Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rocky Mountain High


So... i figured I had been here long enough - and we're calling this place home - that it was time for me to head up a 14er.

For you non-rugged-mountain types out there - "14er" just means the summit of a mountain that is higher than 14,000 feet.

And for my first one - I was heading up the 5th highest one in Colorado. La Plata Peak - it sits at 14,336 feet.

Yep - for a brief moment last Saturday - i was the 5th highest dude in the state.


On the way in to the trail-head - we stopped here. The last thing resembling a restroom we'd see - and nobody wants to have that hit them above treeline... very little privacy up there!


Then we headed off-road...


And the Jeep handled it like a champ.


When we passed the old ghost town of Winfield - I knew we were off the beaten path...


We found us a nice cozy parking spot a little above 10,000 feet and started getting ready...


My trail guides were itching to go - Matthew and Smokey. Two of the best mountain climbers around.


The trail head sign wasn't the most helpful...


So we headed up the most beautiful trail we could find.


All along the way - the Aspen were going CRAZY!


Pretty soon - the views gave way to this!


With a soundtrack of this awesome creek running right along the trail...


I seriously couldn't stop taking pictures.


And that spot right there - THAT'S where we were heading.


We had to walk through some chest-deep willows...


But it was well worth it to see this!


Then I looked up - and realized where we were heading.


Those chest-deep willows? That's them WAY down there behind me.


You really start to realize how tiny you are out there!


And also how much you wish you had 4 legs like this guy!


The clouds were crazy close. I felt like I could lick 'em...


And my main man Smokey - he kept checking on me to make sure I was okay.


Finally - we were looking at the home stretch... 2 false summits and we'd be there!

Shortly before this - I heard the quote of the day as Matthew yelled out to Smokey:

"Don't eat dead pika!"
Pika are one of the few animals that live above tree line - and Smokey had found him a dead one.

The comment had caused me to laugh which caused me to run out of oxygen immediately...


And I ain't gonna lie - I was hurting.


Lack of oxygen and refusing to eat had this woolly mammoth feeling pretty weak!


But Matthew and Smokey just kept going... So I had no choice but to...


MAKE IT TO THE TOP!


Lack of oxygen will make you do crazy, weird things.

Just ask this stranger we met at the top - who started feeding Smokey and was holding his head staring in to his eyes saying "I love you! I love you Smokey!"

Seriously...


Or my guide - who - while still needing to get me down - climbed his crazy butt out on a rock that was just hanging like 1,000 feet above the rocks...


There was a ridiculous view of an alpine lake...


And expansive eye candy that barely even looks real!


After about 30 minutes - we started the descent back down...


We came across this little wild guy - who was basically saying "Don't tell me where I can and can't grow!"


How does one find their way down a rocky field that looks the same no matter which way you look?

You spot the cairn - that's how!


I love hikers - they remind me of runners...

They build these cairns - or landmarks - to keep ya heading in the right direction...


This view here shows just how high we were - that arrow is pointing to the TOP of a trail we needed to be at!


And it was steep climbing (see also: sliding) the whole way...


And a storm was trying to sneak its way up on us...


But with our oxygen level gaining as we dropped - we were some hustling fools!


Soon - we were back down in to our little basin...


And back on to our gorgeous trails.


I mean seriously... does it get any cooler looking than this?


I'm not sure it does...


About 7 hours after we left it - we were back at the Jeep. Tired, hungry - but feeling like we accomplished something. La Plata Peak - you just got owned.

One 14 er down... 50-something more to go.

Thanks Matthew and Smokey - for dragging me along - I know I slowed ya down but I'll keep training!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was absolutely "breathtakingly"
beautiful! Thanks for sharing the adventure.

Liesbeth said...

Congrats on your climb. Seems very hard.. but what amazing views!!