Sunday, September 2, 2007

Mt. Bierstadt

Can anyone believe it is September?? Time is FLYING. Brandon has already been in school for a week and I start a week from tomorrow. Our first summer of wedded life is over. It was a grand time. Filled with the advent of starting our life together, surviving a camping trip, riding our new bikes around town, and eating way too many sweets. Now, the next chapter.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, we want to tell you about how we ended the summer: We hiked a 14, 060 ft. mountain!

Colorado is known for its plethora of peaks over 14, 000 ft. Accordingly, there are 53 of such peaks here and every now and then you hear the term "14er" casually thrown around, making you realize that Colorado's Rocky Mountains are just park of the day to day culture here.

Anyways, I for some reason, was interested in hiking one of these peaks before the summer ended. I have a really really exploratory personality and just HAD to see one of these 14ers up close. Not to mention, I also really wanted to see what the I-70 looked liked past Idaho Springs. I'm that curious.

So, we decided to attempt this venture on Brandon's last day of summer vay-cay. We just happened to both have the day off with no other obligations and choose to hike Mt. Bierstadt--one of the 'easy' 14ers.

The night before our hike, I tossed and turned, thinking about altitude sickness, envisioning Brandon rolling his ankle, and wondering how often helicopters do rescues on such trails. The trailhead was already higher than I had ever really been--11, 600 ft!

Anyways, things began flawlessly. I mean look:

How cute is that picture of us?? It is one of my favorites.

We began hiking. Although it was only a 3.5 mile hike, we took it step by step the entire way because we didn't want to get too intimidated too quickly about the task at hand.

After about 45 minutes, I started feeling the elevation--mainly in my lungs. I felt like I could never catch my breath. Pant, pant, pant. So we took frequent breaks. Brandon was great about never making me feel weak.

As the hike progressed, I started to feel headachy and sometimes a little light headed. That just meant more breaks. Even pausing for 30 seconds helped. Brandon said he never felt the elevation in anything other than having a harder time breathing. I believe him--he was a champ!
Of course, the hike got harder and harder. It was ridiculous, really. I never worried that I wouldn't be able to finish it, but I did worry that it would take me so long to finish that a giant thunder storm would come and trap us on a very exposed mountain face, putting our lives in extreme peril. Luckily that didn't happen.

I had to take this picture to prove to my pounding heart that I'm not THAT out of shape. It really was a steep trail.

But we finally made it. It took us about two hours and fifteen minutes and it was SO worth it and only one person passed us on the trail--she was an older woman, maybe around 65, all by herself and as nice as could be. Small and thin and just charging to the top.

Anyways, the top was awesome. It was a very gratifying feeling to be on the top. I was so excited about it, that I have the silliest smile on my face in all the pictures.

There were several hikers already at the summit when we got there. Most of these folk were very versed in 14er life and kept pointing out all the other 14ers you could see in the distance. It was quite a view up there....

Brandon and I were mainly just happy to have made it!

Alas, it was quite chilly at the top and not really a very inviting place to just sit and enjoy the view. Look how cold my dear looks in this photo:

The descent was tricky, too. Although we could feel the burden on our lungs easing with every foot, it was pretty killer on our joints and muscles. Instead of 'pant, pant, pant', it was 'ouch, ouch, ouch.' We determined that the last mile of pretty much any hike sucks. You just want to be done, you know?

When we finally got low enough to actually see the mountain that we just climbed, we were pretty impressed not only with ourselves, but with the impressive mountain that Mt. Bierstadt actually is.

Even though we were off the mountain by 12:15 or so, we were both pretty much exhausted the rest of the day. It was a great hike, though, and we are proud to now be unofficially a part of the Colorado 14er's club.

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