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Hiking My First 14er

I hiked my first and second 14er yesterday (a peak that is over 14,000 ft, Colorado has 53 of them!) and it was everything I hoped it would be. After a difficult week at work it was great to diconnect and just focus on putting one foot in front of the other while surrounded by friends and friendly hikers.

14ers pose specific challenges:

  • The weather is SUPER unpredictable – at 14,000 ft the wind is high and you are literally at cloud level so when weather happens, it happens fast
  • The peak of a mountain is ALWAYS windy and cold
  • Alititude sickenss is a thing and even if you are in the best shape, you will get winded. Slow and steady wins the races.

So let’s get to it. We checked our packs, made sure we had plenty of layers for all that unpredictable weather, and set our eyes on completing the Mt Grays (14,270 ft) and Mt Torreys (14,267 ft) peaks. We had an early wake up call that is only rivaled by those on runDisney race morning – alarm set for 3:30 for a 4am departure so we can be on the mountain before 6 andmuch like a race I didn’t sleep much the night before the hike.

3:30 came early, and we were in the car.  After battling up the dirt road to the parking lot, we were hit the trail right before 6.

The sun was starting to break!

The sun was starting to break!

The beginning of the hike was mostly packed dirt trail in the basin of this valley that is surrounded by all these beautiful peaks. We made our way up steadily, climbing ever higher.

Mt Grays catching first light

Mt Grays catching first light

The climb was slow and steady. We just kept putting one foot in from of the other and we steadily climbed the steep slopes. 

As we got to the top, one friend was having trouble with the alititude. She was pushing through and just moving forward one step at the time but we know she was hurting. We also had to pause because some crazy clouds moved in on the peak and we didn’t want to get caught.

Once it cleared up we pushed onwards the final bit to the top. It was steep, it was rocky but totally worth the climb once we got there.

The View from Mt Grays

The View from Mt Grays

Now on to Mt Torreys!

Once we got up there, snapped some pics it was time to hike over to Mt Torreys. Getting to hike down was a nice break even if it required some but scooting over some snowy/icy patches in the path. We got to the saddle and it was time to hike up again and Torreys was a steep pitch. For a brief part I wanted to test my speed and after walking briskly for a bit my heart was pounding. Being at that altitude is no joke.

But after all the hiking the view is always worth the effort.

Cloud level on Mt Torreys

Cloud level on Mt Torreys

On top of Mt Torreys with Mt Grays in the background

On top of Mt Torreys with Mt Grays in the background

We stayed up here a little bit longer and enjoyed the view. My friend who had been struggling was really ready to be off the mountatin but was also enjoying the break. We all just needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other and hike back to the car. We needed to hike back through this valley…

The hike down was easier but not fast. The path was rocky and steep which was taxing on the calves and quads. It was just putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the birds and pikas that were enjoying the beautiful day. Luckily the weather held out but we got some cloud cover to help us out.

It was a beautiful hike and much like running a marathon, hiking a 14er isn’t hard but mentally it can be taxing. Waking up early, having to keep going to meet your goal, and the fact that while you know you can do it, it’s still hard and you have to continue to push yourself. Even if you are having the best day, weather or just not fueling properly can take you down too. It’s truly an amazing feat.

Until next time beautiful mountains!

I want to know…

What’s your current goal? What is your theoretical or real mountain? What are you taking on this labor day weekend?

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