Muscari Neglectum

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In Latin, Neglectum means exactly what you would guess it to mean. Indifference or to ignore. That’s my style of gardening. With artificial grass carpeting my backyard, this thin strip between my front porch and the sidewalk is about all I have to maintain, but I’m a busy guy.

This Grape-Hyacinth proved itself more robust one spring than my purposely tended flowers, so I yielded to nature and allowed these weeds to become my ground cover. Who am I to resist the force of nature? I’ve also stopped plucking the dandelions. I rather like the bright contrast of yellow they splash into the mix of grape, and what with the plight of the bees and all. The HOA has yet to post a note on my door.

It’s sage advice to wait until Mother’s Day before planting delicate flowers and vegetables along the Front Range. I’ve learned my lesson over the years. Indeed, just today I tried to get my run in before the expected rain, but the front rolled in three hours ahead of schedule and pelted me with hail four minutes before reaching the end of the trail. It’s expected to snow Tuesday. Karen and I will wait until next weekend to garden. Meanwhile, we have our weeds.

Finishing my Fifties

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I know, that last post was a bit of a Debbie Downer. Typical guy, don’t construe that as an apology. I write what’s in my head as I run. I transpose my thoughts to words after I get home. Really, the story is written by the end of my run. I do the same thing with my novels. I didn’t think to take a photo today so I downloaded this one of the snowcapped Indian Peaks. They were my view throughout my run on the East Boulder Trail.

Today’s run was special. I spent most of yesterday in bed with aches and chills from my second jab of Moderna. I’d gone 18 hours without adverse effects. I had just emailed my boss shortly before 8 am saying I might attend a call, despite having taken the day off out of precaution. I stood up and was so light-headed I could barely walk across the floor. I was back in bed two hours later.

So to then wake up Saturday morning, feeling awesome on my birthday, magnified the enjoyment of my run. My life force reversed directions. Only by running could I really feel the difference a day makes. I didn’t run fast but I ran the full eight miles again. I would say I felt stronger than last week, possibly from cooler temps. There’s this section, a gentle but long upslope in between the first two hills and the final two big ones. It runs straight west with this gorgeous view of the Indian Peaks, as well as Mount Meeker and Longs Peak to the north. So unbelievably beautiful.

My thoughts on turning fifty-nine focused really on approaching my sixties. I’ve already moved on from my fifties and I’m thinking non-stop about being a grandfather. Talk about milestones. I’m passing one of life’s greatest cairns. My grandfather name is to be Lobo, not for the Longmont-to-Boulder (LoBo) trail I often run, but after my trail name. And even my eponymous media company – Lobo Media Ltd. What, you don’t have your own media company? Wake up, it’s the year 2021, how else do you expect to manage your digital exposure? And go for a run. It’s springtime in Colorado.

The Ups and Downs

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After my mom passed, my sister told me grief would come in waves. As if sharing a secret with her brother that all my other sisters already knew. I’d spent the last year of my mother’s life living with her, sharing the load with my brother. I figured my sister had no idea how I would feel in the future.

Since then, I’ve had wonderful weekends, snowshoeing and hiking with Karen. It’s been so great to be back home. Then, I have wistful weekends where I’m so bothered that I can’t call her as I’ve done for the last two decades of Saturday mornings. Like having a past lover block your profile. The months since have been marked by an undulating melancholy.

As I approach another year around the sun, I thought about how my entire fifties have been a rollercoaster. It began with cancer at fifty-one. As if that didn’t take me low enough, my hair turned gray overnight. Correction, being blonde, let’s agree to call it silver. And there were highs. I’m still looking at the photos of walking my daughter down the aisle. My mother passed in January and I’ll be a grandfather in September.

This current low has me wanting to tackle it head on. I think like a guy. I fix problems. I want change from where I’m at. I love product management but I want a new job. Creating products still satisfies me. I don’t want to stop doing that, but tech just isn’t feeding my soul right now and I have a hungry heart. The idea of working for a non-profit is appealing. Of course, I’m kidding myself. I still have a kid in college. And I doubt I could find a better work culture than with the people I’m working with right now.

Changing jobs would likely be an over-reaction, but I’m managing it in other ways. I’m not drinking every day like I generally would. And I’m trying to limit myself to a single drink when I do. Like sirens to the rocks though, that second drink calls for me. Having these thoughts as I ran today made me recall a time my mother advised me on depression.

I was sixteen and starting to drink on Friday nights with my buddies. She sat down with me one Saturday morning and gave a me long heart-to-heart. She acknowledged that having a close friend die in my arms from a car wreck we were in together over the summer was a hard pill for someone my age to swallow. But I didn’t die then and if I expected to keep living, I needed to change my ways. She didn’t have to remind me of her hardships, but she did say that if she’d ever chosen to wallow in self-pity, it was unlikely I’d be living the privileged life I was currently living. That was so long ago, it’s hard to remember enough of what she said to even paraphrase, but I always think back to it when I hear Bowie’s lyrics, “My mother said to get things done, you’d better not mess with Major Tom.” Mom never tried to be my best friend, but she was always my mother.

I thought of that on my run today. It was the 8 miler on the hilly East Boulder Trail that I attempt each weekend, but always end up walking in the final three miles. With mom for strength, I ran all eight miles today. First time this year. Longer. I thought of another strong woman while climbing the final, massive water tower hill. I thought of my older daughter when I took her on her first fifteen miler in high school. She was in tears on the last three miles of hills. She dry-heaved near the top of the water tower hill. But she ran through that. She never stopped. So I made up it that hill without stopping today. That’s the kind of change I can build on. That’s why I run.

The Crew Chief

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Eric, my son-in-law and future father of my future granddaughter, is registered to run the Lean Horse 100 through the Black Hills of South Dakota this August. He invited me to be his crew chief for the race. Naturally, his race is all about me so I got some training in this morning on the East Boulder Trail. Targeted eight miles out-and-back. Ran five solid miles and walked in the final three.

My goal would be to also pace him through a 10K or two. Maybe one of the expansive downslopes. I’ve dropped fifteen pounds so far this year so I think by August, I might be able to run a 9 or 10 minute pace with him, assuming he’ll be running that slow. He tends to win his trail races so maybe I’ll have to get more aggressive with my training.

I haven’t made any commitments yet. I’ll see how my training goes. I’ll have to see if I can take a few days off from work. And check the specials at Tortugas that weekend. And review the new releases on Netflix. But if I’m free in August, I can’t think of anything more fun than serving as crew chief for an ultra in the Black Hills.

Gojira

If you know me, then you’ve undoubtedly heard me say, there’s no such thing as a bad Godzilla movie. With the one exception of that Matthew Broderick cluster, there are few axioms more true. After streaming Godzilla vs Kong last night, I can report that my movie adage continues to hold truth.

I have to say, I was anxious about the outcome, so anxious that I almost didn’t watch it. I’m opposed to the notion of the world’s top two titans having to fight. A review I’d read implied one of them loses. I won’t spoil it for you. They fight multiple times in this movie and there are winners and losers each time. But I was almost furious with the director before even watching the movie believing the story might contemptuously slight the heroic majesty of either of these two creatures.

Kong represents the unmanageable force of nature as man exploits her resources. Kong has never been a more important symbol to all of us who want to protect nature. Godzilla is not too far off, conjured up by the folly of man. For me, Godzilla has always emerged to restore balance and harmony to the planet. Both these titans are far too noble to have to clash for our entertainment, as if they were just two more fighters on the MMA roster.

In the end, I wasn’t disappointed. My expectations panned out. Mostly. One does have to completely suspend their belief systems before watching a monster spectacle. Kong spends half the movie traveling to Antartica to enter a portal into the center of planet, only to exit later through a hundred meter tunnel under the city of Hong Kong. Perhaps the director recognized some alliterative value in having King Kong fight in Hong Kong. Who knows. The city has been relevant in the news lately. But it’s a classic error that I do fault the director for, to not include scenes in Tokyo. Toho Studio invented Godzilla and they deserve homage in every adaptation.

I suspect by now I’m coming across as some immature movie critic. A childish fan of monster movies. My appreciation does stem from my childhood. I never read the Marvel or DC comics. I subscribed to Mad Magazine in grade school, a rag that developed my appreciation for satire. I watched monster movies on Friday nights with my best friend Scott Sumner in Marion, Iowa. They would come on after Wolfman Jack’s Midnight Special and end with the National Anthem and a screen full of static around 1 am, back when people used to sleep. Zombies and vampires are okay. I like werewolves more, especially banshees, but Godzilla has always been my favorite. He, or she, says Matthew Broderick, was a monster I could sympathize with. Godzilla was the ultimate antihero.

The writing was bad in this movie, almost to be expected. Very little of the storyline was original or credible. I was fine with that. I know how hard it is from having written two novels. It was important to me for my cyberwar stories to be plausible. I based most of my attacks on real world events. But there comes a time in a fictional telling to drop all pretense in order to provide entertainment. Godzilla vs Kong was decent entertainment. And, despite the absence of a Tokyo presence, the storyline remained intact enough to satisfy old fans like myself.

Running Nostalgic on a LoBo 8 Miler

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This footbridge is after six miles on an eight miler on the LoBo trail today. My form is still more of a shuffle than a run, but running outside in the Colorado springtime with 50° temps and full sunshine is priceless. I’m as happy as I look. I’m still living the same Saturdays as when I was seventeen running along Town Lake in Austin with my high school buddies. I wonder if any of them remember jumping off the I-35 bridge for a swim. Fortunately that was before cell phones so drivers couldn’t easily call the cops on us.

A better place to cool off around Town Lake was outside the dam on the north end of the Barton Springs pool. The 68° water poured out of the dam like a shower head and we’d take turns standing under it. I wonder if it still pours out like that. So many cool memories of running in Texas. Austin has the best urban running of any city in America, but I had some memorable runs in Round Rock and San Marcos too.

I recall running with my buddy Mike through some rancher’s fields off McNeil road. We kept passing cows and as we did, they’d fall in line behind us. Their numbers kept increasing and we felt like they were picking up speed. Eventually we had to make a decision to sprint for some exit or be trampled under a stampeding herd. I’d read somewhere that cows and horses wouldn’t trample you if you simply stopped and stood there. This was before the Internet, so my reading material was less suspect. It took me a while to convince Mike that this was our best option. It was less a matter of convincing him than knowing we’d already been nearly sprinting for too long and we were out of gas, and there were no quick exits. We stopped and turned to face the stampede. Those cows stopped on a dime, a few feet from our faces, and we slowly walked out of there.

Thinking of runs with Mike, he joined me for a summer semester at Texas State in San Marcos. Even though he hadn’t run competitively for a couple of years, he walked onto the University Cross Country team with me, setting the pace for our Monday half mile intervals, just like he’d done in high school. One morning we went for a fifteen miler on Post Road, toward Kyle and back. Just outside of town, we happened upon a dead body laying in the ditch. Mike actually ran past it for another 50 yards before noticing I had stopped. The poor boy had been walking from a trailer park home to his midnight shift stocking groceries when he was hit by a couple of drunk college boys. The boys turned themselves in shortly after. Having to roll over that boy’s bloodied body and confirm his death was one of the saddest things I’ve ever done.

Ran my first marathon with Mike too, in Dallas. I was sixteen in 1978. We drove around Dallas all night, drinking Schlitz beer we bought from the convenience store I conveniently worked at. Being so youthful, not sure I even noticed being hungover at the starting line. I still remember having to break through the crowd at fifteen miles to vomit behind a tree. Still, that was probably the fastest marathon I’ve ever run. I think we came in a tad bit over three hours.

So many runs, I could go on, but I need a shower after running 8 on the LoBo.

Deer Mountain

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Longs Peak in the background

Deer Mountain is an easy to moderate hike with a trailhead right at the intersection of Hwy 34 and Hwy 36 in Rocky Mountain National Park. There were other hikers with snowshoes but I don’t think there was enough snow for them. The trail was mostly hard-packed snow with some ice in spots. I wished I’d taken my trekking poles, especially near the top. The trail rises 1000 feet over three miles for a six mile round trip.

The trail largely side-hills through switchbacks and while it’s mostly in the trees, there are plenty of clearings with incredible views. Longs Peak can be seen to the south in both of my photos.

I turned around shortly before reaching the peak because I was on a timeline, but I got in two glorious hours of Rocky Mountain sunshine. I selected Deer Mountain because there wasn’t any parking at the other trails I wanted to try. Tomorrow I’m going to shoot for Bierstadt Trail. I think one needs to enter the park by 7am to be confident of a parking spot at the trailheads. All the trails are good though. I recommend getting up to the mountains this spring. There’s more snow on the way.

Back on the Trail

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This is a running blog and I’m a runner again. Under a warm Colorado sun, I ran my first miles since November. I’d put on too much weight to run, although I walked regularly. I’m not a snobby runner and truly believe walking is as healthy for you as running. But I like running more. And since I returned from Texas this year, I’ve been working out on my elliptical, which is a fine piece of equipment, but it’s not running.

I’ve dropped ten pounds this year and felt like I might be ready to try running again. The biggest problem with the extra weight was it made running so hard. The other issue is it leads to poor form and possible injury. My running form this weekend was certainly more of a shuffle, but I believe I maintained a decent footfall technique, landing on the forefront of my shoes to spare my knees too much impact.

Like returning from outer space, the trail introduced gravity that wasn’t noticeable on the elliptical. And today, my legs have soreness never present after even two-hour stints on the elliptical. So now, in addition to working on my cardio, I’ll hopefully improve on my muscle tone. Mostly though, it just felt so good to be back outside, under the sun, viewing the snow-capped Indian Peaks, on the trail.

Later in the day, I met up with my buddies at Shoes and Brews for a socially-distanced beverage. Non-athletes don’t generally feel welcomed here among all the shaved legs and hard bodies. I felt I like belonged though. I ran 8 miles in my return to the trail. Well, I ran about 6 miles because I had to mostly walk the remaining hills on the return. Still, running or walking, I was back on the trail.

Deep from the Heart of Texas

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The hell suffered by Texans over these last brutally cold days has produced the best original content on the Internet in years. My Texas friends might single-handedly save Facebook from the repeal of Section 230. The stories from my friends have been enough to make me willing to live through decades more of Russian misinformation campaigns. Come on. Who doesn’t love some good potty humor?

I knew everyone would be okay once the jokes started flying. They were a welcome relief to the stories that made my throat harden and eyes mist over. Families sleeping in their cars. Families dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. Despite the grief, I kept reading the stories coming out of Texas. Stories from Tiger, a lateral thinker who can generate tears one minute and out-loud laughing the next, who in one photo depicting the generosity of HEB conveyed the loving heart of the Great State of Texas.

My friends’ stories captured hardships that challenged a full 2020 of Covid nightmares. Cindy saved her plants. Knowing her righteousness, I imagined her family being forced to sleep outside to make room. Steve, my brother-in-law, spent the previous weeks stockpiling excellent hardwoods for the fire pit he got for Christmas. He spent the last few days giving it all away to his neighbors. Stories like that, I only heard from Karen’s phone conversations, checking in on family.

It won’t surprise me if the next Pulitzer is awarded to one of my many talented writer friends from Texas. George is the best American nature writer since Emerson or Thoreau. He’s producing original content seemingly hourly that covers the spectrum of Texas humor, ingenuity and beauty. Of course, I hope the skies clear and the ground warms my friends up this weekend, but I can’t wait to read more stories of the human condition tomorrow morning.

The Passing of Connye Fay

Connye Fay Freitag Mahoney Weston 1933-2021

The winter just got a little colder with my mother’s passing early Thursday morning, after battling COPD and cancer for ten years. Surrounded by her children, she went peacefully, willing to join God and the loved ones who preceded her.

She was fortunate to meet her new grandson-in-law, Eric, before he and Brittany were married in 2019. And she lived long enough for four great grandchildren to be born in 2019 and 2020.

When you have seven children, you’re going to have a few great grandchildren. She had seven, with more on the way.

She married on September 21st, five days after her 18th birthday, because her German Protestant mother wouldn’t approve of her underage marriage to an Irish Catholic.  Demonstrating a strong work ethic, Johnny eventually won his mother-in-law over. He died young in 1967, leaving mom to raise us on her own.

A friend said to me that our parents are our one constant and true love. My body once lived inside her body. Without a father since I was five, she was everything to me. She’ll live on through me, but my world is colder without her.  

It feels to me as though everyone I’m close to, who passed in the last few decades, did so in the winter.  I can see how it might be poetic, to follow nature’s seasons. Without winter, there’d be no spring. There are yet more grandchildren to marry and more great grandchildren to be born.

My mom loved her church, Round Rock Presbyterian Church. She formed their Women’s Guild and for anyone whom wants to give in her memory, she wishes for donations to go to the RRPC Women’s Guild. Below is a joke mom shared with her grandchildren, that she heard at church.

We never truly know our parents, just the stories.  I thought of those stories a lot over the past year. Some stories where she’s the hero.  Others where she’s not.  Stories, where a single working mother, in the sixties and seventies, raised seven kids.  Until the equal credit opportunity act was signed in 1974, it must have been hard for a woman to obtain a credit card.  But we were never homeless, never hungry.  We lived well.  I was always happy.

There’s a story in my family, about my mom selling one of her children’s musical instruments.  And something about how she went about it, some of my sisters were upset.    Those memories make me feel shameful at how selfish I was.  A single working mother with seven children and I can’t think of one thing I ever did to help her.  

I should have been giving her all my discarded toys and used clothes or whatever.  I should have contributed to the hot meals and the roof over my head provided by a mother who had to sell one of her seven kid’s musical instruments.  But I was just a kid.

She loved her grandchildren. Below is Brook.

And this is her with my girls, Brit and Ellie Rose. We love you mom and grandma.

Cozy Bear vs Fancy Bear

I would be remiss to let this SolarWinds story go without commenting and self-promoting my cyberwar series.  These opportunities don’t come around every day.  Well, actually there is a story just about every day, but few on par with the colorful intrigue of SolarWinds, FireEye, and Cozy Bear.

My favorite aspect to this story is how it more resembles cyberwar than cybercrime.  Experts are downplaying the cyberwar facets, but espionage is on the war spectrum.  I focused my novels on cyberwar to respond to what I perceived as a dearth of stories because most books published on the topic are on cybercrime.  The difference is that cyberwar is acted out by nation states and, North Korea’s Lazarus notwithstanding, for non-financial reasons.

Remember when you used to read stories of thieves stealing money from banks?  Two decades deep into the 4th generation of the industrial revolution (4IR), data is the new currency.  Steam power dramatically increased productivity three hundred years ago in 1IR as the industrial revolution launched a still-accelerating advance in technology.  Steam locomotives shrunk distance in terms of time travel.

Electricity further accelerated productivity, making the work day longer, in 2IR.  The 3rd industrial revolution commenced in the fifties, around the time white collar workers exceeded blue collar workers in the US work force.  Compute tech put the world on an exponential growth rate in the Information Age.  

Data networking, namely the Internet, and everything since from AI to blockchain has established a digital economy that drives 4IR.  We have complete industries now that exist only online.  But our success is our weakness.  The leading, most advanced economies of the world have more to lose in a cyberwar than the digital have-nots.  And that’s why so many people believe the next world war will be digital.  It’s where we are vulnerable, our Achilles heel.

Here’s the promo part.  If you are curious enough to read up on all this tech, but find it all just a bit too dry for your taste – read my books.  Read fiction.  I wrote my cyberwar series partly as a cybersecurity primer, so you’ll learn something.  But I chose a fictional format to make the content entertaining.  You don’t need a text book when you’ve got Cyber War I and Full Spectrum Cyberwar on your shelf.

You’ll discover that my stories are fairly prescient.  The first made Iran the bad guys but had attacks like this supply chain malware that compromise a large segment of the economy.  The second story focuses on Russia and might spook you just how closely it mirrors current events.

The Russian threat actors in Full Spectrum work for the GRU – Russia’s Military Intelligence.  I considered writing about the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence agency behind the SolarWinds hack.  I find one of their code names more literary – Cozy Bear.  The GRU is nicknamed Fancy Bear, which is still cool; Bear of course stands for Russia.

I felt forced to use Fancy Bear because it’s more plausible they would launch the type of attacks in my story.  Cozy Bear is more about intel gathering.  This is why some experts are suggesting this isn’t a cyberwar attack.  Cozy Bear doesn’t destroy systems.  They just listen to our secrets.  That doesn’t make for as fun a story as the mayhem in Full Spectrum.  Sometimes I choose plausibility when deciding my storyline.  Other times I take extreme liberties for a good story.

the day TCP died

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Like the road to a car, TCP was the transport to my digital footprint; traffic lights and all. Maybe I couldn’t get rid of my digital DNA, perhaps all I needed to do was delete the digital path known as the transport layer. If voyeurs can’t stream what I did last night, did last night ever happen?

Everything turned out fine the next day. If my friends and co-workers viewed the previous night’s events, they didn’t say anything about it. But that’s what got me thinking about killing off TCP. Born in the 80s, TCP had been the dominant digital communications transport my entire career. Novell had its day in the sun, as did Microsoft, but mostly only on local area networks. Cisco collapsed the backbone into IP packets routed over TCP and it’s been all the TCP/IP stack ever since. For decades.

The problem with TCP is latency. TCP Rate = Maximum Segment Size / Round Trip Time. Round Trip Time (RTT) is latency. Measured in nano or micro seconds on a computer but over the WAN, measured in milliseconds (ms). Latency is mostly distance. The medium matters; air is faster than glass, glass is faster than copper, but theoretically, bits travel at the speed of light, so a satellite hop (round trip) is about a quarter second, or 250ms. Note in the algorithm above that this distance metric is in the denominator of measuring TCP throughput, so the farther the distance, the lower the throughput – by design.

The last significant improvement to the TCP spec was in 1984, where version 4 was developed to mitigate the effects of congestive collapse on the network. Given that rate of innovation, TCP needs to just die. And I think TCP did die this week. It’s being replaced by the Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) protocol. The RoCEv2 (pronounced Rocky v2 for RDMA over Converged Ethernet version two) protocol can transport RDMA frames over an IP header and UDP, but Vcinity has a proprietary implementation where they encapsulate the RDMA frames in an IP header for WAN routing and add their own algorithms for flow control and packet loss recovery. The result is an order of magnitude improvement over TCP in throughput.

Think about that. In tech, an order of magnitude improvement generally equates to disruptive technology. A product killer. TCP’s days are numbered.

The Covid Twenty

On my first full day home for the holidays, I got in five miles on the East Boulder Trail. I was able to run to the turn-around point, but had to walk back as I’ve gained the Covid-twenty since March. I was only home for a stealthy few days, all of them full, relaxing, restorative.

My family gathered at Brit and Eric’s new home in Edgewater for Thanksgiving. It’s near Sloans Lake for running and they have good neighbors. Eric has mastered replacing the doorbell and is preparing for larger DIY jobs.

Eric brought me into the kitchen to carve. Otherwise, he cooked it all; the stuffing was his family recipe; he baked Brussel sprouts with something else good; mashed potatoes with a gravy that was the talk of the table; he warmed up the green bean casserole; plus he baked two pies. Did I mention the turkey?

Shanahan Ridge

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Yesterday, Karen guided me on a path south of NCAR, a trail she has only ever hiked before with a close friend. Yesterday was a big day. Momentous.

Turn onto Lehigh St., off Table Mesa, and park at the top of Shanahan Hill. You’ll see a trailhead for the Shanahan Ridge Trail. Crowds were sparse for our noon hour, Thursday hike. The weather was classic Colorado cool air and sunshine.

I can’t imagine what might be on your mind this weekend, but I’ve been thinking about the upcoming snowshoe season.  I’ve been reading my snowshoe routes all week.  Karen and I will target Peaceful Valley trails this season.  

I’ve noted ten of them.  I enumerate them north to south with trailheads along the west side of the Peak-to-Peak Highway.

By the way, Josie, my Uber driver this morning, was from Kingston Jamaica, by way of Florida, then ATL, and now Colorado.  She was smiling under her facemask and has a 4.97 rating.  

While flying Southwest, I outlined the snowshoe adventures for Karen and me this upcoming season.  The ten routes will begin with easy-to-moderate difficulties and novice skill levels, then progress to more advanced, allowing us time to find our trail legs.

Buchanan Pass – Camp Dick Trail, our first route, is rated easy to moderate for novices and is an eleven mile out and back trek that explores the headwaters of the St. Vrain River which flows through our town.  

Our trek will begin easy and sunny, gliding through the Peaceful Valley Campground.  We will cross the Middle St. Vrain Creek twice, once going up and again on our descent.  I’m guessing the waters will be frozen.

Coney Flats Trail is rated easy to moderate. This trek will be similar to our first, following westbound along Coney Creek from the Beaver Creek area, in a seven mile, out-and-back route.  The other Beaver Creek.  

These two hikes will have established our legs for increasing technicality on the next hikes.  If we want, we could take two cars and make a loop of treks one and two, because there is a side trail that intersects the near top of Coney Flats Trail with the Buchanan Pass Trail.

North Sourdough is rated easy to moderate and will be our third route, unless we looped the first two and did them in one.  It’s nearly eight miles one way, but can be broken down into three other treks – all of which would be more pleasant, I think, if we shuffle two cars and hike the routes as loops.

Red Rock Lake and Brainard Lake are rated novice. We’ve snowshoed this several times, so I suspect we will do it only if committed to one of the three spurs that launch from Brainard Lake – Mount Audubon, Mitchell and Blue Lakes, and Long and Isabelle Lakes.

Mount Audubon is challenging as it leads to the top to a twelve thousand foot peak. I plan to skip its seven and a half miles. I’ve hiked it several times in the summer, one of my go-to trails to test friends visiting from sea-level. Audubon’s eastern slopes is where wind comes from. I can’t imagine it being pleasant in the winter. It’s the first though, of the spurs that launch from Brainard Lake, which means you must do the westbound part of the Brainard Lake trek as a warmup.

Mitchell and Blue Lakes are intermediate to expert and also launch their 10K meters round trip from Brainard Lake.

Long Lake and Lake Isabelle are intermediate, located along the Pawnee Trail that leads to Shoshoni Peak. I would love to snowshoe this one.

North Niwot Mountain and Ridge is rated moderate for intermediate to expert skill levels. It’s yet another spur from the Brainard Lake Area, turning south at Long Lake off the Pawnee Trail.

South Sourdough Trail, tucked into the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, is rated novice skill for intermediate difficulty and leads twelve miles south, from the Brainard Lake trailhead that we will have parked at several times in a row for the previous hikes, toward Nederland.

Rainbow Lakes are easy to moderate and lead out of the Brainard Lake Wilderness Area into the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area. Over five miles round trip, depending where we start, this will end our winter 2021 game plan. We do half this and it will be a good snowshoe season.