Zen On Dirt

Three weeks in the Republic of Boulder

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Generally, anyone who has hung out with me for any appreciable length of time will learn that I’m not the hugest of huge fan of Boulder these days. I grew up in the Peoples’ Republic, and I think it’s just one of those cases of ‘You can never go home again.’

It’s changed. I’ve changed. No matter. I’ll always come back to visit family, even if it’s accompanied by what even I might admit is an excessive amount of whining.

But I was faced with three weeks in the Boulder Bubble to watch my parents’ two dogs.

Sparkles. Who is crazy.

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And Huckleberry Hound, who was once again trying to be the 14 year old hound who was attempting to recover from another middle ear infection that left him stumbling around like a drunk sailor. I knew the drill. I just had to keep him eating and hope real hard that he recovered as the ear infection subsided.

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So my charges were one crazy dog who I was hoping to get to some level of trained before my parents got back, and a sick dog who may or may not make it until my parents got back.

But hey, let’s make the best of any situation.

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Sparkles would.

Luckily, we were pretty tired getting to Boulder so taking a few days to binge watch Better Call Saul seemed like a pretty good use of time. Plus, the dogs needed walking, the dogs needed ear scratches, work needed to be done, blogs had to be caught up on. But eventually, the itch to do stuff descended again.

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Mt Sanitas is right behind my parents’ house and is a lovely 3.8 mile jog/hike to its summit and back. I would end up tagging the summit of this little mountain nine times during our stay in Boulder. It’s just so easy.

Luckily, we have friends who can get us out on days that require a little more motivation than putting on shoes and running from the door.

Jill and Beat wanted to do a long run at Golden Gate State Park one day. We wandered around much of the Dirty 30 race course and put in a solid 17 miles, which is a lot farther than I’ve gone in a while. Jill and Beat went on to do another seven. Just because.

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I saw on Instagram that Danielle happened to be in Boulder for a long weekend over Memorial Day, up from sweltering PHX. I immediately coerced her into a run.

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Somehow, we thought that all runners would be at the Bolder Boulder running race, which is one of the biggest 10k road races in the country, held on Memorial Day morning, and that Chautaqua would be somewhat empty.

You’d think that with our combined knowledge of Boulder, we’d know better.

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Even with lots of people on the trails, it was still worth the trip up to Royal Arch. It’s a classic, and the people watching is priceless.

Neven and I headed out for an afternoon lap of Sanitas one lovely day. Friends were definitely making the time pass, we were a week in!

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At some point in time, Jill had proposed a Boulder skyline traverse. The classic route hits Sanitas, Flagstaff, Green, Bear, and South Boulder Peak, the five major peaks that tower over town. Not being a runner when I actually lived in Boulder, I had never run most of the trails that connected the peaks. I’d never run Flag, I’d never been up South Boulder, I’d never done the west ridge of Bear. And there was a new trail off of Sanitas that I hadn’t done either. So I was in for a day of new. Which was awesome.

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After a bit of a car snafu when trying to meet in the morning, in that my parents’ car wouldn’t start and Scott was in Taos with the van, we started up Sanitas and shared the summit with 15 of our very closest friends. That mountain makes me laugh. I love it.

We made short work of the new-to-me descent, took the Red Rocks trails over to Eben G Fine park, got some water, cruised to the top of Flagstaff, got rained on a bit up to Green, and then actually got to do some running on the way over to Bear, picking up more water that Jill had cached near the trail that morning.

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I love the top of Bear Peak. I skied off it once (not the rocks, but once it turns to dirt), it was silly. We knew that weather was coming in from the west, so we made short work of the descent and the climb up to South Boulder Peak.

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Those storms? Yeah, they hit us just as we hit the trees of Shadow Canyon. As it turns out the red smooth rocks on that descent are pretty slippery. The rest were okay. The roots were terrifying. Thunder boomed all around. Talk about timing!

By the time we got down into the open fields of the foothills, the rain had stopped, the sun came out, and puddles became a joy to splash through as we made our way towards our meeting point with Beat.

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While running the whole thing as a loop would have been sexy, after 22 miles I was pretty done and was stoked when Beat showed up with snacks and Jill gave me a ride back home. That routes been on my bucket list for a while, it was a lot less suffery that I thought it would be.

At some point in time, Scott did a podcast with Like a Bigfoot, that is produced by his “kinda cousin” or “step-second-cousin”. Chris just moved to the Front Range from Virginia and we were able to line up a Sunday afternoon run on Table Mountain. We all roasted in the heat, but it was neat to see something that I’d always driven by but never had stopped to check out.

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Coors Brewery in all its glory. Yuck. 

Jill and Beat invited us to join them on a running commute to their home at the top of Flagstaff taking an off-trail route off of South Boulder Peak. Of course, this route would also tag Green Mt and Bear Peak on the way over to S Boulder. Beat was very concerned about getting stuck in the dark the whole time. We assured him that we had headlamps while we dorked around at the top of Green.

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The traverse over to Bear didn’t take too long. The flowers were amazing. Scott and I wasted some time looking for a woodpecker who was going to town on the dead trees around the trail.

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Me being me, and since Scott had never seen the top of Bear Peak, I insisted that we had to go around the corner and scramble up to the actual top of the peak. Taskmaster made sure that we didn’t spend too much time admiring the view.

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We hustled off the top of South Boulder onto the boulder field that Beat insisted led straight to his house. It was slow going, but maybe faster going that trying to bash through dead fall.

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Don’t worry honey, it’s a shortcut!

We ended up getting rained on, but we did make it to their front door before it got too dark to see. I’d say we timed it all pretty much perfectly, and it ended up being a fun little adventure.

Finally, my parents were coming home from their trip to Peru. Huckleberry Hound was not only alive, but doing well, getting excited for walks, trying to spin around in circles like his little sister, barking to seem tough, trying to chase bicycles, and posturing at wanting to chase deer.

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And for Sparkles? She learned how to walk on a loose leash, sit and wait for dogs to pass without losing her shit (most of the time), and would sit and ignore squirrels and birds if the treats were good enough. No food in the world was better than trying to chase deer though…

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All in all, a successful trip to Boulder. We ran a lot. We finished re-watching Breaking Bad and caught up on Better Call Saul. I got to see a lot of old friends. And the dogs were pretty stinkin’ awesome, even if they take a lot of work and attention.

But best of all, I got to make new memories of Boulder. I wouldn’t want to hang out there all of the time, but as far as places to go to watch dogs, Boulder ain’t half bad.

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One thought on “Three weeks in the Republic of Boulder

  1. I’m glad we got to have a bunch of fun adventures during your time in Boulder. You almost make it sound not half bad! 😉

    Let me know if you drift close to the Front Range again. Beat and I have yet to visit the mountains this year. We need to remedy that.

    And I look forward to seeing you in Ouray!

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