trail is listed at an intermediate difficulty, which I would say was pretty accurate. It was also the perfect for for me, as my lungs hadn't acclimated to the altitude just yet (CB is located at about 8500 ft (2590 meters), and often left gasping for air on some of the approach hills. If you're a low-lander like me, keep this in mind when you first start to ride. I'm in excellent physical condition, but still had a difficult time keeping up.

The seven-mile long Lupine Trail isn't very technical, but it does offer some great scenery and flows along very nicely. You'll have some nice downhill sections, but nothing overly crazy, and the climbs aren't particularly challenging unless you're still getting acclimated like I was. Even then, it was a fairly easy ride that even beginner mountain bikers will be able to appreciate.

The end of the trail deposited us out onto a paved road, which we used to access another trail system that would take us back into town. This time we road the Upper Lower Loop, which was an offshoot of the Lower Loop trail. The latter offers an easier ride back into Crested Butte, but if you want more of a challenge, with some technical aspects, then head to the Upper Lower. Both provide spectacular views that are worth the effort.

With my first taste of Crested Butte mountain biking under my belt, I was eager to see what else the area had to offer. On my second day of riding I caught the local bus (free!) up to Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where I grabbed another bike from the rental shop. This time out, I would be riding a downhill bike, which felt very different from the all-mountain machine I had the day before. After getting acquainted with this bike, I grabbed a ride on one of the lifts that whisked me away to the top of the mountain.

The resort has more than 30 different trails stretching out across 35 miles, with new ones being added each year. Those trails offer everything from easy routes designed for beginners to crazy double-black diamond runs that are built to get the adrenaline flowing in even the most experienced riders. The routes that I rode varied nicely in terms of challenges and terrain, but there were relatively few climbs, with most of the trails flowing downhill, where riders could simply hop right back on the lift and head to the top again for another run.

The resort literally has everything you need to get out on the trail. There are several different shops that rent bikes and equipment, so you can grab helmets, pads, and body armor depending on the style of your ride. You can also purchase lift tickets there and then set off for a full day of riding, simply stopping to grab lunch or to take a break in one of the various restaurants or pubs that can be found there.

The riding at the resort was very different than what I had found back closer to town. It was all about the downhill, which is fast, fun, and exciting. But, there was less of a chance to ride cross-country, so if you're looking to do some touring, you might focus your rides elsewhere. If you're a thrill seeker however, Crested Butte Mountain Resort is where you'll get your fix.

With two solid days of riding under my belt, it was nearly time to head home. But before I left for the airport on my final day, I had the chance to take one last ride in the morning. I dropped by The Alpineer again to grab another bike, and set off by myself to ride the Lower Loop Trail, which can be easily accessed from town. This ride was very easy, and gave me a chance to really soak in the scenery as I pedaled along. While I certainly enjoy the thrilling challenges of a good trail ride on a mountain bike, sometimes it is also nice to just enjoy all of the spectacular views of nature that can be found all around you. That's exactly what I did, breathing in the crisp, cool mountain air as I rolled along peacefully.

Over the course of several days, I was fortunate enough to get a good taste of the mountain biking scene in Crested Butte, and came away incredibly impressed. The place more than lives up to the hype, offering trails for all skill levels and even opportunities for newbies and experienced riders alike to improve their skills too. Whether you want a simple cross-country trail that allows you to take in the dramatic Colorado backdrops, or you're searching for crazy downhill madness, you'll find something to love on the trails in CB. They are beautiful, well maintained, and simply a joy to ride.

What more could you ask for in a mountain biking destination?

On the Road Again: Headed to Crested Butte, Colorado

It has been a busy summer at The Adventure Blog headquarters. Since May, I've been on the road every week or two, visiting some truly spectacular destinations along the way. Since I was in Quebec a few weeks back, I've been fortunate enough to actually be home for a little more than two weeks. The longest stretch I've had in quite some time. That ends tomorrow, as I'll be heading out to Crested Butte, Colorado for a few days of fly fishing, mountain biking, and exploring this intriguing adventure destination in the Rocky Mountains.

As usual, that probably means no updates for the rest of the week. I will be back home late Sunday, and will resume posting updates again next Monday, so just a short break this time out. The following week I'll be off to Bryce Canyon for a short backpacking trip however, so my time at home will once again be brief. After that, there is just one more international escape on the agenda at the moment, followed hopefully by some pleasant time at home heading into the fall.

I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to share when I return from CB. I'm told the mountain biking is epic and I'm looking forward to seeing the place for myself. Until then, take advantage of the changing seasons and get outside and enjoy some adventures of your own. Now is a great time for camping, hiking, cycling, or whatever outdoor activity you enjoy doing. I'll be back before you know it.

Video: Awakening - A Timelapse Journey Through Colorado's Rocky Mountains

We'll finish out the week with this beautiful six-minute video that takes us on a journey through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It is an amazing look at a part of the world that always captivates me every time I visit. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

AWAKENING 4K from Taylor Gray on Vimeo.

Video: A Slice of Autumn in Colorado

Winter may be finally upon us, but that doesn't mean we can't look back at the autumn that has just past and enjoy some of the season's lovely colors. In this video we take a tour of Colorado in the fall, where the golden hues of the aspen trees spread out across the alpine landscapes in spectacular fashion, while snowcapped peaks loom high overhead. Colorado is a place that is beautiful all year long, but in the fall it is particularly special. Sit back and enjoy this one. These colors won't be back for another year.

A Slice of Colorado's Autumn from Toby Harriman on Vimeo.

Video: Official Trailer for Kissing the Rock - Documentary About the Hardrock 100 Endurance Race

The Hardrock 100 is considered one of the toughest ultramarathons to take place in the U.S. each year. It is run on a 100 mile (160 km) loop through Colorado's San Juan Mountains that is well known for its difficulty. Because of this, the race has garnered quite a following, with many endurance athletes seeing it as a bit of a throwback event that requires more grit and determination to overcome.

The video below is a trailer for a new film called Kissing the Rock that is scheduled for release in early 2016. The documentary will take us behind the scenes of the Hardrock, giving us insights into its origins, what it takes to run the event, and what makes it special. Judging from the trailer, this film is going to be special too.

Video: Ice Climbing in Colorado with Will Gadd

In this video we travel to the Fang Amphitheater in East Vail, Colorado to go ice climbing with Will Gadd. The clip follows Will as he goes up a couple of impressive lines, showing us that even though it has been 17 years since he climbed in this area, his skills are still incredibly sharp. The video is a bit rough around the edges, but still fantastic to watch. Fellow climber and filmmaker Will Mayo says that he rushed it out to get it online as soon as possible, as the climbing only took place a few days ago. I think you'll be impressed none the less.

Gadd's Still Got It: "The Mustang P-51" (M14-), The Fang Amphitheater, East Vail, Colorado from Will Mayo on Vimeo.

Video: 142 Miles From Monday - Mountain Biking the Kokopelli Trail

The Kokopelli Trail runs for 142 miles between Loma, Colorado and Moab, Utah. It is an epic route the draws mountain bikers on a regular basis, and in this video we join three friends who set out to ride its entire length. Along the way, we get plenty of great scenery and an amazing look at the route, but we also get a healthy dose of inspiration as well. There is a great message here about pursuing the things that you are passionate about in life, and breaking away from the routine to seek your own path. It is a good message, and one that we should hear more often. Either way, this is a great short film about three friends on an amazing ride that can be completely enjoyed on that level too.

142 Miles From Monday from Alex Witkowicz on Vimeo.

Video: Colorado is Awesome

In case you needed more proof that Colorado is pretty awesome, a company called Video Blend decided to create a series of 100 videos that demonstrated that vary notion. They've been posting those clips on a website called, with each video spotlighting a particular aspect of the state. The video below is their recap of the first 50 videos, giving us a brief look at 50 reasons why Colorado is great. Most of us don't need a reminder of that fact, but we'll certainly take one when it looks this great.

Video: Seven Days of Autumn in Colorado

Just when you thought the mountain landscapes of Colorado couldn't get any more beautiful, autumn arrives. This video takes us on a visual tour of the Centennial State just as the leaves begin to turn to various shades of orange, crimson, and gold. The trees are painted with colors of the season, reminding us that while winter is indeed coming, autumn is still worth savoring as long as we can.

And when you're ready to experience your own Colorado adventure, Mountain Travel Sobek offers a four-day escape that takes travelers into Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking along the Milner Pass Trail, and over the Continental Divide. The trip is perfect for someone who doesn't have a lot of time, but still wants to experience a grand adventure in the mountains.

Colorado: Seven Days of Autumn from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.

Colorado Trail Remains Closed Because People Are Taking Too Many Selfies With Bears

Remember earlier in the summer when I wondered just what was going on in America's national parks? At the time, there were several high profile accounts of people getting attacked by bison in Yellowstone because they were too busy taking selfies with the animals that they didn't even notice that they were annoying the creatures. It was starting to turn into a major problem, as more than a half-dozen attacks had occurred by mid-summer. Well, it turns out the stupidity isn't just reserved to the national parks, nor just people interacting with bison.

A popular trail in Colorado has been closed since late August because too many people were stopping to take selfies with the bears that are roaming the area. The Waterton Canyon portion of the Colorado Trail was shut down on August 28 after numerous bears – including two females with two cubs each – were spotted in the area. But the problem isn't the bears, who are frequently sighted in the canyon. It is the hikers who insist on taking a selfie while in close proximity with the animals.

"We’ve actually seen people using selfie sticks to try and get as close to the bears as possible, sometimes within 10 feet of wild bears," Brandon Ransom, Denver Water’s manager of recreation said while discussing the closure of the trail. "The current situation is not conducive for the safety of our visitors or the well-being of the wildlife.”

As if that wasn't bad enough, apparently the hashtag "#bearselfie" was a trending term for awhile too, indicating that numerous people were willing to risk their own safety to get a shot of themselves with a wild animal. 

Much like the people who were getting attacked in Yellowstone by the bison, these folks don't have a whole lot of respect for the creatures they are getting so close to. These animals are wild and unpredictable, and can do a lot of damage if they want to. Fortunately, the Yellowstone bison didn't end up killing one, and there have been no reports of bear attacks in Waterton, but it seems like only a matter of time if visitors to these areas, and others like them, don't learn to give the animals the respect they deserve, not to mention a wide berth. 

There is no word yet on when the trail will reopen, but now that fall is upon us the trail will likely be less crowded anyway. Hopefully those who want to legitimately hike the canyon, and the Colorado Trail, will be able to return to it soon. 

Controversy Brews Over Nolan's 14 Run

Yesterday I posted the news that two women – Anna Frost and Missy Gosney – became the first female ultrarunners to complete the grueling Nolan's 14 challenge. This very difficult endeavor requires athletes to cover more than 100 miles, and bag 14 different 14,000 foot (4267 meter) peaks in Colorado's Sawatch Range in under 60 hours. The duo had apparently completed that task on Tuesday of this week, but now there is some controversy brewing as to whether or not they finished at the proper location in the time required.

Outside Online has the scoop on this story, but essentially there is debate in the ultrarunning community over just where Nolan's 14 ends. Some say it is at the final summit, while others say it is at the trailhead. Frost and Gosney reached their final summit on Mt. Shavano in 57 hours and 55 minutes, and then took time to celebrate at the top. By the time they actually descended down to the trailhead, the 60 hour time limit had expired.

Matt Mahoney is the unofficial record keeper for Nolan's 14, and his site indicates that the run ends on the final summit. But most other ultrarunners who have attempted the challenge have listed their times from trailhead to trailhead. It is also argued that the intent for the original creators of the event were for it to go from trailhead to trailhead as well, beginning and ending at the Fish Hatchery near Leadville or Blank Cabin near Salida, depending on which direction you are traveling.

Frost told Outside that she and Gosney were perfectly happy with their effort, and that they felt they had completed the run according to the rules. The ladies would have had enough time to descend to the trailhead had they departed from the summit of Shavano more quickly, but instead they elected to stay on top and celebrate with their support team. In her mind, they completed Nolan's 14 according to the official rules.

Mahoney's website doesn't have Frost and Gosney's run listed just yet, although past attempts are recorded on the site. Each of those includes the number of peaks that a runner notched in the time allowed as the indicator of how much of the run they managed to complete. So, for instance, a runner may have bagged 8 peaks in their attempt at the challenge before they ran out of time or retired from the chase. If this method of recording the run holds true, than Frost and Gosney will be credited with achieving 14 summits, which should equate to success. But, it seems there will always be those who question their effort since they didn't reach the trailhead in the specified time.

Either way, it was a fine effort on what has become one of the truly great challenges in ultrarunning.

Two Ultrarunners Become First Women to Complete Nolan's 14

Ultrarunner's Anna Frost and Missy Gosney completed one of the toughest challenges in endurance sports on Tuesday when they became the first women to complete the notorious Nolan's 14. The ladies wrapped up their grueling endeavor in a time of 57 hours and 55 minutes, bagging 14 different 14,000-foot (4267 meter) peaks in the process. 

Frost and Gosney set out on their journey on Sunday, hitting the trail near Leadville, Colorado. Their first summit came on Mt. Massive, but that was just the beginning. On Tuesday, they wrapped up their record-setting attempt by descending from their final peak, Mt. Shavano. 

For those not familiar with Nolan's 14, it is a unique ultrarunning challenge that requires athletes to summit 14 different mountains beginning or ending with either Massive or Shavano. They can go travel either north or south, and the route they take to nab the other 12 peaks is entirely up to the athlete attempting the feat. In order to successfully complete the challenge, runners must also finish within 60 hours. 

The two endurance athletes tell Nat Geo that along the way they got lost on the trail, faced some scary storms, and were constantly nauseated while above 13,000 feet (3962 meters), which is about 25% of the entire course. They even experienced the "sleep monsters," which are hallucinations brought on by sleep deprivation. At times, Frost said she saw elephants and giraffes, as well as a black koala and Mickey Mouse, while out on the trail. Fortunately, the did not suffer any injuries however, and aside from some issues with their feet – which is to be expected on a 100-mile (160 km) run, they came off of Nolan's 14 in relatively good health.

Congratulations to both Anna and Missy on a job well done. You two are an inspiration to adventure runners everywhere!