There are 56 14ers in Colorado and I have had an ambitious goal for some time know. I want to summit all of the ones that are hikable without climbing gear. Today I got two summits closer, completely numbers 5 and 6 for me. Bierstadt, Sherman, Elbert, Massive, Greys, and Torreys.
Greys are Torreys are next to each other and most hikers summit both at the same time.
We woke up at 3:30, left the hotel by 3:50, and were at the trailhead at 4:30. We put on our headlamps and started the hiking. The benefit of it being dark is I had no concept of how steep the first mile was. It was hard, my calves burned and I was winded. I figured it was because I hadn’t taken the time to properly stretch, but I learned on the way back down that the first mile or so was a series to steep, high steps that would be challenging at any point.
Our headlamps and the headlamps of the other (crazy) hikers provided short beams of light that lit the few steps in front of us. Ahead, was a black mass of land that towered high above is, just slightly darker than the night sky littered with stars. That massiveness were the two mountains we were heading to the top of. It was an eerie start to the hike. It always is when we start before dawn.
Shortly after the first mile, the sky behind us slowly transformed to an indigo color, the clouds highlighted in magnificent oranges and reds. As the sunlight reached us, we packed up the headlamps and shed our outer layers. We had already gained many hundreds of feet and were warm despite the cooler temperatures.
As soon as the sun rose, we could see where we were headed, to the top of the two 14ers in front of us. I loved this trail. There was no bullshit. You could see the entire things from miles back. I could count the switchbacks, knowing exactly how many to count off as I completed them. I could see there were no false summits on either peak, which can be so frustrating for hikers. This hike was not easy, but by being able to see exactly what we had to do to be successful made the mental game so much easier.
We were very consistent with our speed and only took a few short breaks on the almost four miles to the summit of Greys. The best break was for a few minutes to watch a mama mountain goat and her baby eat their breakfast right at the side of the trail. They were completely unphased by us and were the darndest cutest things ever.
We reached the summit at exactly 8 am, earlier than I had anticipated we would. Ahh! To be back on top of a 14er! It’s an accomplishment that makes me so proud. The views are the reward and worth every agonizing step. We took some pictures, shared a summit beer, and regrouped. The challenge was not over.
We continued the hike by descending 700 feet in a very short distance. It was cold and windy on that side of Greys and the rocks were so slick. It probably would have been easier to slide down, but then we would have had rocks embedded in our bodies. We made it to the saddle and on either side we’re two of the tallest mountains in the country reaching high above. It was a daunting feeling.
We started the ascent to the peak of Torreys. 720 feet up in about half a mile. That’s so steep, my friends. Our bodies were tired, not only from the first portion of the day, but from the previous four as well. Again, we found a good rhythm and were making our way up with no breaks. Fortunately, at a time we all needed a break, with about 150 feet to the summit, the day’s BeReal notification popped up and we were all able to make epic posts.
As we made the final steps to the summit the 360 degrees of views appeared. That first sight always brings a few tears to my eyes. I can never quite believe that we actually did it. Today was different, so special, the top of the second 14er of the day. Just incredible. The commodore among the other successful summitters is really unique. When each new group reaches the top, all those already there congratulate them. Everyone is willing to take group photos for others. Summit beers are compared and envied. Other 14er summits are talked about. It’s really cool to be part of this group. We took our time at the top of Torreys, soaking it all up.
When the time came to head down, we did so carefully. It was steep and out bodies hurt. My knees have taken a beating these past few days and the impact of each gaint step down rocks onto unstable ground caused pain that is great enough to seriously consider knee replacements. The whole hike back was tough. We were all exhausted, our bodies, our minds, not enough sleep and rest and soo much work over the past few days. We were all ready to be done, but we had miles of hard hiking ahead of us. Surely, we did it and before long the car was in sight.
As hard as the day was, it was totally worth it. I was so proud of us. As we folded up our trekking poles, Zak commented, “We’re living a good life. Not only did we just do that, but we got our kids to do it too.” So true. This is a really good way to live life.