(My no-longer-new hiking boots.)
M and I went on two hikes yesterday. They were not long hikes. I think our grand total was a little over 3 miles. Even after over a week at this altitude (and a few days at higher altitudes) I still have the huffs and puffs when we go up so “a little over 3 miles” feels more like a little over 5 or 6 miles especially when the temperature outside is in the 80’s and climbing into the 90’s. It was up to 97F by the time we finished.
(On the road towards Boulder and our hiking destinations.)
Our first stop was Heil Valley Ranch in the North Valley Foothills. The trails are part of the Boulder Open Space system. We decided on the Lichen Trail — which is a 1.3 mile easy loop (there is a little climbing but it’s nothing compared to other trails we’ve been on) — and ventured off onto the Wapiti Trail for a little while just to have a look around. We started around 10am and the temperature was already well into the 80s. One of the advantages of the Lichen Trail is that it does have the occasional shady spots and it is a pedestrian-only trail. Mountain biking is very popular around here (makes sense, don’t ya think?). I don’t mind the bikers for the most part (they give me an excuse to stop for a minute and breathe as they pass). Sometimes, though, it’s nice not to worry about someone speeding around a rocky corner and running into you.
The Lichen Trail had good views of the foothills and mountains in the background and lichen-covered boulders scattered all over the place near the trail. The Boulder County foothills are, geologically speaking, a fault and fracture zone.
(Cacti growing in a boulder.)
The trails at Heil Valley Ranch pass through grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, forests, and canyons. We passed through or had a view of each on our hike. Wildlife in the park include squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, marmots, foxes, mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, and black bears. The only wildlife we saw were some butterflies flitting among the abundant wildflowers. As M said, all the intelligent creatures were napping in a shady spot somewhere, keeping cool, while the humans were hiking and biking and working up a great amount of sweat.
(A view of the grasslands, shrublands, forests, etc.)
This was originally planned as our warm-up hike for the day. But the day grew so hot so quickly that we decided we didn’t need (and couldn’t do) a longer hike so we set out for a back-up shorter hike after a short rest, lots of water, and a few handfuls of trails mix to get us energized.
We stopped in the town of Lyons to refuel (the gas in the car, the water in my CamelBak and in M’s water bottles) and to pick up a few maps. Then it was on to Hall Ranch, the home of the golden eagle, the great horned owl, Cooper’s hawk, bighorn sheep, coyote, deer, bobcats, and many other creatures including the one we were warned about: the mountain lion. We encountered a few butterflies and lots of grasshoppers. I found the grasshoppers entertaining as they seemed to be leading the way for us. There were a few mountain bikers and hikers out there as well, but we mostly saw them from a distance.
The views were lovely, the sun was hot, and there was very little shade to be found. Hall Ranch is located at the interface between the plains and the mountains. The land in that area was farmed, prospected, and quarried by a variety of families over the years.
(Along the trail.)
I saw dust devils along the trail. One of the almost-nice things about the heat here is that it is, as they say, a dry heat. Most of the time. Even when it rains, it dries out fairly quickly.
M spotted those guys pictured above along the trail. They sure look like tomatillos to me. I’ve been craving salsa verde ever since I saw them.
We had a picnic lunch in a shady spot near a creek in Lyons. Before eating we took off our hiking shoes and waded in the cold water for a little while. It was refreshing. There were lots of people there wading and tubing and just generally staying cool on a hot summer day.
It was close to 2:30pm by the time we finished lunch so we went back to the hotel and spent the hottest part of the day in the pool. We met M the Younger and Merdi later in the evening in Boulder where we had dinner at Hapa, a sushi place. It was fun and delicious. Boulder was fairly crowded with University of Colorado students and their parents. Today is move in day for the new students.
(Heading back towards Boulder after our hikes.)
I’m not sure what M and I will be doing today. We’ve been trying to decide on a hike that isn’t too far from Boulder.