6-25-09 View from our camper at S. Mineral Creek in the Silverton, CO area. This is a no-fee San Juan Natl. Forest campground popular with Hardrock runners (and lots of other people).
6-26-09 The next day was stormy and S. Mineral Creek was muddy and running fast by our camper.
6-26-09 This is Mineral Cr. downstream a mile where runners will cross it on a rope during the Hardrock Hundred. Note the rope is flapping in the water. We'll come back to this scene later . . .
6-26-09 Double rainbow across the campground, before it filled to capacity with July 4 celebrants. (None of those is our camper.)
6-27-09 Chapman to KT trail marking day. Jim (O'Neil) took this set of photos. L-R: Jim Ballard, Fred Ecks.
View toward Grant-Swamp Pass from Chapman AS location. These photos are in the same direction as this year's Hardrock Hundred race (CCW).
Jennifer and Jerry Roach and Fred Ecks (R) cross the first creek past Chapman AS.
Looking back at Oscar's Pass
Looking back at Chapman Gulch/Oscar's Pass
Heading up through Swamp Canyon toward Grant-Swamp Pass
Grant-Swamp Pass is the group's highpoint today (about 12,800 feet).
Looking back toward Oscar's Pass from midway up Swamp Canyon
Climbing higher toward Grant-Swamp Pass
Jim is part of a group that is ahead of Charlie Thorn and the marking crew.
Afternoon storms and melting snow feed the streams this time of year.
L-R: Jennifer Roach, Kathy Lang, Jerry Roach, and Jim Ballard start the hardest part of the climb to Grant-Swamp Pass.
Ballard surveys his options . . .
. . . no way around all that snow!
Jerry, Jim, and Kathy pause on the steep climb.
Fred and Jennifer continue climbing. It's more fun sliding down than inching up!
View of the final pitch up to Grant-Swamp Pass from the north.
Jim looks back down from the pass at about 12,800 feet.
To the south is beautiful Island Lake, which is still mostly covered in ice.
View S. from the pass, over Ice Lake Basin
Descending through the basin above Island Lake (Sue's photos will show the next section down to Ice Lake Creek).
Log jam! These are more of Jim's photos from 6-27: Ice Lake Creek where the runners will cross during the race.
Kathy and Joe approach the HRH crossing. They are still ahead of Charlie Thorn and the marking crew.
Joe starts across the logs. Kathy went through the water.
Jennifer carefully crosses on the logs.
Jerry Roach balances well on the logs.
Pretty marsh flowers on the Kamm Traverse (KT)
Running down toward the KT aid station location -- end of Jim's photos on 6-27-09.
Same day (6-27), Sue's photos out and back on the Ice Lake Trail to Grant-Swamp Pass and back. This is a view of KT trail from S. Mineral Creek Rd.
Hardrockers use the Ice Lake Trail for about 1/4 mile.
View of Lower and Upper Ice Lake Basin from the trail up to Grant-Swamp Pass
Closer view of Upper Ice Lake Basin. Runners will pass through Island Lake Basin to the right of this basin. (The names are confusing.)
View toward the ridges we'll be marking tomorrow between KT and the US 550 crossing through S. Mineral Creek.
Lower Ice Lake Basin and Fuller Peak
Heading up the Grant-Swamp Trail
Another view into the Upper Ice Lake Basin
Some snow remains on the HRH course above 11,000 feet.
Marsh marigolds start blooming as soon as the snow melts around them. I've even seen them blooming under water from snow melt.
Continuing up to Grant-Swamp Pass from the south; Hardrock runners go DOWN this trail in "odd" years (e.g., 2009).
Small lake formed from snow melt in the basin below Grant-Swamp Pass
U.S. Grant Peak (13,767') looms over stunning Island Lake, still mostly covered in ice.
First view of Grant-Swamp Pass from the south side
The next five shots get closer and closer to the pass.
Looking up to Grant-Swamp Pass
The views are awesome in all directions when you're at 12,800 feet! Island Lake is to the right, Upper Ice Lake Basin in the background.
Heading back down the trail, the way the Hardrockers will run this year.
Cody and I did some exploring near the lakes in the Island Lake Basin.
Cloud reflections in the snow melt
Mountain reflections in the snow melt
Looking back up to Grant Swamp Pass from lower in the basin (off the HRH course)
Upper Ice Lake Basin -- there is a trail up there from the Lower Ice Lake Basin that is very popular with hikers.
Both Ice Lake basins
Continuing down the Grant-Swamp trail. You can see S. Mineral Creek Road from 'way up high.
Back on the Ice Lake Trail. HRH runners soon veer to the right and drop down to the Ice Lake Creek crossing shown in Jim's photos above.
6-28-09 Runners gather at the Ice Lake trailhead to mark the course from the KT aid station location to the Mineral Creek crossing on US 550.
Trail markers listen to Charlie Thorn as he describes the day's course. First we have a 1.6-mile hike to the KT aid station location from this parking area (not part of the race course).
I (Sue) went point-to-point with most of the group today. Jim O'Neil and Jim Ballard tightened the rope across Mineral Creek, then did an out-and-back to Putnam-Lime Ridge.
Trail markers pause to shed some clothes at the KT aid station location on S. Mineral Creek Rd.
We walked another few hundred feet to the spot where the race course crosses S. Mineral Creek upstream from KT.
Heading down to S. Mineral Creek just past the KT aid station; note trail marker and cairn
This is an easy crossing compared to the one we'll do downstream in the afternoon. The water is knee deep and moving swiftly.
Heading up the trail toward Porcupine Creek and Cataract Basin through pretty forest on a steep trail for a couple of miles
The trail marking group takes a break
There's our next major climb
The views are nice as we climb higher.
View toward KT
Now we're above treeline in the Cataract Basin.
One of several snowbanks to cross in Cataract Basin
The clouds turn from billowy white to threatening gray in the west.
These exposed ridges are not a good place to be in a thunderstorm!
We got pelted with small hail as we climbed steeply toward Putnan-Lime Ridge.
Charlie Thorn places a marker on the steep bushwack to Putnam-Lime Ridge.
Great view of the mountains (and rain!) to the south from 12,700 feet on Putman-Lime Ridge.
Rick Hodges (L) talks with Rodger Wrublik and Paul Bonnett, who came up to the ridge from the Silverton side
The sky looks better to the north as trail markers continue their way up to the ridge.
It doesn't look so good in the other three directions, though!
Great views from Putnam-Lime Ridge
There's Jim coming up the ridge from the other direction. He and Ballard did an out-and-back from US 550 after tightening up the rope across S. Mineral Creek.
Rick Hodges and Jim head down the ridge toward Putnam Basin.
This is the 3rd Bear Cr. drainage on the HRH course. Note the rain to the NE where we're headed.
Running down through Putnam Basin
I had about as much fun in the snow today as Cody-the-Ultra-Lab did!
Jim looks back at the other runners as we follow the cairns through the basin. We're ahead of Charlie and the trail markers now because I have a massage appt. this afternoon.
Dropping down through Putnam Basin
Sliding into oblivion?
Nope - the trail goes off to the left.
Looking back up
Nearing treeline as we descend Bear Creek drainage toward Silverton - we got into some brief sleet here, but no rain.
Pleasant pine forest near the location of the Putnam aid station.
Nice, runnable trail through here
Then runners hit a long rocky section for a couple of miles.
Unusual smooth aggregate rock in the middle of the trail; most of what we've seen of this type of rock is knobby.
The trees and flowers are very different in this eco-zone than up in the tundra. This is about a 3,500-foot drop down to US 550.
Columbines, the first we've seen on the course this summer
Rocks to maneuver about 96 miles into the HRH
6-28-09 Jim's photos on the same course as above, going from S. Mineral Creek up to Putnam-Lime Ridge and back.
Paul Bonnett watches as Rodger Wrublik saws some deadfall across the trail. Thank you, Rodger!
View up to Putnam-Lime Ridge
More views as Jim climbs the ridge
Jim can see my trail marking group coming up the other side of the ridge.
Jim took this photo of some of the folks in my trail marking group coming off Putnam-Lime Ridge.
Jim toook my picture as we descended below Putnam Basin and into the lush Bear Creek drainage.
Sue almost across Mineral Creek at US 550. The water in the center of the creek was mid-thigh high or more this afternoon, depending on your height.
This was a piece of cake compared to the four raging streams Cody and I crossed on Day 141 on the Appalachian Trail in Maine in 2005!!
Jim Ballard crosses the creek his second time this day. The water was not as high as when he and my Jim crossed this morning.
The trail marking group watches as Kathy Lang gets in the creek. (Jim O'Neil took all these creek crossing photos after I went back to the camper to get ready for my massage.)
Jim Ballard went back into the creek for the 3rd time today, to help Kathy across.
Jennifer and Jerry Roach decide on the team approach, as do the other women in the group.
Marcy and John Beard crossing Mineral Creek
Nancy and ??
Charlie Thorn crosses the creek with a handful of trail markers.
6-29-09 Jim and I drove out Cunningham Rd. to check out the location of the aid station where we'll be assisting. Jim points out the waterfall on Little Giant Mtn. Runners will descend to the right on their way down to the AS.
View back down Cunningham Gulch from the old mine at the end of the "good" road (you need 4WD past this point). The aid station will be where the white campers are located in the center of the photo.
Another long waterfall along Cunningham Rd., near the corral
7-3-09 Mountain goat on the edge of US 550 as we drive to the Bear Creek Tunnel for another trail marking adventure
He's pretty shaggy. We hope he doesn't become roadkill.
7-3-09 Jennifer Roach, Joe Lea, and another runner meet at the Bear Creek Tunnel parking area for another trail marking and trail work day.
Runners in the work and marking groups listen to instructions.
The trail marking group has a 7-mile, 4,500-foot ascent to Engineer Pass. We'll pass two old hardrock mines on the way up (in case you don't know why this race is called "Hardrock!")
The ascent is steep the first couple miles through talus and other rocks.
The trail is also very narrow along the cliffs the first two or three miles. Runners will be coming DOWN this trail this year, heading into Ouray.
Many of the runners will be negotiating this trail in the dark the first night of the race.
Work Group #1 will help stabilize this part of the trail with rebar and logs.
There is some colorful quartz along the trail. I'm following Jennifer Roach (red shorts) and two guys the first few miles. Jim and Cody are farther ahead.
It's a long way down to Bear Creek if you slip off this trail!!
Note the trail in the distance in the middle of the photo. That's where another work group is shoring up the trail.
Work Group #2 stabilizes the trail.
There is lots of interesting weathered wood along the trail.
Don't run or hike this trail if you have serious acrophobia! That's Jennifer Roach in the red shorts and top.
Looking back at the trail in the center of the photo - it seems wider hiking/running on it than looking at it in these photos. (Really!)
The view back -- see the trail?
Trail markers pause at the Grizzly Bear Mine ruins.
There are lots of big and little waterfalls along this trail.
Now we're down near Bear Creek.
Work Group #3 does repair work in the same location Jim worked two years ago.
Jennifer heads down and across a tributary to Bear Creek.
The trail winds up though lush meadows and forests (runners will come down this in 2009; the course changes directions each year).
It's sunny back toward Ouray, cloudy toward Engineer Pass.
Two runners not in our group descend from the pass.
Yellow Jacket Mine
Beth and Larry Hall check out the old mine building.
Another abandoned mine building
Another stream to cross
Marsh marigolds love this wet area at about 12,000 feet elevation.
Beautiful view across the creek
Is that Engineer Pass?? Yes, but runners come down a bit to the right in this photo.
Looking back as we get above treeline into the basin below Engineer Pass
Beautiful views in all directions in the basin
This is another marshy sub-alpine eco zone with tons of flowers -- and water.
Views don't get a whole lot better than this one! Too bad so many HRH runners will be going through here in the dark.
Another look back
We can see little Jeeps and little people 'way up there on the pass.
It's a slow trudge for Jim, Cody, and me up to Engineer Pass, especially after our 23-mile run-hike two days ago from Molas Pass to Rolling Mtn. Pass and back (part of Seg. 25 on the Colorado Trail).
Runners need to follow the HRH markers and cairns carefully through here. There is no trail for about a mile below the pass.
Olga Varlamova and friends pass Jim on their way back down from Engineer Pass.
Thank goodness for all the gorgeous scenery to take my mind off this steep climb!
So close and yet so far; the other trail markers rest near the pass as Jim and I continue to climb up (I slowed him down).
Might as well take pictures of some flowers as I stop to breathe every 50 feet!
This pass is almost 13,000 feet elevation, the highest Jim and I have been this summer.
Made it! The trail marking group rests near Engineer Pass.
Cody AKA Moocher hopes Jim will share some of his snack. That was a tough seven miles, after all.
Runners will come up this road to Engineer Pass and follow the markers to the left (right in this photo).
The view south from Engineer Pass; see the race marker?
Engineer Mtn. summit (13,218') is behind the Lang-Ballard truck.
Runners turn left here, toward the trail marking group and Oh! Point (but not TO the point).
Runners head down into the basin where the trail marking group is standing. Oh! Point is in the background.
Charlie bids farewell to the trail markers as he and I catch a ride back down with Jim Ballard (a 4,500-foot drop in 7 miles is NOT good for our bad knees!).
Jim and Cody head back down to the tunnel and US 550 after placing another marker in the ground. They got back down much faster than we went up!
The next three photos are ones I took on the road down from Engineer Pass from the back seat of Jim Ballard's truck.
This is the direction runners will walk or run from Grouse AS up to Engineer Pass.
End of Bear Creek-Engineer Pass photos.
JULY 9: Cunningham AS to Stony Pass over Green Mountain. The race begins tomorrow, so the trail is marked.
Crews and volunteers take this road through Cunningham Gulch to the aid station location.
Corral just before reaching the aid station location.
Location of Cunningham AS next to Cunningham Creek, as shown from above on the Green Mtn. trail. You can see the top of the tent in the photo.
Runners will leave the aid station here tomorrow morning and head toward the trail up Green Mtn.
Looking back at the aid station from the trail on Green Mtn. It will be a steep climb to the basin, heading toward Stony Pass.
The columbines are beautiful at this elevation (~ 10,500 feet and up).
The trail is rocky but distinct until reaching the high basins.
Opening to an old mine
The view south toward the Continental Divide
The view northwest toward Galena, Dome, and Tower Mtns.
The trail looks like it's falling into oblivion in some places.
Climbing higher, looking toward the Continental Divide
The view west toward Little Giant and King Solomon Mtns. Runners will come down to Cunningham AS to the right of the waterfall before climbing the mountain I'm on.
There are many varieties of flowers on the way up/down Green Mtn. and in the upper basins.
All these flowers may be gone when the sheep are let loose up here!
This is the first basin the runners will enter on top of Green Mtn.
The trail through here becomes less and less distinct. Runners follow HRH flags on various animal trails or go cross-country to Stony Pass.
I missed this turn outbound and wandered around in the upper basins for a while. The views were awesome!
By the time I realized my mistake, I didn't have time to follow the correct route to Stony Pass.
Nice view of the Grenadiers from the wrong route.
The remaining photos are going back down to Cunningham Gulch, the way the course will run (CW) in 2010.
Running back down Green Mtn. toward Cunningham Gulch
Almost back down to the Cunningham AS location. End of photos. See you next year!