Friday, July 07, 2006

Get Real!

First off, I'd like to welcome some fellow Blogging Chick readers! Glad you want to come back - let me know what your sites are and I'll check you out as well...

A note about the last post: The God Hates Fags people picketed our church one Sunday morning b/c we don't preach hate and actually have small groups geared towards people who struggle with homosexuality. We love them. We help those who come to seek help. Bear Valley Church doesn't turn anyone away.

Okay, now for the "Get Real" post. John and I took some friends hiking on the 4th of July. Hiking is what you do in Colorado for fun that is almost free (GAS!). Wanting to avoid the traffice corridor of I-70 and 285, we decided to find something near Boulder. Why avoid I-70?

Several years ago we camped in Leadville over the 4th. The trip back which should have taken no more than two hours took SIX! Four hours from the tunnel to Georgetown - only 11 miles!!! People actaully sun-bathed on the hoods of their cars. But I digress...

As avid hikers we have hiked many of the front range trails and made a decision to hike unfamilliar trails this summer. We consulted a guide book notating the "best loop hikes in Colorado". I spied the Walker Ranch Loop hike several weeks ago, but John had his heart set on Kenosha pass (see the "Ahhh Colorado" post for pics and a description of that one). The authors described the fascinating hike through a rejuvinating burn area, to a verdant valley in Eldorado Canyon into a dense pine forest, dropping down a cliff face with carved stairs to the Boulder Creek (again), then ascending through some very scenic country side to the trail head. Distance: 7.6 miles. Exertion: moderate. Hiking time, which according to the writers allows for lunch breaks, gawking and periodic rest stops - 3 hrs. Not a bad deal. Moderate would mean some gentle sloping, but to do 7.6 miles in 3 hours, we assumed the trail was fairly flat. So, we suggested this trail to our friends, one of whom does little to no hiking and is only getting started.

We descended and descended and descended for the first mile and a half. Not unusual. Okay, so the last 6 miles would be a gentle climb out. Right? Wrong. We descended to Boulder Creek, ate lunch then climbed very steeply out of the canyon, crossed one ridge, climbed up to another which lead into previously mentioned verdant valley. In the middle of the valley we saw mile 3. Thunder roared and black clouds rolled over our heads as we kicked it up a notch along the flatter portion of the trail through Eldorado Canyon. Maybe the rest of the trail was like this.

After another half hour or so we began to descend and descend and descend and then we REALLY descended. A sign was posted in a spot where a deafening roar of water echoed through the pine forest: bikers dismount and carry bikes. Horses turn around. We inched our way forward and peered over the edge of... a... cliff! We descended and descended some more, aproaching the swollen icy creek. Boulder creek runs deep and narrow and very little aquatic life can exist in its icy waters. Every year people die trying to tube the creek.

Carefully we picked our way over rocks into the deep canyon. The air was cool and clean from the rushing currents. Tired bikers with sore shoulders lay like lizards on the rocks below, huffing from the scary climb down - bikes on back, cleats slipping on the rocks.

We barely past mile marker 4. We already had been on the trail for over 2 hours! What goes down must come back up. It's the law of hiking in Colorado. You'd think the trail would curve and give reprieves. But NO. We climbed and climbed and climbed. Not a gentle rolling climb, but steep loose gravely climbs causing the calf muscles to squeal like stuck pigs. Heidi looked like she was going to die. The Little Booger slept soundly against John's chest. John was slowing down and Perry offered to carry Little Booger the rest of the way. I thought of my legs as pistons in a powerful SUV and methodically placed one foot in front of the other refusing to stop until I reached the top. It never came, or so it seemed. I asked one of the many bikers if a top even existed. They assured me it did. Caleb, my dog plodded on in front of me, his bushy tail marking time. Somewhere along the way I passed mile marker six and shouted "Woooooo Hooooo! Six!" Hoping to offer Heidi encouragement.

I made it back to the trail head aobut 30-40 minutes before the others. The final .6 miles sloped gently downward giving my trembling quads a little break. Caleb wanted water, but John had his bowl.

I waited. Another couple emerged, dusty and trail weary. They were loop-hikers as well.

"Three hours, the wife muttered."

"My guide book said it was a moderate hike," I added.

"Ours too; you must be Kyle's mommy."

"I am."

"Amazing baby to do so well on such a difficult hike."

"Can't believe the guide book said moderate. We used the Loop Hike book."

"Us too," the husband said while loading his hiking poles into the Explorer, "should have considered that the authors were a marathon runner and a professional cyclist. No clue about how long this would take a normal person."

When people write books like that, they need to consider the audience. I was okay, John was okay, Perry and Kyle were okay, but Heidi... I hope she will hike again. Someone needs to write a regular person's guide to hiking in Colorado.

In the end it took us five hours. The park literature I read while I waited for the others suggested 6. Now that was real.

Great hike. Think I'll do it again sometime, only I'll plan on 5-6 hours instead of three!

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