I/My Legs Feel Like a Coloradan
Hiking has always been a fun and leisurely activity for me. Ever since my Intro to Leisure Activities class at Radford University, I've found hiking/camping to be relaxing and "easy A" type of activity. Today, I graduated to the Intro to Strenuous Activities class. My instructor? A small, combative, and at most times, cute (almost) two-year-old that has a hankering for hiking himself.
We researched (which is to say we Google-searched) some of the likable, local trails for our first Colorado hike and found a handful of possibilities. We landed on Enchanted Mesa Trail, which is located in Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Colorado. It was highly rated and considered an easy trail with it being a two-mile loop and only a 400-foot elevation gain. It was a perfect trail for JJ to walk some and to test out our new, but slightly used, Chicco Smart Support Backpack. (Craigslist, $20) We were excited to get started. We packed a lunch, plenty of water, and two or three extra outfits for pee-happy JJ. We were so excited to get there and get hiking that it wasn't long before we realized that we were already heading back down the trail for the second half of our two-mile hike. It seemed that our grand adventure hike was going to be over before the sandwiches were even necessary. Heck, the drive up to Boulder took longer than it did for us to crush the first half of our hike. We decided to look at the wide-ranging options on the trail map and saw that there were other trails we could venture down (I mean up). Being the competitive, go hard or go home type of people we are, Shannon and I picked one of the hardest, longest trails possible. Royal Arch Trail.
Our easy, 2-mile leisure hike turned into a 5-mile climb to the top, that felt more like a CrossFit workout than easy-going Saturday stroll. The trail and scenery were beautiful with both its fair share of seclusion and crowdedness. Sometimes we were hiking with no one in site behind or in front while other times we were stuck waiting for a group to get through narrow path. Royal Arch Trail was nicely groomed and contained a plethora of natural stairs to climb. It sits at an elevation of 6,915 ft and has an overall elevation gain of about 1,400 ft. Feel free to check out all of the attributes of Royal Arch Trail here at ProTrails.com, but needless to say, Royal Arch was a hell of a first trail to hike in Colorado.
All in all, we had a great day! JJ was cheerful and talkative all day and was very involved with the hike, often requesting to stop and smell flowers or to touch a (every) tree or rock for inspection. Sometimes he even brought rocks back to his howdah to examine, as he rode further up the mountain (me being the elephant in this scenario). I can say that this trail was not easy for Shannon and I, but it was well worth the accomplishment of beautiful views we received from the gorgeous Colorado landscape. Pictures of our great, first Colorado hike are below and we look forward to many more! Welcome to Colorado, Cole Family!