Trails Traveled: Bear Canyon Trail, Fern Canyon Trail, Mesa Trail, Difficulty: Hard (Black)
Loop, 8.5 miles round-trip, 2,800 feet elevation gain
Time: 3.5 hours
Weather: Cloudy, Rainy, Thunderstorm
- Panoramic Views
- National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
- Boulder, Colorado
- Below the Treeline
I can’t believe it has been this long since I have been on a hike! It has been a busy month with a lot of life transitions so this was the first time in more than a month that I got to get outside for a hike. I went up to Boulder at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) where there is a trailhead and multiple challenging hikes in the area.
I have been keeping my fitness up by walking around my neighborhood at lunchtime when I can to take care of myself while I am working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic. So, despite the fact that this was a “challenging” hike, it did kick my butt, I didn’t feel like I was not up to the task at anytime during it.
This is a great hike to ready yourself for hiking a fourteener (a mountain upwards of 14,000 feet), which usually involves a lot of vertical elevation gain. I took the “backside” route, going clockwise rather than counter-clockwise and there was a lot of difficult hiking straight up at the beginning of the hike. I summited Bear Peak within 3 miles of starting out, and the other 5+ miles was on the downslope back to the parking lot.
I am glad I did it this way because right after summiting, storm clouds rolled in and rain, thunder and lightning engulfed the sky. It was actually kind of scary. After getting out of the exposed area post-summit, I jogged/ran to cover under pine trees a few miles down the mountain to avoid the lightning. On the peak, it was obvious that much of the mountain is iron as the color and distinct smell of rust (Iron Oxide) was evident. As you might know, iron is a highly conductive mineral and a lightning strike can be deadly.
Along the trail the wildflowers, butterflies and honeybees were all out in force. The plants were blooming everywhere which made for a pleasing hike. After the summit, there was a good-sized forest that had many of its trees burnt by a recent wildfire.
Overall, the hike was strenuous and a good workout. It was also a good primer for a 14er as most of the snow in the mountains is starting to taper off at the highest elevations.