A Sunday summit: 14,060 feet

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Over a year in Colorado and no 14er yet climbed! It was time to do one. So when my (fun, blonde, Dutch, creative, athletic) cousins came from Iowa to visit their sisters we just had to get ourselves up a mountain. We found a 14er we thought we could handle on a day we could all make work . . . and then we emailed about it excitedly for several weeks . . . and then the day finally got here!

We started our ascent of Mt. Bierstadt around 6:20 a.m., which meant my roommate Kayla and I left our apartment at the wee small hour of 4. At 5:30 we all met up in Georgetown and cousin Katie bravely drove the winding, switchbacking road up to the trailhead. All geared up? Off we go!

Photo Credit: Kayla Chapman

It started off with such a lovely tramp through a green, bushy sort of meadow, with wildflowers and frost and mist rising from the small lake. And a creek crossing. I love water!

Do you see the moose? Thanks to the hikers who pointed him out!

The meadow went down, and then up slightly, and then the mountain rose steeply and our legs started to burn. Ooh, it felt good and healthy to get the heart beating that fast!

Of course we happened upon some good photo opportunities. My cousin Emily and I have been close friends for ages and have not had a photo together in years. Time to make it happen!

We stopped for a few breathers but kept trucking up. Everyone was happy, and joking, and encouraging, and patient, and optimistic. Are we all so great? Or were the endorphins at work? Or was it just the good old beauty of nature affecting our spirits? (I’m going to go with all of the above.)

And . . . snow!

Photo Credit: Evan Feekes

(We like pink, ja.)

For the last stretch we had to scramble up boulders. So many people had dogs and as we reached the top we saw more and more. Miss T. didn’t come because I didn’t quite know what we’d be getting into, and because she’d still been limping the day before. (She seems fine now, if y’all were worried.)

And around 9 a.m. we summited! All of us, together and triumphant.

Photo Credit: Kayla Chapman

We hung out, chatted with other hikers, looked and looked and looked around. So far to see. The colors and textures, the shade and light. The way the clouds left full shadows over the swells and vales.

Photo Credit: Kayla Chapman

And then, down.

Such sweet little flowers all along the path. I realized, on our descent, that they made me feel like Heidi (in the book Heidi, which, if you haven’t read, you really ought to. It was my favorite book in second grade, in close competition with Black Beauty, which you should also read). Heidi lives in the Swiss Alps with her grandfather and there are goats and mountain hikes and crisp air and, I imagine, flowers somewhat like these.

At the bottom, we felt tired and happy, and parted with hugs and promises of coffee (to ourselves) and another adventure soon (to each other).

A successful first 14er for me! I rather want to do it again.

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