For Father’s Day, my brother had this fabulous idea to hike a 14er with our 59 year old father. So, last Thursday, we woke up at early-thirty to make our way into Leadville to summit the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains: Mount Elbert.
Unbeknownst to me, Mount Elbert is the highest 14er in Colorado, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, and the 2nd highest in the US (after Mount Whitney). I guess I didn’t know all the 14er factoids, but my brother, the Gerry Roach of the group, filled me in from time to time.
Our goal start time was 7am, and with a quick jaunt into Leadville (1h 30m), followed by some county roads and a 4WD stretch, we reached the 10,400′ east ridge trailhead around 6:40. After some last minute preparations and some really bad photos (naturally, those didn’t make the blog), we were on the trail at 7:02am.
As we started on the Colorado Trail, there were pink and black ribbons marking the route for the Leadville Race Series. I was super excited about this, since I will be running the Heavy Half (15.46 miles) on Saturday. Yes, 2 days from now. So. Not. Ready. But that’s another post.
The trail immediately begins to incline with very few switchbacks. I take off up the mountain, in my slow-as-molassas-semi-run-slash-jog. No better way to prepare for a race that you aren’t prepared for than to try to run at 10,000 feet elevation and higher a few times the week leading up to said race. I stop around mile 1, waiting on my dad and my brother. After hanging on with them for a few minutes, my dad insists that I go on with a “Just go, Bek.” Don’t have to tell me twice. So I head on up the mountain. Running when I can. Hiking a lot. The incline on this 14er was much different than the handful of others I’ve done. Mt. Elbert has such vertical from our route, that some of it was more efficient to hike than run. Oh yeah, and my breathing was a factor. Mainly because I couldn’t.
I finally summited after 1h 50m of active time.
I took some photos. Chatted with a German. Ate some peanut butter crackers and peanut M&M’s. My brother summited about 20 minutes after I did. And my dad about another 20 after that. Not bad for an old guy.
Whomever summited first that morning must not have done the research. The sign is wrong. He must have gotten that false info from wikipedia. Fact.
Elevation is 14,433. And yes, I’m counting.
On the way down, I stayed with my dad and brother; a) because it was a Father’s Day event so I should spend time with my Father and b) because my brother gave me a hard time about running ahead. I think this was primarily because he was jealous that I didn’t have poles slowing me down and that I summited before him. He’s sort of competitive. Especially since I’m the younger sister. And yes he reads this. So the decent took about as long as the climb. NBD.
It was dreadfully hot by the time we got back to the trailhead a little after noon. I was glad we were done. However, some were just getting started! And wearing jeans and cotton t-shirts! No thanks.
All in all, it was a great day with dear old dad and kinda cool brother. My dad was hardly even sore the next day, so he has insisted we summit another this summer. Okay!
Next up, I “race” two half marathons this weekend and my training has been less than. Summer problems…