OK, so it says Peaks 10 and 11, but this is really my 22nd 14er if you count all my climbs, it’s just my 11thunique 14er. And I summited on 7-11-17, which I think is
pretty cool. Oh, and 11+11 is 22 and it’s the 11th and this is my 11th and 22nd peak… ok, I’m reading too much into this.
I am so glad I took this hike today instead of yesterday!
I drove up the 4WD trailhead to a full moon. It was magical in a way photos can’s capture. I always try anyway.
I arrived at the trailhead at 4:30am and was surprised to see so many cars in the parking lot for a Tuesday. I could see two people just starting the trail and two other groups getting out of their cars, so I decided to make a quick restroom stop and be on my way. The restroom was DISGUSTING! It had plenty of toilet paper, but it looked like everyone gave up using the toilet and just went on the floor. There was excrement everywhere. Yuck!!!
I grabbed my headlamp just to be safe, crossed the bridge and tried a few more times to get a good picture of how beautiful the full moon was but failed. It really was amazing! I didn’t need a flashlight to light the path because the moon gave off enough light. I LOVE hiking in the moonlight!
I passed the two hikers ahead of me within the first 20 yards, looked ahead and didn’t see any more flashlights and breathed a sigh of relief. Hopefully these would be the only people I’d pass this morning. I walked for about 2 miles before the sun started to light up the sky.
It was really neat seeing the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time, directly across from each other on wither horizon. It was if they were wishing each other a good morning and a good night.
I call this one “Between the Cairns”
The sun fully rose and I tried to get another Colorado Flag picture. This was the best I got. Not great, but not bad either.
And here’s my usual shadow-selfie photo in the sunrise light:
This hike is kind of a loop, but more like an awkward kite. It’s about a 2.5 mile hike in, then the trail diverges into two different paths: one to go up Gray’s Peak, the other up Torrey’s Peak, but they connect over the saddle. It’s not a perfect kite, as you have to hike back down Torrey’s to get back to the saddle, but you get the idea (I hope, if not there’s a picture later). It was at this point where the path diverges I met a couple trying to figure out which way to go. I helped them out (they didn’t have a map) and talked with them for a little while. They were with The Texas Roadhouse. Today over 200 of their employees were hiking Grays Peak. I sighed inwardly. Wonderful.
There go my plans for a peaceful hike.
After talking with them for a bit they told me they’d planned on all
meeting up at the summit at 11am for a picture. It was now about 6am and they had a mile and a half to go. I told them they may want to change their
plans, as storms were supposed to come in today at 10am and even if they weren’t, waiting at the summit for 2-3 hours is never a good idea.
We parted and I continued on. This hike was pretty easy for a 1 mile stretch to the summit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a 14er and still difficult because of all that implies, but I’m not sure why it’s listed as a Class 2? I had absolutely no difficulty finding the trail. It was great because I didn’t waste time route finding! When I reached the summit there were three guys already there, laying in the wind shelter. I asked if one of them would mind taking my picture? I could see right away they were all cold and weren’t up for the challenge, so I quickly said “No worries, I’ve got this, you work on staying warm” and set it up on automatic.
These guys were from The Texas Roadhouse as well. They’d summited early and had set up a go-pro to capture everyone else summiting. They’d
planned on staying until everyone reached the summit. I discussed weather with them, and the fact they were already freezing. Were they really up for sitting on the summit another 3+ hours? I left them to decide, took out a banana from my backpack for breakfast, and ate it as I headed down
the ridge towards Torreys Peak.When I got to the saddle I looked back the way I’d come at Gray’s Peak. Pretty cool!
This summit was easy to find as well. Lots of cairns on this hike. Lots. When
I reached the summit I was the only one up there so I set up my camera to
automatic again and got proof I’d summited.
Then I was off again. I passed a couple of really fit guys on my way towards Torrey’s, and again on my way back down. They were winded and a little embarrassed I’d passed them, summited, and was passing them
again. I did my best to make them feel better (I do this all the time, and I run 5-10 miles a day uphill when I’m not hiking, etc.). They seemed mollified and
I took a look at the rest of the route before me.
As you can see by the picture below, there’s one trail on the left that divides into two. The one on top goes to Gray’s Peak, the one on the bottom is the way back down from Torrey’s Peak. I was headed through that patch of snow on the right and back down to the trail.
Ah, another beautiful view from the saddle! I love saddle views!
OK, here’s the snow patch I needed to make my way through. It was now starting to get warm and thus slippery. It was pretty straightforward though.
The skies were still clear but clouds were beginning to build. I had no idea what time it was (I had forgotten to look when I summited due to the cold temperatures) but I wanted to be back at my truck by 10am to avoid the storms I knew were coming in. At this point I started passing Texas Roadhouse employees. TONS of them. None of them were prepared for this hike with
anything except music on their phones, blasting for everyone to hear. I talked to each of them on the way down. I don’t think any of them had a map, most didn’t know which peak was which, and they all needed help route finding.
I advised them all to watch the weather. They all seemed confused. None of them seemed to realize the magnitude of what they were undertaking. They all had 2+ hours of hiking left to reach the summit, not to mention the hike back down. The entire hike is above treeline. There’s no place to go on the entire 8.8 mile loop if a storm breaks out. The weather forecasted a strong likelihood
of storms beginning at 10am. Blank stares.
Since I’m sure you all know my feelings on this subject I’ll leave it at that. I headed back to my truck at a brisk pace, intending to make it there before the rain hit.
I saw a few more “new” flowers (I’m thinking these are some type of paintbrush)
And followed the creek.
Just as I crossed the bridge signaling the end of my hike the first few raindrops began to fall. I was at least 2 hours ahead of anyone else on that trail. I wished them luck, downed a beer, and got in my truck.
When I turned it on and looked at the clock I thought that can’t be right?
It said 9:16am. Wow! I thought it must be at least 11am or 12? Woot! That’s a much better time than yesterday. I did this hike in 4.5 hours, despite stopping and talking with all 200 of those Roadhouse people on the way down. Not too shabby for an 8.8 mile 14er hike with 2 summits.
A final view from the road back. These houses always make me melancholy. I’m sure at one time they held hope, joy, and memories. It’s sad to see them left to the elements. But that’s another post for another day.
Views from the peaks: