Monday, July 03, 2017

Parents in Colorado

This weekend, my parents came to Boulder for a quick visit. Between babysitting their grandkids, a steady stream of summer travel, and a part-time job shuttling visitors in Salt Lake City, three days was all they could manage. I wanted the trip to be worth their while, so I made plans to drag them all over a wide swath of semi-local mountains. They didn't seem to mind; I pretty much inherited my manic FOMO personality trait from them. 

On Friday we drove a couple of hours through thick fog on the "scenic" route to Rocky Mountain National Park. I worried that the whole day would be shrouded in gray, but luckily our late start allowed time for the clouds to clear while we toured around the park in the afternoon. 

 Alberta Falls. Mom was willing to get closer to the edge than I was.

 Dad enjoys the view at Emerald Lake.

 Family portrait at Dream Lake.

 Views from Trail Ridge Road. Despite the approaching sunset and fact that we had brought neither lunch or dinner on this excursion, we spent a couple more hours dawdling around at 12,000 feet.

 An elk herd lounging near the ridge. So this is where they go in the summer, after visiting our neck of the woods in April and May.

On Saturday, Mom drove into town to explore Boulder, and Dad, Beat and I headed up to Eldora to hike. It's difficult to find anywhere to go on a holiday weekend that isn't overrun by crowds, and the Fourth of July trailhead was not an exception. I know, visiting Fourth of July canyon during the Fourth of July weekend — what did I expect? Still, I held out hope that this trailhead would be less crowded, as it sits at the end of a rough road. But this just meant that we had to sit behind Honda Civics crawling along at 5mph. Our late arrival — 12:45 p.m. — just barely afforded us parking spot. The weather forecast looked good so I planned an afternoon start, reasoning that there would be more space once the morning people left. This was partly true, but we did spend the first half mile practically running away from hoards of people before finding relative solitude. Alas, it's summer in Colorado. Not my favorite season, but I can sort of see the appeal.

 The plan was to climb to South Arapahoe Peak, and traverse the class-three ridge to the north peak if we were feeling saucy. Ultimately we didn't try the scramble. Actually, I was the one not feeling it. I was experiencing particularly poor fitness on this day, with my heart beating in the 180s while I crawled up the summit ridge. I've been told the elevated exercise heart rate isn't necessarily dangerous for me as long as I back off, but as it was I was maxed out and barely moving. I nearly asked Beat and Dad continue to the south peak without me, but it's difficult to reconcile my FOMO with physical inadequacy.

Despite the struggle I was stoked to reach the summit at 13,400 feet. Dad gave the hike "five stars." 

 Looking east toward home — the skyline in the distance is Green, Bear, South Boulder and Eldorado mountains. The water bodies are Gross Dam and Barker reservoirs. Beyond all that, of course, is the urban Front Range corridor. It's always fun to view many of the pieces of my world from 13,000 feet.

Arapahoe "Glacier." Apparently this is the largest glacier in Colorado.

 Looking back at South Arapahoe Peak from the meadow. We drifted off the peak too early and had to scramble our way through an interesting and somewhat sketchy traverse over those sheer gullies. From the top it almost looks like there's a way to drop directly down. But looking up from 2,000 feet below — definitely not.

 One nice aspect of starting a five-hour hike in the afternoon — nice light toward the end.

 Almost finished and still enjoying the five-star views.

On Sunday, I felt much better. Closer to my "normal," whatever that is anymore. I suppose I can try to blame altitude for sputtering so badly on South Arapahoe, but it's a stretch. Anyway, Dad and I decided to set out in the afternoon for a jaunt around Bear Canyon and Bear Peak. Fern Canyon gains 1,800 feet in one mile, so it was a strange to feel less winded there than I did walking downhill the previous day. Dad was steady as always. The whole route was surprisingly uncrowded, especially since it was overcast with temperatures in the high-70s, which is about as comfortable as it can be around here in July. We had Bear Peak to ourselves for twenty minutes, snacking and chatting while this chipmunk tried to get in on the trail mix action.

Thanks for coming to visit, Mom and Dad! A couple of years after retirement, they only seem to be speeding up rather than slowing down. I wish I could say the same about myself, but watching them gives me hope that it will turn around for me someday. 


  1. Sounds like fun! I love 4th of July TH but only on weekdays in the afternoons :) It used to be a quiet little parking lot with no one around but not anymore, except for at odd times. It made it into top hiking and wildflower books, and then it was all over for solitude except at unpopular times. But it sounds like you had a great time!

  2. Sounds like a fun visit. Looks like your dad sweat just a tad on your way up to Bear Peak! I can relate.

  3. Jill, Looks like a great visit. Some more excellent photos. May I ask, what camera are you using now?


    1. Hi Jay. I use a Sony DSC-RX100. It's four or so years old now. It's been a great camera.

    2. The original model. Good bang for the buck, and the newer ones provide marginal benefits for lots of extra $$$$. It's also the smallest.


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