Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hiking the Boulder Flatirons

To say that it's been awhile since I've seen Ingrid is an understatement. As soon as I met her, she was pretty much gone and we could never coordinate our schedules when either of us have been in Texas or Colorado. But that all changed when I went to Denver for training. I gave her plenty of notice and she was all for a hike or just drinking or both on the Sunday that I got there. It didn't matter. Denver was our oyster so to speak.

After hanging out at the Rock Bottom Brewery for some beer and delicious food, we made the plan to head to Boulder for a quick hike. In all my times in Colorado, I've never been to Boulder. I've heard about Boulder. I read the Shut Up and Run Blog where she runs in Boulder, but never been there. So, this was a real treat for me to not only see my friend after many years, but also to visit a new town. We stopped off at her cute little Colorado home where she has her own garden and the biggest Zucchini that I've ever seen (wished I had gotten a picture of it). I was supposed to get one before I left, but didn't. Shoot. After a quick change, we headed out with Ingrid driving.

On the horizon, I could see the clouds and darkness forming in the direction that we were heading. This was not good. We got closer and it got windier. Then, it started to rain a little bit, but not too bad. We abandoned our plan to hike this location at the top mainly because there were no cars and the weather was getting nastier by the second. Instead, we went down to the bottom (Chautauqua) where we saw lots of people and less scariness coming from up above. It took awhile to find a place to park, but we did. I saw people doing yoga, class trips (mostly from Boulder University), etc.

Ingrid taking a picture of the Chautaugua trails.
This is a close up of the Chautauqua trails.
As soon as we hit the trail, it started to get windy cold. Thankfully, Ingrid let me borrow her rain jacket (which is now mine...THANKS INGRID...and no, Jim, she actually gave it to me). I was thinking this was a bad idea when it finally stopped and then it started to get hot. This could have been a result of the trail being steep right off the bat and making me hot. I was already huffing and puffing within a quarter mile. I couldn't believe it. I had to take lots of stops and I didn't care if Ingrid thought I was a wuss. I'm not used to this. I need a break. Although, I'm pretty sure Ingrid was happy to take the breaks too since she wasn't expecting the steepness so quick.

Looking at where we have to go at the start of the trail. It doesn't look steep, but it is.

This is my view to the beautiful.
The Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado.
Finally, we got off the open path and in to the trees where it sort of leveled off. What I mean by that is we had more level off points to take a break. And there were a lot of breaks mostly executed by me. I'm not upset about it. Ingrid did notice these berries throughout our hike that had such a pop of color to them. I also saw (and smelled) my first Vanilla Tree. The bark literally smells like vanilla extract.

Ingrid was a great guide telling me about the Flatirons and these bugs (sorry that I can't remember the name) eating away at the roots basically suffocating the trees to death. You could see the change in color, which was very different than a tree that was dead. It was sad to see and why there is a big effort to clear out these trees before the bugs spread to other trees (and they do spread fast).

Getting closer to the Flatirons.
We were smart not to eat them, but they are beautiful.
This is the Vanilla Tree that smells sooooo good!
We are getting closer with every break.

Our second big break for a beautiful photo op.
The trail began to turn a little rocky, but not too bad. And then we saw the eagle flying around. I tried my best to get a great shot, but it wouldn't just stop for me. I mean seriously how selfish can it be to not just fly down and perch on a tree for my perfect shot. So, I got what I could.

Little bits of rock are starting to show up more in the trails. 
Picture / Break time for me.
They are just so majestic.

My best close up.
We had an opening in the trees to get this picture.

That's Boulder University to the left and I believe that's the lake next to a dropzone. Imagine getting this as your view from the sky.
Ingrid and I finally made it to the halfway point and of course, we had to have our picture taken. Now, anyone that knows Ingrid knows that she doesn't do pictures. I'm actually surprised that I was able to get this picture of her (and one of her later). She would rather take the pictures, but I see she's gotten better. In fact, that's what she told me. We had this group of church folks from all over the world (Norway, Colorado, Sweden, and possibly Netherlands). They were really sweet, but we kept running in to them where they had to mention over and over to us about checking out their church on the web. I started to feel like I was being followed by a cult.

Ingrid and I at the halfway point. Now, we have to figure out which trail to hit.
Then, the trail got really rocky. I was advised by Ingrid (she's also preparing me for summiting my first 14er in Colorado that I plan to do next year...uh hum...Ashley) that this is how it is close to the top of the mountains. So, I have to get used to the rocks. I was starting to get tired and the loud yells from this young girl looking for her lab (the church group) was beginning to get on my nerves. Break time for sure.

Did you say rocks?

I really loved this picture from the light hitting the rocks through the trees and Ingrid climbing up. I had to see what it looks like in black and white. Which one do you think is better?

I sat on a big flat boulder looking up to this view. Ingrid told me she used to climb things like this back in Alabama just like a monkey. I swear she was human when I met her.

Again, I thought this was such a pretty shot that may need grayscale. Which do you think is better?

I looked over to see where we came from on the path. Do you see a trail?

Ingrid is not only part monkey / part human, but she also has super strength.
Finally, we were on our way down and I'm not going to lie, I was happy to not being in the incline position. Ingrid gave me one of her walking sticks since I started to lose control of my step.

You can see Boulder below us.

There was this little shack in the middle of the trail. Naturally, I had to take a picture.

They have apple trees?
Ingrid and I finished our great hike for the day and went home. I was so happy to get this in with her and well, to really see her for the first time in I think 7 years. At first, I was worried that when we finally got together, we wouldn't click as friends like before. We so clicked and I had so much fun with her. I just want to thank Ingrid for taking me out (and later on in the week, too) for a great hike. I wish that I could have gone on another hike Friday before my flight left. 

I wanted to do some urban Denver downtown running, but didn't get a chance. However, I did get on the bike in the hotel gym where I biked for 12 miles. Ingrid also gave me advice on doing the MS 150 and taking breaks every 12 miles. So, if I could make it 12 miles, I think I can do this next year. 


  1. Great write-up. Congrats on scoring the jacket (sure, she GAVE it to you). Missed the pic of the squash, but you got some nice shots of the trail. Need more high altitude training (in the Heights?) before you summit.

  2. Kristi that's great!! Awesome pics too! Both the color AND the black-white gray scale are really cool! Boulder is beautiful from what I remember when I was there! I am so glad you had a great time!!!!

  3. I like both colour pictures better! For the light on the rocks, the colour photo makes more sense to my brain, whereas the black & white has a lot going on that I can't tell where the light is coming from as quickly.

    Nice hike!! I've always heard of the great runners that come from Colorado (Anton Krupicka!) and it always looks so, so pretty in picture. If there was a place in the US I'd like to visit, it's there. And Texas, haha.

    I took a second picture at the gym, after noticing myself, but I heard someone coming towards the door so I swooshed my camera in my pocket before it was finished taking the pic, and it's all blurry :(


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