| Mt Princeton - East Side
Mount Princeton – 14, 197'
Trailhead elevation - 11, 200
Elevation Gain - 3,000'
Length of trip – 4.5-5 hours up and 3 hours down – Total 7.5 - 8 hours
Sunday - August 3, 2008
To my disappointment everyone who had promised to climb with us had either bowed out for some reason or the other. This was the lowest number that had climbed in 7 years. But my son and I plunged ahead.
We had ridden ATV's to the trailhead the day before to check it out. I always like to do this as it avoids any problems if we start in the dark.
We got up at 4:30 am. We had been staying at the KOA in Buena Vista/Johnson's Village. We took our time and arrived at the parking lot about 6:00 am. We broke out our ATV'S and headed up the road. After a short ways past the Antenna's, we found a spot to park; a little ways below the rock steps that start the initial climb. Up and onward. I knew right off my son was going to be bored seeing how the others he usually climbs with, whom are much faster than I am, were not there and he had to stay with dad for most of the trip. So I gave him the camera and told him to take pictures and movies on the way up. He was enthralled with all the marmots and picas we saw, as they were with us.
That would at least take up some of his time and would cut down some of the wait time he would have on putting up with his 55 year old father. This was my 3rd climb since my Total Hip Replacement 2 years before and my physical shape had vastly improved. My first climb off the hip replacement 2 years ago was just 8 weeks or so off the surgery and it took me forever (and I mean forever) to get to the top of Mt Elbert. My goal at least today was to get to the top before noon and down by 2-3 pm, which we did, so I was satisfied. We old flatlanders just cannot breathe up here and even though most of you find these mountains easy, they are all hard to me. I am slow but I am steady and I am definitely not a quitter.
We continued on. I have never seen so many rocks in my life in comparing this to our other climbs. This mountain is one huge rock pile. Most of the time the footing was okay, but the path was anybody's guess, so we did the best we could. The weather was great and so were the views, and I enjoyed the climb immensely. Finally, about 30-60 minutes from the top, my son ask if he could go ahead and take off. I acquiesced. He was off like a rabbit. THE NEXT TIME I SAW HIM HE WAS ON TOP EATING AND DRINKING AND TALKING ON HIS CELL PHONE (and probably wondering why he did not bring any video games with him). So much for youth. After a few minutes a new acquaintance arrived. Craig Donaldson from Silt, Colorado, whom I had been hiking on and off with for the past few hours had arrived. It was indeed nice to hike with others who were old and slow as I was. We took pictures, signed the register, called everyone we knew on our cell phones and sat for a rest. Within a few minutes the thunder and lightning started south of us toward Monarch Pass, and west of us more was building up. Our rest had been cut short. We knew it was indeed time to head down at a fairly fast pace. Most of the people on The Mountain decided the same thing. Only a few very foolish people continued to climb through the wind and mist. If I learned one thing years ago (on a Gray-Torrey trek) it was that there is always another day and your life is not worth it.
Everyone, including us had decided the old path from the top was a short cut, but after a bit we all now knew why it was blocked off, as it was extremely slippery due to all the loose rock and even though shorter actually made the descent much harder and longer. We finally ran into where the new path started in again. So much for an old dog learning new tricks. We passed a huge rock that had fallen/slid over the top of the trail and I remembered on the way up remarking how it looked as though it could come down anytime. I am not sure if it did fall by itself or had help from some over zealous kids who were 10 minutes in front of us and had been fooling around for sometime on their downward trip. At least no one got hurt. Finally we were out of the rocks and in just a short time back to the road and our ATV"S. We said our good-byes to others there and headed down the road to the parking lot. And wouldn't you know it. Somehow our battery was dead in the SUV. But at least the parking lot was full of vehicles so getting a jump was easy. Another one down and the planning can begin for at least 2-3 on next years vacation, now that I can handle it again.
Rickey Dale Crain
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