Friday, July 28, 2006
My First 14er
If it doesn't kill you, it makes for one heck of a story.
Jerry came to visit me this week for an action-packed adventure week...none of which was specifically planned, but climbing a 14er was on my list.
Things started out well when the compact that we reserved wasn't there, so they rented us a Jeep Commander...which we nicknamed "canyonaro" after a Simpsons episode.
Day 1: Mountain Biking. We rented Jerry a bike and hit the trail...and subsequently went pretty much straight uphill, sucking wind the whole way. (Yes Jeff, you have to EARN the right to ride downhill) It was quite exhausting, but we made it fine, then had quite the ride downhill.
Needless to say, we were EXHAUSTED when we were done. So we did exactly what any normal person would do...sat down and planned our hike up a 14er. (In laymans terms, thats a 14,000ft mountain).
We picked out Mt Evans, so Wednesday morning we loaded up Canyonero and headed about 50 miles into the mountains. After searching in vain for the mysterious trailhead, we asked for directions only to be told that it was too long of a hike to be starting that lake. We were then pointed in the direction of Mt Bierstadt, also a 14er. So off we set.
So we lost the trail pretty quickly, and decided that it would be a great idea to Bushwack our way through the shrubs in the general direction of the mountain. Not to mention the swampiness of the land. Jerry ended up with soaked shoes and socks not 20 mins into the hike.
Eventually we spotted someone walking in the distance who undoubtedly was laughing at us, or he was very concerned about us, because we were WAY off.
But we saw him and headed in that direction and eventually found the trail and headed up the mountain. We weren't too sore from the day before, so it went pretty easy. We discussed everything from girls to the President. We stopped periodically to rest and eat (btw, we basically ate nothing all week except for PBJ and Wendys.)
Around 13,000 ft all hell broke loose. Jerry started slowing down because of altitude. Both our heads started swimming, but Jerry started to become nauseated. And on top of that, there were storms moving in. I knew the dangers of lightning, but no way I was coming all this way and not making it up to the summit.
I would hike up a little, turn, and yell "Jerry!!! We've got to go NOW if we're going to beat this storm!!!!!" We were so close but the storm was moving a whole lot faster than we were. The first wave passed us without incident, leaving us with a small window of blue skies to get up and get down. People coming down off the summit kept telling us that we were almost there, but not to stay very long.
Finally, after about 3 false summits, I spotted the ledger that was in a tube so we could seal the deal that we had summitted a 14er. As soon as we got up, the clouds let loose....It began to hail.
It wasn't safe to be up there, but we had stuff to do. We signed the ledger, writing in the comment box "HAILING!!!!", then I whipped out my camera to snap a picture of Jerry, who was wiping his nose...I was in a hurry, so I SCREAMED "JERRY!!! LOOK AT ME WILL YA????" And this is what I got.
Then I gave him my camera and heres me. Notice the bed head.
Then we got out of there.
Only to get 1,000 feet down and see perfect blue skies.
We got to the bottom a couple hrs later, and thats when Jerry really started feeling the altitude sickness. After all, he flew in from Baltimore, and once in colorado, we had gained 9,000 feet in one day.
Once we got out of the mountains he started feeling better, but we both had splitting headaches.
We took it easy the next day, taking a simple day hike and driving up to the peak of Flagstaff, then having Mexican with a friend that night. And Canyonero was good to us, even though he ate up about $100 worth of gas.
So thats my story. Cya