Well, our trip to Ireland has come and gone and it’s time to focus on exploring our home state of Colorado! We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and yet there is much of this state that we have never seen.

In an effort to change that, we have decided (after talking about the idea for a few years now) that we will begin hiking Colorado’s 14ers…that is, the 52 peaks in Colorado which have summits at least 14,000 feet above sea level. We have both been to the top of Pike’s Peak when we were younger, but the fact that you can drive all the way to the top seems to diminish the accomplishment slightly. Thus, we are starting with a clean slate and will keep track here on the blog as to our progress of summiting these various mountains.

Some perspective as to the location of Mount Bierstadt...this is one of the most easily accessible Fourteeners in Colorado and is thus quite popular.

Some perspective as to the location of Mount Bierstadt…this is one of the most easily accessible Fourteeners in Colorado and is thus quite popular.

Our journey began today with a climb to the top of supposedly one of the easier and more accessible of the 14ers, Mount Bierstadt. We woke up at 5:30am and we’re officially on the road (after stopping for gas and some breakfast burritos) by 6:20am heading towards the small town of Georgetown in the mountains.

We drove up the winding road behind town (taking a detour to avoid roads closed for some sort of event, probably a charity run) and arrived at the already quite full parking lot at the base of Mount Bierstadt just before 7:30am. We found parking along the side of the road and, after a quick stop at the lovely restroom facility (maybe lovely is a bit strong!) and a minor incident with sunscreen and large changes in atmospheric pressure, set off along the trail.

A lake near the base of Mount Bierstadt.

A lake near the base of Mount Bierstadt.

The first part of the hike crosses some marshy land and has several sections of boardwalk to make this easier. The trail is hemmed in on both sides by scraggly willow bushes (not to be confused with the weeping willow trees with which we both grew up). Along the way, we crossed a small stream by walking across logs and fortunately neither of us fell in!

The "bridge" to cross the stream at the base of the mountain.

The “bridge” to cross the stream at the base of the mountain.

As we began to gain elevation, we passed several pairs of people in hard hats carrying large logs up the mountain. We certainly did not relish their task but do definitely appreciate the work of these volunteers (we assume, anyway) to help maintain the trail. Fortunately for them, they only had to take the logs part of the way to the summit.

We don't envy these workers carrying large logs halfway up the mountain.

We don’t envy these workers carrying large logs halfway up the mountain.

Mount Bierstadt is also one of the 14ers considered to be puppy friendly and we saw no shortage of dogs along the way. Naturally, Philip stopped to say hi to almost all of them including a pair that looked a lot like Niko and Kali. We should also point out that the trail was quite crowded and we estimate about 1000 people climbed the mountain today!

It's late June, but this small lake on the back side of the mountain is still frozen!

It’s late June, but this small lake on the back side of the mountain is still frozen!

The view of the Rocky Mountains from the summit of Mount Bierstadt.

The view of the Rocky Mountains from the summit of Mount Bierstadt.

The climb was definitely challenging, but we reached the rocky summit at around 10:30am after scrambling up the last section of huge boulders. We spent a while taking in the breathtaking views with the hundred or so other people gathered on the summit. Before descending, we took a picture with a very nice looking sign on a pole (gave the name of the mountain and the elevation) that we learned a random person had made and brought up to the summit with him. We also realized at this point that we had forgotten our Which Wich sandwich bag and thus will not be earning our free sandwich for taking a picture with the bag on the summit of a 14er.

Two exhausted and happy hikers on top of Mount Bierstadt. Some other random hiker made this awesome sign and was allowing people to take pictures with it...too bad the elevation is off by 5 feet.

Two exhausted and happy hikers on top of Mount Bierstadt. Some other random hiker made this awesome sign and was allowing people to take pictures with it…too bad the elevation is off by 5 feet.

The trip down was significantly faster, although still hard on the legs as we had to keep from tumbling down the mountain. We made it back to the car at 12:40, for a round trip time of 5 hours and 10 minutes, which is on par according to the internet.

Looking back towards the mountain we conquered!

Looking back towards the mountain we conquered!

Our drive home was hindered by major construction in Denver on an I-70 bridge that reduced 3 lanes of traffic to a single lane, but we eventually made it back, exhausted but thrilled to have conquered our first Colorado mountain.

We’re not sure which 14er we will attempt to summit next and we learned the painful lesson that some amount of preparatory training might be in order. We will definitely keep updating here as we explore not just the rest of the world, but our own beautiful Colorado as well!

UPDATE: The day after we hiked Bierstadt, a group of experienced hikers were struck by lightning at 11:30am on the trail below the summit. All the people survived but a German shepherd who was right next to the guy who took the direct strike was killed. It is a scary reminder of how volatile the weather in the Colorado mountains can be and how vital it is to watch the weather closely and err on the side of caution when hiking.

Our hiking path, complete with an elevation profile and velocity tracking...it's amazing what can be done these days with a cheap GPS tracker and some free GoogleEarth software!

Our hiking path, complete with an elevation profile and velocity tracking…it’s amazing what can be done these days with a cheap GPS tracker and some free GoogleEarth software!

Stats:

  • Mountain and Summit Elevation: Mount Bierstadt (14,060 feet)
  • Total Distance Traveled: 133.7 miles
  • Distance on Foot: 7.3 miles
  • Vertical Distance on Foot: 2,810 feet

Conquered 14ers Tally:

  • 2015-06-27: Mount Bierstadt (14,060 feet)