Wednesday, June 28, 2017

because it's there?

The hills are alive!

Okay, sorry, I just couldn't help myself...

I ended up hiking to the top of Colorado with Chaco yesterday.  He's using some vacation time this week, and he started out with a backpacking trip over last weekend.  During that trip he climbed Mt. Massive, one of Colorado's 14ers.  When he returned, he said he thought he'd go back and climb Mt. Elbert, which is next to Mt. Massive and the tallest peak in Colorado.

My schedule is pretty flexible right now.  I've got that new job that doesn't start for about another month, and I've stopped taking new tutor students, so I asked Chaco if I could tag along.  And, oh what fun!

Despite its prominence, Mt. Elbert is a relatively "easy" climb - meaning we didn't need any technical climbing gear/skills.  It was still fairly steep with a total round trip distance for us of a little over 12 miles, and it's still a 14er.  All in all, it was a very fun and satisfying hike.  I'm glad I had the time and went for the spur-of-the-moment adventure.

Chaco at the start of our trek.  Mt. Elbert summit in the background

And it was a beautiful day for it.  The trail started out weaving through thick forest of Aspens.  Eventually we were above treeline, but despite the lack of trees, I was surprised at the little grasses and pretty wildflowers covering the landscape at that elevation. Very Sound of Music, and I felt just like Maria/Julie Andrews!

Thankfully to the others, I needed to preserve my oxygen, so did not break out in song.

As we continued upward, conditions got very windy with blow-you-off-a-mountain gusts.  The biggest threat during the summer, and the thing we were most wary of, however, is lightning.  Despite the windy conditions, the sky was blue and sunny.

The little grasses and flowers eventually disappeared and gave way to rocks and dirt... and SNOW.  Portions of the trail were still covered in snow, which meant we had to traverse the stuff.  Acrophobic me was not particularly happy about that, but I just went for it with a keep moving don't look down keep moving don't look down keep moving don't look down strategy.  It worked.  I think if I'd have stopped and/or looked down, I'd still be on that mountain.

The wind continued to batter us, and the summit seemed to be eluding us.  But next we knew, we were there.  There were a few other windblown people at the top, taking in the amazing views and
snapping pics while trying to stay shielded from the wind.

Everyone was sitting since to stand would mean getting blown off the mountain

This bloated pack of fig bars was ready to burst
at the seams from the change in pressure during the climb

So many other peaks to look down at!
So a lovely time all around (except for the snowy bits).  Some observations:

  • I need some real hiking shooz if I'm going to do much more of this.  My trail runners were wimps at climbing and descending.
  • Most others on the trail had trekking poles, but we didn't.  I could see where they might come in handy, but am not rushing to get some.
  • Despite being tagged as a relatively easy 14er, the wind made it more of a challenge than otherwise, which made the summit all the more sweet.
  • The mountain marmots are oh so cute!

Round trip was a little over six and a half hours.  Well spent 😊


  1. Sounds like it was a really great day, yes if you continue to do this proper shoes are a good idea.

    1. Ordered some today. Amazon just makes these things too easy. Hmm... I wonder what Julie Andrews wears?

  2. Looks amazing! I'm happy you had a great time and made it to the summit without the wind blowing you over! How many 14ers are in Colorado?

    1. The wind was just Mother Nature making the hike more "fun". There are 53 14ers in Colorado, or 58 depending on your specs :)

  3. How fun! Although a little scary knowing the wind could blow you off. I'm proud of you for fightin' through your fears once again. :)
    Seeing what the change in pressure did to the pack of fig bars makes me wonder what my insides would do if I tried that hike. Sheesh!

    1. He pulled out that pack of fig bars and we had a good laugh, but yeah, what about the humans??
      With the wind and the snow, Mt. Elbert was JUST like Everest that day. Right?