Friday, May 29, 2020

Hike #15. Looking into the future.

Date: May 19th, 2020
Hike Distance: 8.7 Miles
Location: Boulder, Colorado. Flatirons Vista, Doudy Draw
Hike Start Time: 5:50AM
Condition: Warm, Sunny
Total Miles: 77.7 Miles

Have you ever been somewhere and merely looking around you're surrounded by the idea of future possibilities?  This trail did that for me.  I've done some trails just north of this area and was able to look up at the flatirons and be hopeful for the days that I feel like I'm in shape enough to climb to the top.  South Boulder Peak and Bear peak are on my list of trails to hike, and I've known they were overlooking those areas.  While on this trail, I was able to get a spectacular view of Shadow Canyon, which is where the trails and switchbacks to the top of these peaks are.  It was calling to me and motivated me to get ready for more elevation gain and difficulty in my Hikes.

When I first stared hiking, I was getting up at sunrise.  I've always liked the early morning hikes, and now that I want to spend time even further from people because of COVID-19 the early start times also afford me a head start on the trailhead getting crowded.  This was my first real hike since we started the stay at home order, and I had been wanting to start exploring this area for a while.  It didn't have a ton of elevation gain but still got a good distance, so I was excited to get it going.  This was when I realized that when you wait three months between sunrise hikes, that sunrise is now at 5:50 in the morning.

I'm not a good sleeper to begin with, but this particular eve of the hike, I was sporting a toothache.  I"m not sure what it was, but my gums were super sore and kept me up part of the night.  I was going to do 9 miles on approximately 3 hours sleep.  Not the best choice, but I was pretty certain this trail had no technical hiking, so I was going to power through

I got to the trailhead and got a few nice surprises.  First, it was all but empty.  Just one or two more cars, and second, Boulder Parks were waiving the parking fees right now, so I just saved 5 Bucks. Woo Hoo!!  I guess they didn't want to be handling money from numerous random people, and I wasn't going to waste the opportunity.

There were signs throughout the trail that suggested a direction of travel, and I like that in general for trails.  Even without a pandemic and social distancing, it's actually pretty nice to have everyone going the same way instead of two way traffic on narrow trails.

For the most part, everyone out enjoying the park was wearing masks when near people, and keeping distance when possible.  I think in my head a lot about trail and hillside erosion if people are constantly going off to the sides.  This is generally Trail Maintenance 101 to keep on the trail.

I made my way out on the Flatirons North Part of the loop. It was a nice walk on graded power line roads.  There were a smattering of Ponderosas on the way out, and it was graded and leveled. 

When I go to the trail the diverged from the Flatirons loop and Made it's way onto the south part of the Doudy Draw Trail.  This is, in my opinion, is one of the best 1/2 miles in Boulder so far.  The views off the back of the trail towards El Dorado Canyon, and the south Flatirons was amazing.  It was across a pretty valley and over the next hill, and I timed it really well for the light that day.  This was where I first started seeing a really great view from the south up Shadow Canyon.  It's name range true. the rest of the flatirons were lighting up, but there was a swath of darkness between two ridges.  I tried to imagine where the switchbacks were and what it would be like on that trail.

I go to the bottom of the creek bed and followed it for a little while, and then started into the open grassy area between the two loops.  The wildflowers were starting to bloom and it was looking really pretty. Soon, as long as we get some rain, this area will be in full bloom.  As I walked I'd get whiffs and smells of different flowers.  I couldn't identify any specifically but it was a nice change from in the winter, when all the plant life is asleep.  I took the trail over to the second loop and made a note to finish the rest of the Doudy Draw trail some time.

The back loop was super peaceful.  I always enjoy the hikes the further out I get.  There are less people, and the ones that you do encounter earned their way further out, same as you.  the open grassy area meandered into lightly forested pine trees.  the smells of wildflowers were gently nudged out by those of warm pine needles.  That day was supposed to get up to 90 degrees eventually, and as the morning warmed, the bed of needles and bark emitted a woody smell that was invigorating.

It was on this loop that I've decided if I die tragically that I want a memorial bench put in my name.  It was at the far north part of the loop and looked out over the valley and El Dorado canyon.  So if a freak yeti attack while snowshoeing does me in, the is my official request from beyond the grave.

    Some mountain bikers passed me a couple of times.  I think they were doing a couple laps on the back loop to get some miles in, and they were polite and encouraging every time they came around.  Halfway around the loop, there was a small turn off that went to another loop up against the mountains.  I think I'll come back next time and do that loop.  Looking at the map it looks like it goes a little higher, so it should be fun. 

The trail at this point turns into a nature preserve area and is off limits to dogs.  I got my hopes up about seeing some other animals like turkeys or deer, but it was pretty absent of critters for today's hike.

I finished the loop, and then headed back up the doudy draw incline to the Flatirons loop.  I once again looked out and enjoyed the view.  This was the only incline of note on the trail, but I was making good time, and it didn't seem like any stress at all.

The south part of the Flatirons loop was my least favorite part of this hike.  The entirety of it was a pretty level service road that was coated with larger gravel pieces.  I see this type of overlay on a lot of paths, and I  hate it.  I'd rather navigate boulders and roots and mud, than walk on these piles of round rubble.  I constantly have to make sure I'm stabilizing my ankles on this stuff, but as I mentioned before, also didn't want to go off trail at all.

I guess a lot people agree with my assessment, because I literally saw no one else on this entire section of trail, and when I got back to the parking lot, it was full of cars.  Don't get me wrong, it was a nice day, with fresh air, and I was outdoors so even the worst part of this hike, was still a great hike.  the loop finished up by a cool old watering hole for cattle, and then I was back at the car.  It was a nice long hike and it was good to start to get back into a routine again. 

Summer is here, and I'm looking forward to following the altitude up as the heat down here goes up as well.  I guess I should start getting to sleep earlier to make the hikes easier to wake up.....but then again, I've still got Season 6 of Community to watch.......

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