One of the most significant reasons for traveling to Colorado, specifically Boulder, was that it had mountains. Tyler has some strange notion that what we call mountains on the East Coast are not actually mountains. Apparently, true mountains only exist in the West. While I don’t subscribe to that philosophy, I have to say I was still excited to complete our first hike. Given the long winter back in Massachusetts and then the busy end-of-the-year, at school we really hadn’t been hiking yet this spring.
Our hosts/friends/Boulder residents, Owen and Sally, recommended a hike that would take us up to Green Mountain, a peak situated in the Rockies but still extremely close to the city of Boulder (maybe a ten minute drive from their apartment). The hike is located in Chautauqua Park which contains the famous Flatiron rock formations. Reading about the hike we learned that it would be about 5.5 miles round trip with around 2,500 ft. of elevation gain. Knowing that this was deemed a “strenuous’ hike didn’t deter us, having completed many of them before. We felt that if we went at a slow pace we were sure to be fine.
Well, if you haven’t guessed where I’m going with this yet…
We weren’t fine.
The combination of elevation gain, high altitude (the city of Boulder sits at a little over 6,000 ft. above sea level), not hiking for many months and eating a large breakfast beforehand was not the recipe for success when it came to summiting Green Mountain. While we both realized this fairly early on in the hike, I, more deeply appreciated the ill effects the climb might have on us if we were to complete it. About two miles and 1,000 ft. up the mountain, I suggested that “Maybe we should turn back?” Tyler, ever the go-getter, was determined to finish and I unintelligently went along.
The last mile and 1,000 ft. up were difficult, but we survived, and the views along the way and at the top were beautiful.
Thankful that we’d made it to the top, I was eager to get back to the car to explore more of the Boulder area and its attractions. Typically, going down the mountain is my forte. I have never (knock on wood) had knee or hip issues, which tends to bother others on the descent, Tyler included. The first mile down was great. We were cruising and my body was feeling like, “Alright. You can do this Jessica!” Unfortunately, that feeling did not last much longer. Both Tyler and I very quickly crashed, feeling deep pangs in our lower extremities. In fact, when we would stop to take a breather, my legs would shake uncontrollably with exhaustion. Even the sight of two, fit and half-naked, males running up and down the mountain was not enough to bolster my spirits. Clearly, my body was telling me, “You are not ready for this!”
Since you’re reading this post, you can well imagine that nothing tragic happened during the remaining two miles. The rest of the descent was uneventful, albeit slow. For those of you looking to come to Boulder, both Tyler and I still very much recommend hiking to Green Mountain; it was beautiful and the foliage provides wonderful shade even on the hottest of days. It was 87 degrees that day. That being said, we recommend making sure that you’ve warmed up first, unlike us!
One last note…you may remember that Colorado experienced extreme flooding last year, and much damage was done to many of the towns and areas near the mountains. Chautauqua Park was no exception. On our way down the mountain we passed a road that had been wrecked by flood damage. The flowing water undercut the pavement and in crumpled as if there had been an earthquake.