Monday, July 5, 2010

Hiking my first 14er

Dave and I had a little freak-out moment when we looked at a calendar last week and realized that we have very few weekends together in Boulder this summer (three including this past weekend). So we did what I do best, made a list of things we wanted to accomplish this summer. My list included things like "Prep for dynamics class," while Dave's included things like, "Climb a 14er" and "Go backpacking." (Good thing I have him around!)

In order to put a dent in the list, we woke up early on Saturday and headed up I70 to Bakerville to climb my first 14er. Dave has done a few, but never this one. We were shooting for two in one day since they are next to each other and connected by a convenient saddle. We got a later start than we wanted and it didn't help that we had to park an extra half mile (maybe more) from the trail head since we picked a "gaper day" to hike it. In other words, 4th of July weekend brings the tourists to the trails.

I was struggling to catch my breath before we even got to the trailhead. Apparently elliptical machine workouts coupled with minor weight lifting for one month is not sufficient to get a person in shape. Dave was barely winded and always 50 feet ahead of me giving me looks of pity. I pretty much call any hike that makes my legs burn "the stairmaster from hell," but this topped anything I've done before. We gained over 3000 feet in elevation on this hike (more because we weren't able to start at the trailhead). By the time I got near the top I felt like a drunk stumbling forward gasping for breath. A little fat kid stopped in front of me to cry because it was too hard and frankly, I kind of wanted to join him. Dave kept telling me an 80 year old woman was gaining on me and reminded me that you can't take your time because if we don't summit by noon, we might have to turn around early if the weather gets bad. Later he told me I wasn't showing any true signs of being sick, so he kept pushing me.

After much torture, made slightly better by awesome views, we made it to the top of Grays! 14,270 feet! We could see everything!!! It was really amazing. I collapsed on a rock and downed a PBJ. The wind picked up and we got a few snowflakes. Dave was going to continue on to do Torreys, but I had taken too long getting up the mountain and it really didn't leave him enough time to make it up before the danger of thunderstorms became too great. You do not want to be caught on a 14er in a lightning storm, which is why you can only hike them in the morning.

We headed down the mountain, which goes quick, but it was difficult to find footing where the rocks were loose and we each rolled ankles and tripped several times. Next time we'll bring trekking poles! My knees were shaking by about mid-descent, but we made it down safely. I'm very proud of myself for stumbling up my first 14er and very thankful that Dave pushed me to go to the top.


Meaghan said...

Okay, so embarrassing nature novice question here... what exactly is a 14er? Do you hike 14 miles? Climb to 14,000 feet? Swear at your hiking partner 14 times before you've even hiked a mile? Congrats for doing it though!!

YellowBunnies said...

This was all new information for me too when I moved here. Let's face it, us WI-ites don't know much about mountains. 14er is a mountain with an elevation greater than 14,000 ft. There's only about 60 of these in the Rockies, I believe. Some people have them on their life list and try to hit them all. Turns out, a 14er is about half the elevation of Everest, to put it into perspective.

I could imagine swearing at your hiking partner 14 times, though. :)