Hardies
Hardies

The hills are alive with the sound of cicadas.

In fact, the Boulder foothills are alive with copious creepy-crawlies. Yep, these bad boys can fit so much fuckin' life in 'em.

Of course, they're also alive with a menagerie of mammals and birds that are hunting those bugs for their tasty insides, not even pausing to snuff out their tiny lives and capacity for pain before swallowing those babies whole. So really, if you listen carefully, the hills are alive with the sound of murder, too.

Ahh, nature. So majestic.

Colorado's mountains are home to their own, patented varieties of bug-eating bastards, like the goth-punk Stellar's jay and the pointy-eared Abert's squirrel. We're talking real fancy wildlife, the primo shit. Not that there's anything wrong with all those urban bugs and birds and furry dudes you're used to. Pigeons and trash pandas have the street smarts to survive in the asphalt jungle, and they've earned all the cred that entails.

But you're a human, a special animal with a powerful curiosity and craving for novelty. You want to learn new skills, make new friends, seek out new life and new civilizations. You want see those weird-ass mountain squirrels with your own eyes, don'tcha?

First, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel healthy?"


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Because sure, you could park at a trailhead, sit in your car and hope some iconic wildlife is miraculously drawn to your presence through sheer force of charisma. But if you want a real chance of coming face to face with a marmot, you're going to have to put a little work in.

If you've recently moved to town and gained over 5,000 feet of elevation in the process, you'll have to take things slow or risk altitude sickness. Ditto if the most exercise you've gotten in the last few years was a mental breakdown. You'll get exhausted and headachey and pukey, and you'll curse the stupid writer who told you to take a hike in the first place. "'Go see the fancy elf squirrels,' she said. 'It'll be cool,' she said. Screw this and the mountain goat you rode in on!" And I would deserve that.

So before you set out on your quest, get a little experience under your belt. See how many jumping jacks or bicep curls you can do before you soak through your sports bra. Traverse the length of the Boulder Creek Path. Did you feel like vomiting at the end? Was that because you need more cardio or because you stepped in (what you hope is) dog poop?

Once you level up, it's time to venture into the wilderness. Get deep into the woods, where the ponderosa pines make everything smell like vanilla. You may not see a corvid with a mohawk on your first hike. But you might see wild raspberries and wild roses, rock arches, a waterfall, a deer skull, a bear.

A bear? Shit, it's a bear. And hey, she's got a couple cubs with her. Yeah, they're super cute. OK, just back away slowly and we'll ... no, NO, wait. Do NOT try to pet the cubs! DUDE.

The hills are alive with the sound of screaming. AAAGHaaaaaghaagh.

Read more Hardies: coloradodaily.com/columnists. Stalk her: twitter.com/deannahardies.