Inspired Stone


Indian Peaks, Without a Car
June 18, 2012, 2:04 am
Filed under: Mountain | Tags: , ,

As the weather has become more summer like, I’ve been heading to the Indian Peaks Wilderness to climb peaks, again without driving to the trailhead.  My first endeavor of this kind, and still probably the most difficult, was Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak last summer.  This time I wanted to do something a little closer, so that I could do the whole affair in one day.  So I started this summer with a ride and hike of Mt. Audubon.  

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Mt. Audubon is not a particularly difficult mountain, there is a trail all the way to the top, but starting it with a bike ride from Boulder made it much more interesting.  I was also drawn to Mt. Audubon because you can see it from many places in town, even from where I work.

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I started at around 6:30 AM and found that the ride up Lefthand Canyon was really nice, with wide shoulders and a moderate grade.  Still, it was about 5000′ of elevation gain between my house and the trailhead and it took me about 6 hours to finally reach the trailhead at Brainard Lake.  I switched from shoes to books and started up through the still snowy forest looking for the trail.  I ran into a guy that had trouble finding the trail, so he decided to follow along and ended up doing the entire hike with me.  It was a beautiful time of year to do it, with the road to the trailhead still closed to cars (another advantage of riding a bike) and bit of snow around, there were very few other hikers.  Eventually we made it to the top (13223′) and got our selves back to the trailhead.  It was a little hard to believe that I still had to bike all the way home (~30 miles), but amazingly I got a second wind (the cinnamon roll, espresso and gatorade from the Ward general store certainly helped).  Man oh man, I think the ride home on these trips is the most fun.  What took me 6 hours on the way up, took about 1.5 hours on the way down.  I rolled into the driveway at about 8 PM, making it a solid 14 hour day.

The most recent outing (yesterday) was to attempt two peaks that you can see from most parts of Boulder, South and North Arapahoe Peaks.  

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These lie almost directly west of Boulder, with Boulder Canyon providing the most direct access.  I’m afraid to ride up Boulder Canyon, so I decided on a modified strategy where I would take a bus from Boulder to Nederland and then ride the remaining 10 miles to Fourth of July Trailhead.  I still can’t believe how quick and easy it is to access the mountains around here.  Only 45 minutes after leaving my house, I was riding along on a beautiful mountain rode through the historic mining town of Eldora.  The last 6 miles were on a dirt road, which made things a little bumpy, but not too bad.  By 9 AM, the trailhead parking lot was full, but again thanks to having rode a bike, I parked wherever I wanted.  There was much less snow and many more people on this hike, but the setting was superb.  As I neared the top of South Arapahoe, the clouds really started to coalesce, obscuring North Arapahoe.  Given my three previous experiences of buzzing and crackling hair, I decided to forgo North Arapahoe and make a hasty retreat back down.  The environment reminded me of how I imagine Scotland with mist and clouds blowing through the rock studded tundra.  Since I was a bit ahead of schedule, I took a leisurely pace down.  Descending the dirt road was exciting in a bone rattling kind of way, making me feel like a mountain biker, dodging around rocks and dipping through low spots.  However, I mostly use my bike for commuting around town, so I kept thinking it might disintegrate below me.  My metal basket certainly got worked.  But there were no catastrophes and I made it back to Nederland by 3 PM and eventually my driveway by 5.

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