April and May this year were on the chilly side, and June was downright rainy. It’s an understatement to say the weather this summer has been off, and between wet weekends and some knee problems for Matteo, our summer hiking season is off to a late start. We hope to remedy that this weekend, with an aim to climb Mt. Elbert in the Sawatch Range on Friday.
The last 14er we conquered was also in the Sawatch Range: Mt. Massive. The peak of Mt. Massive actually overlooked Mt. Elbert, and if the views from Elbert – which I believe is the highest 14er peak in Colorado – are anything like Mt. Massive’s, then we have a reason to climb.
Massive was the last 14er we did last year in late August, and despite an early start we didn’t reach above tree line levels until after the early afternoon clouds began rolling in. Fortunately, they were something to look at.
Unfortunately, they had the ability to throw us off completely on how close to the peak we actually were. Several breaks ensued.
Mt. Massive is the second highest 14er, and the trail begins in the lush San Isabel National Forest. The trail is 8 miles round trip (climbing from the trailhead at 10,500 feet to the peak at 14,421 feet), and the first 1.25 miles you wander through bushes along a river through a peaceful forest. A scenic start to an all around scenic hike.
The obligatory photo at the peak.
This hike was a little unique compared to other 14ers I’ve done – specifically due to the amount of wildlife we encountered along the trail.
While resting and refueling at the peak I noticed that we were being approached by a mountain goat – I’m guessing it was a nanny lady-goat from the horn size, but what do I know – and her baby. Listen, I know pretty much all wildlife Hulks out when they have babies around, and I have to say, upon seeing these two bounding up the peak like it was no big deal and approaching us without fear, I was more than a little nervous. I mean, look how tiny the baby is.
Some folks from out of state were on the peak with us, and actually started moving toward the pair – which I tried to express wasn’t a great idea. They got the picture when momma goat juked at them full-speed as Matt and I cautiously were backing away. But not before we got a few pictures to document this special encounter.
I never cease to be amazed at the things we get to do with our weekends in Colorado. Although incredibly unconditioned and starting my hiking season well into the year, the prospect of gorgeous views and encounters like this will hopefully propel me to the peak this weekend. God speed to myself and my fellow out-of-shape adventurers.