The glorious first real days of Spring are upon us and I celebrated in the sunshine when I could. The week had started off a little bleak with cold weather and grey skies. I learned that a great friend of mine is battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Despite this diagnosis she seems to be remaining hopeful and living her life. Another friend of ours pointed out that she is an accomplished marathon runner and battling cancer is a marathon, but she knows she can do hard things. There is always some beauty in pain and I love when someone can so artfully highlight that. It helps us all to be able to see this in the midst of the jarring pain that bad news can bring us.
Wednesday brought us some good weather so a group of co-workers went with me to hike part of the Lower Gulch trail in Boulder. We hiked downstream almost 3 miles and then turned around. There were several stream crossings on the trail that I was nervous about for no reason on the hike in. The friends who came hiking with me were all very patient and encouraging and helped me find skinny stream areas or spots with rocks to hop on and waited for me while I crossed. I was a little embarrassed by my foolishness, but no one seemed to mind. The stream crossings on the way back were all the same, but somehow seemed much easier. One of my fellow hikers taught me that jumping across is easier if you keep your eyes on the spot you are jumping to and not down on the water rushing beneath you. This trick did make me much less chicken about making the jumps.
Here is the group before the hike. Emma’s boyfriend Jordan offered to take one of just us girls while we were on the trail.
The gulch was a beautiful hike and the weather was perfect for us. We are glad we know the trail now as we want to come back in Spring and Fall to see the leaves on the trees and then see them change color. The majority of trees growing here are cottonwoods and their leaves turn a vibrant yellow in the Fall. The trees were all still bare here due in part to the high elevation. We also saw some gnarly trees that provided interesting scenery, but I’m not very knowledgable about my tree types so I will just call this one Mr. Spooky.
The hike takes you through a wide canyon on red Wingate sandstone with white Navajo sandstone as you get further down the trail. The patterns on the rock were always beautiful. We tried to look for hidden granaries, but did not spot any. We did come across these cool hoodoos though. I wanted to make it to a cabin for hikers and ranchers I had read about along the trail, but we ran out of time and had to turn around so I could make it back in time for a friend’s birthday party. We all wondered if we were just right around the bend from the cabin.
The Wingate sandstone has all of these holes in it. These holes are from pockets of softer minerals which eroded more rapidly than the rock around it. These honeycomb holes are called tafoni or swiss cheese if you want to be less technical and the softer minerals likely calcite or silica. These holes do not penetrate deep into the rock, but are typically surface pockmarks. Tafoni can be found in many places including in Navajo, Kayenta, and Wingate formations.
A new friend offered to teach me fly fishing so we met up for my first lesson. We didn’t see any fish, but I did get to learn a bit about the different types of flies that can be used, how to tie a fly to the line, and how to cast. My new friend Lindsay approved of my casting technique after a bit of practice. I haven’t decided yet if this is something I might stick with and keep trying. If the fishing license wasn’t so expensive it would be an easier decision, but like any new hobby, there can be a steep entry fee.
Luke began a new creative project in which he will make 3-D virtual tours of some of the beautiful places out here. In order to test if this would work and also so we could take our dogs for a run, we drove out to a big rock hoodoo just off the side of one of our local dirt roads. His concept worked! Stay tuned for 3-D virtual tours of cool places! The dogs loved the spot. Sophie runs much less these days, but she still loves being outside to smell new smells. If she saw a little animal, she would still run like hell after it.
We had a fun music jam night at the pub. A friend had some of us over late night and made the best homemade ginger cookies I may have ever had. She asked Luke to play lead guitar for a song she plans to perform at a Wild Potato Day festival here in town that happens on Memorial Day weekend.
Easter Sunday was lovely. The weather was in the 60’s and sunny. A group of us went to brunch at Sweetwater Kitchen in Boulder. This is an excellent farm to table spot where some of our other friends work. Our girl Gabby is the event planner so she arranged it special for us. We had the best table on the patio and we are sure that extra care (and portions) were given to us. We left with very full bellies and hearts. They made us all feel very special. We had to try a bit of everything from the appetizers to dessert. The pastries served with our appys were unbelievably good. The dessert was perfectly nice and light after filling up on all the food. I got the bananas foster french toast for my main dish, Grace got the spinach and goat cheese quiche, and others got the chicken friend steak so we could all share from each other’s plates. Dessert was an apricot panna cotta.
I even got dressed up for Easter Sunday. Here is also our magnificent hostess Gabby striking a silly pose for me.
That night Luke and I had our first campfire of the season. It does still get pretty cold at night, but we were warm enough by the fire with some blankets and we were all so happy to be outside playing music with friends that the cold didn’t bother us at all. A bunch of friends came for the fire and music. The first signs of spring always bring a flurry of new activity. I saw the first flowers poking up out of the ground this week. We are all excited to be outdoors again. I told someone this week that it now feels correct to be living in a camper at a campground again. Not so much when it is freezing outside. My neighbor started a little garden and suggested I could pick fresh herbs out of it when I’m cooking! This week I have also loaded up on fun plans. I’ve been meaning to clean out the closet, but since that is not as fun as hiking and campfires, it will just need to wait.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.