Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hike 16: Where the Wild(flower) Things are: Fowler Loop

Date: May 30th, 2020
Hike Distance: 5.1 Miles
Location: Boulder, Colorado. Fowler Loop
Hike Start Time: 5:30AM
Condition: Warm, Sunny
Total Miles: 82.8 Miles

This weekend the girls decided to come with me so I picked shorter distance trek.  I decided also to continue in the same area I went in the previous hike.  there was another loop beyond where I went last week that looked nice.  Considering how much I enjoyed the previous weeks journey and that my OCD sense of completion wanted to check off all the trails in one area, this seemed like a good fit.

Sunrise was at 5:30, so we got up at the bright and early time of 4:30.  Luckily, we had planned the night before for this hike, so all of our bags were packed and ready to go ahead of time.  I recommend doing all of this prep the night before whenever getting up for early hikes.  It's really easy to forget things when your sleep-deprived brain is stumbling through your morning routine.  If you take care of as much as possible when you're alert and awake, you'll be much happier once you hit the trail.

We got to the trailhead and were the only car there.  It pays to be the early bird, that's for sure.  We got all ready to go and headed up the path.  A Majority of this walk was on a service road for the water canal that flowed through this area.  It was a well-maintained graded road, so wasn't too exciting of terrain to be crossing, but the area it was in more than made up for that.

The views were sweeping, looking our over the Boulder Valley and showing off the Northern Flatirons with the dawn's early light.  We noticed that one of the trails referenced a rock climbing area called "Mickey Mouse", so were on the lookout for it's namesake, hoping the rock formation would be an interesting sight while hiking

This morning the crickets were in full force.  They were chirping like crazy, and it mixed with the gradually emerging sounds of the birds in the area.  It was a beautiful cacophony of the senses, that I hadn't heard while out yet. 

The path got to a section where the road had been carved out of the rock, making a really cool looking notch in the road.  We took a minute with my eight year old to talk about the rock layers and geology and the history of the area. She's always liked rocks, and so I like to tell her what little I know.  We talked about how this area was under a great ocean at one point, and how the layers acted kind of like the rings on a tree giving an indication of how old the rocks are.

We were talking and heard what sounded like a gust of wind, but was actually a truck driving up the road.  We let him by, and were a little perplexed as to why they were there.  WE saw him later at the end of the road, and he was packing out a whole bunch of camera equipment.  The rock climbing area was designated a raptor nesting area, so I'm thinking he might have been going up the hill to see them.

We tool a little side trail to explore a little and found where the trail went into the El Dorado Canyon State park.  There are a lot of trails I'm really looking forward to in this area, but I think it's best saved for the weekdays to avoid throngs of people.  We turned around and continued on the trail

We got to the end of the graded road, and it turned into a single track that ascended quickly.  This was the only real uphill trek of any note, and it opened up to the most spectacular feature of today's hike; the wildflowers.

As we ventured into the forest, it would periodically open up into some little meadows that were filled with flowers. Pinks, Oranges, Purples, Blues , Yellows and White, blanketed the hillside.  There were areas that were interspersed with a myriad of colors, and pockets of homogeneous species that were really cool too. 

We indeed did get to see the Mickey Mouse rock.  It really did look like the head and two ears of the eponymous character.  The one downside though, was that it created the Ear-worm for the day.  I couldn't get the Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song out of my head. I've had worse on trails, but it was a little bit of an odd thing to have in repeat in my head all morning.

As is the case with most trails, the areas furthest out, were the best.  WE went up and down a couple small ridges and made out way through some really pretty switchbacks to some creeks that were babbling with fresh snow melt from the tops of the peaks.  It was peaceful, and serene and a great momentary respite from the unrest that was being thrust in our faces on social media back home.

We saw a total of 7 people on the loop until we got back to the main road portion.  We moved from a more shady wooded area to a really pretty ponderosa forest, covered in sunlight and pine needles.  There were really useful signs on the trail that I assume were used for finding direction when the snow was covering the ground.  I've been on trails there were hard to try and stay on trail with just a dusting, so any kind of indicator was nice to see.

The road converged and followed along the canal to go back.  Now we started seeing a lot more people, and were glad to see most were distancing appropriately and wearing a mask.  It's still such a weird feeling that somewhere as clean and pure as the forest in the rocky Mountains can also feel contaminated.  It's a weird time.

We got down to the car to find the whole road completely filled with people parking to get to the trailhead.  Pretty much any area that could have a car crammed into it, was full.  I'm always super happy that I get out early.  I got all my trackers ended and got out of there, because I had a highly coveted place that I parked and more people were incoming.

It was a great hike, and I'm so happy that I've got back in the habit of getting out regularly.  As always, thanks to every one that reads and supports what I'm trying to do.

GUEST PHOTO: My daughter got a new digital camera for her birthday, so I"m letting her pick some of her favorite pics she takes to add to the blog.  :)

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