I've been home from San Francisco since Wednesday night but I've been too busy to get up to Chautauqua for a good hike until this morning. (My sister came to Boulder with me and stayed two nights, which was great fun.) But this morning I was out of the house by ten and walked up to the park. It's a half mile walk up the neighborhood streets and I expected to be out of breath from the altitude change, but I wasn't. The morning air was clean and cool and it felt great to be out walking.
Once in Chautauqua my plan was to do a fairly easy hike, the Ravine Trail, which is about a forty-five minute loop from door to door. But when I got to the high point I was enjoying myself too much so I decided to head further uphill and climb part of the Bluebell Baird trail. It's a short, rocky, steep trail and I was pleased to feel good as I climbed it. I had put on my earphones and was listening to music and I felt great.
At the top of the rocky section I turned to go down the Ski Jump trail back to the main paths in the park. I don't usually hike Ski Jump and was surprised at how beautiful it was. It's up on a ridge and there are nice views of the park below. It's also lightly traveled and no other hikers were around, even on a Saturday morning. The beauty and the solitude gave me a peaceful, happy feeling.
I stopped to relish the moment. As I looked down at the scene below I saw many more hikers but my eyes also caught an unusual movement. I peered more closely and realized that two deer were crossing the meadow below, a mother and her baby. Some of the hikers saw them but others were oblivious as the pair began to run and hop through the golden grasses and head uphill. A minute or so behind them came a big buck. I could see his antlers all the way up from my perch above. His stately walk turned into a run as he approached the hill and then he bounded up the hill and out of sight.
There is a lot of wildlife in the park but the animals tend to keep clear of human activity and are rarely seen. I was thrilled.
What a great start to a beautiful day!