| Massive Loop
(Captions are above respective photos )
Amateur "paint" rendering of our ascent and descent of the mountain.
(My car's name is Delilah)
Should we have started at our planned time of 6am? Probably. Did the consumption of numerous intoxicants in the preceding 36 hours prevent that from happening? Oh yeah. (Leadville is a fun place to experiment with hallucinogens) As a former trail worker, and current hiking enthusiast, I knew a 10am start time was idiotic. But our rowdy group of 5 boys, 2 girls and a very adventurous wiener dog, who all began waking up just around 9, taking down camp and nursing various hangovers until 9:45, decided to make an effort to summit. We drove from our camp site a little farther up the road towards the THs. We ended up parking just a bit up the 4WD road, about a quarter mile west of the TH for the east slopes route (Main Mount Massive Trail). Exiting the car, we all got our stuff together, stretched and hydrated.
Everybody pre-hike. 5 boys (ones hiding), 2 girls (I'm the photographer), 1 wiener dog!
We began walking west up the 4WD road because our plan was to take the 8 mile round trip route (which we thought started with that 4WD road). After more minutes passed than we thought should have before making any noticeable elevation gain, our fearless leader pulled out his map. At this point we realized the "8 miles" round trip started ahead of us and we had two choices: to continue walking, or to turn around to go back to the nearer of the 2 THs and ascend the 13.75 mile round trip route on the East Slope approach. Since it was 10:15 at this point we decide to keep heading the direction we were already going and then come down the other way to end up right back at the car.
We reached the North Halfmoon TH at 11 and finally began gaining some elevation.
We reached treeline somewhere between 12:15 and 12:30. Each group passing us on their way down were predictably telling us of the clouds forming on the other side of the mountains. (I expected this) But in our stubborn ways, we charged onward. We took our 5th break around 1:30. I for one am a slow hiker, and in our group was a hiking VIRGIN yes, that's right. He had not ever gone on a hike up a glorified hill, much less a mountain of this caliber. So we liked our breaks
It was peculiar: so starting at about 1:00 every group we passed said it was another 2 hours to the summit from that point. Were we walking backwards? Were we in the Twilight Zone? We really began to question what kind of progress we were making! We donned our rain gear after that last break as it was getting cloudy and rainy quick.
We still had yet to hear thunder so we decided to just keep going. At this point, we may be wet, but we'd have the summit to ourselves. In proper 14er fashion, hail stones followed the light rain. Still no thunder. It must have been around 13,900' or 14,000', the hail stopped, the steam started to rise off the rocks and the skies cleared. Very unexpected!
We gained the summit and much to our non-surprise, we were the only group there, and we were able to enjoy it with the sunshine too. All 7 of us (plus the wiener dog) summitted between 2:45 and 2:55. We stuck around for about 45min and then began our descent once the next set of clouds began rolling in.
Me at the summit
Tucker, the fourteener wiener:
Our weird little family
We chose to go down the way we didn't come up, meaning we'd take the longer Main Mount Massive Trail back to the car.
Getting back down to treeline seemed to take forever. We started our trek back down at 3:40 and didn't get below treeline until 5:30. Looking back up at Massive was breathtaking from this side.
With rapidly deteriorating weather conditions we knew we needed to move with a purpose. We could see several rain storms off in the distant valley and hear the echos of thunder off of the mountains. It rained on and off on us until we got back to our car at 7pm.
With our tired achy bodies and grumbling stomachs, we made a unanimous decision to head straight for Quincy's Steakhouse in Leadville, as this was a Sunday night and their feature dinner was filet mignon. With 6oz, 9oz, 12oz or 16oz options, most of our group probably could have devoured the pounder with ease. But the entire entree consisted of a delicious house salad with a dijon ranch dressing, a baked potato with your choice of butter, sour cream, and cheese, and the delightfully and perfectly cooked filet with an optional horseradish spread. I can honestly say it was the best $12 steak I have ever eaten. We all opted for the 9oz filet and had spotless plates when all was said and done. Despite our delayed start and expected struggle of the first 14er of the year, hiking Massive only made me (and most of the rest of us) want to do more. We hiked Sherman 5 days later with another newbie friend. As ski bums who work seasonally, we'll have several weeks off from September through October which is going to make plenty of time to bag some more peaks
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