On One Hand

June 9, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:22 pm

I decided on a whim to hike up the Chataqua trail until it ended. The base of the trail is only a little over a mile from the house, so I set out walking with a backpack and water bottle. As it turns out, the trail ends on the first (or third, depending on whose count you use) flatiron. It’s about an hour and a half hike from where I live, rising a couple thousand feet into the air.

I can’t beleive I’ve lived here two years and never climbed the mountain before. I’ve wanted to, but it seems so daunting from far away.

On a clear day you can see all the way to Wyoming from on top of the flatiron, and today I got a clear view of Rocky Flats, downtown Denver, Boulder, Longmont, a vague view of Fort Collins and the Indian Peaks Wilderness visible from the backside of the ridge.

I wasn’t planning on such a long hike and all I had with me was a cell phone camera.

Douglas Fir growing from a rock in an avalanche chute.

Boulder from near the top of the first flatiron.

If you take Baseline Ave. far enough West it winds up a mountain called Flagstaff where all the high school and college kids drive to make out on one of the scenic overlooks. This town is quite a sight late at night from hundreds of feet above, but from the top of the flatirons even Flagstaff Mountain looks like a molehill in the distance:

Flagstaff from the Flatirons.

The Flatiron from the trail.

I got to the top of the mountain at sunset. I met up with some people there who showed me a hard-to-find trail from the ridge to the very top of the rocks. It was getting cold and I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and had no flashlight and not much water, so I didn’t stay long. But it was pretty amazing to suddenly break over the top of the ridge and see an expanse of mountains on the other side; it’s hard to beleive I can get there from my house (which is technically in the plains) to a point that seems well into the Front Range.

Indian Peaks Wilderness area; the ridge of mountains is the Continental Divide from the top of Flagstaff.



  1. Is that a National preserve or a state? Certainly looks like a great hike.

    Comment by bon_homme_dane — June 10, 2008 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

    • The City of Boulder started buying up land around the city to prevent development, starting about 100 years ago. It was a really radical idea at the time, but they got the land while it was cheap, and maintain a bunch of trails.

      In that last photo you can see into the Indian Peaks wilderness area and beyond that most of the high mountains are national forests. You might be able to see some of Rocky Mountain National Park on the north side. But most of it is just Boulder Open Space.

      Comment by ononehand — June 10, 2008 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  2. that’s really cool. i wish there was scenery like that around here.

    Comment by somenights — June 10, 2008 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

  3. I brought back 5 Douglas Fir tree saplings from Oregon. I have them growing in pots in the backyard. So far they are doing well.

    Doug Firs are some of the things I miss the most about Cascadia.

    Comment by tempur_tempur — June 11, 2008 @ 12:44 am | Reply

    • While Douglas Fir trees from Oregon technically the same species, it would be a drastically different variety of the kind of Douglas Fir that grows here. Usually in the woods you can go just a few miles to find completely different characteristics in a single species (I know that in California people have tried to move redwood cuttings from one side of the mountain to the other and found they weren’t aclaimated to the climate less htan a mile away). I doubt those would be able to handle how dry it is here, and I’d wonder how they’d do with cold winters.

      It’s probably a good idea to get those trees in the ground as soon as possible. Growing trees in flowerpots is a nightmare.

      Comment by ononehand — June 11, 2008 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

      • The Douglas fir, or Pseudotsuga, ranges from Alaska down to Monterey and as far east as the Rockies. You’re right, the Rockies have a different form, called the P.menziesii.glauca, whereas the form native to the PNW is P.m.taxifolia (I think).

        When I bought the trees at the nursery in Corvallis, I knew there was a chance they wouldn’t survive because of the more intense sun and humidity here. The reason I have kept them in 7 gallon pots is so that I can change their ‘climate’ come July and August when it rarely drops below the mid-90’s. I’ve got to be able to keep them mobile. I’ve been feeding them regularly with a plant food specifically for evergreens to offset the problems of being in a pot.

        I know long-term they may not survive, but it is an experiment and a reminder of home that keeps me less homesick.

        Comment by tempur_tempur — June 14, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  4. Pictures

    As someone who’s never been west of Pittsburgh, I found your pictures quite helpful. I haven’t seen such views since Aron Ralston hiked up all the fourteeners in Colorado.

    Comment by poimen — June 11, 2008 @ 9:57 am | Reply

  5. psh. i go to flagstaff to smoke pot, bitch! i’m a true boulder…an.

    Comment by volatile_freq — June 12, 2008 @ 9:46 am | Reply

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