Climbing Colorado: Gray’s Peak

We did our first hike of the summer at the beginning of June, and you could say we got hooked quickly. The most recent challenge? Our first fourteener*.

Ambitious? Yes. Successful? Yes!

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*Fourteeners = 58 peaks in Colorado at 14,000 ft altitude & above.

I’ll go ahead and say it – this little adventure came out of two optimistically naive attitudes. Let’s “go for a hike” and let’s “climb a 14-er today” are two  very different plans, and now we know that.

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There were a handful of moments where I was ready to call it a day, turn around, and be done with it. More than once D reminded me that “a marathon is tougher”, or to remember how mile 25 feels. More than once I reminded myself that we started at 10,000 ft. We haven’t even climbed to 10,000 ft yet.

Like I said, optimistically naive.

Lessons learned from climbing to 14,000:

  • Your brain hurts when it’s demanding oxygen
  • When your brain is oxygen-deprived, it’s harder to make rational decisions
  • A hearty PB & J tastes amazing at the top of a mountain.
    Really, though, anything would have.
  • It may feel like 70*, but the snow disagrees. And it sticks around.
  • On the snow note – WEAR HIKING BOOTS.
    Not old running shoes – or any running shoe, for that matter.
  • On another snow note – it melts during the afternoon.
    See pictures below; puddles.
  • On your way down, it’s rude to tell people going up that they “still have a while to go”. And by “rude”, I mean kind of cruel.
  • SPF 70 sunscreen has got nothin’ on that high-altitude sun  – as our sunscreen-covered burned skin will prove.
  • It is physically harder to come descend those steep trails, but mentally?
    SO much easier.
  • It is COLD after 4,000 ft of climbing. Bring jackets!
  • The view from the TOP is always worth it.

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We hiked to the top of Gray’s peak, which is apparently one of “easier” 14-ers, with a high-traffic trail that’s “easier” to follow.

See above rocks & snow.

More than once we stopped and wondered where the “trail” really was, because we were just sort of rock-hopping around. This makes me wonder what those other so-called trails look like.

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All obstacles conquered, we did make it to the top.

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Feed me!

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Gray’s Summit, 14,270 ft.

We also made it back down, with more energy for photography fun.

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Our first 14-er experience was definitely one for the books,
and we’ll definitely be back for more.



Filed under challenges, cross training, Exploring Colorado, hiking, new things!, pictures, things that make me Happy

22 responses to “Climbing Colorado: Gray’s Peak

  1. Wow this is so gorgeous! I wish I was still in CO to hike this with ya!

  2. A HUGE congrats to you, Heather! You’re going to get hooked on hiking these guys…trust me. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what your next one is!

  3. That. Looks. Awesome.

    If/when we come visit, will you take us?

  4. sending this to the hubs so he can see the amazing view and maybe that will entice him to MOVE! hehe.

  5. I went for a huge mountain hike in Whistler with my cousin when I was 14 and I remember having a PB&J at the top – BEST PB&J I had ever, ever had!!!!

  6. Wow! That is awesome. I sooooo want to go hiking one of these trips to Colorado. I need to come sometime when it’s NOT the middle of winter!

  7. Congratulations! This is awesome. I love that you just casually chose to go climb a 14er. 🙂 Those photos are beautiful.

    I know a woman in her 70s who still hikes 14ers, and has conquered ALL of them in Colorado. I know, right? Makes me want to set that goal too! And I concur… I have definitely learned the hard way that sunscreen can’t match altitude, and layers are probably the most important thing to own when hiking. 😉 Ah, the best memories for me are the most painful initially…haha.

  8. Awesome! I’ve never been that high (harr harr)…last summer we were backpacking in the California heat at 11,000 feet and my backpack has never felt heavier.

    Oh, and I hate the unsolicited comments about how far it is to the summit. I get *really* annoyed when people say “Almost there, you can do it!” because it seems so patronizing. I know I can do it, I’ve hiked this mountain a million times! :o)

    • Heather C

      Ha, well for us it was more like “we better be close to the top! Where is it?! how far?! is it snowy?!”. Really, we just wanted more info, and less “encouragement” 😉

  9. Lee Grillo

    Congratulations on your first fourteener–climbing these mountains truly is an obsession! Just PLEASE be careful! I recommend picking up a fourteener book-Gerry Roach’s is the best–and remember–People have died on these mountains!! Jackets, raingear, boots, and OFF THE SUMMIT BY NOON to avoid being above treeline during afternoon lightning. Oh, yeah–it’s also been known to snow every month of the year up there! Welcome to Colorado! : )

  10. Wow! What a beautiful hike! I have only gone on one hike before near Estes Park and it was great!

  11. I am seriously so impressed! Sort of in awe, actually, and now I want to take on such a challenge! Love your notes about what you learned. I’m sure hiking boots would have been quite the help. Gorgeous photos. There’s nothing like the Colorado Rockies! xo

  12. Geez louise, girl, this looks like an intense hike! Nice work!

  13. Mamacita

    Congrats! Your pics are awesome; I am very impressed.
    Love, Mamacita

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  15. I can’t begin to comprehend what that kind of climb or elevation feels like but WOW that view is blowing my mind. You guys are awesome.

  16. OOOooh, a 14er! Have your red blood cells come back yet? Looks gorgeous, and totally worth those views!

  17. You guys are badass! That’s so awesome. Wish I’d been there 🙂

    • Heather C

      ha, would’ve been tough on your lungs, but you would’ve LOVED it! Such an amazing view, and so worth the climb to get up there. 🙂

  18. Lauren

    I just got to read this! Sooo pretty. Umm you can’t do anything outside in Texas. It sucks. I want to come to Colorado! I found out that the other assistant manager that will be working with me got sent to CO. NOT FAIR!!! I will make it there one summer to hike with you guys, promise 🙂
    Congrats on being in AMAZING shape! I’m jealousss

  19. Holy Moly! Glenn and I have been wanting to do that but we are still chicken when it comes to breathing and this altitude. I def wanna get some hiking boots!

  20. Pingback: 2011: The Loud Year | Dietitian on the Run

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