Colorado 2020: The Flatirons

Boulder, Colorado – Flatirons by Catherine, found on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

This post continues the retelling of my AmeriCorps service term in Colorado in 2020. The rest of this series can be found here.

On July 23, 2020, I got to do the most touristy thing I did during my seven-month stay in Boulder: hike the Flatirons. These are a series of unique rock formations on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains that look like tables that have been angled upwards.

According to Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) department, the Flatirons are made of the eroded remains of an ancestral Rocky Mountain range that was completely worn down by the forces of nature. Those eroded remains reformed into sedimentary rocks that used to lay flat on the ground, before they were hoisted up as part of a “new” Rocky Mountain range by the movements of the Earth’s crust.

I believe this means that the Flatirons are zombies.

Of course, I didn’t know any of this when I went to hike the Flatirons, or I would’ve refused to walk on a bunch of zombies. All I knew was that they were popular among Boulder’s young, beautiful, fit, and generally perfect population.

A group of people commuting to work in Boulder. Image by r17frances from Pixabay.

We left, as always, early in the morning. It was a bright and sunny day, and when we arrived at Chautauqua Park (where all the Boulderites go to be perfect) the place was packed. There were people everywhere, including a conspicuous individual named Sam who was driving an excavator.

Sam was one of OSMP’s employees (although now he has his own company): he wasn’t just driving an excavator for fun. He graciously took time out of his workday to talk to us about Chautauqua, which I appreciated. He explained to us that if Chautauqua was a national park, it’d be the second most popular national park in the U.S., behind Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

As we set off on our hike, I believed what Sam said about Chautauqua being popular. The trails were very busy, and also narrow. This meant that whenever people were coming from the opposite direction, we had to step off the trail to let them pass.

We zig-zagged our way up the first Flatiron, stopping often to let people go by. Despite the frequent stops, we eventually made it to the top of the first Flatiron. If you’re wondering why I said “first,” it’s because the Flatirons all have numbers, although I don’t know who decided which Flatiron was “first” or “last.”

We took a long break on top of the first Flatiron, enjoying the views and sunshine. While resting, a hummingbird nearly flew into my head, but it wizzed past, sparing me a grisly fate of death by tiny bird.

The view from atop one of the Flatirons on July 23, 2020. I still only had a cell phone camera at this point 🙁

Once we’d finished our break atop the first Flatiron, I thought we hiked to the second one, but there’s nothing about this in my notes. This could mean one of three things:

  • I was too lazy to write about Flatiron #2 in my notes,
  • Nothing eventful happened on Flatiron #2.
  • I was abducted by aliens and they erased my memory.

Regardless, I eventually made it back to my house in Boulder, although I can’t recall if I rode back in the van with the rest of my crew or if I was dropped off by aliens. All’s well that ends well, though.

In the next installment of this Colorado series, I’m going to write about my first workday with the personification of fear herself: Jo.

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