| Cupid and Grizzly: In the shadow of giants.
Another group hike up some 13ers. This time the group consisted of Stephanie, Isay, Becky, Kyle, and myself. Steph and I wanted to get in some more time at altitude before we attempt her 1st 14er in August. We hadn't really decided on an exact mountain to climb for this trip, but we knew there were a lot to choose from at Loveland Pass. We decided to start there and see which mountain we felt like climbing. We decided to leave from Golden at 8AM which would get us there by 9AM. I know that 9AM is not an early start, but we figured even if the weather turned too foul to summit we could still have a good hike. We ended up leaving a little late and then forgetting a camera making us a little later. All in all, we got to Loveland Pass at about 9:30AM.
Loveland pass parking area
Steph takes a picture of the group at the outset of the hike
We set out and right off the bat it was steep and rather difficult. I assured everyone that this was the most difficult part of the hike (or so said other trip reports I had found) and that as our lungs adjusted to the altitude breathing would become easier. Right from the outset, there were loads of very beautiful flowers, making the mountain very beautiful.
We got to the top of the first stretch, 900ft elevation gain in 0.8 miles, and took a quick breather and decided we wanted to go for Grizzly Peak D.
Grizzly Peak D off in the distance
Wee ooohhhed and aaahhhed at Grays and Torreys in off in the distance, and I got really excited about climbing them in a couple of weeks. We all got together and took some pictures and Kyle stopped and had his first smoke of the hike. Don't worry, Kyle packed out every single one of his cigarette butts.
Grays and Torreys dominating the landscape in the distance.
Steph and me.
Kyle is excited because while we take a breather he takes a smoke
As we continued our hike, Grays and Torreys really dominated the view. These two behemoths dwarfed the surrounding peaks, like giants in a land of infants. Even as we approached 13K in altitude, the two colossal 14ers towered over us. It was almost as if they were the guardian protectors of the mountains, and we were nothing more than trespassers viewed with a wary eye.
Panorama shot of Grays and Torreys peaks
Once we got past that first stretch, it was a relatively easy jaunt up to the top of "Cupid" at 13,117ft in altitude. Here we took more epic photos, and the group started to feel like the tough first stretch was really worth it.
Kyle has a little captain in him
Me on what might be the high point of "Cupid"
Steph on what also might be the high point of "Cupid"
Isay with some amazing scenary behind him
Kyle looking longingly at Grays and Torreys
No don't do it!
I did it. (Don't worry it was only like 3 feet down haha)
Becky very excited to summit her first mountain!
Kyle, Steph, and me on "Cupid" with Grays and Torreys in the background
Becky wanted this picture...
We spent a while at the top of "Cupid" but we decided that if wanted to get to the top of Grizzly Peak by lunch time we would need to move on. Descending was difficult, it was very steep and my knees told me that my next purchase should be a pair of hiking poles. When we made it up to the top of point 12,936 we were greeted with the chirping of hordes of pika! They were all over the rocks. I was sooooo excited because I have never seen pika before!
its a pika!
Isay and Kyle climbed over the rocks on the ridge from point 12,936 to Grizzly peak, but Steph, Becky and I took the trail to the west of the ridge. Good thing we did too, because we saw a nesting pair of ptarmigan! They were so amazing! Their camo was incredible!
Can you spot the ptarmigan?
Here he is!
Finally, we got to the last stretch of the hike, we were at the bottom of Grizzly peak, and it actually looked kinda intimidating.
From the bottom of Grizzly peak. For perspective there is another hiker above Kyle
Clouds were coming in at this point however, so we had to decide if we wanted to continue. We decided to press on, as the wind was blowing the clouds away from us. We didn't get far, however. As we started to ascend Grizzly Peak, Becky starting feeling nauseous and disoriented...altitude sickness. Just for the record, Becky is very fit. She can run for miles and works out all the time. Just goes to show, no one is immune from the effects of altitude sickness, and everyone, no matter how fit, can suffer from its effects. Overall, I am impressed with the maturity of our group, willing to be safe and return to the trail head when we needed to, despite being so close to the peak. Good job everyone!
As it turns out, it was a good decision to turn back anyway, as the weather took a very sudden turn for the worse. The wind changed and the storm clouds rumbled over our direction. We heard thunder and when we turned back, the clouds, which had originally been well behind Grays and Torreys, were completely covering Torreys Peak and the surrounding mountains!
Torreys Peak engulfed by the storm
Another peak clouded as the storm rumbled ever onward
As we retreated from the storm, the wildlife seemed completely unfazed. Going back down from point 12,936, we stomped right in on mother nature taking its course. As we rounded a bend, we saw what appeared to be a weasel or a small red fox running away from us as we approached. The pika in the area were squeaking like there was no tomorrow, and we realized we had accidentally frightened the fox/weasel away from a hunt. While the pika seemed relieved and came out in droves, we felt bad for disturbing things. Unfortunately this happened all too quickly, and no one was able to ready their camera in time to capture the moment in photograph.
As we reached the peak of "Cupid" again, the marmots were out this time. We couldn't stop long enough to try to get a very good picture of them, but we shot a quick photo and continued to hike down from the storm. Too bad too, because one was eating right by the trail and we all walked almost to within a foot of it
Marmots up on the top of the rocks.
Finally we made it down, this time taking an alternate trail that we found which circumnavigates the original steep ascent. This trail was covered in hundreds of radiant flowers whose pastel beauty simply cannot be captured by any form of art yet devised by mankind. We took pictures anyway.
Pretty flowers, but this really does not capture the true beauty
On this same trail we saw a couple who were hiking up towards Grizzly Peak. It was already 3PM, which made it a bad time to start hiking above tree line in general, plus there was a storm complete with lightning up there. Not to mention only one of them had a backpack. We told them about the storm and warned them that they wouldn't be able to get very far without running into bad weather, but they continued anyway. I don't blame them but I hope they ended up ok.
After our hike, we decided to go to The Buffalo in Idaho Springs. A good ending to a good hike.
Thank you very much for sitting through another long trip report. There are lots more pictures, feel free to request them. There is also a panorama from the top of "Cupid" but it wasn't included because it didn't turn out as well as we would have liked, and we didn't want to reduce the resolution in order to post it. Again, ask, and I will send a full res version of it.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):