August 12, 2011 and I just turned 25. Hmmm...what should I do?? Well...Climb the tallest peak in Colorado of course!!! My initial plans for the week were to do four climbs and unfortunately with my truck situation I settled on just Princeton and Elbert. After Princeton on tuesday I went to the wedding I planned on in Loveland and on thursday got my truck fixed and headed back to my camp about an hr north of Divide CO. My plan for my B'day was to wake up around 4 am and move everything into my truck and head to halfmoon creek to climb elbert. Since I climbed Mt Massive last summer I knew where the TH was at so I did not do as much planning as I would have expected myself to do, and since it was last minute I did not print off directions or a map. I ended up waking up around 5:30 and scrambled to get everything ready. By the time I was on the road and at the Elbert trailhead it was about 8:15 am.
Trailhead I checked the weather beforehand and although I know that mountain weather can do anything I also am willing to take my chances. It said that the chance for rain would not exceed 10% until about 3 pm so I knew I had time(I still wish I started earlier). I started from the NE Ridge which initially connects with the notable Colorado trail.
CO trail junction The trail was very straightforward and I believe you have to make a serious effort to get lost on this trail. I did not see one cairn on the trail and I still was fine on the trail. The one issue I had was the elevation gain really got to me. Since I was still basically on vacation from a summer spent in the Ozarks of MO I was not in the best climbing shape I would have liked to have been in. 4700 feet is definitely the most I have gained with my inexperience and only four bagged peaks. Mt Elbert is still definitely one to get your feet wet and just push for the summit. I was never really alone on the trail and had the pleasure of telling everyone that I turned 25 that day. I was also laughing at myself when I hit the three false summits before the actual one thinking the climb was never going to end.
First false summit Also along the way I bumped into some wildlife including one very fat marmot and numerous pikas.
Big fat marmot Another thing that I had contemplated on the trip stemmed from my Princeton climb. I was contemplating wearing my Vibram fivefingers for the trip up since I got a bad blister from my high top hiking boots that I wore on Princeton. I decided to go ahead and use the same boots again and I was rewarded with another blister on a different toe. On the way up I noticed a brother and sister hiking and the guy was wearing Vibrams. I told him I was contemplating it and he told me I probably should have gone with them. Considering that the climb was not bad and very straightforward I probably should've lightened my backpack, carried a little less water, and worn the Vibrams. Maybe for future treks on some of the easier 14er hikes to come. When I reached the top I stayed on top for an extra long time.
La Plata shot from the summit I brought up an MGD (not my best choice but it was given to me for free) and smoked my pipe.
MGD and the pipe in hand I also had a random lady sing happy birthday to me with no one joining in....I've had more awkward moments .
THX USCGSI really enjoyed the view of Massive and La Plata.
View of Mt Massive I don't know when I will be in Colorado again, but I think that La Plata will definitely be on the top of my list for one to do next. This was also one of the trails that I thought was interesting because it has three summer routes and I basically saw people coming up the other two almost as much as they were coming up the NE Ridge.
The south ridgeThe walk down was initially bad for me because as I have said in earlier reports I hate going downhill.
The trail down I feel like every step I am going to fall. Once I got past the last false summit the incline is not as bad and I just flew down to the tree line and from there I am practically sprinting to the trailhead. I was down by about 4 pm and headed to Leadville to treat myself to some Chinese . This was unfortunately my last and only my 2nd 14er trip of the summer. I ended up heading back home and by the next night I was back in KC. At this point I do not know the next time I will be in Colorado, so my 14er treks are on hold indefinitely. There is a feeling deep down inside of me that would like to climb all the 14ers and also probably look into the Centennial Mountains and other 13ers. There is also the other part in me that knows that I probably won't be around enough to do them. Either way I am able to show my friends the fun I have had being on top of some of the most beautiful mountains in the nation and I know that in the future I will be able to share these experiences with many others. On a less serious note I told a bunch of my friends that if anyone dared call me old or play the quarter century joke on me I would shoot back and tell them to meet me at 14433 ft and call me old up there .