Hiking Cub Lake

August 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday was a treat on many fronts. I had the whole day free, I was accompanied by good friends visiting and we found a perfect trail in a gorgeous part of the Rocky Mountain National Park. My friend, Adair, and I went to grad school together and have shared a number of fantastic hikes when we travelled around India and Nepal together. It was like old times being out on a trail with her yesterday. Brad, her husband, as well as a very talented photographer, joined as well so I have some fun pics to share. They were recently posted in the foreign service in Athens Greece, so he spent a lot of time covering the riots. I shared his work during Philosophy Week when I was over there visiting them.

But now back to the hike.
Just about 45 minutes away from Boulder through Estes Park is the Rocky Mountain National Park and not far within is Moraine Park where I went horseback riding recently. When we were there we saw lots of trailheads and I knew I wanted to go back and investigate. Cub Lake is a pretty easy trail at 2.3 miles each way and is mostly flat with a steady incline towards the end. It’s at 8,000 feet, so not too hard on the lungs either. The best part is that it’s absolutely gorgeous. You start in the valley crossing a river and make your way past ponds and gorgeous wildflowers. Eventually you start winding your way up through a forest of aspens and ferns.
photo: Bradley Watson

After about an hour or so we reached Cub Lake which is just idyllic. I’d love to go back and spend a day there with a good book. Upon arriving we were greeted by some of the fattest chipmunks I’ve ever seen. This must be one place in the park where people have disregarded the sign about not feeding the wildlife. My friend ended up with one on her lap trying to decipher where the food was hidden in her iPhone.

When hiking you find yourself striking up conversations with those around you. We shared a rest stop with a family visiting from Boston. Every time someone asks me where I’m from and I say Boulder the reply is always the same: “You’re really lucky”. After the hikes I’ve been on this week, I wholeheartedly agree.

We also ran into a couple wearing “bear bells”. My friend asked if they had seen any bears. I casually asked the wife if she hiked by herself with the bells and she blew up at us. “NEVER! You should NEVER hike alone.” and then proceeded to lecture us further. I didn’t want to mention that while her bear bells might work on bears they also kind of turn her into a giant cat toy.  I personally would be a bit more afraid of the mountain lions around than the bears given their size.

photo: Bradley Watson
While we didn’t come across bears or mountain lions, we did see a moose when we got to the lake. She was just chillin’ in the lake eating lily pads. Brad got a great closeup of her. That was my first moose sighting. There were of course some not-so-bright tourists getting a little too close forgetting it’s a 900 lb animal.

We had to start heading back since the clouds were rolling in, but Brad was able to capture Cub Lake from a pretty fantastic vantage point.
photo: Bradley Watson

We learned a few things hiking yesterday:

1) Come up with a game plan beforehand that everyone knows. We could either have headed back the way we came or have taken a few other trails to get back. We got split up at the lake and one of us thought we were going to do the other trails while two of us planned to head back the way we came. Hard to coordinate with no cell service at that point. We all eventually made it back to the car.

2) Bring snacks. We had plenty of water but no snacks and started getting hungry.

3) NEVER! NEVER FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HIKE ALONE! (or alternatively turn yourself into a giant cat toy by wearing bells)


August 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Tenderfoot Loop is a great morning trail to do before the day gets going. It’s a lot less crowded than Sanitas or Chautauqua and you’re rewarded with stunning views a good bit of the way. It’s easy to access straight going west on Baseline up Flagstaff to Realization Point. There are a number of other trails nearby as well.
It’s an easy 2.5 mile loop that makes it’s way down into a valley popping with wildflowers this time of year. Niko, my friend’s dog, wanted his picture with them. 🙂
I’m always amazed how subtly and sometimes not so subtly the landscape in Colorado can change throughout the year. Now is one of the best times to get out for morning or evening hikes because everywhere there are bright, cheery yellow wildflowers to greet you.

I need to get a field guide so I can start learning more about what I’m seeing.


A beautiful morning hike in Chautauqua Park

August 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

A short drive from downtown Boulder to the Baseline Trailhead off of Baseline road where the Flatirons await ahead.
A beautiful morning looking out over Boulder. Pretty typical of what every morning looks like here.
My friends’ pup, Gilbert, leads the way onto the Bluebell-Baird trail, a nice easy morning loop to do before work. It’s well traveled and leads to lots of other interesting trails. Another good one to do if you’re solo.
Some sites have special meaning for others along the way. My friends fondly recall having their wedding photos taken here. They recently just celebrated their first anniversary & have been hiking this trail together since college.

You’re always rewarded when you get up and go on a hike in the morning. I still pinch myself to make sure I actually do live here.

Hiking Boulder

August 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

One of the things I haven’t taken advantage of yet living in Boulder is hiking. I plan to change that this week. We just went to Aspen for the weekend to celebrate our first anniversary and the gorgeous drive inspired me to explore the hiking trails around me.

I can sometimes be a creature of habit and the only trail I’ve really done so far is a trail called Sanitas which I can get to from my house. It’s probably the most well-traveled path in Boulder, so it’s also one I can do by myself when I don’t have anyone to bring along. I’ve actually considered getting a dog just to be able to do more trails on my own.

A lot of outdoor activities require special clothing or equipment to do but the great thing about hiking is you can just get out and see the magnificent scenery close by.

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