We are going to be in Colorado, so lets climb the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains!
A group of us friends took a trip to Colorado this summer to explore and see what adventures we could find. Steve Wells (Esteban) was all about setting us up with things to do while we were there. Steve says “Its about 3 hours up and 1 1/2 hours down” I think Steve might have been reading about this climb on some expert trail runner site. This effort was much more then I had expected, BUT VERY REWARDING!
As seen in the video (at bottom), we start out with a very basic walking trail in the woods. Everyone on the hike was in good shape from running, biking, and staying active. I had pictured this to be something every tourist does while in town. I did no research to see what we were about to do. I watched a couple Youtube videos but that was it. I started to notice large packs, walking poles, and specific gear. Hhhmm, they must really like to hike and just buy all the gear. Why are guys stretching in the parking lot? What are the guys in the parking lot making food with a little cooker for? Why didn’t they just bring a couple Clif Bars like me? All questions I would get my answers to 8 plus hours later…
Hiking the first couple hours was below the treeline. This means there is still oxygen for vegetation to grow. Once you get above approx 12,000 ft there are no more trees. Pretty crazy actually.
Once you get out of the trees “you think” you can see where your climbing to, the summit. Nope… At least 3 times you think you can see the summit, but its still a LONG way to go. At this point we were walking about 50 yards at a time and taking a breather. Steve and I started walking together gave up trying to keep the ladies in sight. Very humbling with 60-70 year old folks walking past you with the walking poles.
After dozens of stops and lots of “push forward” moments we finally caught back up with the ladies and made it to the top! Wow!! Worth the effort ABSOLUTELY!
The hike down was no joke. I thought it was going to take 1/2 the time and be very easy. I could not have been more wrong. A mix between being a larger guy and having the wrong style of descending, it was harder for me going down the up. It felt like a 4 hour wall sit like you used to do in gym class. I was also out of water because I planned for a much shorter / easier trip. I got my first real taste of dehydration. Once again the girls were way ahead, somehow I was by myself, feeling the elevation changes and out of water. I was so tired of my thighs burning, I was dreading each 12 inch rock I had to step down. By the time I got back to the parking lot the ladies said I sounded like Sponge Bob “water, water, water” I was hurting. I laid down in the parking lot for awhile to try and get a grip.
Besides my underestimating and under preparing, I highly recommend hiking some 14,000 summits! The view is totally worth it!
Until next adventure, cheers! Mark Deering
Here is a quick video of our complete experience.