Category Archives: Boulder

Pole Walkers on My Street

NordicWalkingI haven’t added any posts in months, because I wasn’t seeing a lot of traffic — or a lot of interest in Nordic Walking. I was encouraged this morning. When I popped outside to pick up my newspapers, I saw a couple striding up the street at a good clip — poles in hands. I was still wearing my nightshirt, so I didn’t trot after them to talk to them. Also, they were behind parked cars, so I couldn’t tell what kind of poles they were using. But the very sight of them encouraged me enough to post this, to approve some comments left since I last checked and to be more conscientious about posting now and then.

Nordic Walking on Snow

Eagle Trail is snow-covered and smooth

P1050988 During the quadrennial Winter Olympics, I spend a lot of time “tele-veging” because the sports of snow and ice are my favorites. My husband and I took a break today, going for a walk on the Eagle Trail in northeast Boulder. The trail system crosses grazing land, some of it now managed by Boulder Mountain Parks & Open Space and some in private hands. The gentle, flat trails provide fine big-sky views.

The trail was snow-covered, and while it was soft in late-morning, I did slip the traction paws onto my LEKI Nordic Walking poles. They are like studded snow tires, suitable for ice sidewalks but good for soft snow as well. We saw people walking, people walking with dogs, people running, people running with dogs and one cross-country skiers. I was the only Nordic Walker.

Haystack Mountain seen across white meadows and through the trees.
Haystack Mountain seen across white meadows and through the trees.


We encounter a number of people, but I was the only one with Nordic Walking poles.
We encounter a number of people, but I was the only one with Nordic Walking poles.
Where the trail branches with the Eagle Trail to the left and the Sage Trail to the right, we chose Sage in honor of American slopestyle boarder Sage Kotsenburg, who just became the first American gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics
Where the trail branches with the Eagle Trail to the left and the Sage Trail to the right, we chose Sage in honor of American slopestyle boarder Sage Kotsenburg, who just became the first American gold medalist at the Sochi Olympics.


Snowshoeing with Bigfoot

The Caribou Townsite is perfect for free-form, no-trails-needed snowshoeing

Dave "Bigfoot" Felkley at the top of a little ridge above Caribou.
Dave “Bigfoot” Felkley at the top of a little ridge above Caribou.

After too many winter months off from snowshoeing due to chronic back pain and surgery, I was finally back on snowshoes this week. I couldn’t have a better companion than Dave “Bigfoot” Felkley for the late-season excursion to the Caribou, an old silver mining ghost town at 10,000 feet west of Nederland, which in turn is west of Boulder. The most obvious structure is the ruin of a stone building, but a few collapsed wooden buildings are scattered around too — not all visible under the snow.

Bigfoot was a long-time mountain runner and cross-country ski racer who took up snowshoeing as a way to keep fit in winter without the constraints of skis. He loves to get off trail and explore forests, clearings and yes, old mining districts in the nearby high country. He operated Bigfoot Snowshoe Tours for a time, but now volunteers to lead seniors, families and friends around the snowy landscape he knows so well.P1010990

We drove up to the Caribou trailhead that, in addition to trails, provides instant access to little hills and little valleys, that having been an active mining area might be mine tailings or excavation sites. On the map, the old Caribou Mining District is a patchwork of public and private land. In reality, there are no private property signs around, so recreationists can go pretty much anywhere, but there are potential hazards.

Bigfoot loping up a snow-covered slope with a wind-deposited cornice at the top.
Bigfoot loping up a snow-covered slope with a wind-deposited cornice at the top.

Bigfoot is intimately familiar with every square foot, so he would warn that what looked like a pristine little snowy mountain meadow potentially wasn’t safe. A mine shaft was once there, he told me, and while authorities had dropped fill into it, the fill itself had, in the past, settled and might have settled again and would not hold our weight if we crossed it.

Remnants of the Aquarius Mine, reopened in 1969 but now dormant again.
Remnants of the Aquarius Mine, reopened in 1969 but now dormant again.

The couple of hours of snowshoeing at Caribou and hearing Bigfoot’s stories of this old mining district that is practically in his backyard was tonic. It was the first time in way more than a year that I had snowshoes on my feet and backcountry poles in my hands, and the first time since last summer that I had a pack on my back and was at elevation (that is, more than 4,000 feet higher than Boulder). It felt great!

Big Snow = Good Local Snowshoeing

Fabulous close-to-home snowhsoeing follows major Front Range

It starting snowing sometime on Thursday evening. It kept snowing all day Friday. And all Friday night. And much of Saturday. By the time it stopped, 22 1/2 inches had accumulated on our back deck — a local record. Someplace identified only as “four miles north of Blackhawk” reportedly snared four feet of snow. That’s would be an impressive single-storm accumulation even for the Sierra Nevada.

Our back deck. That snow-capped thing is our outdoor dining table.

Continue reading Big Snow = Good Local Snowshoeing

Flat, Wide Trails & Eagles Highlight New Year’s Walk

Boulder Valley Ranch is a working ranch  & also part of Boulder Open Space

My first Nordic Walk of the New Year was at Boulder Valley Ranch, an true multi-use parcel that remains a historic and working ranch and also is part of the Boulder Mountain Parks & Open Space system. Recreational uses include hiking/walking, running, dogs (on leashes or required voice/sight control) and horseback riding — and we saw every one of those uses. We parked at the east trailhead off 51st Street rather than the more popular (and more crowded) one at Longhorn Road and made a 3 1/2-mile loop of the Eagle and Sage Trails. The Longhorn Road trailhead is not the one marked with a the arrow on the OSMP map below but rather the one directly to the east, marked with a P for “parking.”

I enjoy Boulder Valley Ranch’s wide trails — ranch roads, really — that have ample room for runners and walkers to be side-by-side, even leaving room for mountain bikers and horses to pass with no conflict issues. And because trails are smooth, with very few rocks, it is easy to maintain a Nordic Walking stride. The views to the west provide a panorama of foothills and often the snow-covered back range as well. And the big-domed sky is always uplifting.

Continue reading Flat, Wide Trails & Eagles Highlight New Year’s Walk

Polin’ with Paley

Jayah Faye Paley came to Boulder — and we went for a walk

The other day, I wrote a post called “Jayah Faye Paley Coming to Boulder” about the well-known and highly regarding pole advocate, personal trainer and mobility coach  presentations in at REI in Boulder on Thuraday and group hike with poles in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday morning. I couldn’t attend on Thursday because I had a previous commitment but I understand it was SRO in the store, and Saturday morning is out, because the Paley-led “Waterfall Hike with Poles” to Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park for the Rocky Mountain Nature Association is sold out.

Jayah adjusting poles in my front hall.

I was able to spend higher quality time with Jayah. She had been planning to meet Randy from Lafayette and Charee from Parker on Thursday morning for a walk somewhere in Boulder. My house was a good, central place, so we rendezvoused here on a misty, gray morning with clouds hanging low on the foothills. After some tea and chat, the four of us set off for Eben Fine Park with a plan to walk into Boulder Canyon on the Boulder Creek Trail at least to the end of the pavement, but the city is working on the footbridge, so we had to detour and in the end, because Jayah had a schedule, we only walked through the park and a short distance into the canyon.

No hard-core instruction by Jayah, but rather gentle technical hints and stops hear and there to stretch.

The casual walk gave us a chance to chat, and I admire Jayah’s philosophy. She is keyed into different uses for different kinds of poles by people with different needs and desires, from hardcord hikers to people with balance or mobility issues. As we were entering the canyon, an older couple with poles was coming downhill toward us (sorry, I didn’t snap a photo). They both had old downhill ski poles. He was simply carrying his; she was rather randomly tapping the ground with hers. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes, commenting about how unusual it was for six people with poles to be on the same stretch of the path. The couple said they liked walking with their poles — but I could help but think how much more they would have liked them with a little basic coaching on what poles meet their needs and how to use them. We mentioned that Jayah was giving a free presentation about poles at REI just a few hours later. They looked baffled and politely went on their way.

The Boulder Creek Path on a misty, Shangri-La type of morning.

Jayah Faye Paley Coming to Boulder

California personal trainer and mobility expert at REI this evening

Boulder’s REI hosts a free talk this evening, 6:30p.m., on “Poles for Hiking, Walking & Exercise” with personal trainer and mobility expert Jayah Faye Paley. Through Adventure Buddies , she helps people get more enjoyment and fitness benefits from hiking and walking with poles, and through Poles for Mobility, she helps people address mobility and balance issues to help people stay as active as they can be as long as possible by improving gait, posture, strength and endurance — all quality of life aspects. 

What I like about Jayah’s approach of use of poles is adaptability, because poles really are suitable for people on a personal fitness quest and for people with health challenges who just want to extend their ability to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. She is one of a growing number of trainers and coaches who appreciate the multi-dimensional uses for poles.  Boulder being Boulder, poles are also great summer cross-training for Nordic skiers, an additional training tool for anyone wanting to increase upper body conditioning without weights or bands or for injured runners needing to take pressure off the knees, hips and ankles.

I have a previous commitment to judge a grilling cook-of this evening, so I’ll be packing in calories rather than tapping into Jayah’s wisdom about burning them, but for anyone withstriking distance of Boulder, this is a presentation worth attending.  This morning is cool, gray and foggy, so Jayah, who is here from California, should feel right at home when she arrives in a couple of hours. She, I and two of her other Boulder contacts are planning to go for a Nordic Walk, which I’m greatly looking forward to since I won’t be available to hear her presentation this evening. REI is at  1789 28th Street, Boulder; 303-583-9970.

Nordic Walking Notes from Colorado

Boulder County leads the way with programs for beginners & beyond

Is Nordic Walking finally getting a toehold in Colorado? I certainly hope so. I was delighted when I saw a front page story on May 23  in the Denver Post’s Fitness section called “Take Your Workout to the Great Outdoors.” There was a photo of Annette Tannander-Bank leading a Nordic Walking class — not walking in that particular shot but doing lunges with poles for stability as part of the warm-up, strengthening and cool-down exercises that instructors favor, and that people like me don’t bother with. I’m more of a grab-and-go walker. I grab my poles and I go.

Annette coaching a beginning Nordic Walker in proper arm position at North Boulder Park.

The Post piece was about outdoor workouts in general, and reporter Sheba K. Wheeler listed 20 in the metro area. Of those, several were walking programs including some specificially Nordic Walking. One was a one-day intro last Saturday, but the following are still available. 

  • Intermediate Nordic Walking, Annette leads two classes on Mondays at 12:00 noon at Boulder’s  Scott Carpenter Park and on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. at North Boulder Park. Walk-in fee is $10 or a Rallysport Health & Fitness Club punch card., plus $5 for optional pole rentals. 303-449-4800.
  • Nordic Walking, introductory program offered the first and third Saturdays of every month. Meet at Fleet Feet Sports, 2624 Broadway (at Alpine), Boulder. $5 walk-in fee; participants may borrow poles from the store. 303-939-8000.
  • Nordic Walking, Tuesdays, 6-7 p.m. from June 14-July 5, and Thursdays, 8-9 a.m., June 16-July 7. No drop-ins. $42 for residents and $48 for non-residents, including use of poles. Broomfield Recreation Center, Broomfield County Commons, 13200 Sheridan Boulevard, Broomfield.

Paley’s Pole Presentations at REI

'Poles for Balance & Mobility' DVD.

On Wednesday, June 9, Jayah Faye Paley, creator of two DVDs on walking with poles, will be at Boulder’s REI giving two free presentations — one on each DVD. From 3:45-5:15 p.m., the topic is balance, mobility and functional walking showing people with with mobility issues can use poles to improve gait, posture, endurance, function and  strength. That class is full, indicating how much of a need there is for it. From 6:30-8:00 p.m., shedemonstrates how to expand hiking horizons and improve health with poles.

Paley is based in Pacifica, California, where she runs Adventure Buddies, which promotes use of the outdoors (including Nordic Walking) and creating a network of people who enjoy outdoor recreation for health and fitness. She is also a personal trainer and mobility coach , using poles to help people stay as active as they can as long as they can under a program called Poles for Mobility.

ANWA in Colorado

As part of its nationwide schedule, the American Nordic Walking Association presents three levels of training and certification to the Denver area in mid-July. The four-hour Nordic Walking Guide Workshop ($149) for people who want to lead primarily groups of social Nordic Walkers, July 16; eight-hour Basic Instructor Training & Certification Seminar ($236 for registration before June 16, $355 after, $284 for ANWA members); July 16-17, 12-hour Advanced Instructor Training & Certification Seminar for those holding Basic certification ($288 for registration before June 16, $45 after, $360 for ANWA members). Denver area location to be announced.

Snowshoe Hike on Brainard Lake Road

First snowshoe of the season in Indian Peaks area

Last year, 19 inches of snow fell on Boulder in late October, and my first snowshoe walk of the 2009-2010 season was in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This year, the Front Range has been bone-dry (just 1½ inches of snow so far). The Colorado Rockies west of the Continental Divide have been buried in snow from after storm, and the last couple have actually brought significant accumulations on the east side of the Divide — not in Denver or Boulder, but in the Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park.

My neighbor, Jim, had already been our eight times this year, mostly in previous 10 days, and I joined him yesterday. We drove up to the trailhead at the winter closure of the Brainard Lake Road, up in the mountains west of Boulder. Federal stimulus money is being used to construct a parking lot, an imposing building with restrooms and perhaps more, which will improve the creature comforts for users of a wonderful winter trail system within the Brainard Lake Recreation Area but outside of the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The the sun was bright and the snow was white, though in some of these images, it looks as blue as the sky. And best of all, there was no wind.

Winter trails sign along the Brainard Lake Road showing some of the options.

This network includes combined Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails, skier-only, skier-preferred and snowshoer-preferred, but only the Brainard Lake Road itself is open to all non-motorized winter recreation and also to dogs, which are prohibited on all other trails between December 15 and April 15.

Snowshoers, x-c skiers, grownups, kids on snowshoes or with sleds and dogs too coexist on the broad Brainard Lake Road.
We even saw one mountain (?!?!?) biker. Knobby tires grip the soft snow well, and workout at 10,000+ feet must be amazing.

Because of this multi-use,  I actually think snowshoes are a better than skis on the chopped-up snow. We simply headed up the unplowed road covered with enough snow so that no pavement showed through.

I always look forward to the first glimpse of the high peaks during the first winter outing.

This is an out-and-back route. From the trailhead to Brainard Lake is about 1¼ miles.

Three Nordic Walkers Sighted in Boulder

On Saturday, in the middle of our Boulder neighborhood’s 64-family annual rummage sale, my husband alerted me to three (3) Nordic Walkers purposefully walking with fitness poles. Right on our street. In the middle of the morning. Wow!

I didn’t have a camera handy. I didn’t even have time to rush across the street to talk to them, because I was negotiating with a buyer. I have no proof, no documentation, no evidence. But I was delighted by this first-ever sighting of a trio of Nordic Walkers right on my turf.