| A Bierstadt Backpacking Intro
First off, I want to say thanks to my four trip mates. They trucked all the way out to Colorado with me for six hours of climbing, they are real troopers.
For planning purposes, this is a complete list of the gear that I packed:
Our trip started in Kansas City at 03:30 Friday morning. Driving in the dark with some excellent coffee, we quickly made our way to Salina where three of us met with the two others for a good IHOP breakfast.
From there we caravaned to Denver, where we spent the better part of an hour looking for a Quizno's. Don't ask why we couldn't find one, because we had four smartphones between the five of us and a GPS in the car.
A quick phone call to the forest service confirmed that we were good to go up Guanella pass, and we set off. Just on the other side of Denver we hit absurd traffic and spent what felt like hours getting to Georgetown. Up the pass to the trailhead, past some mountain goats or sheep or something, and we were set to pack in to our campsite.
Goats or sheep
At the start, we were unsure where we were going to camp, as there are not very many places appropriate that are visible from the trailhead. Soon after the willows, however, we discovered some very nice dispersed campsites at which we decided to spend the next two nights.
At the start
Across the boardwalk
Under the mountain's gaze
Crossing Scott Gomer Creek
Camp under the eye of Bierstadt
The evening was absolutely spectacular. Most of our group is new to 14'ers and also new to backpacking. Mixing the two is extremely rewarding.
A lighted peak just before sundown.
Rays of light over the western mountains
A very fuzzy smile of snow on the western mountains
Later that night was even more spectacular. Despite having a six-man tent, two of the group took their man cards and slept outside under tarps. They were doing pretty well until a lightning storm rolled through at around 02:00. To us noobs, it was terrifying. We had clearly not pulled the rain fly tight enough, and the tent sounded like it was going to take flight. We didn't sleep much after that, and got up earlier than we had planned, hitting the trail at around 05:00. As it turns out, one of the guys under the tarps only got a little moist in the feet, and the other one did fine. It was pretty clear that sleeping inside the tent made the storm far more dramatic than it would have been if we were simply standing outside watching the action. Nonetheless, we survived and forged ahead.
An excellent perspective of the sawtooth
Up and up the trail we went, in the dark for about an hour. Absolutely beautiful weather.
More travel up the trail, earlier than most hikers, we could see a stream of headlamps slowly making their way from the parking lot toward the mountain, weaving their way through the willows.
Near the top
We reached the summit after a steady climb and spent about an hour on the summit eyeballing the sawtooth ridge. We were fairly intent on taking the sawtooth, but being new to 14'ers, we decided it wasn't for us and we headed back down to make camp again, determined to return in the future.
Me at the top, hooray!
A trooper at the top, and a spectacular view
The way down was easy as we passed streams of hikers of all varieties. Some slow hikers, some mountain runners, at least one barefoot climber, and tons of adorable dogs that made me miss my own pups.
Back to the campsite, we set up the tent again and proceeded to sleep the rest of the day. I mean really. After a couple hours in the sun, we decided it would be wise to build a sun shelter to at least prevent severe sunburn. Four of us wedged under our tarp with a slight breeze, it was again beautiful. After that, we lazed around the rest of the day until 19:30, at which time we climbed into the tent and prayed for the sun to go down, it was probably ninety degrees in the tent. Outside the bugs were predictably awful, so my afternoon consisted of alternating between bugs and heat. All of it was awesome. Awesome!
Preparing our sun shelter
Another awesome view from camp toward the western mountains
We slept much better Saturday night, packing up and departing shortly after sunrise on Sunday. After encountering more moose that crossed the trail a mere twenty meters away, we enjoyed IHOP in Denver, then a short cruise back to Kansas City; and thus the three-day 14'er climbing trip was dubbed successful.
Early morning moose encounters
Practically saying hello
Also, in case you have ever wondered, here is a shot of the world's largest prairie dog. Needless to say, my cousin (pictured) was extremely disappointed when he realized it wasn't a stuffed taxidermy of a real prairie dog.
Spy shot of world's largest prairie dog
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):