#10 – Mt. Elbert

In a post a couple months ago I described my summer above the clouds and how I spent a lot of time exploring the 14ers (or the peaks above 14k feet) of Colorado.  In October I managed to complete my summer 14er bucket list and summit my 10th 14er,  Mount Elbert.

Mount Elbert is the second highest mountain in the lower 48…. it’s elevation is only lower than California’s Mt. Whitney.

The Mount Elbert hike was a challenge for me.  I know to many experienced 14er climbers it’s a walk in the park… it’s a gradual elevation gain over several miles with a large, beautiful summit.  To a newer 14er hiker it was rough.  It seemed like such a long hike, it was steep and for me, it was nothing short of miserable.

Summitting this mountain was a personal victory.

The night before I climbed this mountain I had a long emotional conversation with my ex-boyfriend who I really hadn’t spent much time talking to in two months.  I went to sleep way too late with a very heavy heart.  I woke up and almost didn’t leave that morning. I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone drive 2.5 hours to climb a huge mountain by myself.  But talking to someone who hurt you & knowing you are better and deserve better is in many ways empowering.  So I grabbed my stuff and my adventure buddy and we set off on our way.

It was a beautiful October day.  When living in Colorado and it’s calm with no chance of snow or storms and you have the day off from work… you take advantage and get your butt to the mountains.

Driving to the trail head can be exhausting in itself but this morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the views on the way sure furthered my excitement…

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The trail started in the trees at 10,040 feet.  We were going to take the Northeast Ridge route to the top.

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It was kind of weird being in the trees alone.  I had my gun on me & I had Zainey but sometimes it feels weird when you manage to hit the trail and you’re the only one on it. It was a very quiet day and I think all in all I only passed 8 people on the way up.

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Much of the first mile or so was like this.  Gradual uphills with some steeper uphills.

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I wore my “fall in love with your life” shirt to remind me that life is what you make of it.  It was warm enough to wear short sleeves – very rare for a 14er hike!

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Once I eventually cleared the trees I had a few miles of views like this on the way up.

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There were 2-3 false summits… that made the hike even more exhausting. It was also so calm that day that you could hear anything and Zainey was driving me nuts with her constant stopping & wanting to search for the annoying pikas she could hear (a pika is a small mammal that lives at high elevation – it has this high pitched squeak that makes Zainey’s hunting instincts go crazy).

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Here is a picture of us getting ready to summit.  We had finally made it to the point where we could see the top. iphone 10.31.15 1174

The summit is there in the distance on the right.  The large pile of rocks is called a cairn or “a mound of rough stones built as a landmark” – basically, it tells you where the trail is.  You can look at this picture and see the trail as well as the final ridge leading to the summit.

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And finally…. the summit. (And my awesome sign!)

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My adventure lab!  14er #6 for her 🙂

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#10 was a beast but it was worth every minute of the 9 mile hike & taxing 4,700 feet of total elevation gain.

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