Late Summer Hike

 

4:00 am…on a Saturday…and my alarm clock is ringing in my ear.  We crawled out of bed, showered, loaded our packs in the car, and headed down the highway at 5:15 am.  Call me crazy, but sometimes early morning wake ups make for the best days.

Early Morning Hike

Heading West to our destination, we timed it right and missed the weekend mountain traffic arriving to a mostly empty parking area.  The air was a brisk 42 degrees and windy at 11,000 feet which made Bandit all the more frisky as he jumped from the Outback.  It has been too long since we have taken a family hike together, so we were happy to breathe in the clean mountain air.  Chilly TempsWe picked a shorter trail with good scenery that was friendly for dogs (with a titanium leg).  The hike ended at an alpine lake, so Josh brought along his fly rod to try his luck.

Somewhere in ColoradoThe chosen trail (undisclosed) turned out to be a perfect choice.  It was 4.2 miles out and back and surprisingly, many wildflowers still remained this late in the season.  As we hiked up the trail, we encountered a few small stream crossings, waded through patches of willow thickets, and spotted six mule deer on a northwest hillside.  Reaching the top of the ridge, the wind was fierce and almost unbearable.  We pushed through to reach the next part of the trail where the mountains provided a barrier from the brutal gusts.  Red paintbrush, mountain gentian and tall fringed bluebells enveloped both sides of the path, which became marshy in spots as we reached our glacial lake destination.

Colorado Mountain Stream

Willow Thickets

The alpine lake was peaceful, calm, and surrounded by mountains and wildflowers.  After enjoying a well earned trail snack of cheese and jerky, Josh fished for a while, while Bandit and I enjoyed the views.  We took our time exploring the area and made a loop around the lake.  With clouds steadily rolling in, we decided it was time to depart and we began our decent.  Bandit met a few doggie friends on the way down, and then started losing his energetic enthusiasm as we crept closer to our four mile completion.

Bulldog and Flowers

Hiking and mountain air always leaves us famished, so we decided to stop in Georgetown for a quick lunch.  Yelp assisted us in our choice of Lucha Cantina.  Lucha is located on 6th Street in Georgetown’s National Historic Landmark District. The menu is quite varied and they use all fresh ingredients; I ordered enchiladas, while Josh picked out one of the mac & cheese combos.  The food and atmosphere was a great ending to our morning adventure and reenergized us for the drive back home.

 

Advertisements

What’s Your Mountain?

In honor of the 60th Anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mt Everest, we were selected by Post Grape-Nuts Fit to be a Summit Sampler.  On May 29, 1953, Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to summit the world’s highest mountain at 29,028 feet.  The story goes that Hillary brought along Grape-Nuts as a snack, which provided much needed energy and protein to help him complete this historic climb.  As a Summit Sampler, we were “dispatched” by Post Grape-Nuts to celebrate this climbing anniversary by taking our own hike and sharing Grape-Nuts Fit samples.  Without hesitation, we selected Colorado’s highest peak, Mt Elbert, which stands at 14,440 feet and is the 2nd highest peak in the contiguous U.S. (Mt Whitney in California is the highest).  We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Hillary’s historic climb and Memorial Day weekend than by climbing a Colorado 14er.  This was going to be our mountain!

We made a weekend of our Mt Elbert visit, and camped with friends at Lakeview Campground.  We set up camp on Saturday, and relaxed before our early rise the next morning.  Our Summit Day began with a 5am wake up, cool morning air, and coffee and oatmeal on the camp stove.  Once we were packed, we took the Cruiser to the upper trail head of the South Elbert Trail; which was just a short drive via a 4×4 trail.  The weather was pristine and we saw a variety of wildlife – beaver, furry eared rabbit, and even ladybugs in the snow.  The trail started off clear and dry, but became snow covered and cool a short distance after passing tree line.  Being early in the day, the snow was still frozen, so we didn’t need snowshoes, but the micro spikes came in handy for the final steep walk to the peak.  At the summit, we paused for a Grape-Nuts snack and enjoyed our snow covered surroundings.  The view from the top was breathtaking.  And as if the weather couldn’t get better, the air at the summit was completely still.  Rarely, will you climb a 14er without a strong breeze greeting you at the summit.

My favorite part of hiking 14ers in the snow is the journey down the mountain.  Hiking is fun, but glissading is better!  It was exciting to use a technique for the first time that I learned in Wilderness Trekking School.  After sliding through the soft snow, the remainder of our hike became slushy and muddy, which slowed our descent time.  We finally made our way back to the trail head, exhilarated from the day’s accomplishment.  We had conquered our mountain!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To read more about our Mt Elbert summit, check out: 

Colorado: Let’s Hike Mt. Elbert – Highest Mountain in Colorado!

and

Fun on a 14er…