Thursday, August 9, 2012

Epic and Stupid Fourteener Adventure

Laura, Michelle and me at the top of Mt. Evans, 14258 feet above sea level
I added climbing a fourteener to my bucket list two years ago. I finally get to mark it as complete.

My daughter Laura and I set off Sunday morning at 5:45 with Michelle(Laura's friend from high school)  and headed to Guanella Pass to begin our ascent and for me to discover the reason why people climb Fourteener's.

Michelle and Laura gave me their top reasons.

1.  Because it is so pretty.
2.  You get to see Mountain Goats!

We thrashed through the bushes and marsh for the first 1.8 miles.  We kept seeking higher ground as we didn't want to get our shoes wet :)

Through the marsh and about to start climbing in earnest.   

Early on in the ascent, Michelle proclaimed this will be an "epic fourteener adventure."

The parking lot from where we started is in the top left hand corner of the picture. 

What do you mean we have to cross a stream?                                                   

We leap frogged back and forth with this group of fellow climbers.  The person in the lower left hand corner took our picture at the top of Mt. Evans with his camera and e-mailed us the photos!

Regrouping after ascending through the Rocks

We made it!

Top of the world!

Laura shows off her scrapes!

Not even Laura's kitty could do this!

Michelle shows off her "white socks"
Apparently this is the real reason to climb a Fourteener, Mountain goat sighting :)

Our fearless energizer bunny leads us on the descent

Laura tackles the descent through the boulders

When you see the stack of rocks, you know you are on the correct path.  See the little Marmot peering out on the right corner of the rocks.

Back where we started from! 

At the end of the day, we had climbed 3,426 feet according to my Garmin watch. 
At some point the "epic adventure" was deemed to be "stupid". 
We had waded knee deep through stretches of muddy marsh.  Our attempts to keep from getting our socks wet were utter folly. 
Michelle has no fear when climbing or descending.  Laura and I, not so much. 
The air above 12,000 feet is indeed rare.    I have never heard my heart beat so loudly in my ears.  Sometimes I would take 15-20 steps and have to stop until I could no longer hear my heart beating wildly in my ear drums. 

There is a definite sense of camaraderie that you share with your fellow climbers. 

I had no idea what it would be like to climb a Fourteener.  Mt. Evans is not a climb for the faint of heart.  There were several times where I felt like I couldn't do it.  We were at 14,000 feet and still had a mile to go to get to the summit.  That was a discouraging feeling.  Kind of like hitting the wall at the 20 mile mark of the marathon and knowing you still have 6.2 miles to go. 

Some of the views were indeed incredible.  The camera never can do justice to what we can see with our eyes.  This was  a rugged climb.  Lots of boulder's, rocky terrain.  

I am not sure that seeing mountain goats will be enough of a reason for me to climb a fourteener again.  
I think everyone needs to discover the truth of why to climb. My top reasons for climbing. 

1, I got to spend an epic day with my daughter Laura and her friend Michelle. 
2. See #1. 

I want to send out some extra light and love to Michelle.

Michelle's Father passed away unexpectedly on the morning of July 20 as we awoke to a world that had changed as we were sleeping.

Here is to father's and their daughters. 

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