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Started: 2006-11-12 21:18:05

Submitted: 2006-11-12 21:54:15

Visibility: World-readable

Despite the forecast of snow, Kiesa and I headed into the hills today for a seven-mile shuttle hike between Hall Ranch and Button Rock Preserve. I've hiked at both of the areas before, and noticed there was a two-mile trail connecting them, but couldn't quite work out the logistics of taking the trail, since it's a mile and a half from the Button Rock trailhead and four miles from the nearest Hall Ranch trailhead. (Those of you completely lost by my description may be enlightened by a map (pdf) of Hall Ranch.) Then I added up the shortest straight-line distance and realized that it would be a reasonable shuttle hike: Park a car at each of the two trailheads, and hike from one to the other.

This, of course, required a co-conspirator. Kiesa thought it would be amusing, so we headed out this morning, with her driving Yoda and me driving Motoko. We parked Motoko at Button Rock Preserve and I rode with her to park Yoda at Hall Ranch's Antelope trailhead. The tiny Antelope trailhead had only one other car -- at noon on a summer weekend it would be packed. It was misting heavily as we set out and was fairly cool -- I'd say about 40°F, barely warm enough to be not too cold.

We headed up the trail and joined the main Bitterbrush trail to the Nelson Loop. (I've been here several times before; I hiked a long loop from the main trailhead in January; I mentioned it briefly in a changelog that my search function apparently failed to index. Looking at the source reveals the problem -- I searched for "hall ranch", so my search code is doing an SQL case-insensitive substring match (where lcase(body) like '%hall ranch%'), but the entry has a newline instead of a space between the words. I heard a rumor once that Postgres will do regex matches, so I may have to change my search.) As we climbed to 6500 feet, it started snowing. We were walking through the cloud, which created an amazing ethereal feeling. We could have been in Narnia, or Middle Earth.

We saw only a few people on the trail; apparently the snow was enough to keep everyone else at home. When we reached the end of the 7.5 mile hike, I was surprised by how short the hike felt. I expected the hike to be harder than it was. My guess is I'm used to gaining more elevation; the eight-mile hike I took last weekend climbed 2000 feet in four miles. Today our total elevation gain was about 1000 feet.

It still fascinates me that I've lived in Boulder County for fifteen years and I can still find places I haven't been.