Late afternoon run up to the summit of Bear Peak via the backside. A navigational error added a bit of urgency (...and time...and distance) to the run.
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 8.25 miles
Weather: Sunny and warm
Started from the Cragmoor trailhead, unsure about what I was going to run today. Thought about heading up Bear Peak via Fern Canyon, but wanted a bit more distance and running than that route offered. The catch was I had a time cut-off to meet in order to be where I needed to be to pick up jP and CP.
By the time I had climbed up to the Mesa Trail, I had a plan. I'd run up Bear Canyon to the West Ridge Trail junction, assess time and either return down the canyon or head over to Bear and down Fern Canyon.
The climb up Bear Canyon was a beautiful as ever. Still my favorite route up into the Boulder hills. I passed a ranger hiking near the mouth of the canyon - the first ranger I've seen out and about in a while. I hit the West Ridge junction and time was looking good. By my calculations, I had enough time to get up to Bear, down Fern, back to the car and back to the 'hood to pick up the kids.
So, up West Ridge I went. I realized here that this was the first time I'd been on this trail since running last June an abbreviated and moonlight version of the Boulder Skyline Traverse with GZ, Tim L., JP and a host of others. I made steady work of the ups and downs over to the backside base of Bear, then scrambled up the loose stuff to the north ridge, climbed the jagged rocks to the summit and tagged the summit marker.
As I made my way back down from the summit, I was back doing the time calculations. My head was filled with numbers, which obscured the mental map I was following. Before I knew it, I was jogging over to the saddle between Bear and South Boulder Peaks.
The minute I hit the saddle I realized I messed up. Fern Canyon is on the north side of Bear, and roughly a straight line down to the car. I was now standing at the mouth of Shadow Canyon, which angles decidedly to the south, away from where I was parked.
Well, I was committed (and now a bit stressed out) so I started down Shadow Canyon, pushing the pace and hopping from rock to rock, down the big drops, around the trees and past three to four groups of hikers. Time was ticking by faster than I was running.
Made it out of the canyon and traversed over to the Mesa Trail, winding my way, eventually, back to the gravel path that leads down to the Cragmoor cut-off. Made it back to the truck at exactly two hours.
And, as luck would have it, it was JP's turn to pick up the kids. Good thing, because I would have been late. Rest assured, I now have the location of Fern Canyon permanently tattooed on my brain.