Seven friends, 155 miles of trail, one pandemic.
If the challenge completed by a group of Front Range women on Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks trail system sounds a little like the tag line for a movie, Friday was the finale — the group hiked their last miles of the city’s trails one year and one day after they started.
The pandemic trekkers are Boulder residents Jane Christman, Lisa Andren-Peterson, Susan Graf, Marykay Cicio and Cheryl Barr, Denver resident Sheryl Howe and Louisville resident Lauren Kingsbery.
The women have been friends for years, some as far back as 1980, with a handful of them or their spouses graduating from Colorado Law at the same time. They were already hiking together as a way to spend time together safely during the coronavirus pandemic when the idea came to them, Christman said. Why not do all of the trails on the Open Space and Mountain Parks map?
They quickly discovered that the challenge already exists through Boulder OSMP. The city came up with the challenge as part of an outreach effort, said recreation coordinator Dakota Anderson.
“The point is to get people out on trails more and to realize how much is out there,” Anderson said.
Hikers can do the overall challenge and check off every trail or create their own challenge, Anderson said, in recognition that people have different levels of ability.
The seven women hiked through sunshine and snow, rising early to beat the heat in the summer or waiting until a little later in the day for the sun to rise in winter.
“It was really a social support through COVID because even if you get together with people, you don’t see them every week and that continuity was appealing to me,” Howe said.
Andren-Peterson hiked through a hip replacement. When she had to miss a few of the hikes before and after her surgery, she returned to the trails with her husband to make up for those she missed.
The group had different favorite moments throughout their year of hiking, though all said they enjoyed the companionship and chance to catch up with each other.
Christman recalled hiking along South Boulder Creek in the spring and seeing a calving cow standing off to the side on the hike in. By the time the group hiked out, its calf had been born.
Cicio said her favorite was hiking Flagstaff Mountain in the winter. It was snowy and foggy, but by the time they reached the top, the clouds had cleared and the view was beautiful.
“Seeing trails we had never seen before was the best part of the challenge because it makes you go see things you don’t normally see when you get caught up in your routines,” she said.
For their final hike of the challenge, the group set out from the South Mesa Trailhead near Eldorado Springs on Friday morning, hiking the six miles to Chautauqua where their spouses had put together a surprise picnic to celebrate. Anderson was there, too, to hand out shiny OSMP pins to commemorate their success.
The group hasn’t decided what their next challenge will be, but they already have their eyes on hiking every trail in the county.
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