August 4, 2014

Weekend Recap: Hiking Bear Mountain

This was a busy weekend, but I loved every minute of it! It definitely felt a lot longer than two days, which is exactly how I like my weekends to be.

Thursday night started with my flight home and then a home-cooked meal. Oh, I cannot say fervently enough how much I love cooking and miss it when I’m home! I also finally had the chance to check out the hot tub at my new apartment.

When I first moved into my apartment complex, I showed my boss pictures and he said that it looked like a retirement community, and now that’s become kind of a running joke.

Car At Apartment
Here’s my new car parked out front. I love the Tuscan styling of the complex!

Well, it’s not a retirement community, and I absolutely love it. However, since I’m usually out and about whenever I’m free and only hanging out at the apartment in the daytime when I’m working from home, I have pretty much only seen older residents… so I was starting to worry that my boss was right about the average resident. Luckily, I found a whole bunch of cool people in the hot tub who all seemed around my age (or close enough). I think that’s going to be my new low-key hangout spot!

As usual, I worked from home on Friday, but then headed over to my friend Kelly’s house after work for a “bike fitting.” She and her husband are avid bikers, and since the list is very long of all the things I need to buy to truly embrace the Colorado lifestyle (camping gear, hiking gear, skiing gear, biking gear), they generously offered to loan me one of their old bikes so I don’t have to buy a bike right away. Bikes are a pretty big investment – anywhere from $1,000-$4,000, and I was told that I probably need to get three: a road bike, a mountain bike, and a cruiser. So I am really excited to have the opportunity to test one out for a while and see which features are most important to me. Otherwise, I’d probably just end up picking the shiny pretty pink bike… and then have to buy a second one when I realized that wasn’t quite right 🙂

After dinner, we headed back over to my neck of the woods for a dinner double date in Louisville. Louisville is a super cute little small town, which also happens to have some yummy restaurants and bars, and we seemed to have lucked out – they do an art walk on the first Friday of each month, which brought in some crowds, and there was also a street fair that made the place really pop! I had never had a problem before parking in Louisville, but I certainly didn’t mind walking a few extra blocks. It was so cool to see Louisville on such a happening night! We had dinner at Empire Lounge, which was the perfect low-key atmosphere but with delicious food. The pasta with herbs that I got was really fantastic, and I also stole some yummy mac & cheese from across the table 🙂 We wrapped up the night with grappa and gelato at an Italian place a few doors down… I need to remember to go back there for dinner sometime.

Saturday morning, I had originally planned to go for a hike. However, with some rain in the forecast for the mountains pretty early in the morning, I decided to instead stick close to home and check out a running group in my area. Road Runner Sports in Westminster has a ton of great events, and the first Saturday of every month it’s a sponsored group run with free snacks afterward. The route took us from the shopping center out and around the neighborhoods to connect with the Big Dry Creek running trails, with a final little run through the Westminster Promenade. What a cute little shopping center! I definitely want to check out dinner and a movie there sometime, or maybe just relaxing out on the patio while the weather is still nice.

Big Dry Creek Trail
I didn’t bring my phone on the run, but this is a pic from the last time I ran Big Dry Creek. It’s even more beautiful now that things are completely green instead of yellow/grayish from winter 🙂

I did 6.5 miles while holding a 9:00 pace, which I was really excited about! I know that isn’t particularly fast for me, but it is very fast at altitude. I haven’t run that fast since moving to Colorado! It is really frustrating to be in flat-land Texas for four days every week, since that means I’m adjusting much slower than most who make the move. I’m hoping that hiking Mount Princeton (at 14,000 feet) is part of what helped, and that generally I’m starting to adapt a bit better. Just need to keep working out until I get used to it! With that in mind, I promised myself that it was definitely a good idea to try another 14er on Sunday, and that I was committed.

After the run, though, I was exhausted. That run was a pretty solid effort, plus I hadn’t gotten a great night’s sleep the previous two nights. I went home and considered making a pot of coffee, but instead crawled into bed for a two hour nap. Glorious! I would have slept longer but had to get myself together for a Cornell alumni event in downtown Denver in the afternoon. The event was fun, but all I could think about was the news that the incoming freshmen are the class of 2018. (Rationally, I get it, but my instinctual reaction was that the young’uns were the class of 2014 or something.) Made me feel old!

Other things that made me feel old: nearly falling asleep watching Office Space at Boulder Outdoor Cinema with some of my friends, including Heidi.

Boulder Outdoor Cinema
Gorgeous sunset views with the mountains in the background!

But regardless of my sleepiness, I am loving Boulder Outdoor Cinema on Saturday nights! It’s a $5 suggested donation, and they have a giant screen set up in a parking lot where you can bring your own chair and refreshments to watch. They also have a concession stand (with amazing Quinn Popcorn) and food trucks on site, and this week’s food truck was Suburban Wiener – who had an amazingly delicious chicken rosemary brat. It came embedded in a roll and then served vertically in a paper cup. Great way to not make a mess! I may have to remember that trick for parties…

When the movie was over, I headed home and promptly hit the sack. I needed to get up at 4:50am in order to get to the mountains and start hiking with enough time to get down before the late morning thunderstorms. I had laid out all my hiking gear the day before, so it should have been easy… but when my alarm went off, I didn’t know where I was for a minute. I thought it was Monday and I was late for work (I usually have to get up at 4am or 4:30am on travel days), and sleepily was thinking “ugh, I have got to get a job that doesn’t require this kind of wake up.” But when I realized that it was actually Sunday, and that my alarm was voluntarily  set that early so I could go hiking…. yeah, forget hiking 🙂 Instead, I turned my alarm off and decided to sleep as late as possible.

That happened to be 8am, and while I spent the first half hour of being awake lazing around and drinking coffee, I decided at 8:30am that I really ought to go hiking like I had planned. It was way too late to get out to a 14er, but I decided to stick close to Boulder and do Bear Peak via Fern Canyon – an 8 mile, 3000 foot hike that would still be a great workout. Can I say how much I love living only a 15 minute drive from the trailheads in Boulder??? I was on the trail by 9:20am and it was such a quick trip to get there!

Bear Peak Trailhead

Good thing, too, because the hike took me longer than expected. I hit the summit in about 2 hours, and then hung out on the boulders at the top for 20 minutes or so, eating some homemade trail mix and enjoying the gorgeous 360 views.

Bear Peak Overlooking Boulder
Views of downtown Boulder! I looked in vain for all the Ironman participants who were competing at the time, but was too high up to see them. Still gorgeous!
Laura Atop Bear Peak
Selfie as I perched on the rocks trying not to drop either my cell phone, my trail mix, or my body over the edge. (Don’t worry, Mom, that’s a joke!)

On the way down, I took the west ridge to go down through Shadow Canyon, and got to see some pretty flowers on the way.

Shadow Canyon Wildflowers
A flat part of the way down, with some pretty wildflowers

This route was supposed to be easier on the knees because it wasn’t as steep… but it was really long. It seemed like the bottom was still so far away! Finally, while on the Mesa Trail, I found a signpost that said NCAR Trailhead was 2.9 miles away. Now I started to worry! It was already 1pm, and I had a flight out of DIA at 5pm… and I still hadn’t packed! I really picked up the pace here, and instead of everyone passing me, I started passing everyone. Go, Laura, go!

Fortunately, I finished hiking at 2:15, and was home by 2:30pm. That gave me just enough time to shower, do laundry, pack, and jet out the door just before 4pm. It probably wasn’t smart of me to cut it that close (what if I had gotten lost?), but because it all worked out in the end, I’ll call it a win… and probably the perfect end to such a busy weekend.

Hiking is just the best. Remember how I said I wanted to get outside every day I’m in Colorado between now and Labor Day? I think I am upgrading that goal to also add that I want to go hiking once a week. It’s like the workout that doesn’t even feel like a workout, because you’re just relaxing and enjoying the scenery all along the way! Though don’t get me wrong, I got plenty sweaty and out of breath.

I love, love, love living in a place where “workouts” like this are possible 🙂 Hooray for Colorado!


5 thoughts on “Weekend Recap: Hiking Bear Mountain”

  1. Being able to borrow a bike is awesome!
    I’m in the three bike club and it’s awesome! I would highly recommend buying used for your first bike. You can definitely get nice used bikes for <$1000. I bought a used road bike, a used hardtail mountain bike and then after a couple of years of riding, a new full suspension mountain bike. I am on the lookout for a good deal on a cruiser now!

    1. That is a GREAT idea to buy used! I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea of spending thousands on a bike so that’s a perfect way to start 🙂

      Also, I LOVE your blog tagline… added you to my reader and can’t wait to follow all your mountain adventures! I bet I am going to learn a lot.

  2. I’ve got my mountain bike which is perfect for the big rides I go on! When I’m tooling around stopping at breweries though, I use a hybrid that’s much lighter and faster. It really does make a difference.

    1. Oh man, I hadn’t even considered a hybrid! Now I wonder if I should really be getting one of those instead, especially since I don’t really see myself becoming THAT avid of a biker.

  3. I second the hybrid bike unless you;re going to be doing some serious mountain biking or road racing. I’ve had a hybrid for years — it was my main source of transportation in college but also did fine on not-too-technical trails. Now I just tool around town since I live in the middle of nowhere, but it’s still a good bike.

    I hear you on feeling old, too. I was looking over my rosters for this school year today, and I now have students (high school freshmen) who were born in the year 2000. That blew my mind and made me feel like a grandma!

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