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.

Colorado Travel Guide: Hanging Lake Trail

Hello!

The Hanging Lake Trail is a beautiful hike of a little more than one mile, located just off of eastbound I-70 about 15 minutes east of Glenwood Springs, CO. The hike is strenuous but doable for most abilities. The trail never gets hot, there is a thick cover of trees the length of the canyon, and there are benches spaced fequently throughout the length of the trail for the tired hiker.

The parking lot can only be reached from eastbound I-70 and fills up very quickly. I reccomend arriving before 7:00 if you want to avoid waiting in line. You can also park in Glenwood Springs, or any of three rest areas near the trail take the bike trail that runs along the Colorado River and connects all of those stops and simply lock your bike up before hiking the trail, if you decide to do this, however, you will need to be sure that you won’t be too tired to bike back to your car, and during the spring run off, parts of the trail are closed due to the Colorado River flooding the trail. Once you’ve parked, or bike to the Hanging Lake rest area there is a short walk along the same bike path that I mentioned to get to the trail head. The path is lined with wild rose bushes and other wild flowers and has breath taking views of the river and the Glenwood Canyon.

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The sun rise hits the canyon later than it does the rest of the world so you can leave Glenwood when the sun is up and still see the sun rise in the canyon (It’s stunning).

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As I said before the trail is strenuous. This is what the most difficult parts of the trail look like up until the final strech. The last bit of the trail is in stair steps. The steps can be quite tall but there are not many of them and there are two places to step aside and take a rest, with more beautiful views of the canyon.

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Once you get to the top of the stairs follow the walkway to your right and just around the corner you will see the most beautiful crystal clear lake that makes the whole hike all of the hiking and climbing worth it. There is a walkway around half of the lake with benches to rest on and places to take pictures and admire the lake and the waterfall that is its source.

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Later in the summer there will be yellow columbines growing along the lake!

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You may think that coming down will be easier than going up but while you won’t get as winded the steepness will be jarring to your joints so take it slowly and you’ll see things like this waterfall that you might have missed on the way up. The view is different in every season so the surroundings never get boring.

Be sure to also check out By Quiet Waters’ post about Hanging Lake, to find out about the short walk from the lake to Spouting Rock.

~Maizy

If you would like to read more from my Colorado Travel Guide series, check out my posts one Estes Park, CO pt. 1 and pt. 2, the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, and Bishop’s Castle.

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; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, 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.