Initially my goals for today where to climb Shavano and Tabeguache with Brad Snider. However, when the first reports of winter storms came in earlier this week, we decided to climb Longs Peak via the Trough route instead. Needless to say, due to the weather, we cancelled those plans, too. Expecting 2-6 inches of snow by Saturday morning, I decided to go on a hike close to Boulder. I planned a trip for South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, and Green Mountain, which I thought would be a good challenge during significant snowfall. The trip turned out to be as follows. 16.4 miles hiking, 6550feet elevation gain, 11 miles (800ft) biking to and from the trailhead.
First, when I woke up this Saturday morning, the lawn in front of our apartment building was wet and green (not white as predicted). Luckily it was not raining, so I decided to proceed with my hiking plans. I left my apartment on my mountain bike at 6:45 in the morning and made the 5.5 mile, 800 feet climb, trip to the NCAR parking lot. Given that I have not climbed many hills on my mountain bike recently, the final 500feet of elevation gain up to NCAR were the toughest part of the whole trip. This section is also where I encountered my first snow. A few patches of maybe 1mm.
I finally started my hike at 7:30 (It was snowing lightly, but not accumulating), heading from NCAR towards the Mesa trail. Once I reached the Mesa trail, I turned south, and continued on Mesa for about 2.75 miles till joining the Shadow Canyon trail at 6550ft. I knew that the 1.4 miles/2000feet from this point to the summit of South Boulder Peak would probably be the toughest part of the hike and I was positively surprised when I reached the summit after only 50 minutes at 9:40. (finally the cardio work of the last few weeks is paying off!!!). On the summit, I enjoyed a quick snack, but did not pause very long. It was now snowing slightly more with about 1 inch accumulated on the ground (the most I saw all day), and the visibility was very bad, so there was no point in remaining on the summit.
I made the quick trip over to Bear Peak (0.5 miles) and then along the Bear Peak West Ridge trail towards the intersection with the Green Bear trail which I reached at 11:00. I then climbed up to Green Mountain and reached the summit at 11:30. This was way ahead of my planned schedule (I expected more snow.) and I decided to alter my plans. Originally I had thought about climbing Dinosaur Mountain, but since the the visibility was only a few hundred feet and I had never been on the peak of Dinosaur Mountain, I decided to stay on the trail.
I headed down to saddle rock and a little beyond and then turned around to head along the E.M Greenman and Ranger trails towards Flagstaff Road and ultimately Flagstaff Mountain which I reached at 1:10pm. I then decended the Flagstaff trail down to Baseline road which I reached at 1:45. Now I simply had to return along the Bluebell-Baird and Mesa trails to the NCAR parking lot. The snow picked up significantly, and my legs were getting tired, so I was glad to be close to my bike, and after hiking for another 3 miles, I finally reached the NCAR parking lot at 2:50pm, leaving only the bike ride home.
The bike ride home, however, was the most unpleasant part of the trip. When I started to head down from the NCAR parking lot, the snow turned into wet slush, and besides the fact that I could barely see anything (going 25 on my mountain bike with wet breaks), I was completely soaked by the time I reached my apartment.
The trip turned out to be a wonderful experience. Mostly i had the trail to myself, and the hike was a great physical challenge. The conditions for hiking were good, and I enjoyed to consistent light snow. Unfortunately the low visibility prevented me from taking any specatcular pictures.
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