Yet again, I was foiled in my quest for a high-altitude hike this spring. A fairly strong storm system was on its way and would start to produce bad weather by midday Saturday. There have been great weather days this spring, but generally not on weekends. So, yet again I decided to stay near Boulder.
I had already ascended Green Mountain a couple weeks ago by running with a light pack to the View Point trailhead near the parking lot for Eben Fine park at 4th and Arapahoe. Then I followed this trail and the Flagstaff trail up to the Flagstaff Mountain summit area. In this section I was able to occasionally run, but mostly hiked. Then there is a one-mile downhill section towards Green Mountain, followed by a 1-mile hike up the last 1300ft to Green's summit. I reversed the route and ran the last 1500 vertical feet down from Flagstaff to home.
However, three days later, I found that I had injured myself on that run (it sure would be nice if my running injuries would actually hurt when I'm doing the injuring!!!), so I had to cut way back on running. For that reason, and for better hiking training I decided to carry a decent pack (about 15 pounds) and do this as a hike. I contemplated continuing on to Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak, to complete the "three bagger" of Boulder's 8000-foot peaks in one day. This would have been about 20 miles and more than 5000ft of gain.
To make sure I didn't get hammered by the weather if I did the entire trip, I started hiking from home at 4am. I've started many "real" hikes in the dark, but it was a little eerie hiking through town on the Creek Path in the dark. There was a fairly low overcast, so the reflected light from the city often provided enough light for hiking, but I did use my headlamp at times.
It didn't take very long to realize that mentally I wasn't really into the hike, probably because it wasn't at all the type of hiking I really wanted to do. But, I decided that it would be foolish not to at least get up Green. Past Flagstaff there are two trail options up Green's north slopes. Previously I had taken the Ranger Trail, but this time I took the Greenman Trail. The latter is nearly flat for a few hundred meters, but then is a bit more rugged than Ranger. However, both are still excellent trails.
The neat thing about Green Mountain is that the actual summit is an enormous boulder which requires a couple Class 3 moves to ascend; I like the fact that while all three of Boulder's 8ers have excellent trails to the top, they all require scrambling to reach the true summit. The summit boulder has a register and a plaque that identifies 20+ other summits that you can see, including Longs Peak to the north.
I decided that I was feeling good enough to descend off the south side of Green and take a longer route home. First, I went down Bear Canyon, which is a nice route except for the high tension lines that lord over you, and the fact that my injury was acting up on the steep parts. Then, I took the Mesa Trail back to Chatauqua which is fairly flat and parallels the Flatirons. I saw quite a few people on Mesa, including many runners. From Chatauqua it was a 30-minute walk back home, which I reached at just after 9am, for a round-trip time of just over 5 hours.
The hike provided no altitude training whatsoever, but it was a nice enough hike, and by far the most distance I've ever covered hiking in 5 hours.
To the chronological trip index
To the Green Mountain page
File last modified: 18 December 2004