Celebrating 27 – City to Creek to Camp to Climb

The week approaching my 27th birthday was, frankly, a bit humdrum. I had been so busy with ‘life‘ and work that I hardly even registered it was my birthday week until someone else pointed it out. “Oh well, 27 isn’t a big deal–let’s just go with the flow on this one,” I figured, and decided to not sign myself up for any crazy climbing birthday challenges or big trips. We had a fly-fishing clinic scheduled as a work outing on my actual birthday, and that was groovy enough for me.

Every outdoorist should have an ‘adventure bug out bag’. You know, that one pack that always has your outside playtime essentials ready to go at a moments notice. In my evrgrn Kickback pack, you’ll find a Hydro Flask, my trusty notebook + pen, my Nikon D7000, an extra scarf–because autumn is upon us, chapstick, and a spare $20 in case I find a taco stand in the middle of the woods. You never know.

Photo: Mehri Russo

Photo: Mehri Russo

As it turns out, I’m a much better photographer than I am fisherman. The time I spent along Boulder Creek with a rod in my hand primarily consisted of me trying to perfect the flick of my wrist and then spending 10 minutes untangling the line. I did catch something though: a rock. The lack of freshly caught fish for dinner didn’t deter me though–I tossed my pack into the car, hauled from Boulder to Denver, and caught up with some of my favorite people for a latin feast at Cuba Cuba.

The next morning, I realized that a birthday weekend can’t just go to waste–so Mcgoo and I grabbed our packs, tossed our down comforter into the back of his Subaru, loaded up on cheese and kabob ingredients at Whole Foods, and headed towards the mountains. We ended up at West Magnolia Trailhead near Nederland, miraculously finding the perfect campsite at 3:00 PM on a Saturday. There were rolling mountain views, sprawling fields for Amble to plow through, and plenty of forest to explore. We played, relaxed by the fire, and I even got a jumpstart on my birthday resolution to start writing more snail mail. I’ll let the photos tell the story:

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Discovering my new favorite Colorado crag at Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

Between all the chaos of moving, and settling into my new life out in the Rockies, I lost sight of the very reason I made the cross-country relocation to Denver: I’m here to climb.

I shamefully allowed two weeks of no-climbing slip by before I finally snapped one morning and decided to drive out to Boulder to check out a spot my lady friend Jane had stumbled upon. With my hiking boots still out of commission from a trip to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, I was admittedly ill-prepared in my dainty Keds for our little uphill adventure – but when has that ever stopped me?

We docked my car at the parking lot of Chautauqua Park, near the spot I usually park to head out to Satellite Boulders – but this time we headed back up Baseline Road towards the mountains rather than hanging left and heading straight into the park. This roadside route took us to a new park I hadn’t yet seen, Boulder Mountain Park. We trudged up along the edge of the pavement until we hit a trail head that shot straight up the hillside.

The approach to the first boulders was shorter than that of Satellites, but significantly steeper. I huffed and puffed my way up the narrow trail, and after a short sprint upwards, Jane led me to these beautiful, chalky boulders. (Excuse my iPhone photos, I’m still using a 3G, so it ain’t fancy.)

     

Our first excursion out to this spot was enjoyed later in the day, and I left my climbing shoes in Denver, so we vowed to return two days later armed with the proper gear. On our second visit, we crushed the intermediate routes with ease. A little digging around on Mountain Project’s guide for the Flagstaff Mountain area informed us that I sent Plain View Traverse, a flowy V3 with a balance-intensive top out. Jane took the first send of Trail Side Direct, a reachy V2 – and then I followed suit, quickly discovering that this particular problem has a sketchy top out that beckons you to straddle a thin slice of boulder and down climb a bleak slab.

While I certainly wasn’t pushing my true limits of climbing, it felt great to finally get out to a boulder field and get a little confidence boost with these great moderate problems. This new spot has me constantly daydreaming about its sweet lines, inviting holds, easy access, and how wonderful it is to have a fellow lady climber.

On the way back to the trail head, we came across the beast pictured to your left: Hobo Cave. This gem is tucked away on a poorly kept side trail, and a small fire pit in the middle of it hints towards the origin of its name. Hurried to beat the sunset, we didn’t have time to test out any of the lines, but I’m eager to return to the cave. The holds appear to have been permanently chalked for decades, and some of the rock is smooth as a kitchen counter top – the place was oozing with history.

The point of this proclamation of my new-found love for Flagstaff Mountain? Perhaps just to further my excitement over my third return visit today. This time Jane and I will be fully prepared with two crash pads, my camera, and $5 so we can park next to the crag rather than wasting time with the lengthy hike in. My goal for today is to check out, and possibly crush, Monkey Traverse – a classic V4 that seems to be the pride and joy of Flagstaff Mountain.

Send good vibes, and keep on climbin’.