summit

Semi-Hiking Mt. Huron

Although my bum old lady knees kept me from completing several of the hikes I wanted to this summer, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. Well… at least it doesn’t mean that I didn’t go along for the ride. Late July Matt set his sites on Mt. Huron, at 14,003 foot peak just outside of Buena Vista and Granite, Colorado. While he got up at sunrise to set out for the summit, I slept in an extra two hours (maybe the only silver lining of these knee problems, if it can even be considered a silver lining) before attempting whatever portion of the hike I could do before my knees started to hurt.

I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it, but as it turns out, it wasn’t far. I got about a mile before the throbbing began and I made the decision to sit and wait in the sun until Matt started his decent and reached me. But, what I did get to see was absolutely breathtaking. What pains me so much about having to stop, is Matt reached the peak and told me it was the most beautiful view of any 14er he has climbed. #fomo #megafomo

When I’m sorted I’ll have to go back to see for myself.

Here’s the view we were met with driving in the night before:

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It was a gorgeous day – maybe the best weather I experienced all summer. Which obviously completely rubbed in the fact that I couldn’t fully participate. But I got to enjoy the coolness of the tree cover and climb over several creeks and brooks that lined the trail.

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I realize these just look like big rocks, but their colors and their imposing size were something to take in on a summer Saturday.

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Don’t let my smile fool you, I was saddened on the news of the views from the summit. But I guess it’s not a huge surprise. Fortunately my discovery of newly bloomed wildflowers and their bumble bee counterparts colored the mood. And then of course there’s the photo of the victor post mountain conquering.

It’s also worth noting that the drive to the trailhead is full of fantastic Colorado moments. From killer camp spots – to historical ghost towns that used to be booming mining metropolises – to a crystal blue lake that was incredible for hawk-spotting, the trek is worth the views.

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Mt. Elbert | The One and Only

Fall’s already here, which is hard to believe. This summer wasn’t nearly as mountain filled as I would have liked. Over fourth of July weekend, Matt and I headed about 10 miles southwest of Leadville to Mt. Elbert, the second highest peak in Colorado. From the trailhead to the peak we climbed 4,700 feet for a roundtrip distance of 9 miles. Last year while descending from Mt. Bross, I experienced some severe knee pain. Upon descending Mt. Elbert this year, I was in so much pain in both knees that for the last 1.5 miles of the trip, I literally dragged my feet behind me, hobbling back to the trailhead.

The hike was beautiful, and it felt incredible to be at the top of the second highest peak, but the damage done to both knees has been effecting me since, keeping me from joining Matt on several of his summer mountain adventures. I’m headed to the doctor in October to sort myself out before ski season, but in the meantime I wanted to share some of our photos from this trip to the top of Elbert, the one and only 14er I was able to complete this summer.

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Overall, the hike was incredibly well marked, and until you get above tree line, the path is clear and well maintained. That said, the 14er website rated this hike as one of the easiest 14ers to complete. I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s rated that way because of the constitution of the trail, but climbing 4,700 feet in 4.5 miles up to 14,433 feet was difficult for both Matt and I, and we encountered several climbers along the way who were unsuccessful in making it to the top. This is a hike that you must start early (we started at 6:00 a.m.) to complete before afternoon showers roll through.

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We made decent time, and motivated ourselves by trying to stay ahead of an older woman who seemed to be leisurely strolling along, eating her yogurt for breakfast and stopping every so often to take in the scenery. Although she was nearly twice our age and didn’t seem to be exerting herself whatsoever, she continued to catch up to us throughout the day, motivating us to stay ahead and push ourselves instead of taking breaks. She was definitely a certified badass and seasoned climber.

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The view from the top was spectacular, and although I spent a solid 1.5 hours limping in pain toward the bottom with shredded knees, I’m glad I have this memory of being on top of the world for a moment. It’s pretty incredible the kinds of places you can come across on a weekend trip in Colorado.

And for good measure, here’s a picture of Penny enjoying our camp spot at 5 a.m. Girl loves to get back to nature.

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mount sherman

Sunday we hiked Mt. Sherman. Knowledge gained: I am out of shape.

At one point near the top I swallowed an air bubble from my CamelBak and was pretty sure my lungs were filling with fluid and I was going to die. This, of course, was an extreme exaggeration and I was fine. But these are the excuses I was coming up with in order to take rest breaks.

Upon reaching the summit of a mountain you feel so incredible that you instantly have the energy to get back down. So at least there’s that. We made it to the top (14,036) just in time to see the afternoon thunderstorms blowing in, and made it to the bottom just in time for those thunderstorms to turn to heavy snow. Oh, Colorado – you continue to intrigue.

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Drought schmout! Lots of overflow outside of Fairplay.

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Scary abandoned mines littered the trail to the summit.

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Another mine site, complete with overturned mine cart. Totally reminded me of my Super Nintendo Donkey Kong days. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

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The narrow, panic-inducing ridge. Nearing the top.

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Summit! Summer snow and all!

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Storm’s a brewin’!

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One heck of a beaver dam!

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Attempts at getting tetanus.

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Someone had a more American day than we did.