This was a hike with some running thrown into the start and finish.
Since Boulder Mountain Parks started charging for parking, I have visited Boulder less. It's not that I don't want to pay at all, but it sometimes pushes me over a tipping point so that I simply don't want to spend the money and/or time to avoid the money. I have local options. However, on Sunday I ponied up the $5 and parked at South Mesa to do something different.
It's been so long since I've visited that they re-routed a trail (Homestead). This photo won't mean anything if you're not from around here, but I didn't recognize this at all:
The trail was nice, but at the same time I didn't want to be re-routed up onto the gravel road up to Mesa, which I avoid. In that regard, I prefer the old trail.
So, I'm heading up Shadow Canyon and see another baby owl:
I pointed the owl out to some college-age girls hiking down the canyon, one of whom was taking photos of everything in sight with a DSLR. The owl would have been easy to miss (it never moved), and I can't really account for the fact that I see these things other than the fact that I've tried to train my eyes to see anything that looks "different", i.e. not a rock or tree. Sometimes it works. There are plenty of false positives when I think something's an animal and it's not.
As I'm ascending, I encounter large amounts of sand on the trail, almost like I'm walking along a beach between the boulder and trees:
This was the first time I'd been up Shadow Canyon since last year's fire, and I realized it was because of that fire: the vegetation got scorched off the mountainside, so silt and sand runs downhill when it rains.
Much of the trail was also badly eroded by water, leaving rocks and roots exposed everywhere. This trail is really steep and has never been easy, but now it is also covered with a jumble of rocks and sand and washouts.
This is about 100 yards from the top:
South Boulder Peak:
Rocks on Bear Peak:
Below is coming down my least-favorite trail in Boulder: Fern Canyon. I should amend that to upper Fern because the lower part is great. But the footing on the upper part of this trail is torture: jagged rocks, knee-jarring drops, slippery dirt. This, combined with the trip up Shadow left my feet hurting a bit.
Ferns of Fern Canyon:
I ran the last couple of miles pretty much in the dark, by headlamp. I rarely do that on Mesa, although I do it at home often enough. But I also haven't personally seen bear and lion at home, either.
Distance was 10.11 miles, time 3:45 (moving 2:32), elevation gain/loss 3,527 feet, avg. pace 22:19 (moving 15:05), and best pace 6:52.