Just follow the tracks - the Mt. Bierstadt standard route.
The alarm screams bloody murder at four-thirty am. I just want to sleep.
Three hours later I stand at the Guanella Pass trailhead with my girl Mindy and her friend Jess. Jess is a Dane working in America on a soon-to-expire visa. He has a wish - summit his first fourteener before he leaves the country.
Jess is a philosopher who has come to America to work on his dissertation. He has hiked extensively through Scandanavia and Greenland. He is enthused about our hike - even if it means getting up at four-thirty am after a night of spirit chasing and debauchery.
The drive up the road from Georgetown was rough but went fast. The two stop lights held us for only a few minutes. I still just wanted to sleep.
But now here I am - standing at the base of Mount Bierstadt for the second time in four months. I can‘t deny my attraction - Mount Bierstadt is close to home, fun to hike, and beautiful to see.
We didn‘t bring snowshoes. It was boot the trail or go home. We hiked it easily sans snowshoes. A few folks along the way wore sneakers. Braver than I.
We returned to the car at 1 PM. Mindy was happy to see us. She didn‘t feel 100% and chose to relax at the pass until we returned. I was grateful
Total round-trip hike distance was 6.4 miles. The direct snow route to the summit trims some distance from the standard summer route. On the way down we glissaded short sections of the upper slopes for fun.
The weather was mixed spring conditions. Bright blue skies in the morning gave way to storm clouds by noon. Graupel fell. There was no lightning or thunder. There was some wind but none of the forecast gusts to 25 mph.
I hiked this mountain for the first time in February. The difference between then and now is significant. I saw one person all day in February. I saw many many people on Sunday. Just jump in line. I like the winter hiking - the mountain is more wild and challenging then.
Life has been busy since my hike up Flattop Mountain in April. I haven‘t had any time to participate in the forum and plan my summer. Bierstadt was a pleasant reminder that another fantastic summer is coming and it‘s time to prepare.
The photos are in order - from morning start to noon descent. Captions on top.
Sunday, 7:30 AM. The lazy morning light silhouettes the Sawtooth and Mount Bierstadt.
We start our hike through the willows. Mount Bierstadt plays hide and seek.
The trail is sloppy.
We survive the notorious willows and begin the ascent.
We cross the first large snow drift.
The vast upper snowfield is a beautiful thing to cross.
The mountain gets steeper.
The world behind us opens up.
The trail continues to steepen as we near the top. Ten steps - rest. Ten steps - rest.
Storm clouds blossom.
The view from the upper slopes of Mount Bierstadt is sublime.
We approach the summit.
Jess is euphoric. Mount Bierstadt - his first fourteener. He‘s never been this high outside of an airplane.
A storm drenches the Lost Creek Wilderness.
The Sawtooth. I hope to give it a shot next time.
The summit marker.
I don‘t ride or ski but today I wish I knew how.
We look back on the peak to say thanks. The sun shines on Mount Bierstadt like a stage light.
Our GPS track up the west slope of Mount Bierstadt.