Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Exertion and Beyond - July 27, 2008 Hike

Bear Peak Trail via Shadow Canyon (South Mesa Trailhead) 6.8 miles that we accomplished this last Sunday was to date the toughest of the hikes for the group. A longer than usual hike for us on a dryer and hotter than usual day. It was tough on the body and on the mind. It did teach us (at-least myself) a few things though.

Getting up early on a Sunday morning (or night as the sun doesn't rise until after 5:50am) is not a big deal for the group now. We got up well before 5am and got to Junaid's place by 5pm. Highly motivated to make to the summit and complete a rather longer hike within a few hours so we could all get back to civilization and enjoy Khaba (that is food for free at someone else's place!!!) later in the day, we got to the trailhead before 5:30am. The light was just beginning to show. All ready for the hike, we started off on the trail. A long, straight forward, slow but gradual climb into the mountains. The sun started to show before we made our first stop to get some pictures. The views and scenes are the best part of hiking around Boulder and we make sure that we take enough pictures to prove that. Loaded with three cameras, we took a lot.

Watching wildlife is another reward you get during these hikes and we got to see quite a few deers and antelopes during this climb. Chipmunks are also found at most of these hikes.

After the first hour of hike, we had gotten into the middle of the trail and had broken in two groups, sometimes stopping to get together again. Everyone felt the toughness of the hike since the trail was getting steeper with no end in sight due to heavy tree population. Large boulders also hindered the view which was unusual for us.

Every so often we would check the time to see how far it still would be, although no one knew how far the summit actually was from that point. Tired, hot and dry, we moved on. Pushing each other to go further and further. The fact that the summit was not quite known to us and we couldn't see anything beyond a couple hundred feet due to the trees was even more disturbing. Nonetheless we kept our pace.

After almost 3 hours of hiking, we finally got to the point where we saw the final 100 feet accent to the summit. We were finally there! We took a lot of pictures of the western ridge, which we haven't seen in any of the other hikes around Boulder, CO.

The views from the top were amazing and the sun beating down on us was not a concern anymore. We were there! We had made it! Boulder and surrounding cities looked beautiful. We could see the Eldora Ski area and other mountains which we haven't see in any of the hikes. Taking our time, we just relaxed and chilled for a while.

On every other hike, including the one 14er we had done earlier this month, the descent s have always been easy, fast and go by without notice. This was not every other hike. This descent would prove to us that every path going down hill is not as easy as it sounds.

Taking almost 2.5 hours to get back to the parking lot, we walked slow, stopping often and losing a couple friends behind who were slower due to knee problems. We did keep in touch with them through cellphones.

The descent was unusually tiring and so tough on knees that we had to stop a lot. The steepness of the terrain was easy to blame, although it now seems that it was our own fault.

We were less prepared, we had less time and we had been arrogant! Getting a couple months of hiking experience under our belts, we thought we could summit the world. What's Bear Peak? We were told by nature what it really was. It isn't really about Bear Peak alone. It is about any hike that you do which you haven't done before. Next time we go on Bear Peak and make sure we are prepared well and have enough time and supplies (mostly water) wouldn't really cut it. It is not a matter of this particular hike or any hike this long or tough. It is about being prepared for a hike unknown.

All options need to be considered before you go on an expedition of any kind. Supplies are one important part. Length of the hike, toughness, weather, and knowledge of the area are all important aspects. Our knowledge of the area or lack of it was a very big disadvantage. Had we known that it would take us over 6 hours to get back to the parking lot, we might have skipped this hike for last Sunday or we would have started much earlier.

All things considered, this hike surely made us better hikers at-least in mind. If you are considering hiking, keep these points in mind. Make sure you have enough time to not hurry back and possibly hurt yourself doing that. Make sure you have enough supplies and that you know the area well. Talk to multiple people and ask them enough questions to know what to look for. Get weather information and prepare accordingly. Above all, keep in mind that you may not be able to complete it this time! If you have a feeling you can't, leave it and come back. You will be able to do it next time, or the time after that or... You know what I mean. Don't kill yourself, or get close to that fact. Be safe, not sorry.

The best thing we got out of this hike was that we are not sorry! Thank God.

Next Sunday we are going to Green Mountain! Hopefully we will apply the knowledge from this last hike to all other hikes to come.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hiking Craze - Hopefully will last long!

So, me and a few friends from around Boulder area have started hiking the Rocky mountains around Boulder. We go every Sunday and try to hit a different hike/route every time. It's fun, good exercise and you get to see nature's beauty!

It all started from the Memorial Day weekend 1st Birthday party of Junaid's son, Hamza. We were sitting there having good desi food and a fun talk about RedBox DVD rental and their system of updating their boxes with new DVDs. According to Rizwan, they probably have a way of sending code to burn DVDs over the network instead of sending employees to put in new DVDs every Tuesday (usually when the DVDs are released). There was almost a bet for Cigars for everyone since Masood and a lot of others thought that was a ridiculous idea at the moment. Everyone believed that it is quite possible, but that's not what RedBox does currently. They should however!

And then, Jarrar (who had been talking about going for a hike to Mt. Sanitas for some time) insisted that we go for this hike on Monday (it being a holiday - Memorial Day). We all pondered and finalized that we should leave at 6:00am from Junaid's place. If you are not familiar with Junaid... getting up at 6:00am for Junaid is like not sleeping for two nights. Not many people liked the idea of a hike and that so early in the morning on a holiday when you can sleep a few more hours than a usual Monday. So it all came down to that me and Jarrar and Junaid were going to go for sure. Jarrar picked me up and we went to get gas before getting to Junaid's place. While we were getting gas, my phone had fallen on the seat on Jarrar's car and I didn't hear the phone ring while talking to Jarrar. It was Junaid calling to make sure we were still coming! I realized while going towards Junaid's house that he had called and probably would be thinking that we had chickened out and were still sleeping. When we got to this house, he was standing out there waiting for us. It was a relief, since we might have backed out that days hike if he didn't come.

We got to Mt. Sanitas trail head on Mapleton Rd. after a few detours since it was Memorial Day and we all had conveniently forgotten the fact that it was the day of BolderBoulder, a 10K run which stops traffic in most of Boulder. We did get to the trail head after probably a 45 minute delay. Since it was our first hike, we got to to the trail map, thinking of getting some information about the trail before heading up. There was a laminated, new looking notice on the board... Mountain Lion activity. We highly recommend that you consider a different hike!

It took us 15 minutes and 5 other hikers passing by us to calm down and start to hike. With our picked up tree limbs we started the hike. A 3.1 mile roundtrip hike seemed like a marathon. The 1 some mile hike to the top of Mt. Sanitas is about 70% log stairs. It was tough and we stopped almost 6 times before finally making it to the summit. At the top, we were the three happiest people on earth at that particular moment!

Many many people passed us while getting to the top. That didn't stop us from getting their. The way down was too easy after the climb.

Driving back home we called our better halves and told them to meet us at IHOP in Westminster for breakfast. It took us about 4 days to recover from the hike.

That was supposed to be the only hike but while coming down, we decided we want to continue this every Sunday morning (rain or shine, or even snow!)

That was the first ever hike that we did together. After that, we went to Mt. Sanitas many more times until we got tired of it. As Jarrar puts it... "wo hike boo chor gaee". We started taking different trails and also went to our first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt. A 14er is a 14000ft+ elevation mountain. It was tough and took us 5 hours to complete. Again I have to say "At the top, we were the three happiest people on earth at that particular moment!"

So it is an ongoing activity that we enjoy every Sunday morning. Since then Abbas, Irfan, Kamal and Zaidi have joined us for some hikes. Some of them after part of the permanent group.

Here you can get the blog from Jarrar about the hikes and here you can get to the google group for our hikers group.

Our next 14ers to attempt are Greys and Torreys peaks on August 10, 2008.

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