If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another One Bagged: Bear Peak, Boulder, CO

Following a week of unstable weather with hot temperatures and evening storms, some quite violent, the weekend was calling for HOT and no rain - ugh!  Saturday morning we were out really early for a good tempo run on Santa Fe Trail - had to beat the heat, so we were off the trail by 9 am.  No time for pics, either :)

Sunday, we had an "appointment" in Boulder to meet up with Tim for a run, then have lunch to chat about crewing him during the Leadville 100.  The original plan was to run some nice trails in Flatirons Vista and Doudy Draw trail areas south of Boulder.  However, with the forecast high of 96 in Boulder, that plan got scrapped in favor of a less exposed, more forested route.  There is a trade-off:  The less exposed route is also quite steep....
 Starting into the Bear Canyon Trail

We started up the Shanahan Trail, climbing at a good rate but just seasoning the legs for the GOOD stuff to come.  Even with the 7:45ish start (yes, that meant rising at 5:15 on a weekend morning to drive to Boulder!!!), it was warming rapidly down on the southwest side of Boulder.  Fortunately, we were soon into the trees which provided a nice canopy for a large portion of the run.  From Shanahan, we caught the Mesa Trail and took that over to the start of the Bear Canyon Trail.  This is a very nice trail that ascends the canyon between Green and Bear peaks.  As seen above, it was a beautiful day.  We made our way up the Bear Canyon trail and then decided to see some new terrain and headed over toward Bear Peak.  The Bear Peak West Ridge trail starts to get a little more aggressive and it is apparent that it is traveled less frequently than the neighboring Green Mountain trails.  BTW, the trails are all shown on this map.
 Tim running the West Ridge trail - did you know this guy did Hardrock last week??
He even let us hold the buckle.....
 Kathleen on a nice section of the West Ridge trail - she went rockstar today!!
 South Boulder Peak - the highest of the Boulder Skyline peaks
 Views are constant - The Continental Divide from one of the lower flanks of Bear Peak

After several runnable sections on the West Ridge trail, the ascent of Bear Peak becomes predominantly a struggle for survival good power hikeThe back side from which we would summit is all rock, so there is a lot of natural stair climbing.  Topping out at 8461', the summit of Bear provides stellar views:  Longs Peak to the northwest, the Continental Divide to the west, and Boulder and beyond to the east.  Spectacular - once you catch your breath.  At only a bit over 5 miles into our "run", we had already gained a whopping 3075' elevation - yowsa!
 Behind the tree and below the Flatirons, NCAR is perched on the open hilltop
 Longs Peak framed nicely by the trees

Time of day and rising temps caused another change of plans here.  The original route would have called for us to drop off Bear into Shadow Canyon and run it out to the bottom end of Mesa, then take Mesa back up to our trailhead.  This would have left a pretty good clip down low to run exposed to the sun.  So we were duped into followed Tim and dropped off the summit on the Fern Canyon Trail.  We have done a steep trail or two in our day.  But this thing is ridiculously steep.  We clipped off the first 1000' of descent in about three quarters of a mile - commence quad mashing session!  We followed Fern all the way down through the shaded canyon until we dumped out onto Shanahan again.  When we first came out of the trees in the last mile or so, the heat hit you in the face right now.  We were glad that the alternate route was chosen because that roll across Mesa would have been ROASTING!   The route ended up at 8 miles - a poor indicator of the work that it was!  A very scenic route nonetheless and did a nice job of prepping us for our next stop:
I was remiss in getting a group photo, so I had to dig deep in the HT photo
archives for some mug shots - a perfect collage with our favorite Boulder eatery!!!

No better way to refuel beat up legs than to head over to Beaujo's for some fine PIZZA and salad bar!  We sat around stuffing our faces and chatting up crew duties at the Leadville 100, now a quick 5 weeks away.  After his experience at Hardrock, this could be a great course for Tim to roll really well.  We're looking forward to it.  It was 91 when we left town, don't know if Boulder hit the upper 90's but it had a good start!  We had a great day and Tim delivered the goods on the trail tour as always!  Happy Trails!!

Shoes - K Columbia Ravenous
S - Montrail Masochist
T - Hoka BondiB

Just a quick update - if you recall, Kathleen had mentioned a while back that CU Boulder grad Michaela Cui was doing a charity ride from Alaska to San Francisco to raise awareness and funds for The Graves Disease Foundation.  A local television station in California did a news segment highlighting the ride - it can be seen here.  Michaela and Chris will be finishing the ride on Wednesday and celebrating in Crissy Park after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge - Congratulations after 3200 miles on the bike!!!
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