Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bagging our first 14'er! - Long's Peak

The day after.....I'm still too pooped to write anything. Chris will guest-present!!

We did our first ever 14er today and I’m feeling it now; particularly in my knees from the downhill. And what a downhill it was too; seemed to take hours; actually it did of course take hours, almost 6 of them!

14.2 miles there and back with an elevation gain of almost 5,000ft, (about 1,000ft per mile and a half!) with an average moving time of 1.8 mph. to put that into perspective we normally average around 2.6 mph in the hills! The first 4.2 miles was a fairly easy trail; even with the elevation gain and the altitude I was surprised how easy it was, but then we hit the boulder field which was exactly that; hopping from boulder to boulder. Then it changed from flat boulder hopping, to steep boulder scrambling for the last 1.6 miles. Lots of hands and feet stuff going up this ridiculously steep climb called “The Trough”, (I thought troughs were usually flat!) then round a corner to an(other) incredible view before we very gingerly made our way along a long open ledge before climbing the last bit called “The Home Stretch.” I really didn’t want to think of the climb down at that point coz most of it would be slipping and sliding on hands, feet and backsides – for 1.6 miles!!! Of course the view from the top made it all worthwhile but we still only spent 40 minutes up there having lunch before it was time to head down again. (Although we were in no rush; it is more than a little recommended to be off the top by midday due to lightning storms coming in most afternoons)

The whole trip from bottom to bottom took us 12 hours and 12 minutes with about 8 hours of that actually walking; starting at 3 am and finishing just after 3 pm. (Obviously!)

The most memorable part for me was after the first hour or so; coming out of the tree line still in pitch black and seeing Denver all lit up some 40 – 50 miles away and 5,000ft below us – awesome!!! Then as we got higher and more people started appearing below us out of the trees there was this scattered zigzag line of torches flickering in the early morning dark back down the trail and into the forest, very cool. And then at about 5 am, an hour before dawn, we turned our light off as there was just enough ambient light to see the trail by. Watching the light change as the sun crept up was stunning; the mountain in front of us lighting up pink and the sky behind us changing colour with every step.

We're knackered but it was worth every aching joint and foot hop spot. I wouldn’t like to do that last half, (down) again though!!!

Long’s Peak; at 14,255ft it’s the fifteenth highest of Colorado’s 54 mountains over 14,000ft – a new me record!!!

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