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Bierstadt: we finally made it.

July 16, 2012
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Looking up to the summit from the trailhead

First 14er of the season woo!  We finally got out to do some real hiking after many weekends of work schedules/wedding schedules/etc postponing mountaining adventures.

We decided to check Bierstadt off of our list (this is number two as we did Mount Evans last fall..technically.  It’s a long story.) as our warmup to 14ing season.  The trailhead was about a two hour drive from Boulder, so the adventure started at 5:30 with a much needed Starbucks stop in Golden.  It reminded me of ski season *tear* except that it wasn’t pitch blackness outside like it is in the winter.

We got to the trail head and had some mild confusion deciding which trail was actually going to take us to the summit.  But have no fear, our second guess was correct!  We traversed a beautiful valley complete with mountain lake, bridges over the muddy spots, and a panorama of four 14ers–Evans, Bierstadt, Grays, and Torreys.

But then stuff got real.  Once we got across the meadow, the only thing between us and the summit was a mountain.  And it was a tall one.  At first it wasn’t so bad, and the trail kind of wandered up for a while.  Except that on this part we got passed by some guys running up the mountain–yes, running.  Made us feel bad about ourselves but we got over it quickly.

Then there was a section I’m tempted to call the most intense hiking stretch I’ve done.  I felt like this trail, where a normal trail would have had several switchbacks, just sort of went straight up the mountain instead. The combination of that and the fact that we were probably around 13000 feet by then meant a lot of resting.  Lucky for me the bf’s Canon gift was easily accessible in my camera backpack, so I took an unnecessary amount of pictures while we sat.  I’m learning how to actually use the camera properly, so there were a lot that needed to be removed from the bunch due to their suckage, but here’s some that made the cut.  The haziness is due to the several wildfires burning in Colorado as this already ridiculous fire season rages on.. 😦 sad face.

Wildflowers and a view of the valley

One of the many, many succulents up near the summit.

Some more.. they were beautiful!

 

Once we made it to the boulder field that takes you to the summit, there were a ton of people on the trails.  The websites were not lying when they said not to seek out solitude on Bierstadt on the weekend.  Looking down, you could see several groups of people coming up and going down the trail, and there were probably about fifty people at the summit when we got up there.  I was surprised but I guess 14ers are pretty cool.  On the plus side, everybody on the summit sang “Happy Birthday” to some guy who was celebrating by climbing a mountain!  We found a spot relatively away from everyone to have our summit snacks and take pictures of the awesome succulents (except for this couple right in front of us who decided they just could not resist the romance of the moment and made out for a good ten minutes.  We only made fun of them a little bit).  After a while the dark clouds to the west got the better of my fear and I convinced the bf and the bf (that’s boyfriend and best friend :)) that it was time to descend whether they were ready or not.

I love this state.

You always expect the descent to be so easy, and it never is.  Breathing-wise, obvs, it was much easier, but everyone was done with the stress on their joints and quads by the time we got down the boulder field and steepest sections.  The boyf resorted to walking sideways and backwards to avoid the strain on his legs.  It was amusing and probably pretty effective.  We got back to the car and the clouds were ominous, so I was glad to be sheltered.

In other news, there were TONS of dogs around, and I wanted one as usual.  So I guess that’s not really news.

Great start to the hiking season, I’ll keep up posts on the future ones as well (in the works.. Grays/Torreys double summit, Maroon Bells (hopefully), and various RMNP classics).

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