Trip Report: James Peak via Rogers Pass

How does Scott Jurek know you? ~ Bob
He doesn’t. ~ me

Bobby T, Leah, and me on James PeakWhen Tall Bob and I were sussing out this route, I had a particularly tough time finding any good beta. So I thought I’d share with a quick trip report to help those who might desire to follow in my footsteps.

James Peak is farily easily accessed from the east via Rogers Pass. This fantastic trail starts just to the north of the Moffat Tunnel at the terminus of the Tolland Road about 8 miles west of Rollinsville. Go to Rollinsville. Turn west. Drive until you see a tunnel. Easy peasy.

At the risk of giving away one of my favorite secret spots, Rogers Pass is incredible. Mostly runnable (or completely, if you are a stud), the pass travels west along South Boulder Creek through old-growth forests replete with waterfalls, wildflowers galore, and a variety of gorgeousness in which to wallow. The trail itself crosses the creek on numerous occasions and spits out right at treeline at the headwaters at Rogers Pass Lake (~4 miles). Trust me, this is worth the hike. Heart lake rests in high tundra just above and is a short push further up the pass. From Heart, follow the trail up the final pitch to the pass summit (~5.5 miles). Bask in the glory.

From the summit of Rogers, there are a number of route variations for the explorative-type but since you came here to learn about James Peak, I’ll try to stay on target. Bear left (south-ish) from the summit and you will see trail markers that will quickly guide you to the well-established route toward James. This dips along the back (west) side  of the ridge and contours southerly until it pops back out on the east side of the ridge for the final climb up to the peak’s summit (13,300′ according to Wikipedia). Reverse your steps back to the start. Good times.

My final stats for the round trip are as follows:

  • Total distance: 13.34 miles
  • Max elevation: 13,314
  • Elevation gain/loss: 4,254′
  • Crash landings: 1 (me)
  • Scott Jurek sightings: 1
  • Garmin info

James Peak Map


James Peak Profile

Cross Training

Like Roy Cormier with the coconut lotion ~ Beastie Boys

I haven’t done much updating of late. Lots going on with my business as well as trying to appreciate some time off from more structured training. Instead of getting outside and pounding out the miles this winter, I have been focusing my efforts on more “season-friendly” fare this year and have been doing a lot more nordic skiing to stay active, promote a more balanced fitness approach, and give my mind/body a bit of a break after several years of pretty much non-stop, focused training. In a word, it has been good for me.

Not only am I coming around fitness-wise through some pretty consistent work on my skate skiing but I am getting more and more jazzed to ramp my running back up. Not just for racing (though I have some ideas about that) but to really plan out a few adventures for the coming season. I love road racing but REALLY miss trail adventures. Last year’s 4-pass loop got me thinking about other “epics” that I could plan and put together for the Spring/Summer of ’13 and I have a real desire to bang out a bunch of 14ers this summer as well. This will probably lead to a marked reduction in my ability to burn quality top-end speeds (which detracts from another, albeit dumber, goal of running a sub-5 mile) but I may see if I can achieve some balance this season and hone both my speed and longer-distance abilities. Not the best combo but I know that some other runners have managed to figure out how to put these two together so I may give it a whirl. I was able to get my top-end back in decent shape very quickly after Leadville in 2010 (e.g. this) so may take that approach and knock out some adventures this summer then leverage that strength and endurance fitness for a fast marathon in the fall. We’ll have to see.

So back to nordic skiing for now. After getting some tips from my buddy, Ben (local hard-man and LT100 top-15er), my ability to actually enjoy skate skiing improved markedly. Two tips: Focus on your timing/rhythm and point your outside hand in the direction of the turn on fast descents. It is interesting how something as specific and technical can actually have applications outside of its seemingly narrow focus. I have actually made some adjustments to my running form based on what I have learned skating. Two more weeks until Eldora closes up shop then the trails should start to open up. I am looking forward to logging some miles on my favorite patches of dirt but in the meantime, you can catch me working on my form, enjoying the much-needed snow, and getting even more psyched for the coming season.

See you out there.


No Such Thing

Not “bad” meaning “bad but “bad” meaning “good”. ~ Run-D.M.C.

During my training for Leadville (the second time), I learned to appreciate any run and after a run that was less than stellar, to tell myself, “There is no such thing as a bad run.” Now this isn’t 100% accurate (Rach even pointed out, “What about the runs where people get hit by cars… or eaten by bears?”), sometimes hitting your targets is incredibly important, the sentiment itself is something which I have really taken to heart. Every run has merit and something from which you can learn and grow as an athlete. So in that regard, every time you drag your ass off the couch to log some miles, there is something to be gained.

Today’s run was a bit of a bust. I had hoped to get in 7-8 miles on the treadmill and, if I was feeling up to it, log some faster paced repeats in there as well. Yesterday’s run in the woods was fantastic. Post-run, however, I noticed a twinge in my left ankle. Running on snow packed trails can cause some irritation and ankle-twisting and apparently I had fallen prey to a minor tweak of some sort. So I tested the waters and after a mile, decided a day of rest would do me (and my ankle) some good. So I shut things down and chalked this one up in the “less-than-perfect” column.

Even on the worst of days, there is much to be learned:

  1. Listen to your body: If things seem “off” there is no shame in taking a bit extra rest. If I have learned anything over my years of regular training, it’s that there is always going to be another opportunity to get out there. And the sooner you can heal an injury, the quicker you will return to full form. Too many runners jump back into the fray too soon and end up losing WAY more time to injury than had they simply taken a couple of rest days earlier vs. later.
  2. Be happy with what you get: People get wrapped up in the “all or nothing” approach to life. Where, if it can’t be done 100%, then it shouldn’t be done at all. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to this point of view and feel that though that may be a way to keep oneself motivated, it isn’t really practical. Life happens and some days one just can’t get the scheduled workout on the books. Be happy with whatever time you get to spend doing the activities you enjoy most. And don’t get down on yourself if things don’t go exactly to plan.
  3. Look for the lessons & stay positive: In virtually any run, there are opportunities to learn from your experience. If your legs felt “dead”, relish in the understanding that you have now experienced what it feels like to run on dead legs so it won’t phase you as much if it happens in the later stages of a race. If you just weren’t feeling it on that particular workout, take pleasure in knowing you got out there and put in some effort, even if it wasn’t your best day.

So get off the couch, get out there, and enjoy the small things if the bigger ones aren’t working for you.




Dave’s a mess. ~ Johnny Upton

Since the demise of NYC, I have not been the best/most consistent runner of all time. Frankly, I have been taking a bit of a break – particularly from structured, “must-do” training. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there, in all kinds of wacky weather, logging fun miles. I have just been less focused, less enamored with logging miles, and just “running for fun”. My project this winter has been to continue running trails. In years past, I have bailed on trail running for a number of reasons: too much snow, too much cold, spring “A” racing on the schedule. This year we have had very little snow, above average temps (for the most part), and I currently am not planning a distance A-race for the spring. These factors have contributed in my logging a big chunk of my winter miles on trails near my house. Good times.

The result of this is that I am slow. Much slower than this time last year (when I actually won a 5K). That’s okay, however. I have been enjoying my journey, feel like a mega bad-ass when I get out in 0°F weather to burn a lap or two in the woods, and have appreciated running abandoned, snow-covered trails that I normally only see in the summer months. Not sure how all of this will translate when I get back to trying to run fast, long races… but for now, it’s all good.


Dream Deferred: No NYC for me

Bummer, man. ~ The Dude

On Thursday, a mere 3 days before the 2012 NYC Marathon was set to start, I made the difficult decision to not participate in this year’s event. As Hurricane Sandy ramped up and looked to be headed straight for the east coast of the U.S. (targeting New York and New Jersey), I definitely started to wonder whether or not it was a good idea to try to squeeze in this race into what would certainly be challenging conditions. After Sandy hit, I still had some hope that the race, for me, could go on. Once evidence of the fuller devastation was revealed, however, my heart just sank. People’s lives had been uprooted along with the trees of Central Park. Was it even in good taste to go to NYC to recreate when so many people had lost their homes, their businesses, their lives?

I can see both sides of the “should the race go on” argument as having valid points. I struggled with these and went back and forth about whether I could do some good in New York while I was there. At one point I considered going even if the race was not to be run just to see if I could volunteer or witness the rebirth of a great city. Ultimately, the travel and accommodation hurdles proved to be much too high and the desire to stay out of the way of recovery efforts much too strong and so I am spending the weekend at home. I may watch the event on Sunday. I certainly will be interested to follow several friends who will be racing on Sunday to see how they fare. But my own dream of running the NYC Marathon will have to wait another year.

Please consider donating to the relief effort. Also, vote the environment this election season.


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