Wednesday, July 29, 2009
That's because it's the end of July in Colorado, when rain becomes less common and temps on the plains hit the 90's. This year, however, rainfall has been unusually high, and plants have remained green later, and grown higher.
A very brief scattered rain was falling at the time, and it was so quiet I could hear the big drops hitting the grass as I ran.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Or rather, not enough have heard a message that provides a sufficient alternative, for example, Objectivism.
I posted the following comment on his article:
Ezra, there is no moral case for health care reform, unless you mean fully privatizing it.
The reason is: it's not possible to speak of morality in a context in which you are literally forcing choices on people. Morality is a matter of chosen moral codes, not coercion. Morality is a matter of choosing values with your mind and sticking to them. There can be no morality when social policy entails forcibly preventing doctors from setting the terms of the their practice, preventing insurance to be bought and sold across state lines, preventing insurers from doing business as they see fit, and preventing consumers from partaking of all of the above, as they choose.
Liberal health care reform, single payer, socialized medicine... whatever you wish to call it, never had the moral high ground because it is morally wrong on principle. It stands in opposition to people thinking and living their lives, and disposing of their earthly goods as they see fit, be they doctor, insurer or patient.
There is no moral right to harness some people as beasts of burden to others. That is not caring, that is not social, that is not compassionate; it is slavery. It is the end of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What is right is for people to live by the judgment of their minds, and be left free to do so.
On the plus side, one of the those lessons was that "'too big to fail' has to go", and I couldn't agree more. However, governments will never give that up, until we learn that we have no moral right to intervene in commercial transactions. Currently, we view intervention as one of an array of possible tools we can use to tinker with the economy, and the issue of government's moral right to tinker remains unquestioned. Political pressure will always overwhelm such a wish, because society at large accepts the wider principle that we should be allowed to intervene if necessary. It is an empty wish.
On the minus side: everything else.
Nowhere was there an admission that government intervention is the cause, that it is inherently a destabilizing influence, and that we should step back from markets and stop causing recessions in them.
Instead, he said that politics need to remain separate from the Fed to ensure that inflation and financial stability remain in balance. Mr. Bernanke, since the Fed would not exist under a fully free market, it is political intervention.
More tinkering: "We put together a set of rules that apply to all lenders, and I hope that solves the problem, but those weren't in place early enough. We have to take some heat for that, I think that's appropriate." In other words, the fact that there are government influences at all, and that they apply pressure in favor of risky loans and loose credit, is not the problem. We need to adjust the leash we have around lenders' necks, rather than stop herding them all in the direction of altruist housing policy.
And: "Nothing made me more frustrated than having to intervene in a couple cases where wild bets threatened to bring down the financial system," he said. "But I was not going to be the Federal Reserve chairman who presided over the second Great Depression." This type of comment has become commonplace. Again, there is no admission that government influences in favor of loose credit had any role, or that the solution would have been to mop up the fallout from that government failure. The problem was lenders who made bad bets, and our savior was Intervention, a knight on a white horse who rode in to save the day.
This is the twisted arrogance of the altruist: claim that man is helpless, that selfish beings will destroy everything in their path, and then offer to save them by putting yokes around their necks. No thanks, Mr. Bernanke. That's a bet I can't win.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Total run length was 9.2 miles, starting elevation was 9,900 and the summit is 14,169 ft. Yale is the 21st highest named peak in Colorado.
There was another glitch with GPS tracking this time. I got to the summit, pressed the "lap" button to mark the time, and took pictures for a few minutes. About 10 minutes into my descent I noticed it was not recording my run! Aaaah! I pressed start again and it resumed. It turns out the Forerunner 405 has an optional setting that can put the device into power save mode regardless of whether you are recording activity data. I ask you: who in the world would want a sport watch to go to sleep in the middle of recording?? That makes no sense at all. Imagine a video camera that stops taking footage if you don't keep confirming that it should continue. I have no idea if this was the default setting, or if I activated it accidentally, but I turned this "feature" off when I got back. Thankfully, I was able to fill in the track manually using the SportTracks track editor.
Here is a shot from where the trail passed through a ravine with a creek in it, which traps moisture and supports more deciduous trees such as aspen:
About 2/3 of the way up, the trail passed above the trees. Parts of the trail you see below were steep enough that I was sliding even with the good tread I have on my trail shoes. On the way down, I ran in tiny steps with my feet turned in or out at about 45 degrees.
It may not be apparent from my various trail photos, but the mountainsides have been covered with flowers. Like all alpine plants, they tend to be small and unobtrusive, getting smaller the higher you go. Here is the ever-present Penstemon hallii, or Hall's Beardtoungue:
This is the point at which the hard part begins; my body responds a bit more slowly, I begin to feel a bit punch-drunk and stair-steps become more difficult. Atmospheric pressure here is only 60% compared to sea level (where I live it's 80%). On both this peak and the last, people have been very nice, supplying high-fives and nice comments as I trudge by, wheezing :) I've also been the only runner. I guess they're all at Pikes Peak. More likely than not, these trails are regarded as too busy or not as runner-friendly. Here's a shot from maybe 200 feet below the summit, with hikers silhouetted against the sky:
This photo shows the steepness of the trail pretty well!
Amazingly, I noticed that after this run, my legs were tired but not stiff and hammered like they were in past years or even a month ago. My body is actually getting used to running these peaks.
After I was done I drove down to Salida for lunch at Amica's, which is a brewery that serves Italian-influenced food. Although I avoid carbs, and there's little on the menu that does not involve bread, the beer is excellent and so is the food. The dinner salads are very good: crisp greens, grated parmesan and sliced veggies served with a nice vinaigrette. I've found that the innocuous dinner salad can be an effective litmus test for a restaurant's quality. If they are paying attention to details such as not serving wilted greens, chances are the more complex dishes will be carefully done also. Most of my favorite regular restaurants over the years have had good side salads! In any case, I got a calzone, which had a thin (yay) garlic-and-oil-brushed crust and lots of ingredients. I have to say the bread itself was delicious. Yum.
Friday, July 24, 2009
This is a very relaxing place, which follows the creek through grasslands a couple of miles from the mountains. There are two spots where the trail runs under roads: Hwy 36 and South Boulder Road, but other than that, it's very peaceful.
In the background are the Flatirons south of Boulder, which grace the front side of Boulder Mountain Park. The open fields of the trail often have cows and calves wandering around them... as well as on the trail. Prairie dogs warn each other of your passage through their turf. That's funny, I thought they were on my trail.
The evening I took these pictures, I heard an ambulance in the distance. As it made its way along somewhere to the east, the local coyotes started yelping and crying along with the siren, doing a great job of mimicking it. It was pretty funny. It's the second time I've heard them doing that; the other time was a different group west of Denver.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
It's not that surprising that a brewery would grow hops, but I've not seen any growing in an organized fashion anywhere on the property. It makes me wonder how they got there. Did someone intentionally plant them along a public path? Did they escape from plots that used to exist, or from a truck or train? Intriguing.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
This run had a total length of 18.7 miles, with a starting elevation of 9,300 ft and a summit of 14,420 ft. Total elevation gain/loss was around 5,400 ft. Thankfully my Forerunner 405 worked perfectly this time so I got a complete and accurate GPS track.
This was a pretty good runner's trail most of the way, because the surface was good and most of the trail is well-maintained, even up high. There were some areas that traversed large rockfalls that I didn't run, and the trail above 13,600 ft was mostly stair steps, slippery dirt and large rocks, so I hiked that part. I can run nicely surfaced trails up high, but even after a couple of years, I still find it tough when a trail at that altitude involves a lot of steps, although it's "easier" than it used to be.
Since about 2/3 of the trail was below tree line, there was lots of running that looked like the shot below of forest. Some was level, some was stepped, and some of it had inch worms dangling on silk threads, which I had to dance around as I ran. There were a lot of the same bugs at Mount of the Holy Cross last summer, and I guess the terrain, and perhaps the time of year, is similar enough on this trail:
At around 12,000 ft, the trail emerged into a beautiful alpine valley, affording the first views of Mt. Harvard, which is visible to the right of the cloud in the middle.
The next photo was taken from near the top, looking back down the valley. The trail runs all the way back to the green valley in the back and then left for several miles. In the background are Mt. Princeton (on the left) and Mt. Yale (in the middle).
One of the great things about this trail were the many small creeks coming right off the mountains that I used to soak my shirt and dunk my head. They were ice-cold and I can't describe how great that felt on the return run, when I was hot and tired! I wanted to dive in. It also reduced sweating and let my small water supply last to the end. Even so, I drank 2 liters after I got back.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I've run 14,000 ft peaks before (the parts that were runnable) but my phone GPS does not work outside cell networks, and I no longer have a working handheld GPS -- which is crazy considering the types of outdoor activities I do. Anyway, I finally was able to record this run using my new Garmin Forerunner 405, but unfortunately it mysteriously went insane during my ascent, placing me a mile off-trail and two miles underneath Ellingwood Ridge! At least it managed to record the descent portion of my run correctly.*
La Plata Peak is in the Sawatch Range, south of Leadville, CO. The starting elevation off Hwy 82 is around 10,100 ft, the summit is 14,336 ft, and the total distance was around 9.4 miles.
This is an interesting and scenic trail, with a mile and a half in pine forest, some steep climbs above a green mountain valley, and more steep scurrying up somewhat overused dirt trails and talus to the summit. There were snow fields, but all were avoidable. The views, of course, were great. Snowmass Peak was visible to the west, and the rest of the Sawatch to the north and south.
Below is a picture of one of the more sedate stretches of trail, which helps to explain why I happily endure the oxygen deprivation. In spite of the similarity to the Google Earth image above, that's actually Seyres Peak in the background; La Plata is 2,000 ft up and out of sight to the left:
The only part I didn't care for was the upper portion, where there was a lot of slippery eroded dirt and stones. It made for some unpleasant downhill portions, because of the slipping, and the fact that my toes were hitting the ends of my shoes. When that happens I just adjust the laces, curl my toes slightly, and stop running to step down carefully as necessary.
Here's a shot of Ellingwood Ridge, which also leads to the summit and appears as the high area on the left side of the Google Earth image. A storm lingers over Hwy 24 behind the ridge, and you could hear the thunder. I was off the peak before the weather reached La Plata. One of the advantages of running is that you can make a leisurely start and still be back down before afternoon thunderstorms.
Afterwards I stopped for lunch and a coffee in Leadville, and was surprised to find Anton Krupicka working as a barista. That probably won't mean anything unless you pay attention to race results for long trail races, but Tony is one of the top long-distance runners in the country. On Saturday, he placed second in the Leadville Trail Marathon with a time of 3:40 with cramps. I couldn't run that fast on flat land, let alone over a 13,000 ft. mountain pass. He is a radical advocate of a small carbon footprint, so he won't be showing up on the OBloggers feed, but he works hard and excels at the sport he loves, and I can certainly respect that.
*It was a bad technology day. I also dropped my camera at the summit. I managed to bend the lens back into alignment (!) and amazingly it still works. However, there's a piece loose inside that sometimes shows up in the images, so it needs a doctor visit. Bummer. I shudder to think what's going to happen if I buy an iPhone. Two words: protective cover.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
- Obama '09
- Coexist (spelled out in religious symbols)
- Euthanize Fundamentalists
I didn't see a "McCain '09" sticker, but it might have fallen off.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
I had not really paid much attention to the name "Indian Peaks" until I moved here, even though it part of the same range of mountains whose northern end passes through Rocky Mountain National Park, which I had visited many times. Each time I'm out in these peaks I appreciate them more; they are rugged, interesting and scenic, and contain a wide variety of terrain.
The low point on this run was 10,350 ft, the high point 12,600 ft, with a total mileage of about 9.4 miles.
About 2/3 of the way up is Lake Isabelle. The pass that was my destination is the ridge on the upper right. You can see this lake in the Google Earth track in the back, at the base of the peaks.
One of the cool things about this run, if you'll pardon the pun, was the snow. Although I'd been deterred a couple of times recently by deep and/or risky snow, I decided to press on this time in my rather too-well-ventilated Brooks Cascadias. I'm glad I did, soggy feet and all. Here's one of the snow fields I encountered:
When it was steep, I walked up with my feet sideways, and down on my heels, following existing tracks. Even though my feet got a bit damp, it wasn't bad because it was a beautiful sunny day, and the sensation of walking on surreal "dunes" of snow was fun.
Here is the view over the other side of Pawnee Pass, to Pawnee Lake:
For perspective, Pawnee Lake below is about 500 feet higher my starting point. Luckily, because of the number of switchbacks, few segments of the trail were steep, so much of it felt like running on flat land. Aside from the typical Indian Peaks rocks (which seem to be round and small and designed to make running difficult) the trail was actually very good for running.
Other local areas have different "running geography": for example, the Pikes Peak area has pink granite rock that reduces to soft fine gravel, whereas the hogbacks west of Denver have sharp-edged angled sandstone that breaks off in chunks and eventually dissolves into pockets of beach sand.
The summer running season is off to a good start. Hopefully there will be longer and higher runs ahead :)
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I happened to read David McCullough's 1776 this year, and I realized how close we came to not becoming the U.S.A. We were a disjointed association of colonial subjects with a relatively inexperienced army compared to the British.
What we did have, and need to regain, was a sense of purpose that went beyond mere service to nation, or to the admittedly civilized principles for which the British Empire stood at the time.
We had distilled the essence of freedom into the principle of individual rights; the right of each person to remain free from interference provided they do not harm others. Among other things, it means laissez-faire capitalism in politics; an absolute separation of state and economy.
Recent presidents have either lied and said they are for freedom (Bush), or do not claim to value freedom in the first place, and express contempt for the self (Obama). Either way, freedom is fighting an uphill battle.
This time around, Americans need to embrace a moral revolution, and realize that individualism is not the enemy, but rather that -- rightly understood -- selfishness = life. They need to be put in touch with the Objectivist position that selfishness does not involve brute force and exploitation, but personal responsibility and a ruthless adherence to a long-term rational vision and rational principles*.
Such a moral sea change is the only force that can change the direction of this country, because only those with morality on their side can win, and only a morality with a rational basis will prevail.
*See Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and The Virtue of Selfishness.