We did head up on Sunday to climb the 14ers I mentioned earlier. And it was so much fun! I woke up super early at 3:30 (gag, I know, even for me!) with plans to meet the crew in Morrison. We decided to take two cars up so we could park one at the top of Mt. Evans (since there is actually a road all the way to the top….which definitely sucks) and then drive up Guanella Pass to start from the Bierstadt side. This way, after the loooooooooooong day of hiking, we wouldn’t have to worry about hiking down as well. Trust me–I’ve done that hike down before after doing the ridge, and I was in no hurry to do it again 🙂
Anyway, this musical cars scenario took a bit longer than we were planning on so even though we had an awesome-early start, we didn’t actually start hiking Mt. Bierstadt until 9am. For normal hike, this would be fine, but for a 14er, it is no bueno. For a 14er followed by a ridgeline followed by another 14er, it is DEFINITELY no bueno. Storms roll onto these peaks very early, and the general rule of thumb is to be off the summit by noon. Whoops.
Luckily, we had a great day and we were able to cruise to the summit of Bierstadt within 2.5 hours, which is not too bad. I arrived at the top ahead of everyone so I had a few minutes to check out the clouds to search for thunderheads. Once Craig and Cindy and Uncle Craig arrived, we all agreed that the clouds looked innocent and even though it was already 11:30, we felt comfortable setting out for the Sawtooth.
The ridge was awesome; just like I remembered it from years ago. It looks pretty brutal from the summit of Bierstadt, but it is actually a lot more simple once you are standing on the physical rocks. It does requires lots of scrambling and use of your hands, but nothing technical and nothing really sketchy. There is also some exposure but since none of us have any crazy height fears or vertigo issues, we were good to go! I did notice there is a kinda noticeable trail across the ridge which definitely was not there years ago. Looks like more people have decided to brave the Sawtooth!
The ridge took some time just because we had to carefully navigate through the rocks. I think the exhaustion started to set in for us once we got off the ridge and reached the saddle of Evans. For Craig and Uncle Craig, the two non-native Coloradoans, the elevation was starting to hit their brains too. I, on the other hand, am pretty opposite. I knew my sleepiness was going to hit soon, so I took off as quick as I could to reach the summit of Evans before it got painful. Once the dark clouds began rolling in and the hail started hitting me, I forced my legs to move even faster. I’ve been stuck on a 14er during a lightning storm before and heard the terrifying ringing of my ice axe as it began to speak with the electricity in the sky, and I knew that I did not want to experience that again! Luckily, I was able to cruise into the summit of Evans pretty easily after that. I ended up getting there about 45 minutes ahead of everyone else though, so I had lots of time to watch all of the tourists running around the summit.
On that note, let me tell you how straight-up bizarre it is to spend 6-7 hours hiking and climbing above 14,000 feet only to arrive at the summit of a massive mountain that is literally swarming with hundreds of tourists from all over the world. There were women in flips flops, babies in carriages, and 85-year-old men with their grandchildren. Then there was me…in my hiking boots and daypack, sucking down water like it was my job. Very surreal to go from the serenity of the wilderness to the chaos of humans in the span of 2.2 seconds. It was even more weird because the people and the restrooms and the pavement just don’t seem to belong on the summit of a 14er. I don’t know. Hard to explain, but I know what I mean 🙂
|Looking back at the Sawtooth|
How you liking those phenomenal pics by the way? Yeah, think it’s time for a new camera….she only focuses when she feels like it. Grrrr–I just bought it in November too!!
And lastly, guess what?