| 1st snow, 1st timer on Bierstadt!
After an extended leave this summer from hiking 14ers I have been trying to get in as many hikes as I could before the cold winter wraps its bony, cold hands around our beautiful Rockies. (There’s nothing wrong with winter 14ers!) My sister showed some exuberance towards the 14er experience and of course I was happy to oblige! I told her to be at my house at 4am and she said, “sure!” My test of whether or not they are serious about hiking a 14er had been passed, she was ok with leaving early. I think this trip was going to happen!
Early Sunday morning my alarm went off and I was practically ready by the time my feet hit the floor. Now, would my sister show up? A few minutes after four she pulled into my driveway. The hike was on. I chose Mt. Bierstadt because of it’s close proximity to the city, and the ease of the beginning. It is nice to have at least a few minutes of chat before the hill really gets too steep to talk. We had talked about doing one together for a while, and apparently she had been working out to prepare for this hike, I could tell. She kicked my butt.
The amaranthine sunrise was astounding! I was glad my sister was able to experience such a beauty. I love hiking!
My sister was cruising at a good pace, and I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with her pace so I casually said, “If you get tired, don’t be afraid to ask me to stop.” She never did. She was just as captivated with the views as I was. This would be my 3rd time hiking this gentle giant, but I will never tire of the views, the crowds maybe, but never the views.
I love the boardwalks on this hike. They lull you into a sense of ease. The hollow echo of boots and trekking poles clip clopping on the thick oak planks are a soothing reminder that you are hiking a 14er that will welcome you with open arms. Shortly after the boardwalks you cross a small stream that is easily traversed, and the climb begins.
Jen's first photo op on a 14er!
Jen was starting to understand why I love doing this, she kept mentioning how we were higher than everything around and how pretty everything looked. I love taking people up here who have never done it before. It builds a deeper appreciation for what our state has to offer.
Mt. Bierstadt and the Sawtooth cast their commanding shadow over the basin
I don’t care how many times I hike this mountain, I am still nearly brought to my knees by the sheer hulk of the Sawtooth. It’s like, “Hello, I may be a moderate hike compared to other 14ers, but don’t take me too lightly.”
It’s fun, I’ve crossed the sawtooth before. And will again.
We start climbing up a rather steep section and my sister pulls out a sandwich and starts eating it! I wish I could eat a sandwich while hiking, I would pass out or choke to death trying to breath out of my nose! That’s when I knew she was going to have a successful summit attempt.
Beneath the Sawtooth and Mt Bierstadt with my sis
We were meandering our way up the slope when we encountered a couple of ptarmigans. These birds are so cool! My sister was so excited to see some new wildlife, even if only a small bird.
There are two ptarmigans in this picture, can you spot them?
I asked her how she was doing and she said, “this is it?” My sister’s naiveté made me smile. I knew we weren’t even halfway and we still had hours of hiking ahead of us, and the difficulty of the hike was still well ahead of us.
Jen thought this last part would be easy, little did she know......
Jen was enjoying the elevation, and looking back at Guanella pass gave a good perspective of almost three miles of hiking up a 14er. I usually don’t like to see how far I’ve hiked, but on Bierstadt it doesn’t bother me. It can either serve to motivate or discourage the potential summiter, and it seemed to motivate my sister.
The western aspect of Grays and Torreys dons a fresh new white blanket of snow
The upper slopes were covered in verglas and a thin sheet of ice caused by the recent snow. But they were both easily avoidable by stepping to the side. This was a nice little challenge for both my sister and I.
Nearing the summit cone
We began to slow our pace, I could tell my sister was starting to tire. She was finally starting to feel the effects of both the altitude and the relentless, unending slope. I told her I would have to slow down, because I was starting to feel it too. My sister mentioned how now she can see why when people climb Everest and other tall mountains that they can only take a few steps at a time. I was excited that she was really working hard and that it wouldn’t be too easy for her. We were having fun boulder hopping when the summit came into view.
Summit success! My first one of the summer!
My sister's first 14er! Congrats Jen!
Mt Evans observatory
Looking down at the Sawtooth from Bierstadt's summit
Grays and Torreys in the distance
Front Range 14ers always bring the crowds, but it’s to be expected! Most of the crowd is very nice though
My sister pounded down some coconut water -which was actually pretty good- and ate another one of her sandwiches before both her and I got too cold and had to leave. She really had a good time which is what it is supposed to be about, I was happy too. She was a little shocked at how “short” this hike was, she said it felt much longer then the stated seven miles, they always do don't they?
And the next day when I asked her how she felt and she replied, “like I got hit by a truck.” Which is exactly how I felt after my first 14er experience too! Now she truly had the 14er experience! I laughed when she said she be willing to hike another one, “of course!” Was she bitten? Only time will tell!
Thanks for the wonderful company Jen, I love you to death! (By the way, you totally kicked my butt!)
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