Hiking Grey Rock

As “luck” would have it, I managed to commit one of the last perfect biking days of the fall (beautiful and sunny with temp around 70) to hiking with a couple friends. Oh well, hanging out with friends is good, and I needed to get in my token yearly hike anyway. The Sister ™, the avid hiker, recommended Grey Rock, one of the most popular hikes in the Fort Collins area. Assured that “you have to hike this at least once if you live in Fort Collins” and that it was worth the hike for the views at the top, we headed up Poudre Canyon to the Grey Rock trail. Sadly, I lost my companions to a combination of equipment failure and ambivalence somewhere before 2 miles in. There was no way I was abandoning the hike at this point, so I soldiered on in a solo mission to the top. I made it quickly to the base of Grey Rock and headed off for the last .75 miles to the top. This would be the base.

The base of Grey Rock

The last leg, though short, seemed to take as long as the previous 2+ miles. I lost the trail for a few minutes before spotting the helpful cairns that would guide me as I scrambled around and over rocks to the top. The requisite “me at the summit” shot.

Me at the top of Grey Rock

And, The Sister ™ didn’t lie — the views are pretty good.

View from the top of Grey Rock

I hung out at the top for a few minutes, but the wind was making exposure on high rocks uncomfortable, and I really didn’t want to ruin the day by having to put on a jacket, so I followed another group out and headed down. I quickly lost them and made good time down the mountain passing several groups of climbers making their descent as well. My knees did not take well to scrambling back down the rocks, but overall the hike was fairly easy.

And, if you have a keen eye, you might have noticed the storm coming in at my back in the summit shot. Yes, today was 35 degrees, windy, rainy, and snowy.


Conquering Rist Canyon

Since getting the new ride in July, I’ve been on my road bike 2-3 times a week, usually including one long ride (2+ hours). In August, I started tagging along with friends Tracy and Catherine riding Rist Canyon on Friday mornings (6am start, yay!). The ride is only about 35 miles round trip, but it includes a fairly grueling 12+ miles of climbing up to the top. Unaware of the Rist landscape and having a naive pacing strategy, I nearly died the first time even when using every single gear my bike could offer. Rist Canyon is mostly a lot of miles of slow climbing, combining a few short, tough grades with gentler climbs and small bits of necessarily forgiving flats. But then you get to the last couple miles. There’s not much forgiving about these. They’re just flat out hard.

We added to the ride every week, getting nearer to the summit every time and set out a couple Sundays ago to do the full ride. Though fall is closing in, we managed to pick a day with a perfect mix of sun and warmth. It was tough, but I made it to the top. We all did. Here’s the happy trio commemorating the event.

At the top of Rist

I’m not going to lie — I really felt I wimped out on the last big climb when I stopped for about 30 seconds to rest my burning quads. Mad at myself, I attacked Rist on a solo ride last Sunday. I felt great, no stopping, using only two chainrings for most of the ride. Seriously, I killed it. Now I can officially call “Rist season” complete.