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)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hiking Craze - Hopefully will last long!

So, me and a few friends from around Boulder area have started hiking the Rocky mountains around Boulder. We go every Sunday and try to hit a different hike/route every time. It's fun, good exercise and you get to see nature's beauty!

It all started from the Memorial Day weekend 1st Birthday party of Junaid's son, Hamza. We were sitting there having good desi food and a fun talk about RedBox DVD rental and their system of updating their boxes with new DVDs. According to Rizwan, they probably have a way of sending code to burn DVDs over the network instead of sending employees to put in new DVDs every Tuesday (usually when the DVDs are released). There was almost a bet for Cigars for everyone since Masood and a lot of others thought that was a ridiculous idea at the moment. Everyone believed that it is quite possible, but that's not what RedBox does currently. They should however!

And then, Jarrar (who had been talking about going for a hike to Mt. Sanitas for some time) insisted that we go for this hike on Monday (it being a holiday - Memorial Day). We all pondered and finalized that we should leave at 6:00am from Junaid's place. If you are not familiar with Junaid... getting up at 6:00am for Junaid is like not sleeping for two nights. Not many people liked the idea of a hike and that so early in the morning on a holiday when you can sleep a few more hours than a usual Monday. So it all came down to that me and Jarrar and Junaid were going to go for sure. Jarrar picked me up and we went to get gas before getting to Junaid's place. While we were getting gas, my phone had fallen on the seat on Jarrar's car and I didn't hear the phone ring while talking to Jarrar. It was Junaid calling to make sure we were still coming! I realized while going towards Junaid's house that he had called and probably would be thinking that we had chickened out and were still sleeping. When we got to this house, he was standing out there waiting for us. It was a relief, since we might have backed out that days hike if he didn't come.

We got to Mt. Sanitas trail head on Mapleton Rd. after a few detours since it was Memorial Day and we all had conveniently forgotten the fact that it was the day of BolderBoulder, a 10K run which stops traffic in most of Boulder. We did get to the trail head after probably a 45 minute delay. Since it was our first hike, we got to to the trail map, thinking of getting some information about the trail before heading up. There was a laminated, new looking notice on the board... Mountain Lion activity. We highly recommend that you consider a different hike!

It took us 15 minutes and 5 other hikers passing by us to calm down and start to hike. With our picked up tree limbs we started the hike. A 3.1 mile roundtrip hike seemed like a marathon. The 1 some mile hike to the top of Mt. Sanitas is about 70% log stairs. It was tough and we stopped almost 6 times before finally making it to the summit. At the top, we were the three happiest people on earth at that particular moment!

Many many people passed us while getting to the top. That didn't stop us from getting their. The way down was too easy after the climb.

Driving back home we called our better halves and told them to meet us at IHOP in Westminster for breakfast. It took us about 4 days to recover from the hike.

That was supposed to be the only hike but while coming down, we decided we want to continue this every Sunday morning (rain or shine, or even snow!)

That was the first ever hike that we did together. After that, we went to Mt. Sanitas many more times until we got tired of it. As Jarrar puts it... "wo hike boo chor gaee". We started taking different trails and also went to our first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt. A 14er is a 14000ft+ elevation mountain. It was tough and took us 5 hours to complete. Again I have to say "At the top, we were the three happiest people on earth at that particular moment!"

So it is an ongoing activity that we enjoy every Sunday morning. Since then Abbas, Irfan, Kamal and Zaidi have joined us for some hikes. Some of them after part of the permanent group.

Here you can get the blog from Jarrar about the hikes and here you can get to the google group for our hikers group.

Our next 14ers to attempt are Greys and Torreys peaks on August 10, 2008.

By. Hassaan Fridi

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Royal Arch Trail - July 20th 2008

At the Chataqqua parking lot:

(Jarrar, Junaid and Kamal)

July 20th's Sunday's hike was on the Royal Arch Trail, a spectacular 4.3 miles loop.

(Left to right: Irfan, Kamal, Hassaan, Jarrar and Junaid)

Jarrar on the top showing his high-tech knee braces.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hike on July 13th

Could not take pictures, but was the biggest number of hikers that we took. We were honored to be joined by Zaidi's father, Zaidi, Kamal. My son Swail refused to wake up so he could not join us.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Enjoying our freedom on top of the world : Hiking Mt. Bierstadt

Living in Colorado is not a mere accident of H1-B Visas or our unique assignments in the Colorado based corporates, it stems from our passion for enjoying nature, mountains and a deep sense of freedom that we feel within when on mountains. Hike to the top of Mt. Bierstadt just helped tp re-enforced these feelings in us.

Mt. Bierstadt is one of the fifty some peaks in Colorado above fourteen thousand feet elevation (14,060 feet to be exact). The mountain was named after Albert Bierstadt; a landscape painter of German origin. This was our moment of triumph when we all made it to the top of one of the fifty highest mountains in Colorado; (Left to right): Jarrar, Junaid and sitting is Hassaan Fridi. We planned at the start of this summer to do at least one 14er and we already have plan for doing at least three more.

Mt. Bierstadt is about 65 miles west (I-70) of Broomfield, Co. We began our journey in Hassaan's Wrangler Jeep at 4:45 AM and we were in the base-camp of Mt. Bierstadt by 7:00 AM ; uneven road, unknown terrain and above all lack of Starbucks contributed in the delay. Here three of us can bee seen in the parking-lot at the trail head of the Mt. Bierstadt. You can see clear skies and a glimpse of the Sun rise- This however turned into very bad weather on our way down.

We started hike at 7:15 and were back at 12:15; A good five hours hike through snow pack trails, marshy lands, thundering storms and danger of lightening and oh yeah did I mention that on way down Junaid had an unceremonious fall in the water channel we had no issue crossing when we were going up ?

I had decided to use a make-shift wooden hiking peg, which was a great help to me and at least one other lady who borrowed to cross a water channel.

At the end of our hike, Hassaan had spilled some of the gasoline from our reserve cache of gasoline (Jerrycan) in the Jeep. From the trail-head to the Georgetown visitor's center it was a twelve miles drive through very bumpy and winding roads and I felt very nauseating and had to have the door of the jeep open for fresh-air. In this picture at the end of our hike look how Jeep's doors are left open in an unsuccessful effort to get rid of pungent gasoline stench - It felt like traveling in the public bus from Gujrat (Pakistan) to Islamabad and smelling that un wanted patrol smell. This bright smile on Junaid's face only tells you how bubbly person he is and not that my annoyance with the gasoline smell was a figment of my creative thinking or he actually loved that odor which was emanating from the back seat.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hike that started all of these hilkes

Hassaan, Junaid and Jarrar kick started the hiking trips in mid of May 2008; the plan is to continue hiking through out the year and one day be able to do one fourteener (No typo I did mean 14er).

The very first of these hikes (and next six or seven) was at the Mt. Sanitas; that was one cold day. The Mt. Sanitas' top was engulfed in the misty haze of mid May Boulder clouds; however Jarrar and Hassaan's loud discussions on mysticism seems to have made it a bit more 'misty' :)

In the first picture we are all sitting on the Mt. Sanita's top surrounded by beautiful clouds - Never to be seen again in future hikes.

In the second picture Jarrar (Right) and Hassaan (left) on the top.

June 29th (2008)'s Hike in the Chataqqua Trails

We woke up at around 5:30 am Hassaan and I went to Junaid's fueled ourselves with our regular Starbucks drinks and we were on the Chtattaqqua Hike trail by 6:45 AM. This was our first hike since Hassaan had come back from Canada.

In this picture in the back ground you can see the boulder valley and watch Hassaan and I (Jarrar) are coming up on a steep rock - it looks more dangerous in the picture than it actually was !!!

More details of the Traild at :