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!
*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.
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.
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.
All obstacles conquered, we did make it to the top.
Gray’s Summit, 14,270 ft.
We also made it back down, with more energy for photography fun.
Our first 14-er experience was definitely one for the books,
and we’ll definitely be back for more.