Ro’s first 14er!

First off — apologies to all my Flatlander visitors; I now get it.  I felt burning in my lungs this hike, and even a little shortness of breath.

Saturday morning I set my alarm and we shot out by 6am; Mt. Bierstadt is approximately 2 hours away.  I had already checked the day’s forecast, knew that Guanella Pass was open, and thunderstorms were possible any time after 1pm.

Lightning strikes kill more hikers on Colorado’s 14ers than accidents/falls.  Being that high up and close to God should have more folks worried (joking).  Of course, standing on rock with ZERO tree coverage increases your strike chances too 🙂

Beginning at Guanella Pass trailhead, meant our hike started at 11,700 ft — and also, cut 3 hours from our out time.  Parked the car and headed for willow thicket.  Online reviews advised this ‘valley’ continues for a mile, then the next 6+ miles heads UP — first switchbacks, then rock grappling near summit.  Any concerns I had about bringing Ro on a 14er were erased after 2 miles in — when we saw our first snow (glacier).  Sno’ Ro led the charge from there until our last half mile when rock climbing held Super Ro to ‘normal’ dog pace 🙂

Knowing thunderstorms were a probability, Ro and I hit the trail hard.  Steady pace with only 2 brief stops for oxygen; 2:45 hours up — guide says 2 hours (athlete) to 4 hours to summit.  I kept my eye on a tour group who ultimately led our way.  First gave us a target to chase, then provided company & conversation for a mile, and ultimately inspired us to pass and summit first.  Still competitive — even in Colorado. (These super nice folks later snapped a few pics for us.)

Break out a sandwich, bean burrito and doggie trail mix — and KA-BOOM…the sound of thunder, soon followed by thundersnow — snow which comes down like pellets.  Our crowd of 30 summiters soon disperses.  Ro and I start from the back and trail run the next 4 miles.  I stop for air and the winter winds blow in. Our race to the car is slowed only briefly by ‘hiker traffic’.  Ro seemed to understand/sense that the snow, then ice, then rain wasn’t gonna let up.

Triscuits, sandwiches and more doggie trail mix from our tailgate for 10 minutes (food intended for our summit lunch) before rain/snow/slush deluge fell from the heavens.  Oh yeah — 2:45 up but only 1:38 hours down.  Gravity — and occasional thunderclaps — sped our pace.  LOL>

Weekly hikes to date — this ranks in the top 5!

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