| Grays Peak - Standard Route
I woke up to the sound of a yellow, Volkswagon van trying hard to get up through the washed out section of the road, which I had gave up on the previous night. Five minutes or so had past and this guy was still trying gloriously so I proceded to put on my shoes, stepped out of my pickup, and helped the gentleman. He was able to easily get through with me pushing hard on the rear of his van. My rear wheel drive Ford Ranger had had trouble getting sufficient traction the night before as well so I started loading rocks into the bed. I hiker and his son were walking by and curiously asked me what it was I was doing. I, of course, explained myself and they proceeded to suggest using themselves as ballast. I thought this was a great idea! We made it up the remaining three miles of the trailhead road without a problem.
I had spent the previous day hiking up Longs Peak. My body still had not adapted to the dry climate, the altitude, and to make matters worse, I had completely worn out a couple of muscles in my neck and it hurt quite a bit to cough, coupled with the fact that my throat was extremely dry. I really should have taken the day off but I had traveled all of this way from North Dakota to climb mountains and so that is precisely what I did! As easy as Grays Peak supposedly is, it was not easy for me that day given the condition my body was in. However, I did not complain, I had brought this upon myself, was proud of it, and loved every minute of it!
This mountain looked odd to me with what looked like a golf course on one face and rock on the other.
When we were approaching the top I was feeling like I was dying with every step. I am pretty sure my body was throwing out every swear word imaginable at me at this point! lol I am somewhat familiar with the symptoms of altitude sickness, however, I was confident I was merely experiencing nothing more than fatigue so I ignored what my body was telling me and continued on. After what seemed like an extraordinary amount of effort, I finally made my first summit of a legitimate mountain!
The view to the south from the summit.
It was incredible! I could see the copper mountain ski resort, which was over twenty miles away! Despite my excitement, I felt a little disappointed inside! I really had wanted Longs to be my first fourteener! I was even thinking, at one point, about turning around just short of the summit, however, I decided that this would have been a little ridiculous so I rather quickly got over it and stepped on to my first fourteener summit. I really wanted to traverse over to Torreys Peak and it very well could have been a possibility had I started earlier, but carefully considering how I felt and after looking at the storm systems forming off into the distance it would not have been an intelligent move to proceed.
Me on the summit.
The return was uneventful, however, the hiker ( I cannot remember his name.) I had mentioned earlier had made it more enjoyable giving me someone to visit with during the remainder of the trip. When we got back to my pickup his son was waiting patiently and had been for a while. He had climbed Grays and Torreys during the time it took us to climb just Grays alone. He even had time to spare! At that point, I was really hoping that my poor performance was, in fact, due to what I had experienced the previous day, my lack of acclimatization, and climate adaption rather than just my possible general susceptibility to altitude, because if that would have been true, it would have severely hindered many of my ambitions!
The view of Torreys from the summit of Grays.
After I gave the hiker and his son a ride to their Honda, we met up and had a burger in Georgetown of which he generously picked up the bill for! I tried to at least take care of the tip, however, he refused to allow me to do so! I was very appreciative of this as my budget was relatively tight! It was Sunday afternoon and traffic on I-70 was moving slower than the pace of the average marathon runner! It then began to poor! I said my final goodbyes and thank yous to the hikers and we parted separate ways. I was not willing to waste my time traveling on the interstate at the speed of a sloth so I hung out in Georgetown's visitor center, which is a really nice place! They've got free hot chocolate and internet along with every book about Colorado imaginable! I got on the road shortly after the place closed at eight o'clock. I took highway 119, off of I-70, which was a big mistake considering the fuel pump in my pickup wasn't too reliable and there being no shoulder on the weavy mountain road! Fortunately, I made it without a problem, however, I couldn't find a campground near Boulder and a hotel was not an option so I parked in front of a quiznos and kicked back my seat and crashed. In the morning I would be off to the nearest Ford dealership so I could get my pickup running at one hundred percent again!
The ridge between Grays and Torreys.
Part of the trail.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):