It was a spur of the moment decision - we were all free the following weekend so naturally, why not camp? Our original intent was to go backpacking, but lack of equipment forced us to consider car camping locations instead. We decided to camp at Guanella Pass, just south of Georgetown with, oh my goodness I could hardly believe it, an assault on the summit of Mt. Bierstadt.
Conditions were lovely as we started out on Saturday morning - it was hot in Boulder and the sun followed us up I-70 and almost to our campsite. We unloaded, set up our tents and watched the clouds roll in while enjoying our makeshift lunches. Sprinkles of rain sent us retreating to our tents for afternoon naps. Aside from the blaring music in the camp next door, a peaceful stillness reigned even as the thunderstorm amped up.
Once the skies opened up, Chris and I zipped out of our tent to set up a tarp for the wood. Immediately, my jacket was soaked. So much for my assumed-waterproof winter coat, but my brand new hiking boots were keeping my feet warm and dry. Once the rain subsided to large drips off the trees and one trip back to the town to get new water, we emerged from our tents for dinner and fellowship.
Sunday dawned in a cold mist that we kept hoping would burn off. We ate our pancakes quickly and pulled on our warmest to climb. Lisa met us at the top of the pass - the trailhead - and outfitted me with more weatherproof gear. Thank goodness for outdoorsy sisters. We started off towards Mt. Bierstadt, considered one of the easiest 14ers at 14,060 feet. Starting at 11,700, the climb would be 6-7 miles and take us up 2,800 vertical feet.
Here is us starting out.
The hike takes you across a huge portion of marshland - up and down 200 vertical feet - before starting the climbing. The expected burn off never happened but the clouds held in a mild coolness and we were soon sweating.
I'll be honest, the climb wasn't easy. Once the inclines started, I would hike until my heart rate got to 160 or so before stopping for a break. Interval mountain training is how I like to think of it. After about a minute, we'd start back up the next hill. We talked about my donor, wondering if he'd ever done something like this. He's always present.
I felt bad stopping everyone so we sent part of our group ahead with Chris, Lisa and I trailing. I was embarrassed until I looked behind me and saw other climbers doing the same thing.
Wending and weaving our way up the mountain, we stopped and started. I couldn't believe I was doing this. I couldn't believe how hard it was but how easy at the same time. We were getting a workout.
It began to rain as we summmited our first mini-mountain. Not just heavy mist, but RAIN. People coming down told us it was snowing at the summit. We were in good rain gear but no one was prepared for snow. We weren't prepared and frankly, we didn't want to deal with it. So we started back down.
I'm telling you, coming down the steep inclines, even over the scree, wasn't hard but going across that marshland was a killer. Any hike that ends going up isn't a fun walk. We trudged - literally - over the walkways and through the stream. My legs were like lead but I was so proud of myself. I had done it - we hadn't finished but the mountain will be there at least a few more days. We'd gone 1,200 vertical feet, topped out at 12,500 and traveled about 5.2 miles.
One of my goals is to get one of these babies under my belt. We'll try again. Anyone else want to join?