Friday, November 13, 2009

Local Travels

I've been at home for a couple of weeks now... I haven't been traveling farther than a 25 mile radius from Denver and I'm loving it. I have another week here prior to starting the travel life again for a couple of months.

But this post is about local travels- most have been in the Boulder area. So a couple weeks ago when I got home I arranged to go hiking with a friend and my guy. I was not in the mood for research so I just started driving. We randomly ended up at the National Atmospheric Research Center which just happens to be a trailhead- who knew? We stared at a few very well labeled trail maps and I made the command decision to head up to Mallory Cave. It seemed like a bit of topography and the ability to do a bit more hiking if we wanted.

The Mallory Cave hike is a lovely hike up Dinosaur Mountain past a number of rock climbing spots (including a couple of rock climbers up there). The trail is a bit steep but in a good way. As we ascended up we passed by a few spots of snow in the shady areas and a couple of muddy spots though the trail overall was dry. At the top of the hike was a little placard saying Mallory Cave with an arrow going up the rock. Um... the scrambling looked OK to me but my cohorts looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe it was the dad teaching his 2 girls to rapel from the top of the area I wanted to scramble. Needless to say I was alone as I headed up the rock though I had 2 very nice observers to take pictures of me. I didn't find the cave since the last bit was out of sight of my backup. Plus I was starting to get worn out so I headed down the rock while the going was good. After lunch we headed down- the sights are great looking out over the Boulder area. Next time I'll bring another crazy person and make it all the way to the cave.

This past week I ended up venturing out to Boulder again with a few friends for a different hike. We hiked Mt. Salinas which as one of our troupe noted... well is a bit on the steep side ;-) It's approximately 1500 feet elevation gain over a couple of miles up and over rocks and water bars. There were a number of runners on the trail but once again the trail afforded lovely views of the Boulder area (and the haze enclosing Denver that day). But since this was a peak hike instead of just up the front of the iron mountains there were some views heading out west into the mountains. This trail was much busier than the Mallory Caves trail but everyone and all their dogs were polite and did the give and take of moving around on the trail.

After the hike we headed down to Boulder for an excellent lunch at the West End Tavern- pretty much all the food was great. My personal fave was snacking on the mac 'n cheese. My sandwich was great- it's always iffy to order fish when so far inland especially a coastal fish like mahi mahi but it was awesome and the fries were amazingly perfectly salty without being too greasy.

So next time you need a short jaunt from town I highly recommend a Boulder excursion with maybe a little scrambling up boulders thrown in...

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