Hiking Pikes Peak: My First Fourteener!

On Saturday, July 16, I hiked my first fourteener! A fourteener is a mountain that is between 14,000 and 15,000 feet in elevation. It was REALLY hard. The trail itself was surprisingly easy but the combination of altitude and sheer length of the trail made this a very difficult hike. This post isn’t going to be part of my Colorado Travel Guide series but I do plan to write a post for that series about the Colorado fourteeners after I have hiked a few more.

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Me and the ladies I hiked with

I hiked Pike’s Peak with three other ladies from my church. The summit is 14,110 feet in elevation and the trail is 12.7 miles long. My group started at the trailhead at 5:00 in the morning in order to reach the summit by early afternoon. Storms, especially lightning storms, are very common at high elevation especially in the afternoon. We hiked for about 3.5 hours and stopped at the halfway point, Barr camp to rest a bit and refill our water bottles. There is no running water on the trail that is safe to drink so bring a filter, or bring a lot of water. I drank two 70 ounces (two liters) on the first half and 118 ounces on the second half. Drinking lots of water is more important the farther up you go because it helps with altitude sickness. There is a stream at Barr camp where you can refill (with a filter or you will get giardia) and according to one member of my group there is a runoff stream a little ways down from A frame camp and off from the trail. It was dry when I was there so I would not count on filling up there. I didn’t start to feel the altitude until we got above treeline. After treeline you climb about 5,000 feet in 3 miles. Once I got to the top the altitude kicked I started feeling a bit nauseous and I was really tired but I never got altitude sickness thankfully. After hiking Pike’s Peak  I feel a bit more serious about hiking more fourteeners because I know how hard it is but I also am excited because I’ve proven to myself that I can do it.

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Me and one of the ladies on the hike

Here are my takeaways from the hike.

  • HYDRATION IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL! I drank twice my normal amount the day before the hike as well as during the hike and I attribute how well I did with the altitude entirely to that.
  • Eat something before. I carb loaded the night before the hike and packed lots of carby and sugary snacks to make sure I had enough energy but I wish that I had remembered to eat something like toast with almond butter before I left for the hike so that I had something in my stomach before I started.
  • Wear light layers. The temperature fluctuates so make sure that you can take things off and put them on easily.
  • Every time I stopped, my body could have kept going but I had to convince my mind that I could finish the hike. Your body can do a lot more than you think you can.
  • Whoever said that the 16 golden stairs were the very end of the hike lied because there are definitely more than 16 switchbacks before you reach the summit.
  • Mt. Bierstadt, here I come!
  • Be prepared to hike all the way back down, or have someone drive to the summit to pick you up. Not all fourteeners have a road to the summit.

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: Rocky Mountain National Park

Happy Independence Day!

Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning part of Colorado, filled with rugged mountains, dense forests, powerful rivers, and freezing tundras where summer never comes. It is the home of Long’s Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado as well as the source of the Colorado River, which makes its way through the country, eventually winding its way through the Grand Canyon. It is one of my favorite places to hike and camp, or just take a day trip to drive around and see the beautiful views. An entrance to the park is located just outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

I recently camped in the park to explore and get some higher altitude hiking in before I hike my first fourteener (also known as mountians that are at least fourteen thousand feet in elevation).  Please note that Rocky Mountain National Park is a high elevation park. Make sure to stay hydrated and watch for signs of altitude sickness, which can be life threatening. If you are from a much lower elevation than most of Colorado I would reccommend taking a few days to acclimate to the elevation in a place with access to medical assistance before attempting a hike in the park.

The first hike I did was to Fern Lake, I got caught in the rain so I didn’t make it all the way to the lake, but the views were incredible and the foliage and wildflowers were beautiful. Make sure to bring bug spray and wear long pants/sleeves, the mosquitoes were fierce.

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The second hike I did was in the Wild Basin area the trail passes a series of waterfalls and ends at a lake. Again, I got caught in the rain so I didn’t make it all of the way to the lake but I made it five miles in and saw three of the waterfalls.

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Before you leave the park, make sure to drive over Trail Ridge Road. It is the highest paved road in the United States and takes you through all of the various eocsystems in the park. The first is Montane, the thick mountian forests with a large diversity of animal and plant life. Next is Subalpine, which is located just before and after treeline, where the elevation makes it too difficult for trees to grow. The last is Alpine Tundra, summer seems to never come here and there is always snow on the ground.

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the view of the park from Trail Ridge Road

While on Trail Ridge Road we stopped near the trail head for Mt. Ida, there was a short trail above this lake that was quite lovely.

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I never realized before this trip that there is a National Scenic Trail along the Continental Divide that goes all the way from New Mexico, through Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, to Montana. Backpacking along that trail is definitely something that I want to do in the next five years.

I hope you enjoyed this and got another idea for your next visit to Colorado!

~Maizy

Check out my Colorado Travel Guide posts about Estes Park pt. 1Estes Park pt. 2, The Celestial Seasonings Tea FactoryBishop’s Castle, and The Hanging Lake Trail.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Hello!

The strawberry patch in my family’s garden has been going CRAZY! Everyday we could go out and pick more than we could possibly eat that day. We have been eating strawberries, putting them in smoothies, and baking with them like crazy. Today I froze as many as I could pick so that we can use them for smoothies and baking later in the year. We also have a rhubarb plant so one day I whipped up this delicious strawbery rhubarb crisp. It’s like a cobbler but simpler because instead of a bread topping you have a crumble topping.

Filling:

50 small strawberries

2 1/2 stalks of rhubarb

1/3 cup of sugar

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Rinse the rhubarb and the strawberries. Pull the leaves and stems off of the strawberries and set them aside to compost. Cut the strawberries into small pieces and the rhubarb into slices less than 1/2 inch thick.

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Place the strawberries and rhubarb in a bowl (I used the pan I baked them in because fewer dishes=less to clean up).

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Add the sugar and stir until all of the fruit is evenly covered.

Pour into and 8″x8″ pan and set aside while you make the topping.

Crumble Topping:

1 cup flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup brown sugar

1 stick of COLD butter (the butter has to be cold or the crumble topping won’t cook right)

This will make extra topping, put the excess in a jar and freeze it to make another crisp.

Mix the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and then cut into the topping mixture. You can use a pie crust tool, two knives, or your hands just make sure that you don’t melt the  butter too much if you use your hands. You want the majority of the melting to happen in the oven. When you are done, the mixture should look like coarse crumbs.

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Pour/spread the topping over the fruit. You can make it as thick or as thin as you want but make sure that no fruit is showing and know that it will shrink in the oven.

Bake at 375 for 20 mintes and 400 for 5 minutes.

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Serve warm or chilled. It is delicious served warm with a scoop of ice cream.

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Enjoy! If you make this crisp be sure to post it Facebook or Instagram and tag me so I can see it. My username on both is a maizy life.

~Maizy