Monday, September 10, 2012

South Boulder Peak - A hike I won't forget

Sometimes there are hikes that are nothing more than just that, hikes. Then there are hikes that stick in your mind and go down as ones that you won't forget. South Boulder Peak is one of them.

The day after hiking Hanging Lake and the Maroon Bells, my friend Chad and I met up once again and headed towards Boulder, Colorado, to hike South Boulder Peak. I've never really been a fan of Boulder, for no reason in particular, but headed there with an open mind. It was a quick car ride and offered nothing more to see than roads and foothills with the occasional cyclist pedaling along next to our vehicle.

We arrived at the South Mesa trail head around 11:00am. A late start but as the saying goes, "better late than never". Finding a parking spot was challenging but not impossible. There were numerous other vehicles and people there to hike the same as well as other nearby trails.

While entering the trail head we noticed a posted sign informing hikers that the top of South Boulder Peak had been closed off due to a fire earlier on in the season. After reading numerous online reviews about South Boulder Peak and the views that it offered we were to eager to check it out and made the decision to go as far as we could before having to turn back. We had high hopes that the sign no longer applied and might just have been forgotten about. Willing to test our luck we continued on.

I have to admit that the first section of the trail left me a little dissapointed. With the city in our view and the lack of trees it seemed as though it was going to be nothing but a simple hike near the city. I remained optimistic and pressed on.

After progressing through the open trail we came to a section that was surrounded by trees and plenty of green shrubbery. It was a pleasant sight to see and eased my disappointment.

 A short time later we finally entered into the mountain portion of the hike. Immediately I knew that we were in for a good hike. The trees offered a great amount of shade from the sun and the trail was covered in rocks both large a small requiring the use of hands in a few sections. I love the challenge of climbing through rocks, however, there is always the fear of one small slip leading to a painful ankle sprain or worse, a broken ankle. I've always preferred hiking shoes over boots thus leaving little to no ankle support, yikes!

The amount of rocks made it difficult at times to distinguish where the trail continued. But, this was yet another challenge that I was up for. We navigated our way through a makeshift trail and made our way up the mountain and reached the beginning section of the burn scar area. It was at this moment that the hike would forever stick in my mind and go down as one that I wouldn't forget. It was a sad sight to see. I can't even begin to imagine what the waldo canyon fire aftermath looks like. This moment was an eye opener for me and made me realize how much I appreciate the forest. I was glad to see it as it made me realize how much we take advantage of the beauty that surrounds us, especially in Colorado.

 As we continued up the mountain the burn area became more prominent. The ground was getting soft and was covered in black soot. I was happy to see that despite that massive effect it had on all of the trees there were signs of vegetation growing back, slowly but surely.

After pausing to soak up the moment we finally reached the summit of South Boulder Peak. And, as the reviews had stated, that view was quite spectacular. With a great view of the city to the east and a view of the mountains to the west, it was worth it!

View from the summit

Happy that we made the decision to hike to the top and covered up to our knees in soot, we took several photos, ate a snack and then made our way back down the mountain.

South Boulder Peak was both a challenging and rewarding hike. I left that day with a greater appreciation towards mother nature and the beauty that it beholds. I'd love to return when it reopens and experience it at its full glory.

Here's to you South Boulder Peak, cheers!!!

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