5 Best Hikes in Boulder Colorado

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Whether you came to see a concert at Redrocks, do a sample tour of the town’s many fine microbreweries, or specifically to hike, rock climb and mountain bike, it is often difficult to know where to start hiking in a large town like Boulder Colorado.
I am about to tell you all some secrets from the locals. It took me a while to find the best hikes in our area, but now that I know them, I do them almost every day. I’m sorry locals, but the world needs to know:
• Bear Canyon: This is my personal favorite hike, where I go to unwind from finals or hang out with some friends. The hike is pretty easy going and has some of my favorite views of the Flatirons. The trail also hides the town pretty well, and gives the feeling of solitude and woodsyness.

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o If I’m feeling frisky, I can also climb to the top of Bear Peak, which stands above the Flatirons, and also gives a view of the snow capped Indian Peaks. Keep in mind that this climb will take at least 4 hours.
o Parking is at the NCAR research institute, and there is always plenty of parking.
• The classic 1st or 2nd Flatirons hike: This is the classic hike of the town. The flatirons stand out from the ground like spaceships from Star Wars, and the view of town from the top of them is pretty spectacular. As an added bonus, you may also get to watch a few climbers rappelling down the backside of the flatiron, which is always nice.

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o The only negative thing I can say about this hike is everybody knows it is iconic, so the trails are busy. There is no solitude here, but the people are friendly in the Colorado fashion, so feel free to make some friends. This hike is also physically strenuous for those not used to the altitude.
• Anenome Trail: Great for anybody with a hangover, or anybody with just an hour or two for hiking. It begins at the base of the Red Rocks Cathedral, (Boulder’s version of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs). The trail offers beautiful views of Boulder Canyon on the left, and the town on the right.

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o Not many people know about this hike, so there is a lot of solitude. It branches off the Boulder Creek Path, so its easy to reach from Pearl Street, or anywhere near the creek. Easy to do if you have requirements later that day, as it only takes an hour, or two if you feel like taking all the sights in.
• The Royal Arch: One of my favorites, and runs along the same access route to Chataqua. I usually find myself missing the turn off for Chataqua, and going to the arch by accident, but am never upset about it. There is a cool cave/tunnel at the base of the arch, and the people are always interesting. Last time there was a group of girls in some sort of ukulele band.

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o This trail is typically busy like Chataqua, so it isn’t the best for solitude, but the views are still pretty spectacular, and the arch is very unique.
• Mallory Cave: This one only comes last because the cave has been closed off due to the white nose disease for bats (not related to cocaine). It’s great for a quick hike to see a wider variety of flatirons peaks. The area is really popular for rock climbers, and there is a nice view of town from the closed off Mallory Cave.
Each of these places is within 15 minutes of Boulder Colorado, and has some of my favorite hiking. Be sure to stop by the Southern Sun Brewery in South Boulder Colorado, or Mountain Sun Brewery on Pearl Street when you finish, to get some truly delicious microbrew beers and hearty food. Their beers aren’t in stores yet, but they have won quite a few awards. Check out there website: http://www.mountainsunpub.com
Happy Travels!

Bushwacking a Mountain: 8 Things to Consider

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Sometimes I just don’t have the money to cover a National Parks entrance fee. But after driving for about an hour to climb a majestic mountain, it is hard to tell myself I need to do something else. Thus, I get pushed to the bushwack.

Bushwacking is free, though it can be dangerous if a few small things aren’t don’t to keep you from getting lost:

  • Firstly, always have a compass handy. Since I am almost always parking on the side of some road, I can almost always find my way back to the car if I just hit the road I was driving down.
    • To use a compass, find a landmark to aim for (such as the top of a mountain). When you want to turn around, go 180 degrees on the compass (if you were going North, turn and go South) and follow the little arrow until the car is found.
    • Follow a stream or valley in the upward direction towards the top. Mountains always have valleys and ridges that are relatively easy to follow, and it is usually nice to hike near a stream. The sounds are soothing.
    • But I also have found that in hiking near a stream, while soothing in sound, is a jumble of sticks reaching out to smack and scrape me as I walk past. So I follow this stream until a ridge is in sight that leads to the top. Then I move up the mountain to the more reliable terrain.
    • Make sure to note a landmark at the bottom of the valley, or directly opposite the valley, so the mountains many valleys don’t begin confusing themselves. The objective here is to make sure that I get myself down to the car, and not awkwardly explaining to a ranger that I broke into his park and need a ride back out.
    • Perhaps the most important thing is I always make sure to call or text somebody before I go, because if there is anything I learned from the movie, “127 hours” it is that I don’t want to end up in that guys shoes. If a friend of mine knows I am doing something stupid again, they can at least tell somebody that can save me that I have gone and lost a group of friends and myself in the woods.
    • Build cairns as trail markers. Cairns are those delightful little stacks of rocks which I thought were art at first, but now realize mark a trail. If I walk over an open section with no landmarks, I always make sure to leave a trail of rock piles to follow back to my little valley again.
    • Also be sure to get down the mountain before the thunder storms come. Read more on that here: http://moderatextremetravel.com/2013/05/26/climbing-14ers-a-brief-guide-to-avoiding-electrocution/

Bushwacking can be extremely arduous, but also very rewarding. Making my own trail has its own philosophical implications, but it also presents solitude. It’s a great time to get back in touch with nature without other people around (except at the top).

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Bushwacking also means I am bringing at least one meal, and probably a few snacks because I will need my energy to get back towards finding the car. Maybe a few beers also.

Happy travels!

Climbing 14ers: A brief Guide to Avoiding Electrocution

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Ever wanted to be 14,000 feet above sea level in one of the most beautiful locations in the world? It sounds like you want to climb a 14er.

14ers are one of my favorite parts of Colorado, not only because they are unbelievably beautiful, but also because when I finish the climb and pass out for 13 hours, I wake up the next day feeling absolutely fantastic. The combination of exercise and serenity I have experienced on the many 14ers around Colorado has inspired me to try and get everybody climbing them.

A few quick facts you should know before climbing a 14er, that will keep you safe in this moderate extreme activity:

  • Make sure you start heading down by 2 o’clock. Being on top of a 14,000 foot mountain during a thunderstorm is outrageously dangerous, and unpleasantly terrifying. Thunder storms usually hit the mountains in the afternoon, and while you may get lucky and experience clear skies all afternoon, you may also find yourself charging down a rocky mountain while the sky sounds like its tearing apart.
  • Unfortunately to tack onto the first point, this also means waking up before 4 A.M. I typically end up driving with my fatigued friends to the trailhead, forgetting that we didn’t eat breakfast (definitely eat breakfast) and then debating turning back to boulder for more sleep before climbing. I always want to be sure I have enough time, because nothing is worse than being halfway up a mountain and realizing that it is time to turn around.
  • Bring plenty of water. Altitude sickness can leave you flattened out on a trail and relying on strangers to help carry you down (which is awkward). The best way to prevent this is by bringing a bunch of water, and remembering to drink it frequently.
  • Also bring some food to keep your strength up.
  • And lastly, make sure you have a beer for when you reach the top! While drinking on top of a mountain when physically exhausted may not seem like the best idea, there is nothing I enjoy more than a cold beer in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
  • Be sure and check the conditions in the spring and fall to make sure they aren’t posthole (imagine being in snow up to the neck): http://www.14ers.com

Happy Travels!

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Top 3 Restaurants in Moab

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So you are in Moab Utah and you are starving hungry. Do not make the same mistake as me, do not go to Denny’s. My trip to that Denny’s consisted of waiting 40 minutes with coffee that had its beans substituted for dirt, for an omelet I should have really made myself.

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There are many awesome restaurants in the town of Moab, but it is hard to chose between them if you are really hungry. Let me show you three of my favorite places:

#1 Top of the list: Love Muffin Café

  • This place will be pretty crowded, but has a diverse menu. I could go crazy (which I did) and order the 10 dollar poutine (my favorite meal), or get something more simple for an economic price.
  • The place is busy though, so be prepared to wait for a table.

#2 Runner up: Peace Tree

  • I only say runner up because this place doesn’t have the economy choices. There food is very filling though, so it is hard to go wrong here if you are hungry.
  • They also have a smoothie bar. You can make pretty much any smoothie.

#3 Last, but not least: Moab Diner

  • This is one of those solid diners that has probably been around since the 50’s. Great service, good food, and great atmosphere to sprawl out if you are super tired.
  • Much better than Denny’s

These are just a few options amongst a sea of different places. What is your favorite place to eat in Moab? Let me know, and I will give you an internet high five! Happy Travels!

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Travelers Anxiety

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Some of the best moments I have had traveling in a situation I thought might lead to my eventual kidnapping. Small things that I find to be out of the ordinary freak me out more than large ones, because imagining what is going to happen is always worse than what ends up happening to me. And I’m not talking about any sort of sport in this post, but would like to take you all to a restaurant in the small town of Chicama Peru.

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It was late in the afternoon. We had just finished our first day of surfing without wetsuits (something I do not recommend any place where the current is coming from the arctic) and we were exhausted. My friend Tanner still had purple lips and we both had big headaches from being in cold water for too long. To say we were starving and out of it would be like saying North Korea is a great place to vacation.

The town of Chicama is small, so you can pretty much count the number of restaurants on one hand. We went to the only one that looked open, standing right on the water with light spilling out of the door. Inside we found a table of kids waiting for dinner with a few serious looking men standing at the sides of the room. Alarm bells were going off in my head as I tried to read these guys intentions.

A woman who appeared to own the place grabbed a pair of menus and began walking us up some stairs into a pitch-black attic. My heart started racing. I began thinking about all of the crazy small town murder stories I had ever heard.

Then, one of the men moved steadily from the side of the room and grabbed two sets of utensils, moving up the steps behind us. It would have been the perfect set up for a violent robbery. The sound of the pounding ocean as we walked up the steps was no longer soothing, but a clear reminder of how easy it would be to get rid of our bodies in this poor town. Then she turned the lights on.

We were standing on a massive balcony overlooking the ocean, with a charming set of lights strung above us. She set our menus on one of the large tables, while the guy who had followed us up the stairs followed up by placing the utensils and giving us a smile. She then went back down the steps and left us to read over the menu.

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It turned out to be one of my favorite meals in Peru. We couldn’t have gotten closer to the water, and there was as much motherly love in our meals as there was for the children playing below us.

Media hype had got me to not trust the locals, and the ironic thing is that I would probably trust more of the locals than the people in my hometown of New York. Call me a little naïve, but I have taken to believing that people are more inclined to do something intrinsically good, rather than bad, particularly in an area that relies on tourism.

The people who get murdered while traveling are typically those who go looking for trouble, arguing with drug dealers or getting into cars with people they literally just met. My best advice would be act respectful to the people, keep a good attitude, and step a little out of your comfort zone. Happy travels!

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