When you set forth to climb a mountain, being too early is always better than being too late. The wind doesn’t usually kick up until later in the day. At least here in Colorado, lightening seldom strikes before noon.
Getting an early start makes sense even when the mountain is close to civilization, like the mountain I tackled today. The trailhead to Mount Galbraith is just a couple of miles west of Golden, home of the huge Coors Brewery. For part of the 4.2-mile lollipop loop up and around the mountain I was within sight and sound of the city.
I like to get an early start on my hikes so that I can capture the beauty that I find there in the golden light of early morning. But maybe I was overanxious today.
When I got to the trailhead at 6:30, the temperature was below freezing and the stars and a full moon provided only a little light. For the first half hour I had to rely mostly on my headlamp.
Not until an hour after starting my hike did first light fall around us. I say “us,” because at that point I found this lone ladybug on a snow-encrusted flower.
I had figured that the weekend’s snow would be gone after yesterday’s brilliant sunshine. Boulder doesn’t have any more snow, but the mountain is higher than Boulder. Today I climbed 1,100 feet to the summit at 7,200 feet. Most of the trail was moderate with a few rocky spots that didn’t offer any great challenge.
But some snow remains on Mount Galbraith today. Worse, much of the last quarter mile to the summit on the north side was icy. My Yaktrax saved the day.
I had never hiked this trail before. One of my guidebooks and the park map that I picked up at the trailhead both wrote that the trail provides wonderful vistas in all directions. But until I got to the very summit all the best vistas were on the macro scale.
Then, at the summit of Mount Galbraith the Rockies peaked out from the surrounding foothills. They have snow!
The small-scale beauty of flowers, log, and rock that remain on Mount Galbraith long after spring is gone surprised me.
Near the start of the trail as I started my hike with my headlamp I spied this red flower of a species that I don’t think I ever saw before (unless it’s a type of Indian paintbrush). I made a mental note to look for it when I returned so I could photograph it.
Then, civilization returned. First I could look down into Golden Gate Canyon and the road I’ve driven many times to Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
Then, I could see my destination. All along I had planned to go to my favorite Starbucks coffee shop in Golden to read my email on my iPod Touch and for a warming cup of coffee. Returning to civilization sometimes has its rewards.