Thursday, August 25, 2011

Missour Mtn hiking and Warrior Dash Conquering

Even though the Magee's haven't been doing so much flying around the country we have been making our rounds around the state. The weekend after our rafting and Crested Butte trip was spent celebrating a marriage, a soon to be born baby and the next wave of Qi teacher training graduates as well as Chad's birthday all over again at Red Rocks. I believe we literally saw almost everyone we knew in one weekend spent here in Denver.

While it felt nice to be home I was anxious to hit the hiking trail again so my friend Stephanie and I packed it up and headed for Missouri Mtn. last wednesday. She is a flight attendant with me and we just happened to be flying a trip together so it was easy enough to plan our hiking excursion. We drove up to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead that wednesday night and spent the night on one of the many pull-offs to the side of the road. There's no actual camping at the trailhead but seeing as I had driven up this road for both La Plata and Huron, I knew what to expect.

I chose the Northwest Ridge standard route which is about 10.5 miles with 4,500 elevation gain and a Class 2. We started at 6am and didn't see anyone on the trail at all for the first hour which almost led me to believe we were on the wrong trail. When you are at the Trailhead the sign says, "Belford and Oxford" which confused me because there was no mention of Missouri on the map. Indeed most people you will encounter on this route will probably be hiking Belford and Oxford. After breaking treeline you come out into the Missouri Gulch Valley and then the trail splits at a sign near 11,600 feet marking Belford to the left and Elkshead pass to the right. Stay to the right here until you encounter another sign near 12,600 that says Elkshead pass to the left and Missouri Mtn to the right.

After the second sign the trail starts a series of switch backs over large rocks but the path is so well marked it's like climbing stairs. This part is a lot easier going up than coming down because there is some loose dirt and rock in areas. Once you reach the saddle you are afforded some amazing views of Huron and the 3 apostles and it was so clear I could see the Maroon Bells in the distance. We stopped and had lunch here before continuing on to the summit. We followed the trail along the ridge crest where we finally ran into some other hikers. There was a guy who had been ahead of us and he said the last couple hundred yards were sketchy and he ditched his pack. They also showed concern for Bebe (my dog) but I knew she could take on whatever lay ahead better than I could considering she had 19 14ers under her belt. So Stephanie and I agreed when we got to the sketchy part we would scout it out and decide from there.

(view from the saddle)
After traversing a little further over the ridge we saw the obstacle that lay before us: a 10 foot down climb through a rocky notch, then a sidehill of several hundred yards across a 40-degree slope below a sawtooth ridge. The price of a mistake here: a thousand-foot slide into a man-eating gnarl of rock at the bottom. I looked at Stephanie and said, "it doesn't look so bad" as I saw bebe was already making her way to the summit. The trick to the down climb on this part is making your body like a star and always having 5 points of contact. Once we hit the ground we just crab walked and stayed as high as we could. It's slippery here, there's nothing stable to hold on too and one slip could send you over the edge but I tried not to think about that.

(the downclimb)

(a look of the remaining route to the summit - it's very steep and loose here)

(finally made the summit!)

(14er number 20 for bebe and I)

Fifteen minutes later we arrived on top of the summit and had the mountain all to ourselves. The views were amazing and the weather was perfect but we didn't stay long as we both knew we had to go back over the ridge and up climb to safety. I must say, going back over was worse than on the way up because you loose some elevation which makes the steepness of the slope even more tricky to navigate. Again, I stayed high and used my hiking pole to dig into the dirt and find any little rock my foot could use for balance. Before I knew it, we were back on the upper ridge and ready to head down.

(view of Missouri Gulch from the summit of Missouri Mtn)

Hiking for 9 hours certainly did a number on my legs but it also helped prepare me for the Warrior Dash this past Saturday. On Friday, after Chad's hockey game, we drove up to Copper to meet our friends at a house we had rented for the weekend. The house, or shall I say mansion, was in Silverthorn and was absolutely amazing. There was about 12 of us staying there, and almost all of us knew each other from the yoga studio we work at. It gave me a fabulous opportunity to get to know these instructors better and to become more than a friendly face seen around the gym.

My good friend Sarah had an idea for us to wear red and black to channel the warrior within and lucky for those at the house I was staying at, I brought extra tulle to accessorize with. I had made red Tutu's for Sarah and I and had enough fabric to make an extra for my friend Meaghan who wanted one. I will say, knowing how to make a tutu is one of the best skills I ever learned because it has come in handy more times than once! So Saturday, after doing a Qi Fit workout (we are all gym buddies after all) we set to work getting dressed for the event.

(meaghan, Dawnelle and I in the mansion getting ready)

(pre-race looking cute)

This was my second 5k ever and the first time I have ever run an obstacle race and I will say I don't know if I could ever go back to "normal" running. There were tires to run through, fire to jump over, cargo nets to scale and of course a mud pit. This event is best run in costume and I think you will find most everyone there is decorated somehow. Of course you don't want to wear anything nice as it will get very muddy and they have a place to donate your old tennis shoes at the end if you want. I wasn't trying to win the race or anything but came in at a respectable 43 minutes where I was greeted with a medal, water and banana.

After completing the dash, my friend Dawnelle and Sarah and I ended up losing everyone on our way to get our free beer (yes you get a FREE beer after the race whoohoo!) so we ended up hanging out by the stage until we finally saw Chad walking by and I was able to get my cell phone and call everyone else. The event had where you could check a bag of things for them to hold on too such as your cell phone, keys, camera and clothing and I highly recommend bringing a change of clothes and shoes afterwards. They also had showers to rinse off at but bring a towel because it's chilly after washing all that mud off!

Post-dash we all ended up back at the house for a little hot tub action and late night dance party. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life from all the dancing we were doing. It was definitely a good group of people we had to spend our time with for the weekend and I'm so glad we ended up staying at the house instead of a hotel. I look forward to getting muddy with my friends for many years to come...

(we call this the statue of liberty dance)

(hot tub time machine?)

Next up...Longs Peak and Devil Dash!

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