Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Another Double Summit Day

Two weekends ago, while we were waiting for our house guests to return, we decided to check another 14er off the list.  Well, actually, we decided to take care of two on the to-do list, Gray's and Torrey's.

We had a long day ahead of us on summit day, and, per usual, there was a chance of afternoon rain, so we were up before the sun, well, well before the sun (read: when all sane people are sleeping).   We grabbed our stuff and headed to Georgetown, CO, just about an hour from our home in Boulder, to get on with our adventure.

Until we got to the road that leads to the parking area I had forgotten about the fact that Brian was once concerned we wouldn't be able to do this hike; he wasn't sure our car would have the the capability to get up the three mile long road that leads to the trailhead.  As soon as we turned onto the road, which a coworker had informed Brian was not so bad, I remembered our past conversation and held on for dear life.  I was convinced that we would bottom out on a giant rock -- there were probably a million to choose from...err...avoid -- or I would receive a concussion from being bounced around the Fit like I was a pingpong ball.  Both incidents were avoided, and after much jostling, we arrived at the parking lot, which was almost entirely full.  Luckily, a gentleman in a big truck decided to move his vehicle over and make room for our little ride.

We were on the trailhead in time to watch the sun rise over the peaks, which was breathtakingly gorgeous.  As we walked along the trail, we were passing a number of other groups; and while this made me feel like I really had my Colorado legs and lungs, I knew what it really meant. You see, there is the standard route, which takes a person from Gray's to Torrey's, and then there is the non-standard route, which takes a person to those same peaks in reverse order via the Kelso Ridge.  Despite the both of us being tired, and despite my suggestion to take the standard route, we were about to embark on the alternate route, you know, to avoid the crowds and get the better views (Brian's words).

And while the name Kelso conjured images of a dreamy Ashton Kutcher, the route was work, really hard work!  We spent the better part of the morning, a good three+ hours, moving along the ridge. The route was a combination of Class 2, 3 and 4 climbing; for those not well-versed in the lingo, the majority of the hike was us alternating between a loosely defined, narrow trail and vast stretches of fallen rock, which were rather steep and precarious.

I am not proud to admit this, but had you been hiking near me, and other than Brian, nobody was anywhere near me (remember: we avoid the crowds and the easy/direct routes), you would have heard a curse word or two.  Despite my best efforts to avoid them, they seemed to slip out any time I would make the mistak of resting my hands on my limp noodle legs and looking toward the summit    

Alas, we did make it to the summit of Torrey's, and I was filled with the same sense of accomplishment I had been filled with on our previous summits.  Perhaps I was even a bit more excited; after all, I had worked really, really hard on this one!  We did not stay on the summit for long.  We had work to do still, and the clouds were rolling in much faster than we would have liked.

We quickly made our way down from the summit and over the the trail leading to Gray's Peak.  Admittedly, we were both tired, but considering the work we had just done, the hike to Gray's was a piece of cake, and we were on our second summit of the day in no time.  We took pictures, ate our lunch and enjoyed another celebratory Ale-8.  We both probably needed the caffeine kick to get up back to the car.  There were so many people on Gray's, it was unreal (and later, when we got back to the parking lot and road, it all made sense.  There had to be more than 60 cars there!).  Regardless, we took some time to bask in the glory of being up so high - and getting there using our own two feet - and then looked at the clouds and decided we needed to get back to the car if we didn't want to be stuck on the trail with 100 of our closest friends, dodging raindrops and hiding from lightning.

The hike back was tough on the knees, and the final mile of the trail seemed to last forever, but we got back to the car, braved the rocky road and stopped off in Idaho Springs for a much needed hot meal.  We got back to our condo more than 12 hours after leaving, but this very long day turned out to be very worthwhile.  It is another shared experience that Brian and I have to look back on; it is another instance of doing something challenging and rewarding; it is another instance of getting out and doing, of living life to its fullest, and this summer has been all about that!

Brian on the Kelso Ridge

Keeping with tradition - enjoying an Ale-8 on each summit

Hiking up the Kelso Ridge, summoning strength to open our treat and enjoying all the hard work 

For whatever reason, when on the plane home to Wisconsin the other day, it hit me.  When the flight attendant announced that we had reached 10, 000 feet and electronic devices could be used, I was looking out the window.  It occurred to me, very concretely, that I had hiked more than 4, 000 feet higher than the plan was cruising at (a few times this summer).  Realizing how high that is, and remember how much work it takes to get there, made the whole process that much more rewarding.  

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