Last weekend, I finally completed a goal I have had for the past year…to hike another 14er! Colorado has 58 mountains that tower over 14,000 feet. We call them 14ers, and they provide a beautiful and worthy hiking/climbing challenge. If you want to read more about them, you can do so here: What are 14ers?
My boyfriend and I were sitting at a friend’s BBQ debating if we should do it last week, and we did the one thing you should never (read: always!) do when you are debating something difficult. We told everyone our plan. This led to a peer-pressured evening of going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 2:30am. Yes, you read it right. We woke up at 2:30 in the G-D morning, and we hopped in the car. Then, we sped through the winding, wicked roads for 1.5-2 hours until we reached the trailhead at 5:00am.
Weary from the ride, we tried to shake off the cold and lack of sleep, and we set off on the trail by 5:05am. Headlamps blazing, we set off into the dark. I haven’t done much hiking before sunrise, so I was really excited. I loved the child-like excitement of walking through the wilderness in the pitch black. Who knows what kind of critters were eyeing our movements!
The best part of waking up early and getting outside is being fully present for the slow sunrise. It was my favorite part of the hike. For the 1 hour or so period of the slowly creeping sun, I looked behind me about 7 trillion times. It was so beautiful and quiet that I couldn’t help but swell up in gratitude. Sighhhhhh.
The hike itself wasn’t too steep or too challenging for most of the way up. I found myself facing other unforeseen challenges, though. My hydration bladder froze, or at least the important part did (the tube that transports the water to my mouth). I didn’t have water for most of the hike. Neither did my boyfriend, Adam. The other primary challenge was the wind. Holy glory, was it strong!
But, despite a genuine concern for whether I could be blown off the mountain peaks, we made it to both peaks in one piece and relatively good spirits.
Pro tip #1: Pack a buff
Pro tip #2: Blow your water out of the tube back into the reservoir to minimize tube freezing risk.
Pro tip #3: Take a picture even if the wind is threatening to liquefy you.
Pro tip #4: Do the hard thing. It is usually worth it!
We finished our hike around 10:15 am, making the total hike time about 5 hours.
Final thing to note: Although it is *just a hike*, 14ers are challenging and there are many risks associated with high altitude hikes. Do your research, be prepared, and leave it like you find it.
PS: There were some goats hanging out around 14,000 feet on Torreys. Crazy goats!