Black Canyon Ascent

Near the start of the Black Canyon Ascent. Elizabeth Riley photo.

Near the start of the Black Canyon Ascent. Elizabeth Riley photo.

As the dense grey clouds slowly lowered over the rim of the Black Canyon, signaling immanent rain on a quiet Saturday morning, Jan Peart, face adorned with a gigantic smile, began banging on a giant round gong. The peace now sufficiently disturbed and the few people milling about alerted to the arrival of the first runner, the way was paved for Peter Maksimow to come sprinting across the finish line to win the 2015 Black Canyon Ascent.

Sitting inside around frosty beer mugs and a blazing warm fire on the evening before while the rain and intermittent snow dumped down outside, Elizabeth and I wondered what we should do the following day. The forecast called for more of the same dreary weather that had kept us inside and restless with pent-up energy for the last week. The prospect of another Saturday spent trying to get in a long run through freezing rain was not inspiring. Hungry for more writing and photography opportunities, and figuring the worst-case scenario was we would meet some new people, we came up with the idea to check out the Black Canyon Ascent race outside of Montrose the next morning. Our plan was to take some photos and write an article and see if we couldn’t find a place to get them published. So the next morning found us scouting locations to take photos and watch the race on the road up to the Black Canyon.

This year marked the 40th running of the Black Canyon Ascent, making it one of the oldest running races in Colorado, and the second oldest on the Western Slope (the Imogene Pass Run is in its 41st year in 2015). It starts at the corner of US 50, just outside of Montrose, and the East Rim Road, which climbs for six miles to the entrance to the Black Canyon National Park. The road is paved the entire way, but the climb is continuous and rises over 2,000 vertical feet to the finish. Only in the last half mile, once inside the national park, does the road dip slightly on its way to the first parking lot where the finish line is located.

On this Saturday morning the light was perfect and so were the running conditions. The rain had ceased, but low lying clouds and fog hanging in all the nearby valleys made for quite an impressive scene. Although more rain was in the forecast, the sun decided to peek out from behind the clouds at just the moment that the race started, enhancing the already perfect setting. The runners quickly dispersed into a long line of very brightly clad dots along the road as they all settled into their own pace for the climb.

Peter Maksimow after his successful race. Elizabeth Riley photo.

Peter Maksimow after his successful race. Elizabeth Riley photo.

Immediately gapping the rest of the field were two Colorado Springs mountain runners Peter Maksimow and Simon Gutierrez. Maksimow was looking to defend his title from the previous year and hoping to challenge the course record, while Gutierrez was also a former champion. They were running neck and neck by us at our first photo perch roughly one mile up the road. Continue reading

Writing Work

Fishing at Island Lake, just another day in the San Juans…

One of the primary reasons that I started this blog was to begin writing with other readers in mind, rather than just writing for myself. With no writing resume to speak of, I figured it could also serve as a showcase of what I am capable of, as well as a place to practice one of the many things I love to do–write. With luck, I figured that writing this blog could eventually help me to get paid for writing. Well, it worked! I’ve been writing gear reviews and short histories of various pieces of outdoor gear for for most of the summer. With all of the writing work I have not found enough time to write about the adventures and thoughts I have been having, although I can hopefully catch up on those soon. Anyway, here are some links to the gear histories I wrote. The histories are smaller sections embedded within the larger reviews and are uncredited, but anyway… I plan to continue to showcase my writing work here once it is finished, so more to come!

History of Alpine Ski Boots
History of Binoculars
History of Carry On Luggage
History of Pedometers
History of Digital Cameras
History of Camping Tents
History of Trail Running Shoes
History of Bike Helmets
History of Hiking Boots
History of Pocket Knives
History of Sport Headphones
History of Sandals
History of Umbrellas