There are fifty-three 14ers in Colorado and it is not uncommon to find folks who have made it a life goal to bag all of them. If we ever live here we plan to do the same and we decided it would not be cheating to go ahead and start now. With that in mind, we set off yesterday morning at yawn-thirty for the Grays Peak trailhead. We chose this one because it is accessible. By that we mean, no ice axes or crampons or mountaineering skill required. It is mainly a strenuous hike. Also, once you make it, a one-mile trip down the saddle and back up scores you a second peak, Torrey's.
Another Floridian problem plagued us: it is COLD. Summer, as I define it (wearing shorts from sunrise to bed time) is O. V. E. R. That is a B. U. M. M. E. R. It was about 37 degrees when we started. If you are from Minnesota or the Yukon or really cold places like that you have my permission to laugh your wool base layers off. If you are Tracey or my mother, I know you feel my pain. Thank you.
Not counting our 45-minute breakfast break, it took us about four hours to get to the summit. We would be embarrassed by that speed, or lack thereof, if not for the consideration of the following: more than 3,000 feet of gain over four miles of trail equals about a 16% grade, plus the altitude factor. This was harder than the Grand Canyon. I am REALLY proud of my kids.
Once we reached the more grassy stretch of mountainside it was about 4:00 and all the critters we out in search of dinner. I have never seen so many pikas in my life. Adorable little dudes, they are, but marmots are our favorites and we saw about eight of them. They are not very skittish so I was able to get a few good shots and my achy legs appreciated the brief respite before we pounded out the final mile.
We rewarded ourselves with supper at Beaujo's Pizza in Idaho Springs, washed down with caffeinated beverages so we could have some hope of staying awake to drive home. Crossing Berthoud Pass, we encountered a bull moose just moseying along the road on the other side of the guard rail. Excellent! We pulled into our campground at 8:30, which felt like midnight, and hit the hay by 9:00.
I want to know, WHEN do we get to do this again?