Sunrise hikes seem like a great idea until the night before when you realize you’re getting up at 2:30am so you need to try to get to bed at a reasonable time.
I did my first sunrise hike last summer in New Hampshire (which I never blogged about… womp womp). It was a loop that went up Mt. Jefferson, across Mt. Clay, up Mt. Washington, and then down… it was 10+ miles and it hurt. Plus, the sunrise was kind of disappointing because cloud cover moved in (naturally… it’s the Whites!), but I felt so badass for doing the hike and then going to work my shift at the restaurant afterward. I STILL feel badass.
Anyway, I recently joined the Women Who Hike Colorado Facebook group and have kept a diligent eye on the recommended hikes and to see if I could join up with one. Someone in the group asked if anyone would be interested in a sunrise hike on Memorial Day, so, naturally, I forgot how much it sucked to get up at 2:30am and said YES.
We hiked Mount Sanitas in Boulder. The loop we selected was the Mount Sanitas and Sanitas Valley Loop Trail. All told it was 3.2mi, and the summit was almost exactly half-way through the distance of the hike. We hit the trail head at 4:00am equipped with headlamps.
We stopped a couple times to admire first light. What was really interesting was seeing traffic streaming into Boulder from Rte 36 for the Bolder Boulder race taking place later that morning.
After multiple stops for water, and to gasp for air, we arrived at the summit around 5:20am for a sunrise at 5:37am. We hunkered down and hung out to watch the show.
We stuck around at the summit for a few minutes after sunrise to chat, eat snacks, and layer back up. It was windy and felt especially cold up there after gaining almost 1,300 feet in elevation in less than an hour and a half (ie: we were working hard, and our sweat cooled off quick!).
The hike back down was pretty quick, aside from a few steep, rocky spots where the dog that came with us got a little nervous. We managed to coax him down, and eventually made it back to dirt trail for the remainder of the hike.
I recommend this hike. Even coming from sea level just a week and a half ago, this felt doable… tiring, but absolutely doable! I swung by Snooze in Westminster for breakfast on my way home… chocolate chip pancakes have never hit the spot like those did. I earned them!
Gear for this hike:
- Day pack with (most of) the Ten Essentials
- Trekking poles
- Merrell trail shoes
- Tikkina headlamp