02 September 2011

And Then There Was the Hiking...

One of my favorite things about Colorado is, of course, the mountains. I enjoy skiing in the winter, but my favorite outdoor activity is hiking, and we were able to do it twice in the six days we spent in Colorado.

First, we took a short hike around NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where we saw the Cray supercomputer) in Boulder. The building is perched on top of a hill in front of the mountains that serve as Boulder's backdrop.



It's kind of a crazy building.



Different from every angle.



It was designed in the 1960s by I.M. Pei (who later designed the controversial Louvre pyramids).



We planned to take the noon tour, so we got there early to take a quick hike in the mountains above. The location south of the Flatirons offers a unique view of them -- almost from behind.



The area was pretty natural, but there was some landscaping right around the building -- including purple fountain grass (just like we have in front of the garage).



And some random bright pink flowers.



On our hike, we tried some more arm photography.



Moderately successful.

NCAR was our warm-up hike. The next day we went to my favorite hiking spot -- Arapahoe Pass, which is about an hour west of Boulder. Well, you drive about an hour...and then hike for a while more to get to the pass. It's a whole-day affair, so we packed a big lunch of huge homemade sandwiches, cookies, apples, and Gatorade.



And we were sure to visit the outhouse before getting started. Isn't that the most lovely outhouse ever? (But not inside, I assure you.)



The sign said it was three miles to the top. We've done the hike before, but I didn't remember how long it takes. And hour and a half, maybe?



So we got started. And wildflowers were everywhere. (You know I'm a sucker for flowers, wild or otherwise.)



Ah, nature.







See the road in the center of this picture? That's where we drove up to the trailhead.



Midway up the mountain, we tried another arm picture...but it was hot and we were exhausted and we looked all sneery (this is the best of three or four we tried).



That one won't be going in the album.

It was so hot that snowmelt was in high gear, and we had to cross a lot of water.





As we got higher up, the trees started to get scraggly...



...and then they stopped growing altogether.





By this point, we felt like we were hiking in slow motion. Well over 10,000 feet above sea level, the air was thin and our low-elevation lungs felt like we were hiking Everest. But when we finally reached the top (two hours and ten minutes after starting), the 360-degree view was worth the effort.

A video, shall we?

video

Magnificent.

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