We immensely enjoyed exploring northern and central Colorado during our travels this summer. Given the beautiful mountains and the cooler weather, we hiked more miles than usual. While enjoying all the sights, we were also in training as we had a goal in mind – hiking our first 14er. We drove up Guanella Pass in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area where we caught the Mount Bierstadt trailhead. This was Sunday and a popular hike, so we had plenty of company, although much younger than us!
Initially we hiked through the willows down into the valley, soon starting our upward trek, upward and upward. Glad to finally reach what we thought was the saddle, the most challenging section of the trail came into view, a lengthy set of relentless switchback. Upward and upward, many hikers returning from the summit encouraging those laboring up the mountain, one step at a time. Here I finally understood hiking etiquette – the person hiking up the mountain has the right of way. As I became more fatigued, my vision remained downward willing my feet around the impending rocks. When I had the energy, I demanded the right-of-way! We set our sights on a rock or vantage point up ahead where we would again stop to catch our breath, noticing the oxygen becoming thinner as we continued upward. All along the way the views behind us were astounding. Multiple mountain ranges emerged and all the while HaRVy (our RV) was visible far in the distance – a tiny shiny white rectangle. Finally we conquered the grueling switchbacks. Next we saw a snow patch and a boulder-filled peak in front of us. We scrambled up through the rubble, when dizzy stopping to adjust to the elevation gain. Forging ahead, we soon made it to the top! Once there we savored our ceremonial gorp and apple, while watching a marmot positioning himself for food scraps. After we captured our moment on camera, a couple asked me to take their picture. I said “I would be honored”, well knowing what it took to get there. Much to my surprise, after the summit picture, the guy pulled out a diamond ring, proposed and she said “yes”. I made certain that special moment was well documented.
One is advised to not stay on the summit for long due to unpredictable lightening storms, so we soon headed down. What we thought would be a quick return was also challenging traversing down the slippery, sandy slope, down, down, down the switchbacks. Along the way, we were excited to come across two bighorn sheep goats calmly grazing along the mountainside. Foraging ahead, we watched our progress as HaRVy slowly grew in size, glad to be back “home”. 7 miles round trip; 2770 ft. elevation gain; Summit 14,065 ft.