Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado – September 9, 2014

Tuesday: On Batya’s last day at the seminar in Chautauqua, I decided to hike in the southern part of the adjacent Boulder Mountain Park.

I drove to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (N.C.A.R.) and parked in their spacious parking lot.

9:17 a.m.: I then hiked about 0.6 miles west on the N.C.A.R. trail, which leads into Boulder Mountain Park.

View from N.C.A.R. trail, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

View from N.C.A.R. trail

9:35 a.m.: Upon entering the park, I turned south onto the Mesa trail.

Flatirons from Mesa Trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Flatirons from Mesa Trail

10:03 a.m.: After 0.7 miles, I reached an intersection with the Bear Canyon trail, and turned west along that route. The scenery here was not ideal, as a power line ran beside the canyon, interfering with some views. Still, I managed to take a few pleasing shots within the canyon.

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail

 

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail

 

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail

 

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Scenery on the Bear Canyon trail

11:26 a.m.: After 2 miles on the Bear Canyon trail, I reached the intersection with the Bear Peak West Ridge trail, and continued on that trail, as it began west, then turned southeast.

Wildflowers on the Bear Peak West Ridge trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Wildflowers on the Bear Peak West Ridge trail

12:12 p.m.: My objective for the day was Bear Peak, at 8461′. There was an intermittent drizzle as I climbed toward the peak.

Bear Peak, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Bear Peak

12:18 p.m.: As the trail neared the summit, it passed through a small area where trees had burned in a fire in the summer of 2012:

Burned trees on Bear Peak West Ridge trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Burned trees on Bear Peak West Ridge trail

12:30 p.m.: I noticed many birds moving through the burned pines and stopped to watch them. They were hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), and while they did not allow me to approach closely, my telephoto lens allowed me to capture them from a distance.

Hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus)

 

Hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus)

 

Hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Hairy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus)

12:49 p.m.: As on the previous two days, the trails afforded me a view of Boulder:

Boulder from the Bear Peak West Ridge trail, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Boulder from the Bear Peak West Ridge trail

I believe that this thistle flower is bull thistle (cirsium vulgare):

Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare)

1:41 p.m.: After stopping for lunch, I resumed my hike. As I neared the end of the 1.9 mile Bear Peak West Ridge trail, the trail changed from soil to jagged broken rock as it climbed to the summit of Bear Peak.

Broken rock on Bear Peak, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Broken rock on Bear Peak

The scenery was nice . . .

View from Bear Peak, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

View from Bear Peak

I reached the point near the summit where the Bear Peak West Ridge trail intersects with the Fern Canyon trail. The actual high point of Bear Peak required a scramble over larger rocks for about 20′, gaining perhaps 10′. I started to do it, but fog was rolling in ominously, and in the event the rain returned, I didn’t want to be stuck scrambling over slippery rock.

Foggy view from Bear Peak, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Foggy view from Bear Peak

I began my descent on the Fern Canyon trail, moving northeast. I discovered that the broken rock was present here, as well, and perhaps for an even longer distance than it had been present on the Bear Peak West Ridge trail.

Broken rock on Bear Peak, Boulder Mountain Park, Boulder, Colorado

Broken rock on Bear Peak

The Fern Canyon trail ran for 1.5 miles, completing a loop and returning me to the Mesa trail.

4:20 p.m.: This hike was right around 8 miles, with an elevation gain from N.C.A.R. (at 6109′) to Bear Peak (at 8461′) of 2352′, excluding any additional dips in the trails. The hike was not especially difficult, and it only took me 7 hours because I frequently stopped for photographs and to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

I returned to Chautauqua to pick up Batya, who had successfully passed the examination at the end of her course, therefore becoming certified in Advanced Wilderness Life Support. We then returned to the hotel for our last evening in Boulder.

Next: Our first hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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