I warmed up for tomorrow’s big hike from Crested Butte to Aspen by climbing to the top of Scarp Ridge today.
The trailhead lies just above Irwin Lake, about 20 minutes outside of Crested Butte. Park your vehicle on the side of the road near the green-roofed Irwin Lodge, which serves as a ski chalet in the winter, and head uphill.
The trail forks almost immediately. It’s a loop, but we took the left side fork first to cover the steepest stuff first. The trail meanders through clusters of pines and a few aspen. Look down and you can see the lake in the distance.
The round-trip hike only covers about 4.6 miles, but you gain a lot of elevation. We started hiking at about 10,700 feet and climbed to just higher than 12,000 feet. Along the way we got great views of mountain bowls, vistas and trees, and flushed plenty of chipmonks out of the underbrush.
We missed the summer wildflower show, but got a sneak peak of fall. The trees are just starting to turn here this week. Some of the aspens wore yellow leaves this morning, a nice change after their summer greens.
According to my race calendar, but definitely not the thermometer, fall has nearly arrived.
The Zilker Relays, unofficial kickoff to Austin’s fall racing season, takes place Sept. 7 at Zilker Park. The four-person, 10-mile relay starts at 6:30 p.m. on roads in and around the park, and wraps up with a party on the Great Lawn featuring live music by the Staylyns, food from Tacodeli and free beer from Strange Land Brewery.
“There is no other race where you can run through Zilker Park in the evening, with a view of downtown Austin, and wrap it up with great food and drinks and live music into the night,” says race founder Paul Perrone, whose grin is perhaps my favorite in all of Austin.
The race will make anyone smile. Usually, it rains. Or it’s hot as heck for the first 2.5-mile leg, then a storm hits, then it gets muggy.
It’s a big deal. Last year more than 1,300 people participated.
A children’s relay kicks off shortly before the adult relay and every child participant will get a cape and Tacodeli meal.
This year, Zilker Relays will once again partner with the Lesedi Project to raise funds for the Ethembeni School in South Africa, a school for physically disabled and visually impaired children.
One year I met Superman – not an imposter, but the real deal. He was nice to me, probably because I was wearing my Wonder Woman costume (which, by the way, I wore to rappel down a 38-story building last year, and also to the movie theater once.)
Another year I met Batman, and that was scary, because he didn’t even crack a smile.
On Sept. 16, you can mingle with caped crusaders and superpower-wielding human beings at the CASA Superhero Run 5K and Kids 1K.
Superheros of all shapes and sizes turn out en masse for this run, which raises money for CASA, which advocates through the court system for children who have been abused or neglected. This year’s race also serves as the opening event of the Austin Distance Challenge, a series of running races that leads up to the Austin Marathon in February.
The race moves to a new location this year, the IBM Client Innovation Center at Broadmoor Campus, 11501 Burnet Road. The 5K begins at 8 a.m.; the Kids 1K, with villains to chase, starts at 9:15 a.m. A dance party and costume contest will follow. Besides the foot race, expect bounce houses, special superhero guest appearances and lots of fun family activities.
The event supports the CASA programs of Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays Counties, which works with volunteers to advocate for abused or neglected children in the court system.
Why superheros? Here’s what CASA says about that: “Superman was adopted. Spiderman was raised by his aunt and uncle. Batman grew up with his butler, Alfred, and later took in Robin to raise as his ward. Wonder Woman was made out of clay by Amazons and brought to life by the gods. Few superheroes grew up in a typical family situation raised by their own parents, yet they all accomplished great things as adults. CASA believes all children deserve the chance to grow up happy and healthy and become superhero adults themselves.”
In yesterday’s blog, I posted a photograph of a Lime electric scooter that someone tossed in Shoal Creek along the hike and bike trail near Fifth Street. I spotted it while riding my bike to work yesterday morning.
That post prompted a flood of photographs taken by people who have spotted abandoned dockless scooters and bikes around Austin. (Thanks for the crowd sourcing, people!)
Which now prompts me to post some of those pictures, and encourage everyone to send me pics of bikes and scooters buried in golf course sand traps, dangling from tree branches, clogging sidewalks, swimming in lakes, dismembered in dark alleys and what not.
Let’s see what we find!
And no cheating. I don’t want more people contributing to the problem. Let the record show that I want you to park your scooters and bicycles responsibly.
Check out this electric scooter I found abandoned in Shoal Creek near Fifth Street this morning.
I’m pretty sure half submerged and ditched in a creek alongside a hike-and-bike-trail doesn’t fit the recommended parking guidelines for dockless electric scooters, but there you have it.
I ride my bike to work three to five times a week, and my commute takes me up the Shoal Creek Hike-and-Bike Trail. I’ve seen a dozen or so scooters left on the trail in the last month or two, but this is the first I’ve spotted in the actual creek.
It looks like it’s from Lime, one of the companies that released a fleet of dockless scooters and bikes across the city.
Invitations printed on race bibs. A group run the morning of the wedding. A ceremony in front of a race start line. Running shoes with formal attire.
Iram Leon and Elaine Chung, the president and vice president of Austin Runners Club, tied the knot Saturday in a ceremony themed around running, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows them. They met, after all, through the Austin Runners Club, while both were training for a marathon.
I met Leon in 2013, just after he’d won the overall title at the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont – while pushing his daughter in a stroller. He’d been diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2010, after collapsing at a birthday party.
A marble-sized tumor is entwined in the memory and language hub of his brain and has invisible “tentacles” that even doctors can’t detect. The average survival time for the disease is four years; only a third of patients live five years after diagnosis.
But Leon is 38. At his most recent checkup in June, doctors told him his tumor is stable. He’s still running regularly, and if you didn’t notice the scar that snakes across the side of his head you’d probably never guess he was sick.
Chris McClung, a running coach and co-owner of Rogue Running, officiated the ceremony, working in as many running puns as possible. He wrapped things up with this: “With the power vested in me by the state of Texas and getordained.org, I now pronounce you man and wife.”
Daughter Kiana, 11, pretended to forget the ring, then dashed off to get the family dog, who carried it in.
The accompanying bash featured both Chinese and Mexican food, to honor both the bride and groom. Guests played lawn games, worked puzzles, and at one point joined a group stroll through the gardens of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
“We wanted to show our guests a good time while showing them some of us,” Leon says. “I was marrying Elaine, not an idea or an institution.”
I’ve never raced up a mountain with a pack burro at my side, so on Sept. 8 I’ll do that, with a four-legged little beast named Little Jonah.
I’ve rented Jonah from donkey matchmaker Amber Wann in Idaho Springs, Colorado, who loans out animals so (crazy) people like me can participate in a series of pack burro races in small towns around Colorado. And no, I won’t be riding the burro – runners lead their partners up steep mountain trails in races that honor the gold mining history of the area.
Wann paired me with 17-year-old Little Jonah, a resident of Laughing Valley Ranch in Idaho Springs, Colorado, because she thinks our personalities match. I looked up his results for previous years, and, well, let’s just say I’m not expecting to win this year’s race, not that it matters. Jonah’s track record makes me think he might just screech to a halt.
I’m fine with that. Plus, it’ll make a more interesting story if Jonah decides to pause to take in the scenery for a few hours.
“He has come in last ass on a time or two , but that is because the folks running him were not speedy people to begin with,” Wann told me. “Burros like Little Jonah could go either way, speed wise, depending on the person navigating and encouraging him to keep going.”
I’ll be sleeping in the treetops tonight here at McKinney Falls State Park, where I’ve successfully wrangled open a borrowed Woolly Bear elevated tent.
I wouldn’t describe it as “easy” to deploy – rather, it took a couple of phone calls and some extra hands to do the job. I’m confident I’ll shave half an hour off my time the next time out of the gate.
Reinforcements are coming – brats, beer and company. It’ll be a race to see which arrives first, those supplies or a storm that’s apparently headed my way. Perhaps I’ll get to test the rain fly.
I’ve learned this about myself in 54 years: I feel most alive when I’m trying new things.
That’s one reason why I’ve taken up paddling in the last year. It’s also how I landed at the start line of the Kanoe Klasika canoe and kayak race on the Colorado River on Saturday morning.
I started paddling for fun about a year ago. Since then, I’ve taken leisurely day trips on the San Marcos, Colorado, Llano and Pedernales rivers, and loaded up my boat with a tent, sleeping bag and campstove for multi-day excursions on the Devils and Pecos rivers.
But now I want to figure out how to go fast. After spending five days following paddlers in the Texas Water Safari in June, I’ve set a huge goal: I want to finish that grueling race, which starts in San Marcos and finishes at Seadrift on the Texas coast.
Two veteran paddlers – Sheila Reiter and Heather Harrison – have invited me to join their three-person team for that epic adventure. In less than a year, I’ll set out on a huge, sleep-deprived river of craziness populated by alligator gar, log jams and hallucinations.
I can’t wait. Also, I’m scared out of my straw cowboy hat.
Saturday’s Kanoe Klasika race marked a first step in my mission to get to the start line, though – my first paddling race. (Technically I participated in the Texas Winter 100 back in January, but I only paddled a portion of that course and stopped for a picnic along the side of the river, so I don’t count it.)
Saturday’s race started at Riverbend Park in Smithville, and finished at Plum Park about 16.5 miles downstream.
Reiter brought the boat – a 23-foot tippy craft that’s more narrow and streamlined than what you’d probably picture if I told you we were racing a canoe. She sat in back, steering us into swifter moving water and around obstacles like low hanging branches and gravel bars. I sat in front and just paddled, focusing on drawing as much strength as I could from each stroke and not flipping out (of the boat, that is.)
Thoughts? A morning spent outdoors, on the water, with like-minded people and getting exercise always ranks high on my list of great ways to pass the time. Along the way, I thought about how far I’ve got to go to prepare myself for the Texas Water Safari. Sixteen miles on a placid, flat river is a lot different than 260 on a narrow, twisty one supercharged with rapids, alligators (yes!) and a notoriously choppy bay.
Even in the two hours and 45 minutes it took us to reach the finish line on Saturday, my wrist hurt and my back got sore. What will happen when I multiply that by 20 or so?
I’m going to find out. I’ll get there. And it’ll all be a new experience.
Sixty-nine University of Texas students who pedaled out of Austin earlier this summer are expected to roll into Anchorage tomorrow, wrapping up their 70-day quest to raise awareness about cancer.
A documentary about their venture, “Texas 4000,” will air at 8 p.m. tonight on the Longhorn Network, Channel 677 on AT&T Universe and Channel 383 on Time Warner. The network will also livestream the documentary at http://www.espn.com/longhornnetwork/.
Each year for the past 15 years, a team of students has made the bicycle trek. They train, raise money, volunteer in the community and serve in leadership roles to help plan every aspect of the summer ride.
This year’s group started June 1 and broke into three groups, which made their way separately to Alaska. Along the way, the cyclists presented $450,000 in grants to cancer research and treatment centers and visited with patients.
Back in Austin, the community will honor the cyclists at the annual Tribute Gala Aug. 24 at the Hyatt Regency, 208 Barton Springs Road. The gala includes dinner, live music, silent and live auctions and more. Tickets are $200 per person. For more information or to sign up, go to https://asbidding.com/register/106.
Since 2004, 751 students have completed the ride, raising more than $8.4 million.