Thursday, September 09, 2010

Our First 14er: Mt. Bierstadt

Since before we actually moved to Colorado, I've had the goal of hiking a 14er this summer. A "14er" is a mountain that peaks at 14,000 ft or greater. I'm proud to say - mission accomplished! I chose the easiest peak because, well, I thought it was the smart thing to do... I'm relatively new to hiking (beginner/intermediate), and hadn't yet hiked above 10,000'. I think I chose wisely :). My hubs and I, with our good friend B hiked to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt at 14,060 ft on August 28, 2010. We took the west slopes route (class 2) for a total of 7 miles RT.

A look back a little ways up Mt. Bierstadt
We woke up around 6:30 AM (even though I tried to convince B to leave earlier), and got to the trailhead around 8:15 AM. The parking lot was PACKED. I knew it was going to be busy on a Saturday morning but I really didn't expect to see the lot overflowing. The first mile is the easiest, mostly flat and goes through the willows, and then we started to climb.

I was surprised by how good I felt. I've had really bad altitude sickness before (though it was a long time ago), and I was a little nervous that I would be nauseous, or worse get sick along the trail. I started to really feel the altitude around 12,500 ft. I had to stop every once in a while a lot to just catch my breath. It was almost like a hitting walls at certain points, from the lack of oxygen. I would feel the lack of oxygen and get tired, then it would get easier... my body adjusted to the altitude. Then I'd hit another wall, it'd get easier, and then I'd hit another :). I think this happened about 3 or 4 times. But overall, I felt great, even after I rolled my ankle the first time *rolling eyes*.

I wish I had a picture of the boulder scramble at the top. I was prepared for it after reading other's trip reports, but there was quite a distance of hiking up and over boulders. I think we hung out on the peak for ~20 minutes. It was crowded at the top, but we found a spot, had a snack and took some pictures. The boulders were OK going up, but a PITA on the way down. I rolled the same ankle twice more... but I was still doing OK. We were trying to beat the storms that were forecasted for that afternoon, so we were trying to hustle on the way down. The clouds were rolling in, and you could see rain in the distance. B was half running down the mountain. Seriously. My quads, knees, and sore ankle were singing to me! Honestly, I wasn't too worried, but I didn't want to be out there above tree-line dodging lightning if a storm hit either. So I went as fast as I could (which was slow compared to the guys) while paying attention to where I planted my right foot, being careful with my ankle. We made it back without getting wet, thankfully the storms moved south.

Here's some pictures:

It was a great experience! Unfortunately I messed up my ankle. I couldn't walk on it the next day. I haven't run since, and missed out on a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend.  I did go hiking a couple of days ago, and it's achy but doing alright. I'm hoping to get back to running soon... I'm just nervous of hurting it more and not being able to do the hikes I have planned this fall.

Anyway, now that I know what to expect, I can better train/condition myself to hike more difficult ones next summer. I've got my eye on Grays, Torreys, and/or Quandry. :)

Have I mentioned lately how much I love living here?


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