This past weekend we hiked the highest mountain in the state of Colorado, Mount Elbert. It sits in the clouds at 14,433 feet high. We haven’t hiked a 14er all year and after adopting our newest addition to our family (Boulder, lab puppy) I didn’t think we would find the opportunity this year. But luckily we have some amazing friends that took him so we could venture out into the wilderness! We drove up the night before and “camped” at the trailhead aka slept in the back of our pickup. FYI, not suppose to camp at the trailhead according to signs! Oops. We like doing this so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to drive since the trailhead was about 2 hours away. We got up around 5 a.m. and hit the trail by 5:30 a.m. The hike was only 9 miles, but about 4,800 feet in elevation gain which I knew meant there would be some steep areas!
Since we started in the dark, you really can’t tell how steep it is and I think mentally this helps me quite a bit! We hiked the 1st mile in a good 20 minutes, which I knew it would only slow down with elevation and my churning stomach getting the best of me. Even though I had to take a little break in the woods due to an upset stomach, we ventured on and slowly made our way up the mountain.
As the sun came up we got to see a wonderful view of the surrounding area, but as we got higher it gradually got colder and began to mist. And then the mist turned into the snow! Even though all you could see was white, we decided we continue to truck on and finish. We passed all of the tough steep climb around 13,900 feet and then began to bridge over a pass, but since we couldn’t see, there was no way to tell how far we had left! Luke’s altimeter suggested we still had 500 feet to climb up and then low and behold we were there just before 10 a.m. It was like all of a sudden a storm of people emerged from the whiteness. There was even a 4 string quartet at the summit, which is surprising considering the weather. Needless to say, we did not spend long at the top. We snapped a photo and took off back down the mountain.
We reached the trailhead at around 12:30 p.m. Would have been sooner, but unfortunately my churning stomach had to make a few pitstops on the way down. At least I made it to tree line before absolutely having to stop. :) All in all, it was a wonderful hike regardless of the weather. And now we have done 13 14ers! Only 42 more to go! Woot woot!