Monday, September 12, 2011

Fourteener

Fourteener [fawr-teen-er] n. a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet above mean sea level.

I conquered my first fourteener! Apparently it's a popular thing to do in Colorado because there are so many 14er's in this state (says wikipedia) and boy was it popular! So many people there. I was just expecting to maybe see a handful of people there but yeah, did I mention climbing hiking 14,000-feet peaks is a popular thing here? R. said it was probably the last weekend to hike it without it being mostly covered in snow (the drive to the trailhead closes in the winter) so I guess everyone was out to get the hike in before the end of the season.

I had to play a lot of little games with myself to motivate me to get to the top. First the game was keep-up-with-these-super-atheletic-guys. That was a fail. I fell soooo far behind probably a mile in (if that?) that R. & S. were out of sight within 10 minutes and I.S. hiked up and down as he waited for me to catch up. So sad. But whatever. I'm not the most in-shape person so I'd say I kept a descent pace! Second game was keep-up-with-this-person-in-front. That didn't last long with the same person as the person in front always ended up much faster than I. But eventually I found a couple who were going at a pace that I was doing well at (as in I didn't need to stop every 50 feet) so I chatted with them and hiked up most of the way with them. They were also taking breaks at times I would've so I enjoyed their company =) Close to the top I broke off to finish the ascent with I.S. and at that point the game was if-you-just-keep-putting-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-you-will-be-rewarded-with-snickers-bars.
A lady at the top had brought a little paper sign with her to document her ascent and so we asked to borrow it for out photo-op.

R. & S. had texted (yes, there was cell-reception along the way) to say they went up to Torreys Peak, which was a 0.65 mile hike north of Grays so I.S. & I decided to see if we could meet them halfway where the descent down began. And we totally found them!
It was kind of magical. I was worried I was so slow that they were already on their way down. Luckily the climb up to Torrey's was really difficult and slowed R. & S. down enough for us to meet up.
The hike down was probably worse because the first 1/4 (or 1/3) was packed snow and thus was pretty slippery.
And we made it!
Almost. Close enough.

It's sad that we were only 0.65 miles from Torreys Peak, but oh well. An excuse to hike it again I guess! For now, my feet will enjoy a good break from hiking 14ers. Check out more photos from our hike here.

Some stats about our hike:
Start-time: 7:30am
Time at the top of the peak: 11:30am
End-time: 2pm
Start-elevation: 11,280 ft
Peak elevation: 14,270 ft
Total elevation gain: 3000 ft
Distance hiked roundtrip: 8 miles
Oxygen at 14,270 ft: 60% compared to sea level. (Oxygen at 5,000 ft where we usually are is 84%)
Temperature at the base: ~10 degrees Celsius. (That's a pure guess, but basically not that cold)
Temperature at the top of the peak: somewhere just below freezing.