Decided to take a stroll up to Boulder and make a loop out of the trio before the DU lacrosse game last weekend. Mother Nature, yet again, was in dire need of some Monistat 7 but I was sick of letting her dictate my plans so I just said F it and figured it’d be good exercise if nothing else. I had no idea what ethereal world I was about to enter above tree line.
I usually start from NCAR and hit Bear and South Boulder, but wanted to prolong the loop and started with Green from Chautauqua. It’s always nice getting to that park early in the morning before it gets GOBAR. The day started as I figured it would: cold, damp and foggy.
Usually my brother and I take the mellower and longer Gregory Canyon to Ranger trails to Green. This go around, I mixed it up and took the steeper yet more direct Amphitheatre to Saddle Rock to Greenman trail route. This wasn’t on purpose though, I honestly couldn’t remember the way and luckily stumbled up a trail that happened to go in the right direction. All I knew was where the gapers tended to gravitate towards and made sure to just not go that way. That plan worked out in the end.
Anyways, I’m glad of my ignorance, cause the Saddle Rock trail was pretty cool. There are still signs of the massive decimation of the creek bed along the trail, a 20 foot ladder to climb and better views in my opinion.
Green doesn’t really get above tree line, but there are numerous openings along the trail for good panoramic views. My first shot yielded me this eerie vista…..
I think its around 2.75 miles and 2400-2500 feet to Green. Once I reached the summit, I was above the clouds and the views started to get psychedelic.
I was reminded of the movie “Steve King’s The Mist” where a town is enveloped in fog and otherworldly monsters started attacking the residents. A morbid thought that crossed my mind was that fog would clear and the Front Range would be void of people. After coming back to my senses, I settled for this momentary lapse of sound and enjoyed the peace while I could.
That peace wouldn’t last for long though, as I group I had been hearing coming up the trail for some time (that I had sort of feared running in to) finally caught up with me. One of them (who had been spraying incessantly for a solid 30-40 minutes all the way up the trail) noticed me eating Stax salt n’ vinegar. She informed me those were “empty calories”. I kind of stared at her for a couple seconds and before going permanently cross eyed, I went “I’m not really sure how to respond to that”, and tried to laugh it off to make it sound not so hostile. They scurried along soon after, talking about fitness or something. I chalked that one up to being in Boulder and carried on.
The route between Green and Bear has always been one of my Front Range favorites. Its an anomaly in its proximity to Denver Metro and its solitude. The only people I see back there usually are trail runners, most of whom are very cordial. This would prove to be a real treat on this day due to the fog.
This was/is a great time to be hiking this group cause its not peak hiking season and the foliage is already getting pretty colorful. No wildflowers yet, but plenty of green. I guess there is a silver lining to all this rain.
The pano on the summit of Bear was even more surreal than Green.
Thunder clouds were actually starting to build off in the distance, and another form of thunder was forming in me, so I knew it was time to move – but not before admiring this creek crossing down in Fern Canyon…
The Mesa Trail had 1 or 2 final f**k you’s from NCAR to Chautauqua, but I made it back unscathed and in time to grab the usual sweet pork enchilada at Mexicali Café before catching the DU game (even though the defending champs lost to f’ing unseeded Towson!).
Anyways, this loop is obviously no secret, been done a zillion times but the cloud inversion made it noteworthy. Thanks for reading.
Distance = 10.42 miles
Vertical = 4,024 feet
Time = 4:48