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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trip Report: Leadville Part 3

Aside from the obvious reasons of wanting to go to Leadville (KoB's favorite place, it's freaking beautiful, who doesn't want to go to Colorado in July, etc), one of the major draws for me was to experience higher altitudes. Leadville advertisers itself as the highest incorporated city in the US.

10,200 feet, y'all.

And on top of that, Leadville is centrally located to MANY 14,000 peak mountains. Including the highest one in Colorado...

 Hello Gorgeous.
Mt. Elbert, 14,440'
Actually, I think this is Mt. Massive.
But you get the idea. It's a fucking mountain.

One of my dreams is travel to Nepal and do a trek to Everest Base Camp. Everest Base Camp sits at around 17,600'. And while I realize that additional 3,200' is a HUGE DEAL. I wanted to make sure that I could at least handle 14,000 feet and not feel like my head was going to explode. So, I wanted to climb a 14er while we were in Leadville and of course, why not climb the biggest one??

In the beginning I'm taking pictures of everything.
Not so much by the end.

The KoB had done the hike lots of times before and like a good Eagle Scout he suggested that we get up and head out early. Just in case. From the start, this hike was already 100% smarter than any other hike I've ever done. My friends and I are notorious for happening upon a trailhead and saying... ohhhh... an 8 mile hike, that's nothing. And then 15 hours later we limp back to our cars after having survived a thunderstorm, no water or food, and one time... someone had a stress fracture. (slight exaggeration, except for the stress fracture part, that was real).

The trail starts out innocently enough. And then once above the treeline it becomes a real HIKE. Straight up.
The trail goes straight to the top of that peak.
And then back down it and to another peak.
Yup, that's a false summit. 
Mt. Elbert has a sick sense of humor.

Instead of the trail winding around switchbacks, it literally goes straight up. I actually preferred that to switchbacks. Sure it sucks and is way harder, but I could climb for 2 minutes and turn around to gaze below me and catch my breath and see the people that I just passed wayyyy below me. It was awesome.

Yup. Stopped to "take a picture."
AKA: Stopped to catch my breath.

After about a zillion false summits (that thankfully The KoB had warned me about)...

Nope! Not it!

We finally summit-ed!

Totes Adorbs.

It was spectacular up there.

I mean. Really.

We saw a few dogs making the trek.
This guy's name was Luther and he LOVED the snow.

Someone had left a sign from the previous day up there
so, we had our picture taken with it. In case ya know, Wikipedia
ever dies and we can't figure out how high Mt. Elbert is one day.
(Since I just finished The Stand, I totally believe that could happen).

Another view of her.

We started back down and while it did take significantly less time to get down than it did to get up, the down hike wasn't all that easy either. I actually jammed up my big toenail pretty bad and by the end of it, it was killing me.
A little rocky.

This is what the trail looks like below the treeline.

Finally we emerged back at the trailhead. It had taken us a little longer than we had anticipated, but it was a beautiful hike and I'm ready to tackle another 14er.

We headed back to town after the hike and after showering and relaxing for a bit, we both realized that we were pretty wasted. I felt pretty terrible and had some caffeine and took some pain pills. We went to a delicious restaurant and I ordered a plate of nachos and I could barely eat 1/3 of them. THAT IS UNHEARD OF. Seriously, normally, I will eat the entire plate of nachos, no problem. But, ugh, I just didn't feel well.

That is actually one weird thing I noticed on the trip. I was hungry and wanted food like I always do, but once I started eating... I got full MUCH MUCH quicker than I do at sea level. This should make me happy, because... yayyyy! not a fatty mcfatterson for once in my life. But, actually it kind of made me sad. I was on vacation, I wanted to stuff my face and eat all the things and enjoy it. Oh well. 

After the pain pills kicked in and I laid down for an hour or so, I was able to wallow down into town for ice cream (because... DUH vacation!). And I woke up the next morning feeling pretty good and normal!

Fantastic setting for a little town.

 Such a beautiful little "main" street.

Operation: 30 minutes at 14,000 feet was a complete success! Am I ready for Everest Base Camp? Meh, probably not... but at least I know I can hang reasonably well at Colorado's highest peak!


Carina said...

Amazing pictures! I'm with you on preferring straight up to switchbacks. Just get it done already. We contemplated attempting base camp when we go to Nepal this year but decided against it, though it's still on the someday list. Just didn't think we'd be physically prepared and had too many other things we wanted to see in the available time. Would def be awesome someday!

Dolly said...

I'm pretty envious of your summer mini vacations...

First you get to go to the Grand Canyon and now Leadville..

I've been such a creature of habit running the same 4, 6, & 10 mile loops around my neighborhood and work area.

I'd kill to see the beach right now.

Amy said...

Carina: OMG totes jealous that you are going to Nepal. I cannot wait to hear all about it this fall!!

Dolly: A beach does sound pretty damn good...