Monday, August 19, 2013

THE Hike

Since Brian has been talking to me about Colorado, he has been talking about Long's Peak. When we decided to begin the relocation to Colorado process back in April, Long's was still a topic of conversation, and when we set out for our first 14er after I arrived here this summer,
it was laying the groundwork for Long's.

This past weekend, just before Mom and Auntie arrived, we took on Long's Peak. An alarm was set for 1:30 am, and after a quick breakfast-ish snack, we were in the car and on our way to the trailhead. Unlike with other hikes, where I utilized every moment of the car ride for extra sleep, I was wide awake the entire drive. Once we arrived, we bundled up (it's cold in the mountains without any sun) and made our way to the trailhead.

I was a bit nervous to hike Long's considering  how much fun I had on the Kelso Ridge route to Torrey's and considering we would be hike in the dark for a few hours, but it was something Brian really wanted to do and something, despite any apprehension, I knew I wanted to experience with him; he would, after all, be fulfilling a long held goal, and I wanted to be there to bear witness to that.

A few weeks ago, when we hiked out of RMNP after dark, I found it gorgeous, but I wasn't sure how it would be for such a prolonged period of time.  Hiking in the dark turned out to be something I enjoyed. Brian and I did more chatting then than we probably ever do on a hike, and to top it off, a meteor shower was in full effect, so we were entertained my those guys as well (on the drive, one came right across the road in front of the car).

As the sun rose and the trail to the summit was uncovered, I knew we had lots of work to do. The boulder field wasn't too bad, and before I knew it, we were at the keyhole. And talk about an immediate weather change. While it had been comfortable for most of the early part of the hike (a light jacket was doing the trick), the wind was vicious after we came through the keyhole. I was very glad to have my scarf with me.

sun rising 
the Diamond 
Brian in front of the Diamond 

the Keyhole 

We trudged through the narrows and the horribly tedious trough, and watched more than a few people become more than a little uncomfortable as they made their way through these portions of the trail. Eventually, as the sun was shinning, we reaches the home stretch and
began blazing a trail to the summit. Just before 10 am, with my adventure buddy by my side, I stood atop one of the most recognizable sights in the Front Range, Long's Peak, elevation  14,259 feet.

Obligatory pictures were taken at the summit, and then we took time to take it all in. Not only did we summit another 14er together, but we submitted THAT 14er.

The hike down, like any, was the opposite of fun to say the least. Aside from the knee pounding, my toe hurt a whole bunch (something was not agreeing with the scar from my last surgery). Brian was also pretty sore in the knees. Add to that the fact that we decided not to drink our Ale-8 at the summit, and it came unsealed and leaked all over. Bri noticed my backpack strap and hip were wet as we neared they Keyhole, and after coming through it, when I went into my backpack to ensure my raincoat was accessible (rain was rolling in and it was now sprinkling), I found my back and the bottom half of my pack were soaked in ginger ale. I took off my wet T-shirt and sweatshirt and pulled out a dry sweater, shook Ale-8 off my raincoat and continued on. Aside from the soul crushing realization that we had more than four miles left to go, the rest of the hike back was rather flat and we avoided weather.

We made it back to the trailhead around 4:00 pm, 13.5 hours after leaving it, and oh-so proud of having conquered Long's.  Since we had to be to DIA to pick up our guests and needed to leave our condo around 7:30, we gave up on the hopes of a rejuvenating nap and instead set our sights on a tasty meal in Estes Park. After fueling up (a burger and fries - I haven't had fries in ages), we headed home, threw our Ale-8 soaked attire in the wash machine and cleaned the hard work off our tired bodies. I had just enough time to vacuum the condo and put my feet up for five minutes before heading out to retrieve Mom and

Auntie Lynn. 

As an added reward for checking another 14er off the list, and to show our guests a bit if Boulder, we stopped for fro yo.  I would consider that, and the evening chat, the perfect way to cap off a perfectly successful summit day.

atop Long's 
reppin' for the alma mater
summit treat 


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target - these guys mark the trail from the Keyhole to the summit 

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