| East Ridge - the only way we‘d try
Arrived at the easy-to-find trailhead at 6:30 and was heading up trail by 6:38 with my wife, Jo, our friends from Minnesota, Di & Doug who were attempting their first 14er. The day was clear and cool; perfect weather for the ascent. CFI provided great trail signs so we didn't stray onto the old mining roads. The forested section was great.
Once we cleared the woods, the trail was rock covered and hard on the legs and ankles (even with great boots). The rocky trail was quite distinct and therefore, easy to follow but not so easy to hike. After traversing the lower talus/scree and crossing the long spine, it seemed like the rocks would never end...and they didn't.
When we hit 13,300', our very fit, flatlander friends suffered from the altitude. With great regrets, Jo and I continued up the final 1000', 1 mile trail without our best friends.
Two other climbers separately summited right after we did. Jim, who had done all 54 of the 14ers, shared a few of his experiences and pointed out all the other 14ers on the horizon. George has lived in Colorado his whole life and told us he has done only nine. He said, "I do a 14er to remind myself why I don't do 14ers". George is 74 years old and prefered working on the Colorado Trail system. Quite a guy.
We enjoyed a 45 minute PB & J lunch at the top admiring the view and all those high peaks. (Our first 14er, Bierstadt, was cut short by the dreaded storm clouds and lightning. See Report - Standard Ascent 6/28/2007).
The downward hike was still tough through the top 2/3 of the trail. The rock surface wasn't fun to travel and we looked forward to hitting the dirt section of the trail.
Hit the trailhead at exactly 2:38 PM; 8 hours round trip including lunch. Our friends were waiting and had conducted "exit interviews" with the others who were heading off the trail. They had some great stories about our fellow hikers.
Felt terrific to summit but very sad our friends weren't with to enjoy the summit experience. We still were happy they got as high and as far as they did. They were real troopers who deserve credit for trying. (Good job, D & D!!! We love you!)
Finally, kudos to CFI for all their work and dedication.