| Take a Left Turn! (combo standard with detour to Torreys 1st)
The Saga continues...
This is now our (LW, my friend from Houston, Texas, and joining the pack my husky, Maxmimus and wife) 2nd 14er and we are excited. Being July 3rd and a long weekend, we expected a busy trail but we had no idea.
As usual, we headed out of Colorado Springs ~ 430 am and headed for the trail head. The 4wd was anything but soft, and my 4Runner took a good beating, and we picked up 2 hikers along the way who had camped the night prior. The warm up ride gave me a nice back massage.
We reached the trail parking line ~ 6am ~ 0.5 miles from the trial head, there were already over 100 cars all jammed along the narrow road... crazy!
It's full sunlight already before 6am as we lazily trailed behind hoards of hikers of all shape and sizes, age group ready for glory. Glorious and beautiful it was especially after a sprinkle of early rain.
Just before the small stream collection, I almost turned right to go along the ridge, right side approach Torreys. I always have a way of picking the "goat's path", but decided to follow the ant line, especially with my wife on her 1st 14er. So we found safety in numbers with everyone else. By now we have ditched our slow Texas friend, LW who is probably 30 mins behind us.
The hike become a class 2 as more loose rocks rumble at the bottom of your feet, but it does not slow my wife or Maximus down.
As we see the summit of Torreys and Grays more clearly (right and left respectively) the crowd thins out and I guess I must have missed a left turn where the standard zig-zag approach to Grays and hit a stretch of glacier. It looked harmless, but my wife and mother of our 2 babies was like "hell no" and threatened to descent. She tried to convenience herself the view here was just as good as the top. I manage to convince her to wait for my return at the crossing after I summit Torreys in 30 mins and then we can ascent Grays together, she reluctantly agrees. Time is now ~ 840 am.
The glacier was not deep nor slippery, easily managed with a hiking pole and leaning towards the ledge. I race towards Torreys quickly as I could, slowing down only to put on my Gore-
Tex to thaw-off the icy wind.
I reached the summit of Torrey's by 910am. Took few photos with my buddy Maximus and ran down to regroup with my wife, knowingly I have taken more than 30 mins for this round trip. I managed to sprang my weak ankle twice running down Torreys and limp towards my wife on the other side of the ice ledge.
But when I arrive at our agreement point, she was not there. It was only 920am, she had ditched me because I was 10 mins late. I was not mad. Not sure if she descended or back-tracked and went up Grays... I proceed with a direct ascent in effort to short-cut to the trails that ups to Grays. Soon, I see LW inching up along the ant line at his usual steady pace... I described as "turtle in wheel-chair." He looked near by but I could not catch him until the summit of Grays. He beat me to it ~ 9am.
We spent probably 20 mins on the top hoping my wife was on her way up, but to no avail.
Then Maximus bolted down the trails, not following in particularly to anyone. Maximus usually likes attractive young ladies. I ran after the husky and called to LW that we need to descend to catch up to the dog. Luckily Maximus came back to me after repeated shouting: Max! MAX! We went on a descent for few minutes and my wife's silhouette of came into view. She was going to make it after all!
I rejoined with her as LW continued his descent, and I gave him my car keys thinking he may get there before me. We (I, Maximus and my wife) summitted Grays again around 11am, and I was very proud of her. She felt ecstatic and almost tearful. We spent 10 minutes on top and went down.
Then, I saw the most amazing couple who each had backpack harness carrying toddlers, mother was also pregnant. They also had 4 more kids with them, oldest no more than 7. I told them that they were the most hardcore people I have ever met. And that I would never even consider of taking my toddler son along for the hike, I would just windup carrying him for 90% of the trip.
We proceeded down rapidly and easily, my poor wife tried running after me and sprang her ankle and took a good fall on her hiney. We pass my friend LW and I reclaim my car keys.
The sky was now getting cloudy approaching high noon , but still saw plenty of people just approaching the peaks. Some in short shorts with no water supply or extra layers... crazy tourists.
We made back to the 4Runner before 12pm and 30 mins later, LW reappeared across the starting line (the bridge) and we all successfully finished a fantastic journey and had some pre-made watermelon and pineapples!
In summary, this is a great easily do-able 14er for anyone. Trails clearly marked, no GPS needed. Just remember to turn LEFT rather than approach Torreys first. Pack light, bring at least 2 liters of water, snacks and some light waterproof jacket (hypothermia at 14,000 feet can kill), trekking poles to save your knees on the descent and you are on your way for a fantastic adventure. Oh yeah, don't forget to bring a camera!
PS. If anyone who lives along the Front Ranges especially near Colorado Springs / Castle Rock area and share similar ambition of completing all the 14ers and want to share a ride / overnight trip to conquer some of the Elks and San Juans, PM me!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):