One down, Fifty-Two to go

Maybe it was too early, or maybe I’m just a clumsy person that needs to accept my middle name isn’t Grace….but whatever the case may be, it still felt GREAT to get this done!

On Wednesday, Nick and I climbed my first 14er, Mount Evans.  The summit sits at approximately 14,264 feet of elevation, and I know what you may be thinking, but no, we don’t climb over 14,000 feet! Since it was my first, we took the more moderate climb up which was 5 miles round trip and 2,000 ft up.

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Hiked up and along the backside of this ridge!

The climb was a Class 2 which essentially means there might be some boulder scrambling but it is along a somewhat designated trail, luckily.  It starts at Summit Lake which is a beautiful and serene, and then climbs up to Mount Spalding before it meanders along the backside of the ridge up to Mount Evans.  Walking up and along the ridge also left us exposed and man, was it windy, but still a beautiful day for a climb!

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View from Mount Spalding
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Almost to the top of Mount Evans!

Unfortunately it was about 1 mile to the top when I hit a bit of bad luck and sprained the ankle, AGAIN! I was wearing my brace and not even going that fast when a rock just turned it a bit. It wasn’t as bad as other times but definitely not an ideal time to have it happen.  I figured it would be easier to just keep going and then if needed, find a ride down from a kind stranger or Nick would have to come get me! Mount Evans has the highest road in the country for cars to drive all the way to the summit.  And with a road at the top, comes all the tourist…which in my case actually helped later on.

We climbed up the rest of the way, with only a few unsettling moments with the wind and feeling a little unstable with a bum ankle, but knew that hiking down was just not in the cards for me. But luckily the longer we hiked, the better my ankle felt keeping it loose and engaged.

And shortly after 2.5 hours, we made it to the top! The initial “top” is actually a parking lot where you then climb an additional 1/4 mile switchback with some tourists to the summit. Along our last 1/4 mile, we saw a mamma goat and baby, some strange model posing from strangers, and of course, a beautiful view from the top of Mount Evans!

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Seriously, what is going on here?
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1st 14er complete!

And of course, Nick wanted to make it to the VERY top so he climbed up on the tallest rock to make it to the peak!

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I wanted Nick to enjoy the full experience so we agreed after some relaxing at the top, that he would hike down and I’d try and use my skills from the trail and hitch a ride down.  There were a constant stream of people but lucky for me, I found a kind couple that were on there way down just as I started looking.  Dennis and Pam, a couple from Illinois, were in Colorado celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. They had met 50 years ago in Estes Park while on a church retreat in college, so sweet! We exchanged stories and they drove me down to Summit Lake on their way out.

As I waited for Nick, I was joined by numerous bighorn sheep hanging out in the parking lot of Summit Lake.  These guys were hilarious, walking around, ignoring the humans and licking the cars, ground and jumping the fences for fun.

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Nick arrived back down by the lake shortly before the sheep departed and we enjoyed one last view of the beautiful scenery.

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I’m just fine now but like I said, I think I just need to accept I’m just a clumsy person and that can be quite the occupational hazard for someone that likes to hike.  I’m going to go ahead and suck it up and get some hiking boots with a little more ankle support in order for us to be able to continue hiking this season.  With the feet feeling much better these days, the concentration will turn to recovery and strengthen this dang ankle!  Hopefully I’ll be ready to go as we start to plan for which 14er will be next!

Happy trails,

Trucker

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