June 11, 2021

Weekend Recap: Accidental Long Hike

Friday was a super hot day, so I worked from the basement all day. But in the evening, I had something fun planned – a happy hour on the deck at my friend Chris’ house! It ended up actually being still hot in the evening, and while I had initially thought maybe I’d go over and just have water, I ended up drinking almost an entire bottle of wine… oops! So much for my plan to not drink. But I was walking home, and had a fun time with Chris and Mark and Kate, and that’s what really matters.

I hoped to sleep late and sleep it off, but accidentally woke up at 5am. Double oops! I didn’t have a workout plan for the day, but knew it was going to be a hot one, so I figured I should take the 5am wakeup as a sign to get moving early. I decided to take Sadie hiking, thinking we could do a four hour circuit of South Boulder Peak and Bear Peak and still finish by 10am before it got too hot.

We headed to NCAR trailhead, and first headed out on the cool Mesa Trail over to the base of Shadow Canyon. While this should have been uneventful, about two miles in, I saw a deer leap across the trail not 20 feet in front of us. Sadie was busy looking off to the side, and completely missed him, but the noise and the scent tipped her off and she went nuts trying to run off into the brush to chase him – howling, barking, and crying piteously for me to let her hunt. It was actually pretty funny! But the bad news is, when she gets worked up like that, it often takes a bit of time for her to calm down, so she was pulling and anxious for ten minutes after.

This is Sadie’s wild deer hunting face 😍

Fortunately, that passed, and we were now heading up our usual route up Shadow Canyon. I was surprised by the number of people we saw coming down, since I thought we had started reasonably early (just before 6am), but then I realized that we did do an extra four miles by starting at NCAR, and while the trail was reasonably flat, we had walked it instead of running it. Early bird catches the worm when it comes to having the trails to yourself! Especially on a popular hike like this one.

The hike up to South Boulder Peak was otherwise uneventful, and I was happy to find my favorite perch up there unoccupied. I enjoyed the baked oatmeal I had packed, while Sadie alternated between begging for oatmeal and checking out the views. I usually don’t bring any snacks for her when I hike; wondering if I ought to start doing so, particularly for longer hikes? But this was a short hike at least… or so I thought.

Sadie loves hiking!

We headed down to the saddle and then up to Bear Peak, which was much more crowded. (As I expected, since South Boulder Peak is on the end of the range and only has two ways to get to it; Bear Peak is a bit more central and there are four different approaches.) We only stayed up there for a few minutes, then headed down the back side of Bear Peak to the gorgeous West Ridge, where I planned to follow the meandering trail through Bear Canyon, and be back to the car a short and easy two miles later. The plan was to be done by 10:30am, and I was looking forward to getting home and knocking out some chores.

Sadie scouting out the trail to Bear Canyon from the top of Bear Peak.

However, I was thwarted by a trail closure – a massive sign saying Bear Canyon trail was closed for routine maintenance, Monday to Saturday. This didn’t make any sense, since I had seen people going up Bear Canyon from Mesa Trail when I started hiking, and all the signs I had seen to this point said the closure was Monday through Friday. However, this sign said it was closed on Saturday too, and warned that not only was there a massive $1000 fine for all violations, but that it was dangerous for people to be on the trail during the closure because of falling rock. So… ignoring the sign was not an option.

I stood there for several minutes, contemplating what to do. (Yes, and even kept going back to reconsider ignoring the sign.) Fortunately, I knew exactly where I was and what my options were… but they weren’t good. I could go back the way I came… but that would be 9 miles and about 2500 feet of vert. Or, I could go hike up Green Mountain and come back to NCAR from the north side of the Mesa Trail, which I thought would be about 6 miles and “only” 1500 feet of vert. It was clear that was the only option to take, but I definitely wasn’t happy about it, especially because it was going to get hot.

This shot is looking back the way we came; I did not want to have to hike back up over those two peaks!

The climb up Green Mountain wasn’t bad – relatively shaded, and less steep than I remembered. Small favors? Unfortunately, Sadie and I were running out of water, since I hadn’t anticipated being out that long (or that hot). While I usually don’t let her drink from streams, I started allowing her to do so, and even filled her water bottle up from one. It was running very clear, and was one I would normally drink from myself through a Lifestraw… but I didn’t have a Lifestraw with me. (And I haven’t taught Sadie how to drink from it yet, though this hike was a good reminder that I probably should.) When we got to the top of Green Mountain, I was feeling like maybe this would all be okay.

But the way down was not unfortunately not fun. While pre-Sadie, I used to love the downhill section of hikes (when I could run down and feel like I was flying), I’m always nervous that I will trip and she will keep pulling me forward and I’ll fall flat on my face. I get super cautious on steep / rocky sections of the downhill, and it just isn’t very fun. I would really like to work on her recall so I can take her off leash for downhill sections, but right now, she isn’t quite there. So this downhill from Green Mountain not only took longer than I’m used to, but also felt interminable.

Finally, we made it to Chautauqua, and stopped at the Ranger Station to get fresh water for both of us. (I had just run out of water in my own bladder about 20 minutes before.) While we were there, I told the rangers about the confusing closure signs, and they seemed just as confused with me. One told me: “Oh yes, those are definitely closed Monday through Friday”, to which I pointed out that it was, in fact, Saturday, and that the signs on the bottom side of the canyon didn’t indicate a closure. Much later, when I was finally home, a friend told me that the sign was wrong, and that he had just ignored the sign and come down it himself that day; furthermore, the website didn’t indicate a closure. Argh, I was so frustrated when I later learned we had added this extra mileage for nothing!

Once Sadie and I had drank our fill of water and also refilled our bottles, we started heading up Bluebell Road – we still had about four miles on the Mesa Trail before we’d be back to the car. But Sadie started heating up quickly on the shadeless Bluebell Road, and when we got to a lone tree providing shade about three-quarters of the way up, she laid down on the side of the trail, not wanting to go anymore. I felt terrible! I let her lie there, gave her water to drink, and also poured some water on her to try to cool her down; meanwhile, I started trying to figure out options. I decided to try to get an UberPet from Chautauqua, and while it was on the way, Sadie got up so I started walking her back down the road. Then Uber changed its mind and told us there were no available UberPet rides available!

So without many other options, we laid under the tree for a few more minutes, and then I urged Sadie on, knowing that in another minute or two, we’d be on a shaded part of the trail, and that the rest of the way didn’t have any more long sunny stretches. It was definitely hot, but being out of the direct sun and helped, and we did okay until the last quarter mile, when poor Sadie laid down again. Once again, I let her lie there for a few minutes, giving her plenty of water, but eventually I made her get going again, knowing we only had five minutes left. We finally finished hiking at 2pm, four hours after I had expected. I wasn’t happy, but I was fine; I was just worried about my poor Sadie Bug! I blasted the A/C on the way home, and then once we got home, I took her down to the cool basement to lie down for a while, then gave her a lukewarm bath to try to help her regulate her temperature without shocking her. I felt so guilty for how this hike had ended up! Fortunately, she seemed to recover quickly and be fine after, but I sent a strong complaint to Boulder County Parks & Open Space for mislabeling a critical trail closure like this.

Sweet Sadie, snuggled up with her Lamb Chop on the couch after. I love her!

The hike had really sucked up a lot more of my day than I intended, so while I had initially anticipated having time for various errands and chores, I ended up with just enough time to pop over to the grocery store for a few supplies for the 90s-themed get together I was hosting for two of my friends that night.

And Sadie, of course, but she refused to dress up or even look at the camera.

My friends Kelly and Heather came over to watch The Orange Years, the new Nickelodeon documentary, which was a ton of fun. Since I love a good excuse for a theme party, I put together a 90s-themed menu of dunkaroos dip, pizza bagels, caesar salad, and spinach dip and carrots (for something a little healthier). I also learned that apparently parents today are no smarter than those in the 90s, and they still sell Capri Suns?! So I bought that sugar water as well, which I had instead of wine 🙂 The movie was much better than I was expecting, and it was fun to hang out with my girlfriends and reminisce about the nostalgia of Nickelodeon! Plus, I was able to still get to bed early – Sadie and I were down for the count by 9pm 🙂

Sunday was a lazy day, but a good one. I woke up at 5:30am again, which I wasn’t expecting, but I immediately headed down to my gym and did a 30 minute Peloton yoga class, which felt great. It always feels good to do yoga, but I never make the time for it! I had grand plans to also do a core class and a strength class, but that didn’t happen.

Instead, after breakfast, I headed out for… a massage! Something else I never make the time for, but am always so glad when I do. My go-to spot is Peking Therapeutic Massage, a little hole-in-the-wall place at a strip mall near me. But what it lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for in price – only $50 for 60 minutes of a great deep tissue massage! My masseuse also used hot stones without me requesting it, which was a nice bonus. I really need to make it a point to make time for massages more often.

Afterward, I ran around Broomfield doing a few errands, then headed home for lunch and some yard work. Just when I was finally coming inside, my friend Chris texted to see if she and her boys could come over to practice piano – they recently started taking lessons but were waiting on their piano to be delivered. While Chris helped one boy play piano, I got to play cards with the other, which was a lot of fun! Dylan and I played Spot It, a new-to-me memory game he had brought that was really fun (though not easy), and I taught Jackson to play Skip-Bo, which he had never played but quickly picked up and enjoyed. It was a really nice friend-time break in my otherwise solitary day 🙂

After cards, I hustled to get a few more things done in the house, including starting to swap out the brass fixtures in my upstairs bathroom to try to update it a little bit on the cheap. Sunday’s project was installing a new showerhead – I got this one that’s a handheld, so I can use it to spray Sadie rather than subjecting her to a full bath whenever she’s muddy. It was really easy to install, and I’m thrilled with how it looks and works!

I finally wrapped up my weekend by throwing together a quick chicken teppanyaki stir fry, and then heading to bed early to read before lights out. This weekend had taken a lot out of me, but it was also a nice chance for me to recharge!


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