I’m now an official member of the club…the Fourteeners Club. (J joined the club last year, when he conquered Pikes Peak.) Fourteeners and summertime in Colorado go together like peas and carrots. With over 300 days of sunshine and awe-inspiring scenery, who wouldn’t want to be in this great state and have a view from the top! Mount Bierstadt stands at 14,060 feet and is a great 1st for a beginner like me. Roundtrip, the standard route is almost 7 miles and takes about 6 hours to complete. There is no easy 14er, but this mountain is considered to be one of the least difficult of the 54 summits.
The trailhead begins at Guanella Pass, with the first mile winding through willows and marsh. After that, it is all uphill straight to the summit. As we ascended up the trail we were surrounded by amazing views of the mountains – including a few 14ers, the Colorado blue sky and the marshy pools bordering the willows below. We stopped for a few rest stops along the way to enjoy the views and fuel up on some healthy snacks.
The path is well-defined until approximately the last half mile, when the trail fades into a field of rocks. This rocky area welcomes you to your final ascent up the boulder field to the summit. After about 4 hours, victory was mine! Reaching the summit was exhausting, but so exhilarating! To be on the summit, is almost indescribable….to be on top of the world, eye to eye with the clouds, enjoying the outdoors at its best.
At the top, we enjoyed some lunch, were visited by a whistle pig (marmot), and of course took lots of photos to document our accomplishment. <Listen to the Whistling Whistle Pig – CLICK HERE.> With clouds rolling in, we decided it was time to start our return trip to the trailhead. Descending went a little faster, but it was slightly more challenging to move down the rocky trail with tired legs. About a mile from the trailhead, we were visited by a few claps of thunder and an afternoon summer shower. Thanks to our training from the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC), we were prepared for almost any weather and quickly pulled out our rain jackets. I don’t think the couple we passed hovering under the tree in their shorts and sneakers have yet taken any courses from the CMC. As we approached the trailhead, we were congratulated on the days’ efforts by two moose frolicking in a marshy pond. Colorado outdoors is simply astounding.
Today was a day of accomplishments, physically, mentally and personally. It was an accomplishment for my body…climbing a mountain…hiking 6 hours…high altitude…I got this. It was an accomplishment for my mind…no more 14er intimidation…if I can climb one, I can climb, 2,3,4…even 54 …I can do this. It was an accomplishment in my life…a goal succeeded…to explore Colorado from the best vantage point – the top of the Rockies!