Thursday, October 09, 2008

Mt. Bierstadt

In August I convinced three of the people I work with to climb one of Colorado's 54 14ers. For those not from Colorado, a 14er is a mountain that rises above 14,000 feet above sea level, and Colorado has the highest concentration of such peaks in the nation (excepting Alaska.)

Being I'm eating a lot of Chipotle and working at a desk all day, anything terribly strenuous was out. Mt Bierstadt, at 14,060 feet above sea level provided a hike that was easy(ish) and very close to home.

Anytime you go hiking above timberline is fairly strenuous, even on an easy mountain like Bierstadt, so it took our group (me) a while to get to the top. Really, we couldn't have asked for a better day, the weather was spotless, even hot, which is rare in an area that can hold on to patches of snow year round.

Anytime you go hiking you see beautiful views, but climbing tall peaks really is like being on the roof of the world. I just love being able to look out over miles and miles of ridges, cirques, peaks and valleys.

I have actually been to the top of Bierstadt several times (3 or 4?), but I never get tired of climbing 14ers, though the climb itself is pretty tiring. None of my cohorts had done a hike like this before, so despite being tail end charlie I was still the elder sage.

I even got to tell them, "back in my day, this climb was a lot harder!" Which is true, climbers once had to deal with a thick, muddy patch of willows in the drainage between the parking lot and the climb. This made for a tricky early morning, as nobody wants to get icy water dumped down their boots on the way up a mountain! Luckily, some years ago the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado built a wonderful system of catwalks over the worst parts, making the whole thing a breeze.

It's always nice, at the end of the day, to look back at what you accomplished and be happy. Of course, any readers who have conquered one of the more difficult 14ers will now take this moment to giggle quietly. Bierstadt may not be Longs Peak, but it was a good trip, one I'll probably do again.

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