Saturday, November 22, 2014

Combining work and play in May

In May of this year, I was able to go to the National Groundwater Association (NGWA) annual Summit in Denver: a professional meeting to discuss new research in my field.  My employer sent me, but I went a couple of days early to spend time with my sister and brother in law.  Drew was able to arrange to fly into Denver after a trip to join us.  

What do we do as soon as we land? Go hike!

Di and Tod took us north to Boulder to hike the Flatirons at Chautauqua Park. The Flatirons are a famous formation that was tilted when the Rocky Mountains were uplifted.

The Flatirons are the five slabs of smooth rock tilted at a 45 degree angle in this picture. Classic front range geology!

Front range hikers.

Lying flat on a Flatiron!

Monkey in a tree.

Rugged terrain off the trail.
Quite the view of Boulder from the trail.

I'm happy about the geology. It must have rubbed off on them.

After a day of hiking I spent the next gorgeous spring day in a conference room in a downtown Denver hotel learning about ways to quantify recharge.  Woot woot. 

My lodging for the week of the conference was my sister's high rise condo in downtown Denver.

The view from the condo is spectacular.

Thanks to Facebook, I realized that Judy, my old friend from college, and her boyfriend were in town for a separate conference.  We got to spend a fun evening together in LoDo. The next few days were filled with more conferencing and a visit with a high school classmate who lives in Denver, which broke up the conference nicely.

After the conference I jetted off on Southwest to Vegas.

Before Drew arrived I got in a nice solo ride on the Blue Diamond area trails.

May is beautiful in the desert.

Work conferences all around: Drew's little brother was in Vegas for a trade show so we stole him away to show him the Hoover Dam.

The Hoover Dam from the new bridge.

Dikes of dark basalt cut through light Tertiary-aged andesite or dacite on the walls of Black Canyon downstream from the dam.

One of the giant spillways. You could almost fly one of Drew's planes through here.

All told, a fun week of work and play.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Return to normalcy. Well, OK, to blogging anyway.

For the last three autumns, Drew and I have been so engrossed in coaching high school mountain biking that my blog has severely suffered from neglect.  I have missed blogging terribly.  I blog primarily to document the significant happenings of my life in a creative way. I like to look at my pictures and put them together to make a story about the trips, the work, and the projects Drew and I do.  It helps me to distill events down to what I really want to take away and remember about the events that shape my life. Most people do this in their minds, photo albums, or journals.  I do it on the internet. I am that way.

When I don't blog, it means I have either not had a significant happening or that life is too busy to afford time to record my observations and supplement those observations with pictures.  Either way is sad for me. Lately, life has been way too busy. But now, as Drew and I sit in a hotel room in Cabo San Lucas after a few days of utter relaxation and after a few weeks of untangling ourselves from some of the ties we've had to the rat race, I have some time to write.  I hope to catch up with a few posts that have been in my head for months.

I am glad to be back.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Salt Lake Tribune article about work

Here is a link to a recent newspaper article that mentions the monitoring I do out in Snake Valley.  The pictures in the photo gallery were taken near springs I monitor and one shows some of the equipment I have in place.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Breck Epic Stage 6 Complete

The 2014 Breck Epic has come to a close!  After 6 stages of racing on some of the most incredible trails around Breckenridge CO it came to an end today.  240 miles and 40,000 feet of climbing was advertised, but it was closer to 230 miles and 32,000 feet of climbing.  My legs are pretty tired right now and I am looking forward to a few days off the bike.

Before the final stage this morning we used the inflatable legs to improve our circulation.  The owner of the business even brought us shots of espresso during our 20 minute session.

The weather for the final stage was Colorado picture perfect.  Temps were in the low 50's with only a few scattered clouds in the sky.  The mood was festive and we were all looking forward to the last 32 miles of racing.  Rain the night before made for slippery roots and mud puddles out on the course but that only made us smile even more.  The last day of a stage race is always bittersweet.  You wish it could continue since life is so simple when you are on the bike.  Eat, ride, eat, sleep, repeat!

The aid stations were full of festive refreshments.

It has been a long week, though and I miss my wife terribly.  Do you think she would serve espresso to me while I sit in a recliner ;)

Crossing the finish line after 6 days and 29 hours on the bike!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Breck Epic Stage 5 Race Report: major hump day.

Breck Epic Stage 5 was to be where we would reach our highest elevation of the race.   We climbed up Wheeler Passm just shy of 12,500 feet AMSL today.  The weather forecast called for isolated rain showers throughout the day so we dressed for the bad weather.  After a good night's sleep and the leg feeling better I was looking forward to this stage.

Smiles at the start line.

The real kicker of this leg was the fact that we climbed 3,000' in the first 7 miles.  We came out above the tree line around mile 4 with only 1,000 feet of climbing behind us.  I could not figure out how we were going to climb 2,000 feet in 3 miles.  Once I was above the trees though it became very obvious.  In front of me was a steady stream of multi-colored jerseys working their way up the pass.  The gradient was so steep that everyone was hiking their bikes and they were just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other as they ascended the mountain.

Picture 2:  Reaching the top of the pass the Breck' support crew was once again handing out racing supplements.  I heard a report at the end of the day that they handed out 12 lbs of bacon, 4 lbs of Skittles, and went through 2 bottles of whiskey.  I took a hand up of bacon and Skittles but the thought of doing a shot of whiskey at 12,500 feet with a 3,000-foot descent ahead of me kept me from reaching for the glass.

We reached the floor of the valley and hopped on a 6 mile paved bike path that took us out to the town of Frisco.  For the return to Breckenridge we climbed up Miners Pass.  Crazy steep and rocky ascent for 1,500 feet.  From there we joined up on the Peaks Trail.  This is a locals' favorite with technical roots, wooden bridges, and quick descents and climbs through the forest.  I was having a great stage and joined up on the wheels of a duo couple for the last 5 miles.  They had a lot of positive energy and we had fun zorching through the forest to the finish line.

A bit later I was able to catch this shot of my buddy Jim crossing the finish line. 

Today's stats:

28.2 miles
4 hr 19 min
Elevation Gain 4,639 feet
Garmin track here

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Breck Epic day 4 race report

Drew was too tired to report much tonight.  I talked to him and he was in high spirits, as day 4 was done and there are only 2 more to go. Other racers are going very fast on the downhill and he may be loosing some time there, but he is in one piece and that is very good.

He sent me this and some pictures:

"Today marked one of the longest legs at 42 miles and 6,600' of climbing.  I woke up this morning worried about my tendonitis.  Last night I thought I was dealing with an IT Band issue, but after a little research discovered the root of my problem.  I ended up taping my leg which was extremely helpful.

By reducing the movement of the muscle, day 4 was bearable."

He did stop to take some photos that I had requested.  Thanks, Drew!
If y'all have been looking at the satellite imagery under his Garmin track, you may have noticed that the river bottoms look really strange.

They look like there are large sand dunes piled up in the flood plane.  (Click on the image to enlarge.) Those are tailing piles left from mining for gold by dredging. Here are two close ups.

Basically, to get at the gold that is present in the river gravel (gold that has eroded from the ore bodies in the mountains), a large dredging machine sorts and washes the gravel.  The heavier gold sinks to the bottom of the machinery.  The sand, silt and gravel is spit out the back of the dredge and piled up. Then the machine is moved and another pile is made. It leaves a messy, non-functional river channel, but at least there isn't a lot of heavy metal or chemical contamination.

Plans are in place to reclaim some of these areas to get them back to a natural mountain river channel, but that will take a lot of money and time.

What we humans won't do for fancy jewelry!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Breck Epic Day 3 Race Report

Breck Epic Stage 3
by Drew

Distance 35.8 miles
Time: 5:48:37
Elevation gain: 6,200'

There were several climbs and the course was a little confusing today.  The aid stations were moved (penned in by me on the elevation chart) so I decided to take an elevation profile with me.  I taped it to the top tube of my bike for easy reference.

Stage 3 included two major climbs.  The first climb over French Pass topped out at 12,000 feet.  Oxygen was lacking and even the simplest bike handling skills were difficult to complete.  When we reached the top there were supporters handing out bacon, Skittles, and Coors Beer.  My head was pounding and the air was thin.  I politely declined the support food and descended down the backside of the pass.  High alpine single track trails with stream crossings and loose rocks.  We descended down the back side to an oxygen rich environment of 11,000 feet. We traversed the backside of the mountain ridge on the Colorado Trail and then climbed back up over Georgia Pass to descend back in to Breckenridge, Colorado.

Garmin track here.

Today involved a lot of climbing and I had an old IT band issue resurface.  My performance was off a bit with this issue, but I survived the day and spent the afternoon and evening massaging the IT bands and getting them to loosen up.  Jim and I even went to a local promoter in the race event parking lot called "Elevated Legs". They put big compression boots on your legs and they inflate and deflate over a 20 minute period.

 The premise of the operation is that they inflate the foot chambers, then the calf chambers, then the lower quad, and finally the upper quads.  This helps the blood in the legs flush out the toxins. My legs felt better after this session.

Overall it was a good day and I hope that my IT bands tomorrow decide to cooperate.