Mount Elbert: Hiking Colorado’s Highest 14er
posted by: Amber Johnson
For further clarification: Baby keeps you up for first six months of her life. Finally sleeps through the night. Parent thinks HOLY CRAP, BABY SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. I HAVE ARRIVED! Next night: Baby wakes up every hour. False summit.Feel my pain?
Despite the commanding views at the top, I am not partial to 14ers for their beauty. Part of the reason is you are doing the brunt of the climb above treeline. And call me crazy but there is little innate beauty about rocks, particularly when that is all you see for hours on end.But this hike was different. We ascended through whispering aspen groves, boreal forests, glacier-scoured valleys nestled between craggy peaks and through profusions of wildflowers in full bloom. In the distance, the silence was punctured by the howl of coyotes and the call of an elk. Oh, and the cussing of a Canuck. Did I mention just how steep it was?
“Summit Fever, Amber. Summit Fever.”
And then I gave him that look. You know, that one that says you had better slow down right now if you want to create our final child and also spend the rest of our lives practicing. That look.He stopped in his tracks.
I am proud to be a role model for supporting a husband’s aspirations and dreams.
Reaching the summit is like an elite club of folks whose altitude sickness has made them forget the misery of the climb. And that is what keeps them coming back again and again. The group is always eclectic, always friendly, and always has a story. Like this young buck who set the goal to juggle atop all of Colorado’s 14ers.
I felt strong the first few miles of the descent but the intensity of the hike kicked in the last 1.5 miles and our knees screamed out in protest.
Jamie’s knee was still bothering him when we arrived home so I graciously unloaded his luggage. And you’ll never guess what I discovered.
“Hey Jamie. I just found the maps.”
“In your backpack.”
“Oh yeah. I put them in there so I wouldn’t forget them on the climb.”