Monday, November 26, 2012

Flagstaff Mountain

A reason to give thanks

I keep receiving emails from Amazon advertising "local deals". About once a month they offer $5 off a "Psychic Reading" in Boulder - I never saw that coming. I shouldn't be surprised, even though the gullibility of people knows no limits. Boulder certainly has its eclectic fringe (there are some who would argue it is the mainstream). It's hard to drive through town and not be distracted by purveyors of pseudoscientific nonsense from faith healers to naturopaths (a small step from psychopaths given their predatory behavior), from reiki specialists to whacko chiropractors (and I know that not all chiropractors are whacko), but for a relatively intelligent and well-educated local population it struggles with the "new age" syndrome. There are those who argue that it is really just a bunch of hippies trying to reinvent themselves, or make themselves more relevant in an age that has passed them by, but the linger effects of nonsense - and psychic reading is just the more blatant of these - undermines scientific advance. The paradox of seeing NIST in south Boulder celebrating a nobel prize winning physicist against the backdrop of such lunacy as homeopathy and acupuncture just shows how far we have to go as a society to truly advance for the benefit of all. As Americans recently celebrated a day of giving thanks (and as a Brit I am always puzzled as to whether this "thanks" is for feeding native Americans or killing them, as the two events were so close), I really hope they start to give thanks to science.

Across Chautauqua Meadow to the Flatirons
It's hard to believe the weather at the moment. At the beginning of the month we had 6 inches of snow in the yard and the day before Thanksgiving I set off to Chautauqua wearing shorts and tee shirt in 72 degree sunshine. It was a perfect day and I drove through Boulder passing County employees erecting holiday decorations in Boulder Creek Park. It was also Otto's first run for a month or so. He is still slowly building back up to running speed after a succession of leg injuries in the early part of the year. For this reason today was going to be slow and low mileage and a quick trip up Flagstaff fitted the bill.
Looking up Flagstaff Mountain

We trotted across the lower slopes of Chautauqua Meadow and crossed the road to the start of the Flagstaff trail. I really like the open outlook o the early section. Usually when leaving the valley on any trail you pass through dense woodland and this completely obscures the view of the town. The trees on Flagstaff come a little higher up and as elevation is gained the initial views are wonderful.
Otto on the initial rocky ascent

It was hot going. Otto kept up a strong pace on the 1,200 foot climb and we ran the whole way...well, jogged steadily would be a better description. This trail doesn't get as much traffic as might be expected and I really don't know why. It is vastly superior to the network of trails on Chautauqua that seems to draw hundreds of walkers each day. I was grateful for the solitude. However, I did meet a couple of young men who were coming down the trail. Completely oblivious to my right of way they walked abreast across the trail forcing me to stop and step to one side. Tourists!!
Great view of the Indian Peaks from the summit

I considered completing the loop to the west of Flagstaff summit but decided that Otto needed fewer miles than this would permit. Instead, we cut across to Realization Point and dropped down to the top of Gregory Canyon. There would be more walkers here as it is the easiest access to Green Mountain from the valley. Sure enough, we met groups every few hundred yards. But because we weren't running too quickly we just took our time and passed everyone slowly.
It doesn't get much better than this for Otto

I like descending Gregory Canyon. The trail contours across promontories that afford great views of the town and the trail surface isn't to rocky. It also has the advantage of losing height very quickly. There is one final section prior to the trail head that rarely gets the sun and this is always cooler and holds ice on the surface. It wasn't such a problem today though.

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