Start Time: 4:45am
Left summit: 9:30am
Back to TH: 11:30am
I successfully hiked Bierstadt only 3 weeks after delivering my 2nd child! This is a great way to get back in shape postpartum. Although my body is still in recovery, I surprisingly felt pretty strong and energetic.
We left Brighton at 3am and arrived to the TH by 4:30. I prefer starting early with headlamps, but this time was due to early storms predicted to roll in and we wanted to allow ourselves a good window to hike without being threatened. Forecast said 60% chance precip, and Tstorms by 3pm. The storm actually rolled in sooner than that. We started to feel sprinkles at the end of our hike just past 11am.
Storms can build very quickly and it is wise to keep an eye on the weather and turn around if need be. The mountain will always be there. The clouds started really building on our descent. I was so surprised at how many people we passed that were continuing to the summit and still had a ways to go with the clouds looking so ominous. We never did see lightening, but we also left before the storm really hit. I hope everyone made it down safely.
As far as the trip report goes, the TH actually starts to the left of the outhouses. From the parking lot you go up a very small hill first before you see the sign for Bierstadt and the register. This may be easy to find in daylight, but at night we had to search around for the starting point. The trail was muddy through the marshy brush. Luckily there are some wooden walkways through the marshy areas. Some spots on the trail were pretty muddy and wet but with some careful maneuvering it can be avoided. There is a river crossing that isn’t too bad and there are enough rocks to hop around on to cross. I was grateful that I had waterproof shoes on though…My sister had on trail running shoes with mesh and a little bit of water got in through the front of her shoe. But her sock dried off very quickly and didn’t pose a problem. The trail is very easy to follow even in the dark. We have had a lot of afternoon storms lately, so everything was pretty wet.
Sister pic at 4:45am
As the sun began to rise, we had some fun taking creative silhouette pictures. We pry wasted a good 15 minutes goofing off.
silloutte pic #1
silloutte pic #2
Me and Tara jumping silloutte
Then after more trail, right before we gained the ridge, we took another break for about 20 minutes, ate and refueled. After topping out on the ridge/saddle the trail heads left toward the summit. There was only one patch of snow to the right of the trail. This is the point where the trail fades and the rock hopping begins. You can try to follow the cairns, but I found myself many times just picking my own line up because I kept losing the 'route'.
Me (taken below the ridge)
On the ridge
Boulder hopping to the summit
Christian in the sun
You will eventually top out on the summit. There is a survey marker on Bierstadt if you like trying to find those. We wasted an hour on top taking pics and checking out the Sawtooth and East Ridge with binoculars. We even watched some people cross the ledges on the Sawtooth. I recommend bring binoculars to get a closer look at that route. It was pretty cool. The weather was great on top, but like I said earlier, clouds quickly began building on our descent.
East Ridge behind me
Closer look at East Ridge
I have been chased off by lightening on a 14er before, so as soon as we saw those ominous clouds, I wasn’t going to wait around to see the show. We kept a quick pace and made it back from summit to car in 2 hours.
Descent through the willows
Back on the wooden walkway
Lake near the Trailhead with storms clouds
Last look at Sawtooth and Bierstadt with storm approaching
Overall, Bierstadt is a great peak (if you start early to avoid the mass amounts of people). It was surprisingly very green and sits in a beautiful valley. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Bierstadt for the scenery, but it was much prettier than I thought it would be. You get great views of Grays and Torreys and the summit is very rewarding as you get a closer look at the Class 3 Sawtooth and East Ridge routes. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would summit because I had no idea what my body could handle so soon after delivery, but I had no problems at all and actually felt stronger than the first time I hiked Bierstadt 2 years ago. I have had my eye out for hiking the East Ridge for a while now, and after seeing it in person, I can’t wait to tackle that route someday. Maybe a third summit of Bierstadt is in the near future!