Yesterday, I climbed my first fourteener. I had no idea what a fourteener was before I moved to Colorado, but everyone here talks about them – there are 53 of them in Colorado. A fourteener is any mountain or peek that is 14,000 feet or higher. I climbed to 14,256 feet yesterday with with some great friends.
I was nervous to hike this trail, especially knowing that I was doing it with people who have hiked several fourteeners. What put me at ease is that the Mt. Evans trail is only 2ish miles long, some of the fourteeners can be 10-13 miles long – and remember they are AT ELEVATION – it’s hard to breath up there! It was quite an intense hike, but doable with several resting sessions. This was considered one of the “easier” fourteeners, but it almost kicked my ass!
Thankfully, this guy (Patrick) helped me gather the correct gear for the hike. I thought it’d be warm up on top of the mountain at some point but it was pretty chilly – in the 60’s (if I had to guess) and very very windy. There were a few times I thought the wind could catch me and whisk me right off the mountain.
The photo above is the peak of Mt. Evans, the final destination. It’s just about level with the clouds, as you can see.
Notice, there aren’t any trees in these photos. Trees stop growing around 11,000 feet and we were above the treelike the entire hike. It was super cool to drive up the mountain past the tree line it was a very distinct line. It looked like you could jump right from the road on to the top of a tree. Ha!
Every now and then we stopped, found a comfy place to sit, and marveled in amazement at the scenery. It was incredible. (although, we DO live in CO, about 1 hour from Mt. Evans, so we get to see these mountains on a daily basis – it’s surreal to think about.) It was also necessary to catch our breath – hiking at elevation is exhausting!
We were pretty excited to find an easier trail to descend from the summit until we learned that the entire trail was composed of loose rock and mud, we basically slid the entire way down. Ouch, made my knees hurt – but so worth it.
My friends did but I didn’t capture any photos at the top of the mountain (the summit)… I was busy caching my breath and enjoying the reward that I well deserved. Anyway, photos don’t do it justice – you just have to be there….