Front Range with Friends

After I got off work at 11pm on saturday night, I loaded my car and headed out to Guanella Pass. I showed up around 3am, crawled in the back of my subaru at the trailhead and got about 2 hours of sleep before I was up and making tea and breakfast. People started showing up around 6am and it was a great mix of fast trail runners and peak baggers. And one that was a little surprise - Ashley Erba, who placed 3rd OVERALL (1st female) at UROC 50k this year with a time of 4:21.

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Just before the sun came up, we hit the trail and were soon gaining the summit of the first peak - Square Top Mountain. The trails were frozen and the air was very crisp, but the views were well worth the early start.

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After a good push, we reached the summit of Square Top. The temps were still low so we didn’t hang around too long, but took time to get some dancing and group photos in.

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We were soon onto the slick talus field that brought us to the ridge leading to Argentine Peak (second summit). The sun was starting to warm things up and bit and everyone was in great spirits. It was a beautiful morning and we had music blasting. It was like a party train at 13,000’.

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Argentine Peak went by pretty quickly. The wind had picked up for a moment so we all just wanted to keep moving. Lucky for us, we weren’t finding too much hard-pack snow on the ridges and peaks so we didn’t have to take out the micro spikes at all. In fact after we got off Argentine, the sun was out and the temps were feeling nice.

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Before the day started, I decided that Wilcox (3rd and final summit) was going to be my hard effort peak. I figured that I needed to test tired legs. Plus, the last part of the ascent is huge boulders which I really love speeding through. The legs performed better than expected, but I could tell they were a little shy with the amount of elevation gain after not doing to much for over a month. After everyone got to the summit, we all sat and relaxed to enjoy the view and the suns warmth.

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And of course, there was some dancing…

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After the final summit, we descended down a large and open field towards a lake. It was the perfect end to a chilly, fun, and beautiful day in the mountains.

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TOTAL STATS: 12 miles - 5400’ vert

Spc. Keegan Carlson, a civil affairs specialist with the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion in Colorado Springs, Colo., pulls a improvised litter during the reacting to a chemical environment evaluation as part of the Department of the Army Best Warrior Competition here in Fort Lee, Va. Carlson is the U.S. Army Reserve Command Soldier of the Year and is one of 14 Soldiers competing for the DA Soldier of the Year category.

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