Back in the not-so-distant past, I used to lead group day hikes.
A way to socialize, have fun, and enjoy ourselves in an outdoor milieu.
Perhaps the most well-known of these jaunts was a yearly hike we did in the Boulder foothills About 25 miles and well over 9000′ gain. With much elevation loss too. A nice little jaunt.
I have not done it in quite some time. Mainly because I do not enjoy putting together large social trips anymore. And I find it difficult to hike the same trip I’ve done many times before.
Having said all that, I was invited to tag along on a Golden, CO version of this hike. Steve, the organizer, dubbed it “The Golden Gauntlet.” About the same length as the walk above but with only half or less of the elevation gain. And a lot fewer ups and downs.
It would prove to be a nice hike to get the blood pumping without the more physical challenging aspects of the Boulder version. And a good way to enjoy the company of people I’ve only known a little bit before.
The hike started in early hours of the morning. Conveniently we started at a 7/11 that was also, even more convenient, near a brewery. 🙂
We made up our way up the first summit and enjoyed the sunrise over Golden.
As the dawn gave to the early morning light, we started to notice the early spring wildflowers. Sand lilies were in abundance on the dry and sunny hillside.
The summit was reached and we finished our only out and back for the day. The Table Mountain area could be seen across the way. And our last peaks for the day.
The loop part of the hike began in earnest. The summit of Lookout was reached. And with that most our elevation gain for the day complete. The rest of the day would be mainly rolling walking with a few short, but steep, climbs, thrown into the mix.
We made our way into the town proper. A bike path and roads were followed to reach the other side of the Golden, CO open space system.
But first, we stopped by an “aid station.” 🙂
We made our way through the neighborhood and up to the trailhead for South Table Mountain.
The mesa that gives the mountain its namesake was, for me, among the highlights of the day.
From the top of the rock formation of The Castle, we could see Golden below. And the foothills we hiked earlier in the day.
Soon it was time to descend and then begin the climb to the final peak.
But, first, there was another aid station stop to be had: A brewery!
Thus fortified we made our way through the streets of Golden, up to the final trailhead and followed the switchbacks up to another mesa.
The summit of a bump on the plateau was reached. And the foothills between Golden and Boulder, CO could be seen in the distance.
Time to head down to complete the loop and our hike.
Real trail turned to gravel road. And that turned into a social path known by locals.
A brewery was conveniently at the end of this loop. And not by accident. 🙂
The hike finished, we enjoyed our beers.
A very enjoyable jaunt. The Boulder Slam has the feel of a backcountry challenge that lets you know a hard and physical day was done. This hike? It was fun. A good, solid day at a mellow pace with a fun bunch of people. Physically active more than physically punishing.
And, I must emphasize, there were two breweries on this route! 😀
Not a bad way to kick off the spring hiking season.