A walk from Nederland to Boulder

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So that wind was a little more biting than they said. A cold west wind off the Divide makes for a less than fun ride home from Boulder, and as this was going to be Elaine's first go at it, we decided to save it for another day. As I was walking the dog, I had a thought…"I wonder if it's possible to walk from Nederland to Boulder on almost all trails?" It seems like an obvious answer, and I've biked this route literally thousands of times over the years, but I've never really seriously contemplated a walk of the same distance. When I got home I mentioned the idea to Elaine and she jumped on it…"let's do that today." One key thing Elaine and I like about each other is we push one another to make ideas a reality. Within minutes we were packed and ready to roll.

The hike itself was overall a success. The numbers tell a story…20 miles, 4,500 feet of descending, 1,800 feet of climbing, 95% trails. We had no idea what to expect, as evidenced by our very real conversation of whether we had enough time to catch the last 10:10 pm bus home (we departed at 11 am). We were pleased that the hike took us six hours instead of eleven. I brought the GPS along to chart our speed. 3.3 mph moving average, 3.0 mph with rests. Not bad. According to the ultra-light handbook, three miles per hour is fast.

That said, we have a long way to go. The feet tell the truth. They ache. My hips are sore, as are the front of my calves. Elaine is soaking her feet in hot water as I type this. Our aerobic is fine…it's the muscles and tendons that need honing. The challenge of hiking the Colorado Trail – 480 miles, day-after-day, with packs between 25-30 pounds averaging 20-25 miles per day seems daunting right now. Simply put, we need to get our bodies in hiking shape. As far as I know, the only way to do that is to hike.

It was a great adventure today. It was amazing to hike trails I have biked so much, and see them from a new perspective. You really do see more hiking, including every single little off-shoot trail that heads to who-knows-where. We have a lot of preparation to do. Fortunately, we also have a lot of trails in this neighborhood.

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The original plan for today was to do Elaine's first ever bike ride from Boulder to Ned. Alas, it was blowing like crazy and cold – not ideal conditions for an initiation ride. As I was walking the dog, I had an idea…I wonder if it's possible to walk from Nederland to Boulder? I told Elaine, and she was like…let's do it! After a quick stop at the Co-op, it was up Big Springs to the trails.

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Onto the trails. We had no idea how long it would take, so we brought headlamps. We knew the last bus was at 10:10 pm, so that was our cut-off.

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Yin and yang trail art about three miles in.

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Here's Elaine making her way through Christmas Tree alley. It was brisk and we had a tail wind – perfect hiking conditions.

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Violet sprout on pines.

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Across some secret trails that will not be named here!

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Made it to the Boulder Parks. All downhill from here.

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Elaine heading down the Long Canyon Trail, mile 15 or so.

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And there we have it! Arrived in Boulder. Feet hurt, but otherwise no problem. A great way to spend a Friday, and the best part is, it was 90% on trails. I'd never even really considered walking from Nederland to Boulder, but it's actually a great adventure.

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Forget the 10:10 bus. That Elaine waiting for the 5:40 bus back up the canyon!

Inspiration

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Went out today with my wife, in part because the next six months of summer seems incredibly long, in part because I set a goal, and while that goal has been modified, I still want 150 days, and in part because we can. Back in the day the Intergalactic Pilots used to build skinny bridges and ride them. Well, this photo is sort of an off-shoot of that, only with a hell of a lot less hype. There is a river, it needs a bridge. Cool. Skiing is great, but it's days are numbered so it's time to move onto other dreams.

We headed down the hill today, courtesy of the Town of Nederland and free eco-passes and went to a talk by the legendary modern adventurer Andrew Skurka. As mentioned here earlier, our big goal for summer 2012 is a through-hike of the 480-mile Colorado Trail. I biked many sections of this years ago, but this go around we're giving it a more thorough examination. Plus, hiking allows access to Wilderness sections, which are indeed the best parts of the whole route. We're beyond psyched, and as with everything we do these days, we're determined. Being told you are crap tends to motivate us, every single day. Call it a train with a lot of fuel. Basically, it makes you want to grab life for everything it's worth and squeeze everything out of it. And the truth of the matter is – and it took me a little bit to fully understand this – together we are powerful and can do pretty much anything we set out to do.

Skurka is the man when it comes to this stuff. He's hiked across the U.S. – west to east, hiked the Great Western Divide (linking the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail) and circumnavigated Alaska. Obviously, our CT trail attempt is piddling in comparison, but for us it's big and it's our start to bigger things to come. The talk focused on gear, and we learned a lot. The key is to go as light as possible, but keep it safe, anticipating real obstacles but not succumbing to the bogeyman inside our heads that would urge us to pack everything but the kitchen sink. It's funny, but lately my head is swimming – tarp vs. tent, do I really need rainpants, do I need a hip belt, etc. It's fun to see how much you can do without – it leads to better adventures.

Some of this is all just faith too. Not planning for the armeggedon (as Andrew says) but trusting yourselves and letting it unfold. I feel like we're moving strongly towards this line of thinking and living, and as we sprinted to catch the last bus up the mountain in a driving rain (made it by 10 seconds), it had me so happy to be learning and – my apologies to the Beastie Boys for pilfering their lyric – "To tell the truth I am exactly what I want to be." Doing what I want, making dreams happen, filled with love and faith in the future. The carnage that went with it, the lost people…well, as my mom put it when I told her that "I lost a lot of friends"…"no son, you didn't lose any friends." Mom always knows best.

Just finished a great book by Jennifer Phar Davis, the record holder for the fastest completion of the Appalachian Trail ever – 46 days. I'm not particularly religious – at least not in a church going traditional sense – but she is, and I enjoyed the perspective. Even more, I loved this quote, taken from none other than the bible:

You shall not fear the terror of the night nor the arrow that flies by day,

Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness, nor the plague that ravages at noon.

Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, near you it shall not come.

No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.

For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go.

With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You can tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon.

Or, as my awesome sister wrote to me in a birthday card:

Happy birthday to my dear brother – your indefatigable quest to explore, live on the edge, and experience new things every day is inspiring and amazing and we can't wait to see what new adventures are in store for you.

They are predicting 50 mph gusts. Tomorrow. Seems like a perfect day for Elaine's first ever commute up the 4,000 vertical feet from Boulder to Nederland. I'm honored to show her the ropes and have a new adventure with the love of my life. That's the cool thing really – I've done a lot of this stuff (and a lot I have not) – but now I get to share it with the person who matters most. As such, it's better, richer and more real.

May the storm howl and the winds roar. We'll pedal into it, laughing the whole way. After all, we're well practiced in the art of laughing at the storm.

Reading is cool

Great birthday today. Was planning on going for a ski, but Elaine's feet are still hurting from the Elk, so instead we rode bikes in the forest. Wonderful time…lots of spring smells out there. A nice dinner at Neo's this evening and some quality reading time capped off a great day.

One of the coolest things about the past month or so has been re-discovering reading. I got a Kindle about two months ago and I love it. You can preview books of interest easily, and you can find books on topics you like by lesser known authors. I've read five books in the past two months, which is more than I've read in the past decade. It's awesome. It enhances evening conversations with my wife (she just got one too so we can share books), brings new perspectives into my world and encourages new dreams and ideas.

Currently reading a book called "Becoming Odyssa" by the author Jennifer Phar Davis, who is the current record holder for the fastest hike ever on the Appalachian Trail. As Elaine and I have our own thru-hike planned for this summer (more on that soon…let's just say we'll be taking advantage of the $2 per night bonus Neptune gives for spending evenings in the backcountry), it's highly inspiring.

Been a good month thus far. Kind of our off-season, as we're also planning on doing the Cosmic A.T. series next year. It will be fun preparing for that as the summer progresses, but for now, it's just about enjoying the woods and each other and learning new things.

Mountain biking is a good sport

Great bike ride this morning on the local trails. Mountain biking is a good sport. It gives you quality woods time, you can cover a lot of ground and explore, it whips you into shape but is easy on the body, it provides mental clarity and it's a great way to walk an extremely fit dog. Stay out of the politics, keep your gear simple (and easily repairable) and enjoy!

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