Happy feet: Some of my favorite scenes from the trail

Sweet trails at Loveland Pass, Colo.

Sweet trails at Loveland Pass, Colo.

Spring is upon us, and that means a bunch of people are going to crawl out of their winter holes and hit the trails. Some of us like those winter trails, too, but for most of the public, spring and summer is where it’s at.

With that in mind, I think it’s time for some trail stoke. In this case, some of my favorite images of trails. So here goes…

It’s hard to beat a bluebird day above treeline…

Summit trail on Mount Lincoln, Colo.

Summit trail on Mount Lincoln, Colo.

A tough walk up can lead to pleasant valleys below…

The route down from Broken Hand Pass to Cottonwood Lake, Colo., Sangre de Cristo Range.

The route down from Broken Hand Pass to Cottonwood Lake, Colo., Sangre de Cristo Range.

A good snow can make the woods come alive in new ways…

Snowy scene from near the trailhead at Turkey Mountain, Tulsa, Okla.

Snowy scene from near the trailhead at Turkey Mountain, Tulsa, Okla.

And similarly, the ethereal feel of cloud cover will make some routes feel mysterious…

Summit ridge trail on Missouri Mountain, Colo.

Summit ridge trail on Missouri Mountain, Colo.

When your path points toward the dramatic, it become fuel to push on…

Happy backpackers on the trail up to Chicago Basin, Colo., Weminuche Wilderness.

Happy backpackers on the trail up to Chicago Basin, Colo., Weminuche Wilderness.

And a little bit of air can be pretty exciting…

Ledge-y section on the Southwest RIdge of Mount Sneffels, Colo.

Ledge-y section on the Southwest Ridge of Mount Sneffels, Colo.

Long shadows of daybreak signal the encouragement that comes with the dawn…

Denney Creek Trail up the slopes of Mount Yale, Colo.

Denney Creek Trail up the slopes of Mount Yale, Colo.

And then there are scenes ahead of you that blow your mind…

Going up toward the summit pitch on Uncompahgre Peak, Colo.

Going up toward the summit pitch on Uncompahgre Peak, Colo.

They make you feel more alive…

Approaching the saddle on Mount Shavano. Colo.

Approaching the saddle on Mount Shavano, Colo.

As it turns out, a great memory on the trail is all about timing…

Wintry sunset scene on the west-side trails at Turkey Mountain, Tulsa, Okla.

Wintry sunset scene on the west-side trails at Turkey Mountain, Tulsa, Okla.

These are just a sampling. I’ve got a lot of good hiking memories. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to hit the trail right now. Happy hiking, folks!

Bob Doucette

My favorite mountain photos

Sunrise on the Longs Peak Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Sunrise on the Longs Peak Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Two short facts about me: I love the mountains, and I like to take pictures of them. I’m not a great photographer, but the cool thing about the mountains is their very nature can make a mediocre photographer look pretty good.

Another fact: I can get wordy. This post is going to be the opposite of that. It’s going to be all about the images of peaks that I love. So here we go…

Misty mountains

Peak 18 and Windom Peak, Colorado.

Peak 18 and Windom Peak, Colorado.

This was taken in a break in the weather during a soggy backpacking and peak bagging trip in southwestern Colorado. We spent hours in our tents waiting for the weather to improve. The occasional lulls in the rain gave us scenes like this.

Tundra in bloom

Looking down the trail on Cupid. Front Range, Colorado.

Looking down the trail on Cupid. Front Range, Colorado.

Last summer, the weather — again — conspired against me. But I found a brief window near Loveland Pass to do a solo hike of Cupid, a 13,000-foot peak along the Front Range. Gray skies, snow patches and loads of wildflowers made this sweet stretch of singletrack one of the more memorable images I have.

Don’t fence me in

Glass Mountain, Oklahoma.

Glass Mountain, Oklahoma.

While driving to Black Mesa, Oklahoma, I drove through a patch of short peaks and mesas in the northwestern part of the state that caught my eye. I love the lines in this one, from the high, wispy clouds in the sky to the fence line in the foreground. Added to that, the textures of the mountain itself. It’s not a big mountain, but it sure is pretty.

Holy moly

Holy Cross Ridge, near Minturn, Colorado.

Holy Cross Ridge, near Minturn, Colorado.

I took this photo from the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross. The camera is not a good one — from an iPhone 3 — but the profile of the ridge, the snow, and the way the sun was hitting it made it pretty striking.

Brooding over mountains

Huron Peak, Colorado.

Huron Peak, Colorado.

Another one from the iPhone 3. I snapped this one hiking down the mountain, and the timing was good — a storm was forming over the top of the peak. It’s always good to get below treeline before storms roll in, and it made for a cool image as well.

Mountain monarch

Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Longs Peak is one of the most photogenic mountains I’ve ever seen. It’s big, dramatic and wild. It will test you, but it will also reward you with vivid, dramatic scenery that look great in pictures. I might add that pictures do not do this mountain much justice.

Hiking into mystery

Summit ridge on Missouri Mountain, Colorado.

Summit ridge on Missouri Mountain, Colorado.

Another memorable solo outing. Dodgy weather almost made this one a no-go, but conditions held long enough to bag the summit. While on the ridge, swirling clouds made this part of the trail appear to vanish into the mists. It was surreal and amazing to hike this stretch of alpine singletrack.

Ancient reflections

Mount Mitchell, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma.

Mount Mitchell, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma.

I cut my teeth on Class 3 and 4 climbing on this one. This scene framed itself nicely. The light in the sky is a little flat, but I liked the way the mountain is reflected in the water, and how you can see all the grooves in this ancient granite crag. The Wichitas are hundreds of millions of years old, but still stand proudly over the western Oklahoma prairie.

Clothed in white

Northeastern San Juan Range, near Lake City, Colorado.

Northeastern San Juan Range, near Lake City, Colorado.

You can see four 13,000-foot peaks in this one, graced with late spring snow — Coxcomb, Redcliff, Precipice and Heisshorn. The suncupped snow in the foreground is actually the summit of Wetterhorn Peak, which contrasts nicely with the peaks in the middle of the frame and the skies far to the north. Breathtaking scenery atop my favorite mountain.

Adventure is out there

Overlooking the Angle of Shavano Coulior, Mount Shavano, Colorado.

Overlooking the Angel of Shavano Coulior, Mount Shavano, Colorado.

A shot of one of my adventure buddies, Johnny Hunter, on our first snow climb on Mount Shavano. The sweeping lines of the trail, the couloir and the saddle of the mountain, combined with the sky in the background, just screams “spirit of adventure” to me.

Moment before a triumph

Mount Shavano summit.

Mount Shavano summit.

Another one from Mount Shavano. This was taken less than a hundred feet from the summit. Johnny is paused here, looking up. To me, this captures the moment when you realize that victory is near — the hard work, physical strain, whipping winds — all of it is converging on a slice of time when you’re about to top out after a big day on the mountain. It’s a sweet feeling that keeps us coming back for more.

Watch your step

Summit of Uncompahgre Peak, near Lake City, Colorado.

Summit of Uncompahgre Peak, near Lake City, Colorado.

My official “sweaty palms” photo from the top of the San Juans’ highest mountain, Uncompahgre Peak. It’s a simple hike to the top with a small stretch of scrambling near the summit. But the north face cliffs are sheer. This shot is looking 700 feet straight down.

Seasons in flux

Looking east from the summit of Uncompahgre Peak.

Looking east from the summit of Uncompahgre Peak.

Rain and graupple falling to the east gave these peaks a frosty appearance over the Labor Day weekend of 2009. A very moody image that shows how the weather and mountains interact.

Striking figure

Wetterhorn Peak, Colorado.

Wetterhorn Peak, Colorado.

My favorite mountain, Wetterhorn, as seen from the summit of Matterhorn Peak. Wetterhorn offers so many dramatic profiles and is an incredible (and surprisingly accessible) mountain to climb. The spiny connecting ridge between the two mountains offers a little more visual spice that symbolizes the wildness of the San Juans.

So there you have it. You’ll notice that all of these are from two states. I’ve hiked and climbed mountains in New Mexico, Montana, Tennessee and even China, but it is coincidence that my favorite mountain pics come from the two states — Colorado and Oklahoma — where I’ve lived the longest.

I’d like to see your favorite mountain pics. So here’s what I’m proposing: Go to the Proactiveoutside Facebook page (please “like” it if you haven’t already!) and put your best mountain pic in the comments that accompany this post. Include a brief description of what mountain we’re looking at, where it is, and any other interesting information about the image. If I get enough, I’ll compile them and post them in a future blog of your best images. So let’s see em!

Bob Doucette

I run my city

Surprising architecture seen on the run in downtown Tulsa.

Surprising architecture seen on the run in downtown Tulsa.

Not too long ago, I wrote about how you see a city much differently on foot than you do from inside a car. The car can be isolating, so much so that it even dictates where in a community you tend to go. When you’re on foot, things look, smell and sound much different. It’s a more intimate experience, good or bad.

In the past, I’ve tried to pack in a run or two in every city to which I’ve traveled. Whether it’s for a race (Oklahoma City comes to mind) or business (Washington, D.C.), taking a tour of a city on foot has a much different feel than hitting the highway.

But how well do we get to know our own communities? How much have you explored your own city?

This is hard to do if you train only in a specific park or put in most of your miles at a track or on a treadmill. Since moving to Tulsa nearly three years ago, exploring the city via the run has been a conscious — and worthwhile — practice for me.

When I tell people I live in Tulsa, most people think about the plains, oil derricks, red-state stereotypes and so forth. Honestly, I felt the same way when coming here as a teen many years ago (I’ve lived here before), and when I took a job here I wasn’t all that fired up about it. But the city has surprised me, and has revealed itself mostly through its interaction with me as I pound out the miles. My guess is what you think you know about it (if anything) and what it actually is are two different things.

Over the past couple of years I’ve taken moments here and there photographing the places I run. So let’s take a tour.

Tulsa is Oklahoma’s second-largest city, a hub for energy, banking and aerospace. There are about 400,000 people living in the city and nearly a million in the metro area. As such, it’s developed a pretty stately downtown.

A 1920s-era high rise, the 320 South Boston Building, reflected on a more modern glass tower. The contrast of old-style art deco and modern architecture is beautiful.

A 1920s-era highrise, the 320 South Boston Building, reflected on a more modern glass tower. The contrast of old-style art deco and modern architecture is beautiful.

Dramatic highrises cast long shadows over some of the city's older, classic buildings. It's fun running through  places like this.

Dramatic highrises cast long shadows over some of the city’s older, classic buildings. It’s fun running through places like this.

Part of any city’s growth these days is reclaiming run-down areas and making them new. These are places where people now gather for fun while not forgetting the city’s past.

Downtown Tulsa as seen from the Brady Arts District. Brady used to be a rundown warehouse district, but is now home to a number of galleries, restaurants, pubs, music venues and a sweet little park that is home to live music and food trucks. A free outdoor music festival last summer drew some 40,000 people here. I run here a lot, and there is usually something pretty cool to see.

Downtown Tulsa as seen from the Brady Arts District. Brady used to be a rundown warehouse district, but is now home to a number of galleries, restaurants, pubs, music venues and a sweet little park that is home to live music and food trucks. A free outdoor music festival last summer drew some 40,000 people here. I run here a lot, and there is usually something pretty cool to see.

The center of what used to be the center of the Black Wall Street. Before the race riots of 1921, this was a prosperous commercial district for Tulsa's black community. It's since been revived, but in a different way. Running here spurred me to learn more about the riots and how that still affects the city today.

The center of what used to be the center of the Black Wall Street. Before the race riots of 1921, this was a prosperous commercial district for Tulsa’s black community. It’s since been revived, but in a different way. Running here spurred me to learn more about the riots and how that still affects the city today.

One of the statues at Reconciliation Park, which memorializes the Tulsa Race Riots. The park is on the Brady District's north side and is worth a visit. I run through here at least a few times a week.

One of the statues at Reconciliation Park, which memorializes the Tulsa Race Riots. The park is on the Brady District’s north side and is worth a visit. I run through here at least a few times a week.

An Aztec-style mural in the Blue Dome District in downtown Tulsa. There is a lot of mural art throughout downtown.

An Aztec-style mural in the Blue Dome District in downtown Tulsa. There is a lot of mural art throughout downtown.

Green spaces are a big deal here. Northeastern Oklahoma has been dubbed “Green Country” by some (personally, I think that’s a TV marketing thing), and it fits. We’re on the eastern edge of the Ozarks and we do trees here, a stark contrast to the more open prairie that exists further west. As such, the parks have a pretty green feel to them, and people take advantage of it when the weather is good.

Lots of folks enjoying some nice weather at River Parks. This stretch of parks along the banks of the Arkansas River is a favorite place for runners, walkers, cyclists and people just wanting to hang out. I run here a lot.

Lots of folks enjoying some nice weather at River Parks. This stretch of parks along the banks of the Arkansas River is a favorite place for runners, walkers, cyclists and people just wanting to hang out. I run here a lot.

The River Parks pedestrian bridge connects the east and west bank trail systems that line the banks of the Arkansas River. It's also a photogenic little span.

The River Parks pedestrian bridge connects the east and west bank trail systems that line the banks of the Arkansas River. It’s also a photogenic little span.

Another bridge, this one at south Tulsa's Haikey Creek Park. This is a nice green space with an unpaved trail loop. It also is a hotspot for disc golf enthusiasts.

Another bridge, this one at south Tulsa’s Haikey Creek Park. This is a nice green space with an unpaved trail loop. It also is a hotspot for disc golf enthusiasts.

If you’ve read this blog at all, you know that I have a trail running haunt that’s about 15 minutes from my doorstep. Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness is a rarity in Middle America. It’s not really a “mountain” per se, but instead some rugged, wooded ridges that were set aside by the city and a charitable trust for the purpose of keeping some of the natural environment of the area free from commercial or residential development. It’s turned into the city’s top destination for trail runners, mountain bikers, horseback riders, hikers and anyone else just wanting to get away from suburbia or work worries and just walk in the woods for awhile. I’m an all-season guy, so I’ve seen Turkey Mountain in its various seasonal aspects.

A wood-lined section of Turkey Mountain's Ho Chi trail during the summer. The scores of miles of trails here offer some of the most challenging trail running and cycling trails you can find.

A wood-lined section of Turkey Mountain’s Ho Chi trail during the summer. The scores of miles of trails here offer some of the most challenging trail running and cycling trails you can find.

Late fall and winter conditions on the Snake Trail at Turkey Mountain. Sweet singletrack.

Late fall and winter conditions on the Snake Trail at Turkey Mountain. Sweet singletrack.

Sometimes we get snow, and when we do, Turkey Mountain is a lot of fun.

Sometimes we get snow, and when we do, Turkey Mountain is a lot of fun.

There is a lot more to the city than what I’ve pictured here, way more to explore. And sure, there are some places that aren’t so great or are just kind of boring. But that’s the beauty of exploration. Had it not been for my running habit (and my compulsion to get outside), there are many parts of the city I would never have seen. I definitely have my favorite spots (my “urban trail), but I’d like to see more.

So go ahead. Lace up those shoes, find a place in your community you’d like to see and map out your run. You might be surprised at the experience. It’s way different on two feet than it is on four wheels.

Bob Doucette

Check out Proactiveoutside on Instagram

instastuff

I wouldn’t call myself a social media skeptic. Rather, I just don’t want to get so “networked” that I spend a bunch of my free time updating a bunch of websites.

But after consulting some pretty savvy members of the Twitterati, I decided to make the jump to Instagram. It seems I take a ton of pictures anyway, right?

So here’s the deal. I’ve been busy downloading some of my favorite photos from hikes, climbs and runs. And there will be other stuff, too. But the heart of it is going to be photographically capturing the cool moments of a hike, an ascent or a run. And you should, too.

See something awesome during your early morning run? Like an incredible sunrise? Or cool urban scenery? Shoot it, post it on Instagram and hashtag it with #seenontherun .

Or how about your best pics from a hike? Same deal, but a different hashtag: #seenonthetrail .

I’ve been doing this on my photos thus far, and you can see them by searching those hashtags. There are some good ones! Let me see yours!

So feel free to look me up on Instagram at Proactiveoutside, or online at http://instagram.com/proactiveoutside .

See ya on the IG!

Bob Doucette

Twin Rock Mountain, photographically revisited

A few weeks back, I posted a trip report about a day trip me and a good friend of mine made to southwestern Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains to knock off Twin Rock Mountain and Granite Mountain. I loaded that report up with photos I took with an iPhone3S, meaning that there were limitations as to how good those pics would be.

Enter my friend Johnny Hunter. He’s one of the best hiking and climbing buddies you could ask for. He also takes a real camera with him, he knows how to use it and he comes back with great pics.

As much as I liked the report, I think the trip deserves a better photographic treatment so you can get an idea how rugged and beautiful the Wichitas can be. So that’s that this post is all about — a tribute to Johnny’s photographic skills.

Zooming in, the landmark Crab Eyes formation just gets swallowed by the surroundings of the Charon’s Garden Wilderness Area.

Here’s a rugged panorama of the northeastern side of Charon’s Garden’s peaks, with Elk Mountain and Mount Lincoln in view. A hiker’s and climber’s paradise.

Just under the clouds are the summits of the Wichitas. Here, Johnny gets a moody shot of Granite Mountain from the summit of Twin Rock Mountain. Beyond is the vastness of the southern plains.

This image seems to capture the pain of what it’s like to live atop the Wichitas’ wind-scoured peaks.

The common saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. I don’t think I’ll ever get Johnny to write a guest post for me, but I’m glad he lets me use his photos. There’s more than one way to tell a story.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088

Here’s what I see when I run

I’ve written a few posts about what it’s like to run in an urban environment, and how much I get out of it from an aesthetic point of view. Unfortunately, I’m usually chugging along without stopping to take photos. I hope that words can paint a picture, but sometimes visuals are needed.

So the last time I was out and about, I made sure to take some time to photograph the cityscape so you all get an idea of what I see, and what might be waiting for you (visually speaking) when you get out and run your own community’s streets. Here’s a sampling:

Obviously, I see some pretty big buildings.

Back at eye level there might be wind blowing through ivy leaves anchored to a building’s walls.

There are the finer details of my city’s renowned art-deco architecture.

And down the street there are buildings that lack skyscraper stature but are beloved enough to have an entire urban district named after them.

Not far off is this piece of Aztec-inspired flair.

Around the corner, oddities might reveal themselves as you zip by.

Even the ordinary becomes outstanding as a backdrop. I’m not kidding when I tell you that this is probably the most photographed wall in Tulsa.

Obviously, there’s a lot more I see than just these scenes. Lots of people: Street musicians, business pros, homeless, hipsters, cops. And a whole mix of ordinary, extraordinary, shiny and run-down places.

What do you see when you run? Anything interesting? Or is it mundane? If you see some cool stuff, feel free to share. Comment here and we’ll work it out. If it’s more on the mundane side, I encourage you to seek out places that not only serve as a venue for fitness, but also as a place to stimulate your mind.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088