Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hiking the Colorado 14'ers

My dad and I got up early, a long day filled with excitement ahead of us. Having to wake up at 5 in the morning surprisingly didn’t hamper our spirits one bit, and we quickly got our stuff together to head out. After filling up the camelbacks and getting all of our gear in the car, we set off. The only stop would be to grab some Starbucks on the way to our destination. I felt anxious and nervous at the same time. I was ready to get up there and hike, but at the same time I am afraid of heights, so I was nervous as to what I should expect on the trail. After an hour and a half on the highway and some four-wheeling, we finally made it to the trailhead to find a grand view in front of us.

This was only the beginning of a beautiful day. As we continued up the trail Grays and Torreys weren’t revealing themselves to us easily, it would take a hike to do that!

And as we climbed we couldn’t help but take a look back down into Stevens Gulch. The view ahead was what really got me going though. I had never really seen these mountains up close; only ever in pictures. But what I saw in front of me gave me a daunting view of the route ahead.

It wouldn’t be all that long before could finally look down on all that we had come through - I must say that the view down into Stevens Gulch only got better and better as we continued to climb.

Near 12,600 feet we looked up the trail to see a guy yelling his head off. We could see him standing on top of a rock tower on one of the switchbacks farther up the trail. It wasn’t until we got up to that switchback that we realized what he had been doing. The tower he’d been standing on drops several hundred if not a thousand feet down from that edge! We couldn’t believe what we’d seen, but we pressed onward, the summit now within our reach. When we were nearly at the top, we became enveloped in the clouds that were overhead. Luckily for us they weren’t storm clouds, or I think we would’ve turned back!

We reached the summit at 10:30 AM, having set out from the trailhead at 7:30 AM. As you can see we were completely covered by clouds! After a break at the summit we began our hike over to Torreys. This meant we would have to descend onto the saddle connecting both peaks and work our way up to Torreys. The first time I was afraid was coming off the summit because we were close to a steep edge and the trail was narrow. We almost didn’t go for it, but we hadn’t already come this far to back out now! Once we made it onto the saddle we got a good look at the steep route up to Torreys’ summit.

It is much steeper than it looks, and a lot of it is on the edge, so we were both uncomfortable. The trail to the top is all class 2 hiking, but it is steep and some of the rock was loose, so it was slow going to the summit. After another hour of hiking, we finally hit the summit and got a brief glimpse of the view from the peak.

It wasn’t long until we started getting hit with rain, so we signed the summit registry and booked it down to the saddle. Two and a half hours later we finally made it back to the car exhausted and ready for a sandwich. But the trip was worth it, and I now have 2 more summits done, adding to my first summit of Mount Bierstadt.
Submitted by Ian Wallace