Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What? no hikes anymore !!

If you belong to the rare breed of the blog visitors who visit this blog, then please note that this is the holly month of Ramzan when the Muslims fast; the fast starts from the Dawn and lasts till Dusk. Which makes it very hard to take on hiking challenges, we will start hikes afresh from October 2008.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Mount Sanitas on August 17th 2008

If we can not decide which hike to do then we do Mt. Sanitas, it was the same mountain that the group hiked on to kick start their hiking craze. Since then this hike holds some sort of mystic value - you wont be considered part of the group unless you hike on Mount Sanitas. Kamal and Naim were baptized into group, here is the link to the pictures from this hike:

It was great hiking in relatively cooler weather.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cricket less summer – but full of hiking trips

I’m a person of many contradictions, I adore the sport of Cricket but at the same time I have a distaste for organized sports, I have never been into hiking in Pakistan but now I love hikes – mountains have always lured me.

Since 1998 I have played regularly in the premier cricket championships in Colorado Cricket league:

2004: bowling in the nets

I had the great honor of playing cricket for the team of Colorado in 2005 and 2006. This summer (2008) I got infected with the cricket-boredom bug – I unsubscribed to all cricket TV channels that I had, rarely visited premier cricket web sites and asked my wife to throw away my beloved cricket-bowling shoes. I called my team captain and informed him of my decision, I am glad that he knows me well enough that he honored my decision.

One more contradiction is despite all this boredom I won election to the General Secretary of the Central West Cricket Board, elected as the President of my local club, wrote few articles on and have a plan to conduct some interviews of ex-Pakistan players. Absurd, go figure!!!

As I wasn’t playing cricket so I needed an activity, which I did: I got into a group of very cool guys and with them we formed a group of hiking enthusiasts who all share similar passions; Hassaan and I love talking (some would say that is talking-loud, but that is just not true), Abbas wants to end the hunger from the world, Junaid would never quit telling stories about his beloved Toba-Tek Singh, the mild mannered Irfan fills the air with his acute sense of humor and Kamal Tamton (believe it or not Tamton is not a western last name) shares his very educated opinion about every topic under the shade of blue sky. And oh yeah Zedi continues to confuse us how come he is a Zedi and has a different last name too?

This small little group every Sunday morning takes a challenge to hike a mountain in or around beautiful Boulder, Colorado – for most of my desi friends, remember its hiking not rock climbing. The goal of the group is to hike a simple mountain every Sunday, we do one big mountain every month, one really long and big hike a year and we might do one crazy hike in our lives – like twenty-two days trekking to the base camp of K2.

One such big monthly hikes was last weekend (August 10th 2008) when went to the top of Gray’s peek. It was about a nine-mile return trip. In all of my hikes this year I always carried my winter-hiking gear, with the rationale that guys in the Colorado weather you never know. For this hike I intentionally left all that at home or in our ride and of course we faced terribly cold weather, I feared of frost bites – ok I am over-reacting but you get the picture, if not then have a peek at our pictures.

Next month is the holly month of Ramazan and I am not sure we could do much hiking, but the winter will be full of fun filled activities too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Heck of a time!

Heck of a time!

What do you get when you get a late start from home, amazingly bad road, heated automatic transmission, very late start from trail head, amazingly cold weather, snow in early August, not proper clothing for the weather, and above all... totally infuriated wives!

A 14er hike worth writing about!

Our plan was to get two 14ers down. Grays and Torreys via the standard combination route. The plan didn't work out as expected. Our late start and lack of proper clothing for the cold weather was the biggest hurdle in getting to the second summit. In one of my earlier posts I had said that preparation is the key to success. None of us took that point seriously!

We started off about 20 minutes late, but with fast driving from Kamal, caught up with time a bit. It wasn't until we hit the really really bad entrance road to the Grays peak parking lot at the trail head that we lost a lot of time. The automatic transmission on his Honda Pilot had heated up quite a bit and was smelling really bad so we had to wait a bit before moving on. Finally at the trail head, we started our hike.

The hike itself is very smooth. The trail is well maintained and the views are nice. Nothing much to note though. Just a long winding trail going up the mountains. When we did finally get up top, it was cold and cloudy. I didn't have gloves and my fingers felt like icicles and I was pretty sure I was going to get frost bite, in the middle of August. The clouds were moving so we could get a few glimpses of the amazing scenery behind the summit. It always great to get up to the top and view the world!

I got up to the summit first and waited for others. Irfan got there after me and feeling really cold, I thought I should check with others when they will be getting up here. Not having my own cellphone with me, I called home to get Jarrar's cell number. Which triggered the panic back home. Why are these guys not together. What's happening with others etc etc. Finally, I got the number and talked with Jarrar and found out it will be some time before they get here. Too cold, I decided I cannot go to Torreys this time around. None of the others wanted to go either.

After everyone got up there, we had eggs and sandwiches and took some pictures.

Cold and miserable, we started back. Total, it took us about 6 some hours from start of trail to back. It was tiring and the wives were upset. It was all good! We had just done a 14er! Not many people do that. Although the trail was crowded, I don't recall seeing another desi there!

The joke of the trip I guess would be the punch line, it shrinks!

To sum it all up, the entire trip was a blast and I am sure all of us had a lot of fun. I hope we can do this again soon. With the hope that we piss off our wives a little less next time.

Junaid strategically timed his West-coast trip over this weekend, and was truly missed by all of us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Exertion and Beyond - July 27, 2008 Hike

July 27, 2008 Hike Bear Peak Trail via Shadow Canyon (South Mesa Trailhead) 6.8 miles that we accomplished this last Sunday was to date the toughest of the hikes for the group. A longer than usual hike for us on a dryer and hotter than usual day. It was tough on the body and on the mind. It did teach us (at-least myself) a few things though.

Getting up early on a Sunday morning (or night as the sun doesn't rise until after 5:50am) is not a big deal for the group now. We got up well before 5am and got to Junaid's place by 5pm. Highly motivated to make to the summit and complete a rather longer hike within a few hours so we could all get back to civilization and enjoy Khaba (that is food for free at someone else's place!!!) later in the day, we got to the trail head before 5:30am. The light was just beginning to show. All ready for the hike, we started off on the trail. A long, straight forward, slow but gradual climb into the mountains. The sun started to show before we made our first stop to get some pictures. The views and scenes are the best part of hiking around Boulder and we make sure that we take enough pictures to prove that. Loaded with three cameras, we took a lot.

Watching wildlife is another reward you get during these hikes and we got to see quite a few deers and antelopes during this climb. Chipmunks are also found at most of these hikes.

After the first hour of hike, we had gotten into the middle of the trail and had broken in two groups, sometimes stopping to get together again. Everyone felt the toughness of the hike since the trail was getting steeper with no end in sight due to heavy tree population. Large boulders also hindered the view which was unusual for us.

Every so often we would check the time to see how far it still would be, although no one knew how far the summit actually was from that point. Tired, hot and dry, we moved on. Pushing each other to go further and further. The fact that the summit was not quite known to us and we couldn't see anything beyond a couple hundred feet due to the trees was even more disturbing. Nonetheless we kept our pace.

After almost 3 hours of hiking, we finally got to the point where we saw the final 100 feet accent to the summit. We were finally there! We took a lot of pictures of the western ridge, which we haven't seen in any of the other hikes around Boulder, CO.

The views from the top were amazing and the sun beating down on us was not a concern anymore. We were there! We had made it! Boulder and surrounding cities looked beautiful. We could see the Eldora Ski area and other mountains which we haven't see in any of the hikes. Taking our time, we just relaxed and chilled for a while.

On every other hike, including the one 14er we had done earlier this month, the descent s have always been easy, fast and go by without notice. This was not every other hike. This descent would prove to us that every path going down hill is not as easy as it sounds.

Taking almost 2.5 hours to get back to the parking lot, we walked slow, stopping often and losing a couple friends behind who were slower due to knee problems. We did keep in touch with them through cellphones.

The descent was unusually tiring and so tough on knees that we had to stop a lot. The steepness of the terrain was easy to blame, although it now seems that it was our own fault.

We were less prepared, we had less time and we had been arrogant! Getting a couple months of hiking experience under our belts, we thought we could summit the world. What's Bear Peak? We were told by nature what it really was. It isn't really about Bear Peak alone. It is about any hike that you do which you haven't done before. Next time we go on Bear Peak and make sure we are prepared well and have enough time and supplies (mostly water) wouldn't really cut it. It is not a matter of this particular hike or any hike this long or tough. It is about being prepared for a hike unknown.

All options need to be considered before you go on an expedition of any kind. Supplies are one important part. Length of the hike, toughness, weather, and knowledge of the area are all important aspects. Our knowledge of the area or lack of it was a very big disadvantage. Had we known that it would take us over 6 hours to get back to the parking lot, we might have skipped this hike for last Sunday or we would have started much earlier.

All things considered, this hike surely made us better hikers at-least in mind. If you are considering hiking, keep these points in mind. Make sure you have enough time to not hurry back and possibly hurt yourself doing that. Make sure you have enough supplies and that you know the area well. Talk to multiple people and ask them enough questions to know what to look for. Get weather information and prepare accordingly. Above all, keep in mind that you may not be able to complete it this time! If you have a feeling you can't, leave it and come back. You will be able to do it next time, or the time after that or... You know what I mean. Don't kill yourself, or get close to that fact. Be safe, not sorry.

The best thing we got out of this hike was that we are not sorry! Thank God.

Next Sunday we are going to Green Mountain! Hopefully we will apply the knowledge from this last hike to all other hikes to come.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hike on Bear Peak

My new hiking bag ...

At the trail head (Zedi's father, Zedi, Junaid, Jarrar , Irfan and Kamal)