As you can see from my previous post, after my Back-to-Back-to-Back weekends of Olympic Distance Triathlons I was in much need of a vacation. Nothing like an Altitude Adventure into the heartland of Colorado! Over the past 4 weeks, those 3 Olympic Tris in 3 weekends weren't that hardest thing I've done. That goes to this Colorado adventure with my Dad and Brother! I was planning on it being some nice active recovery, but boy was I in for a surprise!
*Summited four 14,000+ foot Mountains
*Over 25miles of Hiking
*Over 2 vertical miles (10,560feet) Climbed... That's equivalent to climbing to the 102nd floor (1224 feet, 1860 steps) of the Empire State Building 8.62 times!! A total of 16,000 steps!!
Highest Elevation - Windom Peak - 14,082 feet
Highest I've Swam - Twin Lakes - 12,500 feet
Highest I've Slept - Chicago Basin - 11,200 feet
Thursday 9/6/12 - Flying out West
Hartford, CT (36 feet)--> Denver, CO (5,280 feet) --> Durango, CO (6,512 feet)
Friday - Train ride to Needleton. Hike to Chicago Basin
9:30am - We hopped aboard the Durango-Silverton train.
12:00pm - We started our 7 mile trek further into the wilderness towards the Chicago Basin. We stopped every 50 minutes or so to catch our breath. Being the triathlete that I am, I was eating and drinking (a lot!) at every stop. I quickly guzzled through my 32oz. Nalgene and was sipping of my dad's water for the rest of the hike. 4 hours later we found a nice spot near the stream and set up camp.
Saturday - Summit Day, Take 1
We were very ambitious and wanted to summit all four 14ers in one day. Our plan was to hit the trail at 6am, but due to rain, we waited... I went back to sleep, zzz zzz. At 8am, it was now or never, we started walking in a slight drizzle with an optimistic mind that the weather would turn for the better... It didn't. We reached the summit of Windom peak at 11am in a dense cloud/fog. It was even snowing/hailing on us. We couldn't see more than 30 feet! Still optimistic, we decided to head up Sunlight peak. Lucky for us, the skies opened up and so did the views! We summited Sunlight Peak at 2pm and we could see for miles! It was absolutely gorgeous. We made it back down to camp by 4pm, ate dinner, and then off to bed for me. I was exhausted!
Sunday - Summit Day, Take 2 + Trek out
My Dad rested. The high points of Texas, Arizona, and California were calling his name, so he needed to conserve his energy. On the other hand, the last two 14ers were calling my brother and me. We set off at 6am. It was a very chilly night and that morning there was frost on the ground! By 7:30am the sun was out and it was going to be a beautiful day! By 9am we summited North Eolus. Then we crossed the catwalk and bouldered our way up to the top of Mount Eolus by 930am. The view was amazing! We were making great time, but that is when my borderline crazy brother suggested that we go down the "alternate" route. This is what the book said about the East Couloir, "when it is in good condition, this hidden couloir offers a nifty way to avoid the crowds on the upper Northeast Ridge Route. Avoid this couloir after the snow melts." First off, there were no crowds that needed to be avoiding (we were the only ones on the mountain). Second off, THERE WAS NO SNOW!! Apparently, this is a seasonal, alternate route to take in the winter time. My brother read the first sentence, got excited, and stopped reading. This was one of the scariest things I have ever done (Mom, if you read this, it was actually a piece of cake, I'm dramatizing). My experienced brother, whose been living/hiking CO for 5 years now, said it was one of the sketchier descents if not THE sketchiest descent he's ever done! We slowly, but surely made it out of the couloir, and then we booked it back to base camp. Our Dad was waiting by the trail with all his stuff packed up ready to go. He was worried, it was 1130am and we told him we'd be back by 11am, whoops, at least we made it! We quickly made a warm lunch, packed up our stuff, and hit the trail heading back towards the train tracks.
Monday 9/10/12 - Flying back East
Durango, CO (6,512 feet) --> Denver, CO (5,280 feet) --> Hartford, CT (36 feet)
I had a 6 hour layover in Denver. I set up camp in a nice comfy chair. During this time, I wrote the first draft of this Trip Report with an orange pen (that I borrowed from the Southwest desk lady) on graph paper (that I got from the business man sitting across from me).