Solo 58 – 14er Finisher (#58 Mt Sherman 14,036 & Mt Sheridan 13,748)


First of all, let’s define “solo”.  We all know a mountain can’t be shut down so you’re the only one on it, so for the purposes of this exercise I define “solo” as:  I did my own research on routes/directions.  I drove myself to the trailhead.  I hiked by myself.  While hiking I did my own route finding.  I hiked up and down the mountain without physical assistance from anyone else.  I purposely stayed away from other hikers as much as possible by either giving them plenty of time to pass me, or by passing them (mostly by passing them).

Today I summited my 58th unique Colorado 14er solo.  That means I’ve summited all of Colorado’s 14ers, solo, in less than 14 months.  Many people ask me how I got started hiking 14ers.  I’ve enjoyed hiking for as long as I can remember, but where I was first introduced to summit hikes and rock climbing was in the early 1990s at Girl Scout Camp.

I’ve been a Girl Scout all my life.  I camped often with my Troop, and when I was old enough (around middle school) I went away to our local Girl Scout camp during the summers.  Girl Scout camp is where I first learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, start a fire, cook outdoors, use a compass, hike at night, rock climb, swim and canoe in a pond, tack and ride and care for a horse (while backpacking in all types of weather) and successful problem solving and conflict resolution strategies. I was encouraged to lead where I could and to try new things.  I have many fond memories of my times at camp, but two stick out when it comes to why I started climbing 14ers.

I was 12 and at camp the first time I went rock climbing.  I loved it, but some of the girls were nervous (yes, that’s me)


I remember being at the top of my line when the girl next to me became scared about halfway up and froze.  She couldn’t go up or down.  One of the counselors, SP, talked to her gently:

“Honey, I know this looks scary and it’s ok to be scared but you can do this.  You’re roped in, and my name’s SP and I’m here to help you.  Do you know what SP stands for?  (SP stretched out her arms): Soft Pillow.  I’ve got you.  You can do this”.  The other girls started encouraging her as well, cheering her on and verbally assisting her with her footholds and hand placements.  This encouragement helped the girl regain her confidence, make it to the top of the line, and rappel back down.  Girl Power at its finest.

During my sessions at camp a few brave counselors would sometimes begrudgingly volunteer to lead a group of 20 or so ill prepared but enthusiastic middle school aged girls on a hike to summit a nearby peak on the Pacific Crest Trail.  This was an optional hike I always chose to take.   Pyramid Peak has 2100’ of elevation gain in 7 miles (3.5 each way), most often done in the blistering Southern California summer sun.  Oh, the switchbacks!


We enthusiastically filled our trekking time dodging rattlesnakes, identifying dusty plants, shrubs, and trees, and of course, singing dozens of Girl Scout trail songs to keep the mountain lions away.  When I reached the summit I was hot, dirty, tired, sweaty, and delighted with myself for being the first to the top every time. 


From the summit (7035’) you could see the whole camp!


I remember looking down at everyone who’d foolishly stayed behind and thinking they sure missed out not hiking with us!  Didn’t they all look bored lounging by the pool?  I bet they were gazing longingly at the peak, watching us right now, wishing they’d hiked too…

By the time I was 12 I’d promised myself to someday hike the Pacific Crest trail in its entirety from Mexico to Canada.  I have yet to do so, but it’s still on my bucket list.

I don’t remember much of the hike back down to camp besides enthusiastic singing, but we’d make it back and run and jump into the lake with all of our clothes still on: It was the fastest way to cool off! We were met with popsicles and extra shower time.

Summiting all 58 of Colorado’s peaks over 14,000 feet is not an easy task.  Most people spend years if not decades completing them all.  It takes physical and mental strength, endurance, careful planning, determination, adaptability, high risk tolerance, willingness to ask questions and research, and a love of the outdoors, animals, and all types of weather.

A ‘finisher’ is the last peak a climber needs to summit to say they’ve summited them all, and it’s usually chosen for a special reason. 14er enthusiasts are known for choosing their finisher well in advance.  I chose Mt Sherman because Girl Scout Camp started me on my path towards the love of the outdoors, adventure, goal setting, leadership, girl power, and wild wanderings.  My Girl Scout camp experience took place at Camp Scherman in Southern California.  Here’s my 14er Finisher Trip Report:

#58 Mt Sherman – 14,036 & Mt Sheridan 13,748

RT Length: 12.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3700’

If you read the above statement you know why I chose Sherman as my finisher.  Also, it’s an ‘easy’ 14er (as easy as 14ers go), so it took away any pressure towards the end to summit a difficult peak.  In fact, I made this one harder than it needed to be.

Yesterday after summiting Maroon Peak I gave serious consideration to just stopping by Mt Sherman on my way home and hiking it then, but as I passed the 9 from the 24 I was in the middle of a thunderstorm that didn’t look like it was going to give up anytime soon.  So I drove home, made dinner, wrote a terrible trip report (because I was writing it while I was making dinner and doing laundry) and got a few hours sleep before my alarm went off at midnight.  I did a mental calculation:  well, that was 6 hours of sleep total in the past 48.  No worries though, if all went well today I could sleep Sunday.

For the first time in a long time I didn’t see anyone else on the road from the time I made it past Divide until I made it to the trailhead.  It was heaven!  I made it to the Fourmile Creek TH at 3am on a 2WD dirt road.  Well actually, I parked at the winter closure.  I wanted to make sure I got that 3000’ of elevation gain in so no one could say I hadn’t ‘earned’ this summit, so I made sure to park at the lower trailhead. No one else was there when I parked, or when I made it back to my truck.

I got out of my truck and gathered my gear.  It was a beautiful night to hike!  The moon was full.  It was so bright I didn’t need to use my flashlight at all the entire hike.  Not even to read my directions.  I took a few shadow selfies in the moonlight because I do that kind of thing.


Soon after I started hiking a car passed me.  And then another one.  Ugh!  I really wanted to summit this peak alone.  If that was going to happen I was going to have to book it.  I picked up my pace, passed the gate and followed the road up the hill.  In no time I’d passed everyone ahead of me (not bad, considering they’d had at least a 2 mile head start) and focused on route finding in the dark.  The route is easy to follow, but in many places roads intersect each other, and in the dark talus tends to make the trail difficult to see.  I’m happy to report I didn’t need to backtrack at all.  Sorry there aren’t many route pictures in this report:  it’s actually very straightforward and difficult to get lost.

I made it to the ridge crest and looked behind me.  Uh oh.  A steady stream of flashlights was lining the trail.


Luckily I didn’t see any flashlights ahead of me.  Here’s what the ridge looked like.


I started hiking the ridge and the wind picked up, making it cold.  This wouldn’t do!  But there was nothing I could do about it, so I just hiked faster.  Unfortunately I was hiking too fast.  I was almost at the summit and the sun was nowhere near to rising!  Hmph!  I’d wanted a sunrise summit.  Oh well, at least I was route finding and summiting solo, since no one was in front of me.  If I’d started any later this morning I’d be with the throng of hikers behind me.

I’d planned on making a summit video for this hike as I was summiting, but I’d also expected the sun to be up.  Well, I made the video anyway.  In the dark.  I’ll apologize now for the heavy breathing and sniffling:  I swear I lose all my weight hiking through snot.  I always come back with a raw nose… Anyway, if you’d like to join me on my finisher summit, watch the video below.  (Disclaimer:  it’s emotional)

I’d started at 3:15am, hiked over 5 miles in the dark, and summited at 5am.  The only thing wrong with summiting at 5am?  I couldn’t take a summit photo!  So I sat and waited for the sun to rise.  As I waited the peak began to fill up with other hikers. I sat and talked with a really nice girl for about half an hour until there was enough light to take a summit picture (notice the full moon?!?!?)

9 Mt Sherman 14036

And another summit video

And a summit selfie.  I’d made this hat special for today (ok, I made 6 different hats and had my daughter chose the one she liked best).  It’s made with the same colors as the Camp Scherman patch I’d received at camp in 1993 when I was 12 years old. This was very emotional for me.


The summit was actually quite large.  Good thing too as, it was going to be filled with hundreds of people soon.  I’d wanted to stay until the sun actually rose, but I was a popsicle at this point, and needed to get moving.


Here are some photos of the ridge to the summit.  You’ll notice from here on out it was virtually impossible to get a picture without people in it.


As I started hiking I started thawing out.  I looked ahead of me and saw people on the trail intent on summiting 14er Sherman, but when I looked at 13er Sheridan it was vacant.  That’s where I wanted to be.


I made it to the saddle and started up.  The path was very easy to follow… no explanation necessary.


The summit of Sheridan was large, but not as big as Sherman’s.  I wasn’t sure where the true summit was, so I kind of walked across the entire thing.


I also got a summit photo

16 Mt Sheridan 13748

And Video


And a picture looking back at Mt Sherman.


I was feeling fantastic!  It was 6:45am, I’d already summited two ranked 14er/13er peaks, and I wasn’t even tired!  Wouldn’t it be fun to re-summit Sherman, head over to centennial Dyer, and then back?  Yes, it would have been, but if I left now I could make it home in time for my daughter’s 11:30am ice skating lesson.  So I headed back down the mountain, practically skipping the entire way.


Look at all those people heading up Sherman!


Here are some pictures of the trail up the mountainside.  Notice the people???  So. Many.  People.


I love this one of the Dauntless Mine


Check out the cars at this trailhead!!!  And they just kept coming as I was walking back down the road…


So, as I was hiking back to my truck (I found a dime on the dirt road BTW… lucky me!) it hit me:

Today I finished summiting all 58 of Colorado’s 14ers solo.  I set this goal for myself and met this goal for myself.  I did it while working full time.  I did it while being a 37 year old (amazing) single mom of 3 teenagers on a limited income.  I did it despite being tired and scared and at times so frozen and cold I didn’t think I could move another step.  I did it while being band mom, team mom for my daughter’s softball team, merit badge counselor for my son’s Boy Scout Troop, Leader for 3 different Girl Scout Troops, in charge of Girl Scout Cookie distribution for hundreds of Girl Scout Troops, volunteering weekly at the Humane Society, serving on several community boards, and knitting over 300 hats for local school kids.  I did it because I was determined to do something for myself.  That being said, I couldn’t have done it without 3 such amazing kids!  They really made the process easier for me.  They deserve cake.

And finally, to answer “What are you going to do now that you’ve hiked them all?”

This question is obviously asked by someone who doesn’t know me very well.  I have a lot of life goals, and this is only one in a long line of many.  Off the top of my head some of the others I want to tackle are:  Rim to Rim Grand Canyon, 14ers in California/Washington, Galapagos, Andes, Kilimanjaro, Mt Fuji, Mona Loa, Mt Everest Base Camp, Great White Shark Diving, thru hiking the PCT, Colorado, and Appalachian Trails…  I also want to join a recreational softball league, become better at my winter climbing skills, visit all 50 United States (6 left!) and dive into that stack of books on my nightstand.  I want to find a man to spend time with who understands an independent woman and can keep up with me both athletically and intellectually, and I want to go back to school to get my Doctorate.  I want to write a book, become a motivational speaker, and don’t forget there are over 637 13ers in Colorado, and many, many more amazing local climbs to tackle!

Inspire yourself people. #noexcuses

On to the Centennials!

The Mt Sherman Summit Sticker can be bought here

14er Happy Hour – Cerberus Brewing Company

I’ve been trying to attend one of these
events for almost a year but I just haven’t been available on the dates they’ve
occurred.  I wasn’t available today
either, but our Rocket Troop meeting got cancelled at the last minute, so I
re-arranged an appointment for 8:30pm instead of 7pm and decided to go.  By myself.

Going alone was a conscious
decision.  There are several people I
could have invited, and who I would have enjoyed going with.  Rebecca even offered to go with me and be my
designated driver,  but I knew if I went
with someone I knew I wouldn’t have mingled and met other people, and that was
my main goal of attending this event:  to
meet other like-minded 14er hikers and pick their brains.

I don’t get out much, so I had Rebecca
and Emily help me get dressed.  Jeans and
a cami and heels.  I felt

Before leaving the house I quickly
posted to the event page: “Woohoo! I’m actually going to make it tonight! Long
time listener, first time caller… I’m excited to meet you all!”

I hopped in the truck and drove downtown
to the Cerberus Brewing Company.  I’d
never been there before but had no trouble finding the place.  Parking was insane!  My truck was too big for their little parking
lot, but after a 20 point turn I was able to drive back out and was extremely
lucky to find someone vacating their spot just across the street.  I pulled up as far to the curb as I could but
my truck still stuck out a little ways into the street.  I was a bit of a hazard but I was legally

I saw people already seated that looked
like they’d be a part of the 14er crowd, so I quickly went to the bar to order
a beer.  There were 4 of us in a line
that took 20 minutes.  This was so not
cool!  Since we were at a brewery (not a
bar), everyone in line ahead of me wanted to try several different beers before
ordering.  UGH!  The line at the bar should have been for
people who already knew what they wanted. 
IMO, if you don’t know what you want, sit at a table and be served.  Anyway, the bartender didn’t think far enough
ahead to take the order of people who knew what they wanted while those in
front of them were still deciding.  When
it was finally my turn I asked for their largest option for beer (thinking it
was the 32oz) because I didn’t want to stand in that line again.  I had hoped on ordering fries or something to
eat as well (I hadn’t eaten dinner yet), but that wasn’t possible at the walk
up counter.   I was handed a 16oz Amber (which was very good
by the way) and headed out to the patio to meet some fellow hikers, resigned to
waiting in line again at a future point. 

I saw two men sitting and talking at a
table outside that looked like hikers, so I introduced myself. No, they weren’t
hikers but bicyclers who’d just finished a ride.  Whoops! 
It was then I realized everyone there pretty much looked like a serious hiker.  Gotta love Colorado!

We made small talk and I did get a lot
of great information from them about some trails at the Air Force Academy.  We chatted for about 15 minutes before I left
them to enjoy their time.

Next I headed over to a circle of chairs
where everyone seemed to be introducing themselves.  This looked like the right spot, so I made
myself comfortable and began chatting. 

Some notes from the evening:

  • The brewery was crowded, especially for a Wednesday night.  I’m not sure if it was because their beer is stellar (it was pretty good) or because they’re the only place to go in the area, but they were full from 6pm when I got there until 8pm when I left.  Great for them, not so good for me (I’m not a fan of crowds or waiting for beer).  I’ll probably visit this brewery again when I have more time and it’s less crowded. Just wondering when that may be?
  • I was overdressed.  Usually I say you can never be overdressed, but it was a bit of a detriment in this case.  The women there didn’t want to talk with me, and the men didn’t take me seriously until I’d talked with them a bit and proved I was a serious hiker.  Note to self:  wear hiking clothes next time.
  • Everyone was nice and cordial.  This was a nice surprise because there are a few trolls on the FB site and I was hoping this wasn’t a culture type thing.
  • There were probably 30 of us all together.
  • There were way more men there than women (by a 7 to 1 ratio at least I’d say)
  • There was a woman there who hikes Pikes Peak every month (she’s done this for 60+ months in a row).  I’ve never seen her on a trail, but she hikes during the week so our paths wouldn’t likely cross.  I’m really bad with names, but I think her name is Yin Ling.
  • Other than her, the other hikers had only hiked Pikes Peak once. This surprised me since its right in our backyard.  I was very surprised to hear most of them took the Crags route, and those who took Barr Trail took the train back down.  Hmmm.  They seemed to think I was crazy for hiking it so many times up and back.  Oh, and they were impressed with my time too.
  • There were people there of all different hiking abilities.
  • Half of us were first timers to the event, the other half were regulars.
  • I was by far the novice with only hiking one 14er, but gained points for hiking it so many times.
  • I met several people, but in no way had time to meet everyone.  I felt as if I had to cut a lot of conversations off early because I wanted to meet more people and I was time constrained.  I could easily have stayed a few more hours. I felt bad for leaving so early.
  • No one had a regular workout routine, they just hiked 14ers. 
  • I’m really bad at remembering names, so here are the names of some of the people I met, in hopes I’ll remember them better:  Stephanie, Joe, Matt, Scott, Yin Ling, Matt, David, Karthik (KK, works for CTU, West Cost Swinger, from India)

I felt as if everyone was asking me
questions, and I didn’t get enough time to ask them questions back. 
I did learn several things however.  Flat tires seem to be a problem on many of
the 4WD trails.
  I should do these with
other people and preferably with someone who has a jeep.

At one point I asked the group I was
sitting with “So, what allows you to hike?” and was met with blank stares. 
I was sitting in a group with all men, and
this apparently wasn’t a concern to them.
Their hobby was hiking, so they hike. 
End of story.  It’s not the same
for women hikers.
  I’m a full time mom
and I work full time, but my kids are getting older.
  Having my kids in school and not working
Fridays is what allows me to hike at this point in my life.
  Once again, this concept was foreign to them,
so I moved on to another subject.

I was surprised at how many of them had
already hiked all of the 14ers and are now working on 13ers. I met one man who
lives 2 blocks away from me who’s already hiked them all (Scott Davis). 
His advice was good advice:  the shortest or standard route isn’t always
the best route.
  Many of them are boring
and I should seriously look into all routes before making the decision of which
to take.
  This seems like pretty good
advice, and something I probably wouldn’t have considered.
  We exchanged phone numbers and while he isn’t
really interested in hiking the 14ers again, he’d be open to giving me advice
on them all if needed.

This event was really a good way to meet
people with similar hiking goals.  Everyone
was sharing information on previous trips, planning new ones, talking about
gear, etc. I saw several groups make plans for backpacking trips and several
14ers right there.  There are a bunch of
peaks I know I’ll want hiking buddies (especially ones with technical gear and
possibly a Jeep).  I need to figure out
how to be a part of this, which means I’ll definitely be attending the next
14er Happy Hour (if I can make it… I’m seriously going to try).

I left at 8pm because I had an 8:30
appointment, but I left wanting more. 
After meeting other 14er hikers and listening to their stories I’m more
excited than even to begin this journey. In the course of taking with these
people I realized if they can do it, I can do it.
  As I’ve told many hikers while hiking:  Start and stop stopping.  Just keep going and you’ll make it. There’s a
book title in there somewhere.

Why I Love to Hike

picture right here I think explains it all, but I’ll try to put it into


be honest, I’m not really sure of all the reasons why I hike. 
However, I do know that when I’m not hiking,
I find myself wishing I were.
  I find
myself scrolling through the
outdoor and
backpacking sections of Pinterest,
and I’m hard pressed to leave a Walmart without browsing through the camping
  My internet searches include “best
hikes in Colorado” and “bucket list hikes”.


time I return home from a hike I become that much more of an enthusiast. When
you get serious about long distance hiking it becomes a lifestyle. I’m always
thinking about that next trip, no matter how far off it may be. 
I’ll be planning:  what do I need, what the hike itself will be
like, how will I get there, what’s the best route, what time should I leave, etc.,
no matter how far off the trip may be


of my favorite hikes is a 26 mile trek up Pikes Peak, 13 of which are uphill.  
My next adventure is hiking Rim to Rim of the
Grand Canyon this fall.
  For some people the
idea of facing such obstacles, especially voluntarily, seems crazy, but to me
it’s exhilarating.

I really like hiking. There are lots of
reasons why, but I think the most important is mental. My life is stressful. 
I have a lot of responsibilities at work and
home, and it’s hard to find the time to do everything I need to do.
  Hiking provides a sort of relief.  For as long as the hike takes I can’t be
bogged down by the other challenges I face. I don’t see this as “running away”,
but more like mandatory “relaxing” time because I don’t get any other way.

When I hike I’m actually able to relax. 
life is loud, busy, crazy, chaotic and amazing. I don’t have time to soak
in the bathtub sipping on a glass of wine. 
In any event, I’d rather “relax” next to a babbling brook anyway.


Hiking is meditative.  When you’re hiking the only things you
really need to worry about are your destination, water, and when to eat, so it
allows your mind to focus on other things. 
When I hike I have time to think and problem solve. 
tend to fall into a trance where I explore topics from the past, present, and
Most days I have a million ideas and
thoughts that go through my head and not enough time to fully explore all of
them. When I’m hiking I’m able to think through solutions to problems. I’m able
to come up with creative ideas and I’m able to think through new ideas.


an excellent time for self reflection. 
always trying to be a better person than I was yesterday, and time on the trail
gives me the opportunity to analyze myself as a person, mom, leader, etc., and
find room for improvement.


also hike to get extra exercise and
to push myself. While I work out on a
treadmill 7 days a week,
just can’t push myself on a treadmill. I’m already at the steepest incline, and
watching television as I work out bores me.


mountain trail requires real commitment. 
Maybe it has to do with the time investment or maybe it’s just a matter
of pride. It doesn’t really matter, when I have the desire to climb a big
mountain I’m going to do it.
  The more
challenging the more exhilaration I feel when it’s accomplished.
  And think about it, what other exercise can
you do for 10-12 hours continuously?

That being said, it goes beyond exercise. I
don’t get the same satisfaction from my daily 5-10 mile morning workout than I
do when I put on the serious boots and a pack. I think it is a feeling of
self-reliance. There is nothing like checking your watch one last time at the
trailhead and letting your eyes take in the adventure that you are about to
plunge yourself into. Whatever’s currently going on in your life can be pushed
aside (or explored) once you’re on the trail. 

also like the sleep that occurs after the exhausting myself on the trail. I’ve
always had a difficult time getting to sleep, but I find it’s a bit easier once
you’ve physically exhausted yourself. 


matter how many times I hike a path, I’m never the same person at the end of
the trail I was when I started. 
always something new I find that wasn’t there before or something I learn about
myself through my musings.
flowers bloom in the different weeks of summer, and I’ve discovered “new” caves
and creeks on trails I’ve travelled dozens of times.
  The opportunity to see wildlife is a
spontaneous and ever changing gift.


love what my body can do and what hiking does to my body. 
A few weeks ago I was hiking and saw some
Bighorn Sheep traversing the ridge next to me.
They were truly amazing to look at: robust creatures using their toned
and defined muscles to jump from rock to rock.
After a long hike I notice muscles I never knew I had, and that gives me
a sense of satisfaction.
  In other words,
hiking time = toning time.


I’ve learned if you can climb a mountain, you
can do anything.
Reaching the top of a mountain is an impressive physical,
mental, and emotional accomplishment. And it’s motivating.  
There’s a challenge to it all, and in the end
you can travel farther and accomplish more than you think.


Uphill treks like Pikes Peak only leave two
choices: reach the top or turn around. Reaching the top only requires the
perseverance to keep putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of a
long hike with the scouts I remind them of all they’ve accomplished that
How far they’ve come since they set
out that morning.
  It’s a life
  When life gets tough put one
foot in front of the other and just keep going.
As long as you don’t stop, eventually you’ll make it to your
  And feel amazing once you
get there!

Troop 931 Backpacking Pikes Peak


Pikes Peak is an INTENSE hike, made even more so by backpacking. We are all tired and extremely sore, but proud of our accomplishment!

I grow as a person every time we Girl Scouts get together! 

Thank you Girl Scout Troop 931 for teaching me about teamwork, patience, FUN, goals, perseverance, and awesomeness!!! Oh, and for those interested, YES they did help rescue someone on this trip too: a hiker with a broken ankle about a quarter mile from the summit. Troop 931 ROCKS!!!

This wasn’t our first rodeo (we did the same hike last summer and saved some hikers.  You can read that story here: ) so we started before the sunrise to get an early start on the hike.  The weather changes frequently on the mountain, and we knew it would start out cold, get really hot, then back to cold again as we made it past the tree line.  Here are the girls, all ready to go in their “warm” clothes.  We just layer for hikes like these.  Also notice how happy and fresh they look.


Along the way we saw different flowers than last time (since we were hiking two months earlier in the season).  I love seeing columbines growing in nature!


This is a really tough hike.  About 6 miles in there’s a place called Barr Camp where a lot of hikers stay the night.  Our overnight spot was still another 3 miles up the trail.  Here’s Kayla passed out as we took a lunch break.  Poor girl!  This was a much harder hike than she’d anticipated.  She was doing great though!


Notice this sign posted as you leave Barr Camp.  Unfortunately, too many hikers either don’t see this sign, or don’t take it seriously.  


About half a mile past Barr Camp we split into two teams.  Jordan, Ruth Ann, and Tristina were hiking fast, so they went on up ahead and were to meet Kayla and I at the “A-frame”.  Kayla was exhausted by this point, but kept on going.  We all knew it would be easier if we separated, and we wanted to make sure we had a spot to sleep tonight since it’s first come (so getting there first was our best option).

Kayla and I made it to the A-Frame about 2 hours after the other girls.  They had already set up camp and rested by the time we got there.


Kayla immediately unpacked her sleeping bag, and fell asleep.


The other girls had already rested, so by this point they were ready to talk.  I walked around the campsite to get some pictures. 


The A-Frame isn’t very big, and we didn’t want to put our things on the ground because there were a lot of critters around, so we weren’t as “tidy” as we could have been.


Jordan and Tristina got to work sanitizing water and making dinner.  The site has a running creek year long, so this time we decided not to hike with as much water (conserving weight), and we planned to filter water at the top.  The girls boiled the water, then placed the container of water in the stream to cool down before drinking it.  I just have to say, as I was talking this picture I kept thinking to myself what awesome ladies these girls are!  They were totally able to do everything themselves on this trip, and they did so without complaining.  They have skills and they were having fun!


I mentioned earlier we weren’t very tidy in the A-Frame.  However, we are Girl Scouts, so we do leave places cleaner than we find them.  We brought trash bags to haul trash down the mountain (yes, even stuff that wasn’t ours), but we realized there was so much trash we couldn’t bring it all down.  This was odd/not cool because we’d camped in the same spot less than a year before and totally cleared it of all trash.  We decided to make the best of the situation and just burned as much as possible. Since there isn’t any wood to burn at the site (you have to haul it up from down the mountain) this had the added benefit of keeping us warm.


Have I mentioned the view at night from tree line is absolutely amazing!  If winter didn’t exist on the peak I could live there. Enough said. 


The sunrise is equally beautiful. We set our alarm just so we could watch the morning glow.


After a breakfast of Mountain House eggs and bacon (gross by the way, we’re never doing that again), we were off to climb the peak!


About half a mile in we decided we’d split up again.  Kayla was having a lot of difficulty with this hike, and we were at the part where you have to keep going or you’ll never get started again.  This is a very mental hike, and you have to know how to psych yourself up to continue.

Even though it’s July there is still a lot of snow on the peak.  These drifts are much larger in person than they look from Colorado Springs.  They are about the size of a football field, and they are very slippery!  We saw many people fall because they were over confident.  Kayla fell on each one (there were 7 or 8), hard, but she kept going!


The 16 Golden Stairs are anything but.  This is the hardest part of the hike, and it took us about 1.5 hours to do (even though it’s only about ¼ of a mile).  We kept stopping every 2 or 3 feet because Kayla really didn’t want to continue.  However, I wasn’t going to let her give up.  She told me at the beginning of this hike she was doing it for her dad (who passed away the week before), and I wanted to help her reach her goal.

There were a lot of tears and frustrated words said (never towards another person), but Kayla kept going.


I’m very, very, very proud to say she made it!!!  Many (ok, most) grown men cannot complete this hike.  It was hard, it hurt, and she was tired, but she kept putting one foot in front of the other and made it to the top.

She was exhausted when we got there (we both were).  As soon as she crossed the cog tracks she stopped, raised her hands, looked up, and started talking to her dad in heaven.  I couldn’t help it, I started to cry.

All of the work to get to the top was totally worth it!  When she was done she turned to me, gave me a big hug, and said “Thank you Ms. Laura for helping me get to the top.  I’m sorry I yelled at you!”.  I cried some more.

Then we walked the 20 or so feet to the Summit House and Kayla fell asleep for the next 45 minutes.


We met the other girls there, got some donuts, drinks, and fudge, and told about our separate climbs.

Jordan, Ruth Ann, and Tristina told me they had helped rescue a man who had broken his ankle about a quarter mile from the top.  He wasn’t a hiker, so he wasn’t prepared.  He had driven to the peak and was hiking down to take selfies when he tripped (yes, he had a selfie stick).

They tried to give him an ice pack, but it exploded so they did the next best thing:  They used their ace bandage to wrap his ankle, then got a ziplock bag and filled it with ice.

Then the girls helped him up and he hopped on one foot (his good one) to the top with one of his arms around each of the girls shoulders.  He thanked them profusely when they arrived, and promised to get in touch when he made it home.

I woke Kayla up after 45 minutes because her body needed a rest:  You burn just as many calories sitting at 14,000+ feet as you do running at sea level, so she needed to move down the mountain so her body could rest properly.  We also needed to finish our hike:  it was only half over! 

As Alison Levine says: “Getting to the top is optional.  Getting down is mandatory”.

We posed for a few pictures (we were too tired when we got there at first to take any), and were on our way down.


This is where the real teamwork began.  Kayla was very tired from this hike.  We all were.  I run 5-10 miles a day, Jordan is captain of the Ice Hockey team, Tristina runs cross country, and Ruth Ann runs as well, so we were more conditioned for this hike (don’t get me wrong, we were still aching).

Kayla however wasn’t conditioned, and was exhausted.  She wanted to stop and rest every 15 feet or so, and that just wasn’t possible if we wanted to make it down the mountain. 

So the girls helped to keep her motivated.  They held her hand as she navigated tough rocky areas and the slippery slopes of snow.  They let her hold onto their backpacks for support, and held her hand to help keep up her momentum.

They also kept praising her progress and success!


When we got just about to the tree line we started seeing marmots.  3 or 4 were chirping to each other, and some stayed still long enough for us to get pictures!


I love this one:  you can see the Garden of the Gods below!


At tree line Kayla remembered we forgot to take a picture of her celebrating at the peak, so we took one now:


She did it!  Great job Kayla!  She looks filthy but proud of her accomplishments!  She probably lost 5-10 pounds as well from the beginning (did I mention this is an intense 26+ mile hike?  We did a mountain marathon in less than 36 hours)