Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DOCNA Champs 2010

You gotta love DOCNA Champs-beautiful trial site, fun flowing courses, extremely well organized, great swag in the form of a nice dog First Aid kit in your goodie bag, 2 t-shirts (not that I need more t-shirts but still), relaxed atmosphere, even excellent healthy good quality food from the on-site food vendor.  The organizers and host club go all out for this event.

As far as our runs went I was hoping things would go better than they did in that I was sure we'd get at least one or two nice clean, tight runs, especially in Jumpers.  Oddly enough I think Jumpers was our worst result, I think we came in DFL.  We had uncharacteristic off courses in both runs as well as some bars and the frustrating thing is that they were easy courses.  Not too sure what was going on and it's not evident from the videos either.  Handling at the Speed of Strummer has to be so precise I guess is maybe the issue.  Also he still needs me to support the obstacles/jumps a lot more than I'm used to with the other dogs, especially when they're as far apart as they are in DOCNA.

On the plus side his weaves were awesome.  We had only two missed entries over the 4 days and they were both handling mistakes.  He popped out once as well after getting the most tricky weave entry of the weekend and I'm not sure why.  SO happy that he's finally getting it though.

Contacts were another problem for us, in particular those 180 degree flips to tunnels and tunnel/contact discriminations that I've been practicing so diligently.  Those stupid flips cost us 2 off courses and 2 missed contacts.  I was disappointed that all our training in that respect didn't pay off more but we'll keep plugging away at it.  He'll get it eventually I'm sure.  One thing I don't like about DOCNA courses is the overuse of this handling challenge.  You see it several times for sure at every trial.

Bars were also an issue.  Let's just say we kept those pole setters busy.   A whopping 4 bars came down in the warm-up Jumpers run on Thursday and I'll admit that it rattled me and drove some handling choices over the course of the trial.

My handling was o.k., I felt calm and didn't rush around all crazy.  I had a couple wild flinging arm swings that sent him away to the hinterlands but otherwise I think I did o.k. with controlling the crazy arms.  Those darn dogwalk/tunnel flips caused me to get behind and forced me into some rear crosses on the flat that I normally would not do.  I did a lot more rear crosses in general than I normally do and this was partly to guard against dropped bars because it seemed like unless I was really far ahead on a front cross those bars were coming down.  The good news is that he read all the rears well.  I still don't like to abuse them though, especially those rears on the flat.  They're handy in very limited cases but I think doing them all the time is asking for trouble.

Strum's behavior around the rings was good.  No crazy lunging or screaming, was relatively calm walking into the rings.  He was excited of course, more so by the warm-up area which had weaves and a teeter in addition to some jumps, probably because the rings had snow fencing and the warm-up area did not.  One of my former classmates came up and reminded me of how I had to sit with him in the equipment trailer during classes because he was so overexcited and look how far he's come.

Courses in general flowed well but I thought they were mostly too easy for a Championship event.  Seems like courses at Champs 2 years ago were more challenging.  It's not to say we didn't have a lot of mistakes but the course we did the best on was the most technical of the Standard courses (Saturday's Standard Round 2 shown in the post below) where our only fault was one knocked bar.  In general I wish DOCNA would have a bit more challenge and variety to their courses.  Contact/tunnel flips and wraps/serpentines get boring when you see them over and over every single trial.  I do like the open and flowing nature of the courses though, great for the dogs.

The only other issue with the trial was the scribing/posting of scores.  DOCNA (and I think NADAC) uses scribe sheets with as many teams as will fit on a sheet rather than a single small sheet per team so you have to be very careful to put the correct score/time with the correct team when you're scribing.  It's very easy to make a mistake and puts faults or the incorrect time on the wrong line, I've done it before.  I catch it when I do it but some people don't always and I have a friend who should have placed in the NAC 2 years ago but didn't because her score was transposed with an obviously much slower dog.  It was obvious what had happened but she didn't catch the error until they read of the results at the ribbon presentation and by then it was too late.  She hasn't been back to a DOCNA Champs since.  I usually check the sheet over the scribe's shoulder when I know I have a clean run because I've caught errors before and had them fixed because I caught it right away.  Trouble is at Champs they try to keep the scores a secret so the winners are a surprise at the ribbon presentations.  I had a chat with the organizer about it first thing Friday morning and he agreed to allow us to check our scores and sure enough a few hours later a group of people had issues with some scribing mistakes.  He made an announcement that we should be able to check our scores but a scribe gave me some hassle about it when I tried later in the day.  I was insistent and she backed down but still it was a pain because she'd already moved onto the next sheet and I had to hold the other sheet over her hand to see my score while she was trying to scribe.  I think they should have ringside monitors showing the scores like they do now in USDAA so you can easily check without hassling the scribe.  I know it takes away from the drama of the ribbon presentation but I think accurate scoring is more important.

In other news I got stung by a wasp and I had only just discussed getting an epi-pen with my doctor a few days earlier but I hadn't received it yet.  I wondered if I would go into anaphylactic shock and start having seizures during my Standard run thus providing a classic You Tube moment but thankfully all I ended up with was a swollen and itchy arm.  I think the little bastard didn't get a whole shot of venom in before I swatted him away.  Four days later and still it's all I can do not to scratch the stupid thing but the swelling's gone down and I think I'll live.  Still getting the epi-pen though.  I hate the thought of my airways possibly swelling shut while I'm in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception on my mountain bike.

Overall our results don't look so good on paper but he was such a good boy and tried so very hard.  There were a lot of nice things that happened out there and he's only just moved up to Specialist (Masters).  He certainly was having fun out there and best of all there was a hose for playing in after his runs.  Things got noticeably better each day and by the last day we finally had a perfect run (ie no bars, missed contacts, etc.) in the Strategic Time Gamble opening.  The closing went a bit willy nilly as I lost track of my plan after the buzzer went off but otherwise finally a nice run.  Just in time to go home.

Our only placements were 3rd place in the Strategic Time Gamble and our awesome Trigility team placed 3rd in the large 20" division despite a missed contact by Strummer.

Obligatory cheesy photo with our one pathetic ribbon.  Wasn't I wearing that same shirt in my triathlon podium photo?  I do have more than one shirt I promise, maybe this one's lucky or something.

They hadn't given out ribbons for the Time Gamble yet when we took the photo and I hadn't realized we'd earned a placement.  In fact I left right after my run first thing in the morning and missed all the Finals because it was looking to be such a hot day after a long weekend of hot days and I couldn't make Jonny help me unpack the car and set-up all the crates and EZ up so he and the 3 dogs could sit around for hours in the hot blazing sun.  There was no security at the site so each night we tore everything down and hauled it back to the car then had to set it all up again early the next morning and by Sunday I was in tears at the mere thought of hauling all the crap out again.

Jonny shot video of all our runs except Traditional Gamblers which was an amusing one to miss because Strummer nearly took me out at the Gamble.  I knew I shouldn't have attempted a gamble that had a layered jump.  It's an 80's-stravaganza with the music, don't know why, guess I was in a mood.


Warm-up trial:  Specialist Standard and Jumpers

DOCNA CHAMPS 2010 THURSDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.


Specialist Snakes-n-Ladders, Standard, Jumpers

DOCNA CHAMPS 2010 FRIDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.


Specialist North America Challenge (like Grand Prix in USDAA), Standard, Jumpers

DOCNA CHAMPS 2010-SATURDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.


DOCNA CHAMPS 2010-SATURDAY from colliebrains on Vimeo.


Specialist Strategic Time Gamble and Strummer only Trigility

DOCNA CHAMPS 2010-Sunday & Trigility (Strummer only) from colliebrains on Vimeo.

All Specialist course maps are in the post below this one.

Overall it was fun times, hopefully we'll be able to come back next year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

DOCNA Champs 2010 Course Maps

Here are the Specialist course maps for the 2010 DOCNA Champs (West).  Click for big.


                              Warm-Up Jumpers

                           Warm-Up Standard


                       Standard Round 1
                       Jumpers Round 1


                     North America Challenge

              Standard Round 2

                Jumpers Round 2


                            Strategic Time Gamble

                      Standard Finals
                      Standard Jumpers

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last practices before DOCNA Champs

My awesome trigility team

We have t-shirts and everything.  For once I'm actually looking forward to trigility.

My focus over the past few weeks has been proofing weave poles and handling turns, especially 180 flips to a tunnel, off the dogwalk/A-frame.  I've been trying to get Strum out to different places with other high drive dogs working and to that end Morganne kindly invited us out to her digs last week.  Strummer was remarkably calm for being in a completely new place and working with a very high drive dog so either he's finally starting to calm down and learn how to work in exciting conditions or for some reason the environment wasn't as challenging as I thought it was and he was simply having a good day.  We worked on some challenging handling exercises, you can see them here.  We did exercises 5 and 6 with 5 being the harder of the 2 for me.  Lots of sending to backs of jumps.  I struggled with the #3-#6 jumps because that's not something I practice all that often but using deceleration from #4 to #5 was the key.  Seems lately that deceleration is the key to everything and I need to remember to take better advantage of it.  #7 to #13 was interesting as well, I was sure I'd get a front cross in between #9 and #10 but while running it I couldn't quite pull of the front but found that a rear worked perfectly anyway.  I did get a front in between #12 and #13 though.  Exercise #6 was easier for me and the only issue, aside from forgetting the course and running it wrong the first time, was a wide turn from #10 to #11.  Calling his name while he was in the tunnel tightened that up no problem.  I also worked some short weave sequences at the start of the practice session while he was fresh and Strum was near perfect, even with having to run towards a barking dog and make a turn to get the weave entry then weaving into a wall.  I didn't drill him too much and I think he got all but one entry.  Very encouraging.

Last night was mayhem agility with my other training partner and her high drive, barking dogs.  It was noisy.  So noisy that a neighbor started complaining.  And Strummer was perfect, not a single bark or lunge out of him the entire night and the course was built out to the extents of the yard so we were standing very close to the action.  He was a little wound for the first run and he kept dashing behind me at the first few jumps which were very far apart.  That sort of thing is rare but something he does it every once in a while when he's wound up and unsure of what I want.  I did a call to heel in extension at the start line, held back a bit instead of  trying to race ahead and made sure I was clear about where we were going and he finally settled down and ran it properly.   I have a bad habit of not using verbal obstacle names with him and assuming he knows where we're going like he's a masters dog or something and I don't support things and much as I should for him.  I'm always in such a rush to get ahead and it's not always necessary and sometimes counterproductive.

We had lots of difficult weave entries and he did so well, I couldn't believe it.  My training partner noticed a huge difference as well.  I'm hopeful this will transfer to the ring. 

The 180 turns off the contacts to tunnels seem to be a mixed bag these days.  For a while at the start of the training it seemed like he had it on a verbal and was fairly solid.  But now results are mixed.  I had a few practices out at the practice field where he seemed like he had it by the end of the sessions.  Then yesterday I remembered I had a practice tunnel and decided to try some turns off my table/plank set-up and he clearly had no clue.  I'm going to try a few quick sessions today but clearly I can't expect to see perfection in the ring this weekend.  Strange thing is he has a fairly high success rate in the ring.  Hopefully it'll all come back to him this weekend when he's in the ring.

As far as goals for Champs go I'm not too sure what to expect.  He's only had a couple of runs in masters in a trial so even though he can easily handle the masters courses in practice he hasn't had much experience in the ring with them.  I'd love to make the finals in at least one of the events (jumpers or standard) but that may be a stretch goal given our lack of trial experience at this level.  I could have intentionally kept him back at the lower level (intern) but at this point in our training I'd rather have the challenge of a masters course even if it means our chances for a ribbon or running in the finals are lower.  As far as reachable goals, I'd love to see him get his weave entries on the first try and I'd love to see me handling in a calm, clear fashion.  Deceleration, deceleration, deceleration.  And using my words.  Calling his name while he's in a tunnel when appropriate, calling out obstacle names, calling out 'Jump' when my motion doesn't support it (that was something Daisy Peel pointed out at her seminar).  No crazy flying arms unless I'm trying to send him way out somewhere.  Holding back and supporting jumps where it's appropriate rather than racing ahead.  I'll try to drill this all into my head while I'm driving to Grand Junction.

I'm looking forward to the trial, I had a great time at DOCNA Champs 2 years ago and I'm thrilled to be back again.  It'll be bittersweet for me though because I won't be running Lola.  I had really really hoped she'd at least make it to DOCNA Champs again before I had to retire her but it wasn't meant to be.  She seems to be doing fine as far as her possible ACL tears in her rear knees are going.  After the laser treatments and rest/rehab her P.T. noticed a large reduction in Lola's pain response in her knees when she does the little test they do.  But any twisting/turning motion in those knees is bad for her and could make the tear worse (if there is a tear) or possibly cause a tear for real that would require surgery.  So even though she has no obvious signs of lameness and I'm sure she'd run fine if I let her I can't take the risk.  She's done with agility and hopefully this will mean she'll stay sound well into her senior years.

I'll try to post updates while I'm at Champs depending on internet connections and my energy level.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Golden Gate State Park

A few more photos of the fall colors from a hike yesterday in Golden Gate State Park.

View of the Continental Divide from Panorama Point.  The mountains look so bare.

The leaves aren't as far along here but it's a nice scene anyway.

Not quite as spectacular as Kenosha Pass but it was a still a pretty hike.  Hard too, some of the climbs were hellishly steep.  Lots of up and down too.  It was around 6 miles or so and took us over 3 hours.  I'm paying for all this activity with a horribly sore piriformis (ie pain in the butt).  I had an appointment with the chiropractor and massage therapist this morning, did you hear the screaming?  Hopefully I'll be able to move by the weekend for DOCNA Champs.

It was ridiculously hot for the third week of September at 9000 feet and when we got back to town and I stepped out of the car I was thankful for all the firefighters still hanging around town because I thought I was going to burst into flames.  Turned out it was a record breaking 97 degrees.  Today it's 93 and windy with no humidity to speak of so I'm waiting to see where the next fire is going to start.  Fall temperatures and some moisture can get here any time now.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Kenosha Pass

It's peak leaf viewing season in the mountains and what better place than Kenosha Pass.  It's one of those quintessential fall mountain bike rides and I'd never done it before.

Despite being a Friday the parking lot was a zoo and at first we couldn't even get a parking space but lots of people stopped for a quick photo then moved on so soon we were able to snatch one up.

We rode for about 6.4 miles out then turned around and came back (about 3-3 1/4 hours of riding).  You can ride 12 miles up to Georgia Pass and drop down the other side into Breckenridge then spend the night and come back the next day or arrange a car shuttle but I hate driving and was happy to do the out and back.  The first 4 miles or so are mostly rideable singletrack.  You start out climbing for a mile through woods and golden alleyways of aspens.

After a mile you reach this viewpoint.

Then you get 2 miles of 'wheee!!!' descent.  It was hard not to stop every other minute to take photos, seems like I left so many beautiful views and potential pictures behind but sometimes you have to just ride and enjoy the wind in your hair and the yellow tornado swirlies of aspen leaves whirling around you on the trail.  I did stop for a few photos though.

After 4-4 1/2 miles the trail got fussier, sections with roots and rock gardens that required some hike-a-biking.  Normally I would have tried to ride more than I did but I didn't want to crack my skull open with DOCNA Champs next week.  As it was I had one of those stupid slow motion topple over from a standstill falls at the top of the descent and I think it's because I couldn't get out of my clipless pedals in time.  I got new shoes and pedals this spring due to screaming foot pain where I have all the surgical pins after rides brought on by too small shoes and too small a surface area to the pedal.  The way you release from the new pedals is a bit different from the old.  It's easier than the old pedals but in a pinch I'm still trying to release the old way without thinking about it and it doesn't work at all.  I skinned my knee and twisted my back a little but nothing serious.  Anyway, after about 6 miles you cross a road and start climbing again on a trail in heavy woods.  Six miles up and you're at Georgia Pass but it was steep and I knew I had a lot of climbing left to get home as it was so we went up the trail a bit then turned around.  Next year-Georgia Pass!  This year, well, let's say I made it back.  Just.  I live at 5400 feet or so and Kenosha Pass is at 10,000 feet and it was a hot day so it was for sure a challenging ride for me.  But so magical during peak leaf changing season, it was worth every bead of sweat and aching quad.

Until next year...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Grooving at Lake Isabelle

Yesterday I took Strum for a nice hike up to Lake Isabelle and the further up to the tundra above.

The lake is a mere puddle this time of year.

Compare to the photo I took in June of last year from roughly the same place

Amazing what a difference 3 months makes.

Grooving at the lake

I took a million photos, well 90 photos, and had such a hard time deciding which to post so I made up an album on Facebook of about 20.  You can view it here without having to join Facebook.  I'm guessing there are better options than Facebook for posting photos but they make it so darn easy that that's where I'm putting them for now.

I love this transitional time of year, last holdouts of wildflowers mingling with the grasses that have turned red, is it summer or fall?  Nature is as confused as the rest of us.

View of the glacier and the red tundra grasses

Fed up with stopping for me to take pictures.  Patience is not one of his virtues.

Happy trails

Not sure what this is about.  It looks like a sundog but I'm sure I would have noticed a sundog so I'm guessing it's more likely some weird camera malfunction.

I love fall.

I just wish we were getting some fall temperatures.  It was beautiful up at 10,000 feet yesterday but it was 91 degrees when I got back to town and it's the same just now.  Blech.  I fear we're going to go straight from summer to winter and miss out my favorite season.  Hope it's not this hot next week for DOCNA Champs.  It usually runs 10 degrees hotter over in Grand Junction than here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Coffee date for the dogs

I'm a bit behind in my postings what with all I had going on in August and then the fire.  BTW, there's another fire going up in the foothills of Loveland which is maybe 40-50 miles or so from here.  Was out at the agility field yesterday morning and saw the smoke while we were on our cool down walk and thought 'that can't be good'.  Despite the lack of strong winds and the immediate response of all the helicopters and slurry bombers that were working the Fourmile fire the fire still spread rapidly out of control.  I think it's at 700 acres and 2 houses lost so far, lots of people evacuated.  At least the area isn't as densely populated as the Fourmile Canyon area.  Some pretty scary and impressive footage of the fire on the evening news.

Anyway, back in August the dogs and I were invited for a coffee date over at 'Coffee with a Canine'.  When I got the email asking if I wanted to participate I thought, 'Wow, you want me to drink coffee and write about my dogs?  Is it my birthday or something?'  Most of the people that get invited are writers who have books out and since I'm neither I was both surprised and pleased to be invited to be included with the likes of Susannah Charleson and Merrill Markoe.  I think it's somehow fitting that we were featured on Friday the 13th. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to normal

Finally had a normal day yesterday.  No more smoke and only an occasional helicopter rather than the constant barrage.  There were some tense moments on Thursday night when the winds kicked up and the neighborhood became choked with smoke yet again but they never reached the predicted 50 mph, got to maybe 25 mph, and only lasted 2 hours or so rather than all night.  By morning the fire crews had it 65% contained and the smoke in my neighborhood was gone.  It's still burning and will probably continue to do so for a while but I don't think it's going to get any bigger unless the winds kick up again which they aren't predicted to do.  People in the evacuated areas that weren't in the burn zone were allowed to go back to their houses.

Once they let the public into the burn zone I'll go in on my bike and take some photos.  Oddly enough I was planning on a ride through the area up to Gold Hill this past week even though I haven't ridden there in ages.  The route I take is mostly roads, paved and dirt, with a smaller portion on trails so I don't do it often since I'd rather ride on trails but I'm getting sick of all the driving I've been doing lately and it's nice to be able to go for a nice long ride out your back door.  I used to ride there all the time, I'll have to see if I can get some before/after photo comparisons if I happen to have photos of areas that were burned.

Finally got up to West Mag yesterday for some much needed biking.  It was nice to have some sense of normalcy and to get some exercise and breathe clean air again.  Couldn't do much this week because of the air quality. 

I did get Strummer out to the practice field on Friday to practice weave entries and 180 degree turns from contacts.  I'm trying to get this 100% on a verbal but I've been helping him out with body language for now.  I used both the dogwalk and A-frame and mixed it up with each rep, sometimes having him turn away, sometimes towards me, sometimes straight and by the end it seemed like he was getting it.  I had a practice with my friend with the high drive dogs on the morning of the fire before it started and he was making lots of mistakes so I think practicing with someone is far more productive since that's the dog I have at trials.  He was able to work through the excitement and finally get his weave entries and dogwalk turns.  His accuracy on performing the dogwalk correctly while excited is improving as well.  I rarely see leaping any more.  No other sort of proofing seems to work as well as having another high drive dog doing agility.  I'm hoping that if we keep at it he'll have more consistency and finally start getting those weave entries at trials.

DOCNA Champs are in less than 2 weeks and I wish I felt more prepared but it could be worse.  My training partner is out of town this week but I'm going to see if I can get someone else to train with me.  When I got the running order and saw how big the classes were I started regretting my decision to go.  I love participating when it's my turn, I had a great time at DOCNA Champs 2 years ago, but I hate all the waiting around.  I love small trials with small entries where I get a bunch of runs in then go home early.  I think I'm growing more impatient in my old age but aren't you supposed to get more patient?  Oh well, I'm sure I'll have fun once I get there.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Map of fire extents

I've had some phone calls and emails and apparently I'm freaking out my friends and family with these photos.  The fire is not currently threatening me.  In the future if the winds shift and become strong the fire could conceivably become a threat but for today it's not a worry for my neighborhood.  Here's a map showing the recent fire boundary as of mid-day on Sept. 8.

You can view this map here and zoom in/out to see whatever view is useful to you.

The blue circle is roughly where I live, I'd guess about 3 miles or so from the eastern boundary of the fire.  The blue line shows the path the helicopters were taking today from Wonderland Lake (the blue blob at the start of the line) into the fire zone.  Yesterday they were taking a more southerly route.  It makes me think that Boulder Heights/Bow Mountain neighborhoods were the focus of their efforts today but that's just a guess.  Hard to say exactly where they went once they flew out of sight.

Here's a closer view of my area.

The blue dot above Wonderland Lake (shown between Foothills Community Park and Wonderland Hills) is about where I was standing when I shot the photos yesterday.  The photos from the day before were taken from a trail heading north from the lake along the foothills. 

Thankfully we have an upslope condition today which means the smoke is finally blowing the other way and I felt o.k. enough to take Lola for a walk and later probably some agility for Strummer if the wind directions hold.  Feels so good to have some relief from the smoke. 

There are reports of sporadic light rain in the mountain areas surrounding the burn area, let's hope it increases and moves over the burn area.  No other rain is forecast in the foreseeable future so we have to hope these storms produce enough to be useful.  I can't see any other way that this fire will be put out.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

North Boulder Air Show

Nothing like sitting at your desk at home and watching helicopters and slurry bombers out your window.  Some of them fly directly overhead.

Been a little bit noisy around here today, 3 helicopters and I think 6 slurry bombers (or maybe 8?) buzzing overhead.  The helicopters are getting water out of Wonderland Lake, less than 1/2 a mile from my house.

If the photos aren't enough here's some video.  You can feel like you're here but without the choking smoke and the spray from the helicopter.

Fourmile Canyon Fire - Helicopter from colliebrains on Vimeo.

I also got some video of the smoke and slurry bombers.  This is shot from the Wonderland Trail looking west as are the photos.

Fourmile Canyon Fire - slurry bombers & smoke from colliebrains on Vimeo.

Three slurry bombers at once.

More photos here.

This guy has some amazing time lapse video.  This one from last night is particularly scary.

I drove up Flagstaff (where the video above is shot from) around lunch time and took some photos but it doesn't give a true impression of how bad the fire is.

I'm not sure why it looks so calm compared to the video from last night.  The fire has actually doubled in size to around 7100 acres and is not contained anywhere, 63 structures burned (that they know of).  There's no forecast of rain in the near future so I think this one will be burning for a while.  They've shut the Boulder Reservoir to the public to use it as a staging area for firefighters/emergency crews.  No more open water masters swim sessions this year.  Smoke is bad anyway, can't believe the people running and biking in it.  You can't see it so it doesn't seem like it should be bad but I was out in it for maybe an hour and a half today and my lungs were burning and I was having trouble catching my breath when I came inside.

And if you're planning on coming up to Boulder to try to see the fire pretty please don't interfere with the firefighting efforts.  There were reports of some dumb asses in paragliders interfering with the firefighting efforts as well as reporters sneaking into evacuation areas and having to be escorted out.  Firefighters have better things to do right now, let's don't turn this tragedy into a freak show.

Fourmile Canyon Fire

Jonny and I were just about to get in the car yesterday to drive up Boulder Canyon to go biking at West Mag when he noticed this (view from my street at approx. 11:00 a.m.):

He was all for going anyway but there was no way I was leaving the dogs alone in the house and driving 45 minutes away into the mountains until I knew what was going on.  The light turned a weird nuclear apocalyptic orange and ash was falling everywhere.  I kept checking the t.v. and internet but it took about 20-30 minutes for information to start trickling in.  Then even Jonny had to admit that going up there was a no go.  As I suspected they closed Boulder Canyon though they were letting people out of the canyon so at least if we'd been up there we wouldn't have been trapped.

The fire isn't threatening my neighborhood as of this morning and the evacuation cut-off is a good mile away but I'm in direct line with the smoke plume which can be seen from space.  The air quality is bad from the smoke and I keep getting ash in my eyes and in my hair and on my dogs but otherwise we're safe and if the winds stay calm as they're supposed to we should be o.k.  But it's a scary bad fire for the folks in the foothills.  I feel especially bad for the people who were away from home when the fire started and were not allowed into the precautionary evacuation zones to rescue their pets.  I would be going apoplectic if that was me getting turned away.  And then there are the idiots who are refusing to evacuate.  And THEN there are the asshats who show up to gawk and interfere with the fire crews.  Jonny and I watched car after car try to head up one of the closed roads only to get turned back at the roadblock.  I can't fathom what these people are thinking.

I shot some photos from the Wonderland and Foothills trails yesterday at around 4 p.m.

Looking west from Wonderland Lake Trailhead

Looking west from Foothills Trail

I have more photos on my Facebook, this link should be public so you don't have to join Facebook to see them.

Also an amazing photo here.  And a slideshow of local's photos from the local news.  And more photos of the flames from last night.

Useful links for locals:

Boulder County Sheriff and Fire live audio feed

Boulder Office of Emergency Management

I think I finally hear planes and/or helicopters overhead which is actually a reassuring sound.  Supposed to have 7 slurry bombers working today but didn't hear them earlier this morning.  Right now the fire is burning in on itself  and not expanding but the firefighters aren't able to do much in the way of fighting it directly.  I know a place that I think will be good to go for photos that is not in an area that's closed or near the fire so may go up later today to see what's going on.