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.

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