For our last 14er of the 2016 season we finally got a chance to hike Mt. Elbert. We were extra excited for it because we get “double credit” since it is also a state high point. At 14,440 feet Mt. Elbert is the 2nd highest mountain in the continental US. Only Mt. Whitney, the California state high point is taller. So this was our 12th 14er, and 14th state high point.
Looking in this direction you can see Mt. Massive. Massive is 12 feet lower than Elbert, so it just barely misses being the state high point. It is kind of a shame because Massive is a much more impressive name than Elbert!
This was the first time we have done a 14er late enough in the season that the aspens had already changed colors for fall! It was so pretty to see the aspens glowing in the sunlight. However, it made for a pretty cold hike! It was 28 degrees when we started and got down to close to 20 degrees because we hiked almost 2,000 feet higher before the sun came out. The summit was warmer because of the sunlight but felt even colder because it was insanely windy up there.
Last year when we went to the mountains to see the fall colors with my dad, we were down there by these lakes. It was pretty awesome to see this same place where it is always so pretty in the fall, but this time from up above.
We started this hike at 4am because it is 4,700 feet of gain to hike Elbert. We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to reach the summit before any potential storms came in. We made the summit by 10am, and other than being cold, it was a beautiful storm-free day!
Something strange about this hike, was it was the first time we have ever encountered so many people that were hiking it, but with no intentions of actually trying to reach the summit. To me, I can’t imagine hiking 2,000 feet and not wanting to finish it and have the satisfaction of reaching the top. But I guess for all these people they just wanted to hike high enough for a decent picture and then turn around.
Another strange occurrence that we encountered (that we have not seen on any of our previous 14ers or high points), was I turned around and there was a woman who had just taken off her shirt and bra and was topless… It startled me because I was not expecting to see boobs at 14,000 feet in the freezing cold, so like a 12 year old boy lol I said “woah boobs!” really loudly haha. I’m not sure why she was posing for a topless picture at the top of the mountain but it was really strange… I guess high points always have something strange!
Another strange thing we saw was this crazy squirrel that kept like attacking this guy. It jumped on him and climbed on him several times. He must have had food on him because that squirrel was determined. Having seen all of those “don’t feed the squirrels” posters in national parks, of how bad they can bite you- I wouldn’t want one climbing on me!
The worst part of our hike was what we ended up calling the “dude monsoon”. So the air force academy men’s lacrosse team (and maybe even some of their other teams), decided to all hike Mt. Elbert that day. There had to be over 100 of them (we could tell because they were all wearing blue team clothes). Anyways, they were very annoying and “bro” like. Coming down from the hike they were trying to run down it (despite the fact that none of them had the trail running skills for this) so they were half way falling and practically knocking us down. We were constantly having to jump out of their way, and none of them even said thank you when we moved. There were so many of them that this got to be really irritating. They were not respecting the people on the trail and they were not respecting the mountain itself, since so many of them kept hiking off of the trail in the fragile alpine tundra. At one point Natalie referred to them as “blue monsoon” but I thought she said the “dude monsoon” so we ended up calling them this instead lol.
Natalie decided that she wanted to hike Elbert with us. Despite the fact that she had never hiked more than 2,500 feet of gain before in her life, Natalie was brave and bold and decided to take on 4,700 feet of gain! She did really well and pushed through the moments of struggle and misery to make it up there! Despite the fact that she says no way is she hiking any more mountains this year, we think she has caught 14er fever, and will be back for more with us next summer!
This was the most bundled I have ever been at the top of a 14er. All three of us ended up wearing every single layer we had and every warm accessory we brought to handle the cold and wind. It might have been colder than a July hike, but for me it was so worth it to see the golden aspens.
We actually remembered this time to bring our which wich sandwich bags up with us to take a picture! Now we can get a free sandwich the next time we go 🙂
Natalie took a great picture of us, even if my hands are covering up half the words on the sign!
I look less beat up on the top of this one than some of our previous 14ers! I think after having hiked with 35 pounds when we went backpacking 2 weeks prior, it didn’t feel as bad to only be carrying a light pack.
Probably one of my favorite sister pics we have! Natalie is getting pretty tough these days! So glad to have more company on our 14er hikes. She honestly keeps Jeb and I in a better mood and more positive throughout the hikes. And we help to encourage her to push through the pain. So I think the 3 of us are a really great team 🙂
Yay, the three of us! Natalie in my jacket, and me in Jeb’s vest haha! Whatever it takes to stay warm enough.
We really enjoyed this hike despite the difficulty! The fall colors were really pretty, and we were proud and happy to have another state high point! This might be the end of our 14er season (unless Jeb and I can accomplish our goal of tackling a winter 14er), but I’m already picking out the ones that I want to do next year 🙂