| Grays and Torreys - My First Time
This was my first ascent of a 14er, and I was thrilled to be able to hit two in one day (even though I feel like it barely counts as two). I took off work early, and we drove up to the trailhead the night before.
We left Thornton at around 3pm and encountered significant traffic coming through west Denver on I-70. This was no real surprise, but was a frustrating way to start a trip. Once we got past town to highway 6, it all opened up and was smooth sailing the rest of the way. We got to Bakerville around 5pm and drove up to the trailhead in my 2WD F150. The road has some areas with pretty bad washouts, but we made it with no problem. As others have reported, I saw a number of sedans at the top the next day, so it must be doable without a high-clearance vehicle. However, I wouldn't be willing to risk the damage to my car.
We set up camp in the dispersed camping area around the trailhead. At that time, there were only a few other campers, so spots were plentiful. By about 8pm, there was a pretty steady flow of traffic into the site and spots started filling up fast.
We found what seemed to be a perfect spot down by the creek. Most of the spots have fire rings, so we were mostly looking for flat ground. Unfortunately, it rained from about 8pm to 10pm and then got pretty cool outside. For anyone else picking a site up there, I would recommend choosing a spot in the trees to provide some added protection from the wind/rain and to give you something to tie a tarp off to for some shelter. Since there are no bear boxes out there, that also gives you some better options to hang your food.
I set my phone alarm to get me up at 4am on Saturday morning, but of course it died trying in vain to find a signal. I was actually up by 4:30am, fired up a cup of joe on the cat stove and had two packs of Carnation Instant Breakfast with 2% milk (total about 450 calories) and was on the trail right at 5am. For trail snacks, I brought 4 rice cakes with peanut butter (250 calories each), 2 cheese sticks, some sunflower seeds, a 2 quart bottle of gatorade and a 2 liter camel back bladder of water.
What can I say? I get thirsty.
I immediately learned that my old incandescent head lamp was insufficient. For the next one, I will buy a cheap LED lamp from Walmart ($6 up to $100). However, I made it OK until dawn with only a few stumbles. My trekking pole helped. I also learned that I brought way too many clothes. I started with a short sleeve workout shirt, a long sleeve base layer, a fleece, a hooded jacket and long gym pants over shorts. By the end of the first mile, I had the jacket and fleece strapped to the pack. The long pants stayed on until the top of Grays.
Surprisingly, there were people coming back down already, all of whom reported beautiful conditions on top. Planning my route and pre-selecting my rest stops seemed to help keep me motivated and on track for a puncutal completion. My first stop was at 6am around 12,500' near the first rock field. From there, my next stop was at about 7am for peanut butter rice cake and some gatorade about 2/3 of the way up Grays.
I summitted Grays at 8am and took a little breather there before summitting Torrreys at 9am.
Now out of food and down to my last liter of water, I started down. The descent took me about 2.5 hours, putting me back down to camp at 11:30am. I was surprised that the descent was much harder on my body than was the trip up. It's a lot of impact on the joints, so I was glad to have a trekking pole.
About this time, the clouds were starting to roll in, so I was glad to be getting off the mountain. It started raining about an hour later. Fortunately, I had already broken camp and was on the way back down to I-70.
Lessons learned from this first climb:
1) Don't make camp unless you plan to spend some time there in the afternoon. It was a pain in the butt to break it down while I was worn out from the climb. I wish I would have slept in the truck.
2) Eat a bigger breakfast so you don't get hungry in the first hour.
3) Don't drink as much we did the night before. ;)
4) My hard soled Red Wing work boots were a huge improvement on the rocks over the sneakers that I normally hike in, but they were heavy (steel toe, 8" ankle, 5+ pounds). It was also pretty hard on them. I think it's time to invest in some hiking boots.
5) Like after any strenuous exercise, stretch. I had a little lapse in judgement and skipped this step, so now I'm a little sore.
And just like that, it was over. I had a great hike, met some really cool people and had some spectacular views. #1 and #2 are in the bag. My wife and I are already planning #3 for next week.
See you on the trail.
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