Tag Archives: summit county


Buffalo’s Boulders

29 Nov 16
Heidi Kumm
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Oh me, oh my. It has been far too long since I’ve had an opportunity to wander off into the wilderness simply because it was out there + waiting for me. Winter is finally here + the time suck that is a job is finally in full swing. I’m back to working 50-70 hours a week between both jobs. It’s really not that bad, but it is time consuming. Once I add in the time I spend commuting on the bus 4-5 days a week + the long hours of wintery darkness my window of opportunity to get outside has narrowed. A lot. Of course, this is all my own doing + it was fully expected, yet the reality check of how little time I have to roam after a summer dedicated to roaming it’s not an easy pill to swallow.

This also doesn’t mean I’m *not* getting outside…my adventures have just gotten a lot more mundane, like running down the mountain to catch the bus or hiking up the mountain with a backpack full of groceries. You know, the stuff that gets me smiling into the wind but isn’t really worthy of social media oversharing. Life; sometimes it’s boring.

Except when it’s not, like that one time Max + I went on an adventure up about the trees of Silverthorne! I was determined not to let another season go by with me simply living in the shadow of Buffalo Mountain. I was going to get to the top of the rocky summit before I packed up + headed out again. The delayed opening of all the resort [+ in turn, my extra weeks of semi-funemployment] gave me the perfect excuse to go wandering up the mountain side. I’ve been up to Buffalo’s boulder field in the past but I’ve never actually made it to the summit, courtesy of delicious snacks I’d pack + eat on a boulder before convincing myself I’d come far enough. Not this time, this time we were going to the top…the tippy top!

We headed out after a lazy start to the day, around 9am. This gave the sun just enough time to pop up over the mountain tops + warm up our wander. We headed out the back door + up the mountain side. Oh, yes, I sure did remember to thank my life [+ the super awesome people in it, ahem, Robb] a few times for the luxury of a hike-to-trailhead! The meander up to the Buffalo Cabin Trail was easy + straight forward; a route I’d hiked, run + skidded along multiple times alone + with Robb. I’d even run icy hill repeats up to the actual cabin site while prepping for my failed Pico de Orizaba attempt.

Beyond the cabin site the trail launched into twisting switchbacks, a section I’ve learned to avoid when covered in snow + ice. Luckily, the warm weather that gave me all this extra free time was also the creator of nearly dry trails, only dotted with patches of slick, packed snow. Since I had been up these trails multiple times I did very little research, choosing to rely upon my past experiences + cunning ability to follow cairn across boulder fields. Turns out my skills are not quite as cunning as I’d hoped. I lost the official trail almost immediately after breaking above the treeline. Max + I found ourselves surrounded by refrigerator-sized boulders…obstacles I can navigate with relative ease, but something Max’s four legs + padded paws were not very good at clinging to. I seriously considered turning back as I watched Max valiantly battle upward while slipping + sliding over the boulders.

I felt like a massive jerk face for coaxing him upward. He was so full of energy + excited to be out exploring but the boulders were not being very good mountain hosts. I eventually plopped down on a rock near Max + dug up my phone to message Robb. What was the best way to help Max survive a boulder field? Turns out following the actual trail was the right answer. Of course, I had already lost the cairn’ed trail so I opted for Plan B…head left + plow straight up the grassier tundra near the boulder field. Max was completely on board, as he proved by sprinting on ahead of me while I sucked some serious wind.

We found the first false summit shortly after diverting our route to avoid the massive boulders. We scrambled out to the “summit” of this false summit + stared down at the massive boulder field we had just left behind. It was incredibly steep. I’ve spent many commutes staring up at the boulders of Buffalo + I never realized just how steep it was — the long distance gazing does it zero justice, just as these photos will never capture the reality of “whoa, how do they even stay in place” steepness!

Once we popped up to the saddle between the rocky false summit + the even rocky legit summit we found the trail again. At this point the trail was pretty darn obvious — the boulder field had petered out into a scree field + we both scooted along quicker, chasing down a summit in the sunshine. As we followed the ridgeline near the top of Buffalo we finally encountered our second person of the day + our trek down only garnered us an additional two people. Oh, the solitude of mountain trekking on a random Tuesday morning!

By the time we found the actual summit of Buffalo I was sweating in my tank top, hello there November…or not. Max + I plopped down to bask in the sunshine while munching on a sandwich I packed. Yea, I shared with Max. I figured he’d earned it with all his boulder bouncing earlier in the trek. Neither of us got to sneak many M+M’s tho — partly because Max isn’t supposed to indulge in chocolate + partly because the bag of M+M’s were acting as our photographer. Who needs friends when you have a bag of M+M’s?! No, seriously…

On our way down the mountain we opted to stick to the obvious trail as we skirted over the saddle +  dropped down north side of the false summit. Turns out, if you can properly follow cairns, the legitimate trail is really quite easy to follow. Now we all know, for future reference! It was a bit icy on our descent, somehow the dusting of snow we’d seen in the past week managed to pile up + get packed down on the shady side of the false summit. I tip toed through the slippery boulders while Max showed me up by bounding way ahead + turning back when he lost sight of me, as if to say “hurry up, human!”.

My legs were jonesing for a run by the time we stumbled our way to the treeline, so off we went! Max, as usual, led the way with a regular glance back to make sure I was still upright and trucking along. It felt good to cruise along, dodging low hanging trees + hopping over rocks. My legs missed the easy freedom of running. As we cruised downhill I rediscovered my happy place, almost on accident. It felt good to run, to pump my arms + gasp for thin mountain air….to be running again, for the fun of it. I might not get a lot of running in this winter but when I do get around to it sure does feel good to run, just because. Besides, when I’m not running there are plenty of boulders to scramble around on to get my dirty trail fix!



Back To Running. Sort of.

15 Nov 16
Heidi Kumm
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Getting Back to Running. Sort of.

The last time I headed out on a non-injury-tester, non-race related run was…early September? Yea, that long ago. Since then I’ve run two time-based races with rather respectable finishes + wandered out onto mountain trails just for funsies, but nothing with any goal beyond “find happy” + survive. It feels a bit like my legs have forgotten how to run; they have definitely forgotten how to yearn for a sweaty, gasping run.

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My Version of Running

04 Jan 16
Heidi Kumm
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When it comes to running I like to float around this lazy river of denial, pretending I have the burning desire to become a type of runner I have never been…a dedicated run-nerd who loves speed work and is motivated by the numbers Strava spits out at me. Eventually I come to my senses, but not until I completely freak out, forget how to run and doubt my ability to walk. The fact I still think I could one day become that type of runner is sad, but at least I’m well versed in the feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness these ambitions breed so I can give up on my crazy wannabe runner notions and fall back in love with my lazy crazy before it’s too late!

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Mountain Life

29 Dec 15
Heidi Kumm
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I moved to Colorado nearly five years ago. When people as “why” I always respond with “for the mountains”. When we first discussed moving out to Colorado the plan was to live in the mountains…but that quickly became unrealistic thanks to the cost of living, lack of jobs and our personal expectations for our lives. Luckily, Denver was a solid second best option for us. Since we made that move a LOT has changed in our lives and if you told 2011 Heidi that she’d be living like 2015 Heidi is actually living she’d probably crawl into bed with a bowl of ice cream and cry. This isn’t what I expected for myself…but I love it. A lot.

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Snowshoe Shenanigans!

12 Feb 15
Heidi Kumm
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In preparation for our trek around Torres del Paine in Chile I decided it was necessary for Logan and I to figure out how we deal with stress…you know, in case something goes wrong in a foreign country where neither of us speak the language. Besides, a little misery training always does a person good, right?!

That is how our plan to summit a winter 14er came to be – we were going to put ourselves in a situation that would result in misery for the sole purpose of making sure neither of us got murdered for being annoying, whining or generally unlikable. Looking back I basically created the perfect plan for my own death. Luckily we were able to convince Robb to join us. And by convince I really mean I said “Hey, can we crash at your place Saturday night? Oh, and by the way, you should come hike a mountain with us Sunday!”. What can I say, he’s agreeable like that!

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Escaping to the Mountains

10 Nov 14
Heidi Kumm
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After a long week with many, many moments of “gah, I wish I could just turn the internet off” I spent my weekend doing exactly that. Sure, I had my phone on me and yea, I double tapped posts on Instagram but in the grand scheme of things…the internet did not matter!

It started with a friendly meet up with Chris and Marissa in Boulder. It was a freaking gorgeous day with bluebird skies and temperatures that should have left us in September. We spent some quality time frolicking around trails and making fools of ourselves before we decided we’d earned our weight in fries + beer. I guess the internet isn’t all bad if it gets you friends like these crazies…

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Riding Solo-ish

04 Feb 14
Heidi Kumm
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Welp, all that “hey, look at me because I might be a runner” blabber clearly did not work as a long-term motivator. All that running I was supposed to do this weekend? Yea, I decided to take up cross-training instead. I’d blame all the snow that finally arrived in Denver but the trails/sidewalks got cleared quickly, I own traction + gaiters and there were no arctic winds. All that kind of shot my Friday/Saturday excuses right in the foot. But my Sunday excuse? Oh, it’s a good one…

Rather than go on a snowy long run like a responsible runner-in-training would do I jumped at the opportunity to head west and play in the feet of fresh powder that got dumped on Summit County. It was Superbowl Sunday and I had high hopes for an empty mountain…Keystone did not disappoint! Traffic did not exist, the lift lines disappeared at 11:30 and the powder was glorious!

I made the early morning drive up alone with the intent to spend the day riding hard, alone. I was actually really excited for a long day on the mountain looping along tree runs just to see what I was capable of. As I made my way up the mountain it became apparent I wouldn’t have to ride alone. Heather and Will were already in Summit County, Piper was on the road somewhere ahead of me and Lynne came up for afternoon skiing! I had all sorts of friends to frolic in the snow with!

Lynne, rocking at life after just 1 year on skis! She hit the black diamonds and even the deep tree runs! So proud!

At some point throughout the day I met up with pretty much everyone I knew on the mountain and even made a few new random friends. That did not stop me from riding hard and pushing my limits. I immediately headed to the back of the mountain, did some hiking up to the North/South Bowls and spent as much quality time in the trees as the lifts would allow.

The first thing I noticed while riding alone? I’m much more aggressive when I’m by myself! I was hitting lips while sucking it in and crouching to fit through the trees – I’ve never done that before! At least not on purpose!

Sure, I beat the crap out of my helmet and may have made direct contact with a tree more than once but it felt so good! Well, except for the part where I try to hug a tree only to have 2 pounds of fresh snow fall onto my head…and melt down my back. Yup, that happened more times than I care to admit. And yes, my jacket had a hood, I was just being stupid!

Somehow I managed to dig up just enough responsibility to go to work today…and probably tomorrow, and the day after that. But this weekend? Definitely have plans for more hard tree riding – counts as cross training, right? Trust me, my body says it does! Riding powder is a lot of work!