14ers/13ers

97 degrees.  Been a hot week at 5500ft.  Solution?  Go higher 🙂

5 days after my disappointing Bighorn retreat, HIKE weekend.  Chicken soup for the brain.

Friday drive after work, 3 hours to Leadville on the Continental Divide.  (first time ever) Rented a Ro-friendly cabin just north of town.  Pup & I would hit it hard early a.m. – but not too early.  Taking advantage of the area’s cool mountain air, good sleeping weather.

Backpack, boots, multiple shirts (I hike in layers), whole lotta water.  8am start, trailhead parking already FULL.  Found a spot quarter-mile away on the road to Massive.  Today’s hike destination: Mt. Elbert, first 14er of 2017.  FAAANNNTASTIC!

Summitted this peak in 2012.  Not a technical hike, but remember it being one of the longest.  Tallest peak in Colorado, 2nd highest in the lower 48.  This early in the season (mid-June), just happy to ferret out a hikeable peak.  Heavy snow season.

3 false summits, whole lotta up-n-down.  Challenging but doable, did my online research.  Almost 4 miles of treed wildlife: ground squirrels, chipmunks & (surprisingly) a flock of prairie hen.  Kept Ro tethered to my belt – he’s a big FAN of chicken ❤

UP UP UP, water break.  Different set of muscles used [vs marathoning].  UP UP UP, ‘nother water break.  the Scenery?  No comparison.  Thin air, wildflowers, intermittent tuffs of green – life finding a way above 12,000ft.

False summit snacked.  Took in the panorama, circled by mountains & snow pocked tundra.

1100ft of vertical to go.  UP UP UP, ‘cross a large snow field.  Teeny tiny people visible high above, our first summit view.  Let Ro romp in last winter’s remnants but kept Pup leashed.  Season change/high altitude sun, unexpected crevasses/cornice breaks.

400ft more, SUMMIT SUCCESS!

Pulled a jacket out of the backpack & hunkered behind a large boulder.  Chicken jerky for Pup, Turkey avocado for Dad.  Long hike back – best part?  No return drive ‘til morning.  Weekend cabin rental, highly recommended – even Ro got a bath 🙂

 

 

Mt Elbert 2017

 

 

my annual ‘thin air’ reset

Sleep struggle, labored morning runs, work deadlines & pre-wedding [family] squabbles — been a tough first week home from New Zealand.  Wednesday, Ash asked if I could scope out potential wedding pic locations for her Silverthorne wedding in May.  Full day in the mountains…absolutely, sign me up!  Crisp thin air, snow surrounded – PERFECT!

Early a.m. start – 4 mile run (‘cause every day’s a run day), followed by a 2-hour drive in the Rockies.  Half day scouted photo locations, half day hiked HIGH altitude.

Bridge near Ash’s Silverthorne venue – easy, done.  8 miles toward Breck on Swan Mountain Road checked-out Sapphire Point in Dillon.  Ample parking, short packed-path, mountain overlook – wedding money shot.  Exactly what the bride-to-be ordered: snow-capped Colorado peaks [without the pre-wedding hike].  No wildlife stains on Ash’s pricey East Coast wedding gown GUARANTEED.

Completed the loop in nearby Frisco.  While ALL are counting on sunshine for Ash’s big day – just in case, scoped out an alternate venue (May in Colorado/could be snow). Covered pavilion (backed against mountains), historic rustic cabins & the town’s first jail (log cabin, circa 1881).  Nabbed a large handful of county maps at the Frisco Hotel.  Route-marked today’s 10-mile loop in bold Sharpie.  Task complete 🙂

 

Silverthorne Pavilion (wedding venue)

Sapphire Point (Dillon CO)

Frisco Museum, covered Pavilion & Historic Jail

 

Saturday Part II – retraced steps to Idaho Springs, I-70 exit 240.  30 minute drive, just past Echo Lake…my annual spring pilgrimage up Mount Evans.  Off loaded Sno’ Ro – couldn’t have been more excited.  Leashed for a mile while we passed lodgepole pine, packed with squirrel & chipmunk (makes my pup crazy uncontrollable).  2 miles UP, path now contained by 10-15ft snow drifts, I let Ro run & run & run.  Up-n-back: exploring ahead, returning for hand treats.

3-mile marker, passed a stretch of wind-stunted pine.  Visually stunning.  Wind started to blow, cold stung my face 🙂

Matched my website photo inlay 4 ½ miles UP.  5 years ago, Ro tethered to my leg, snapped that shot & broke for lunch.  Soaked in the moment today.  Open armed, took in thin air.  LOVE LOVE these mountains!

9 miles roundtrip.  Sandwich shared with Ro on the hike return.  Pup’s eyes rolled 10 minutes into our drive home.  Good day.  Mentally back, ready for Bighorn.  Training hard April & May – 52 miles, bring it!

 

Mt Evans spring pilgrimage

 

 

You’d think after last weekend’s super long trek to Russia, I’d be kicking back/lying low for a few weeks.  Not true, blame Ash.  Texted a high-altitude pic last week – snow, alpine lakes, Aspens popping yellow.  Autumn in Colorado.  Wanna/hafta/gotta 14er hike before the snow blows…usually that’s September, so this hiker’s on borrowed time.

430am start.  Backpack, pup, treats – packed, all ready to go.  2 hours west on Colorado’s East-West highway (I-70).  Bakerville exit, 8 miles shy of Eisenhower tunnel, east of the Divide.  Mountain road weathered by the long summer hike season – 5 miles of dirt & massive potholes.  Road wash-out 1.2 miles from the trailhead.  Today’s 14er destination: Grays Peak 14,270ft.

My third trip to Grays – first summited September 2012, returned last August (2015).  Good day for a hike.  Summer lightning season’s passed, day’s seasonal snow squall not forecasted ‘til 3pm.

Chilly start; kept Ro leashed thru the first 2 miles of willow thicket.  Easily distracted by ground critters.

Shed layers before the first switchback, crossing & climbing the open Colorado steppe.  Glacier remnants on the peaks, blunted tundra colour, nipping wind, tree line disappears just before 12,000ft.  Mountain heaven.

Left to Grays, slight right to Torreys.  Stopped & took in the landscape.

Not a lotta down time today…Ro was a climbing machine.  Stop, stare, wait for me – then hastily UP UP UP.  Dog on a mission.  Crampon-free day, not enough snow to warrant the trouble.

Summit SUCCESS!  Wind stilled.  Took advantage & soaked in the magic.

Peaks all 4 corners, expansive Lake Dillon to the west.  Ash ice fished there 2 winters back.  Appears I missed leaf peeping by at least 2 weeks.  Would have to slow-lane the ride home to see any remaining Aspen colour (lower elevation along the highway).

Hike day did not disappoint.  WOW.  Just WOW!  LOVE LOVE my Colorado life.

 

Ro update: car ride snooze, followed by his favourite spot on the bed – out ‘til morning.  Heck yeah I’m jealous.  HA!

 

 

Grays Peak 14,270ft

 

 

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