Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hiking Grays Peak; 2007, a blast from the past hike!

~ The post below was written before I started this blog; we hiked our 3rd 14er, Grays Peak in the fall of 2007.  Below I have added the blog post from my personal blog and the photos taken almost exactly 3 years ago today; I did add directions for your information.  It makes me chuckle reading this knowing how much we struggled back then compared to now.  We have done a lot of high altitude hikes and acclimating since then. 
This weekend Josh and I, with our friends David and Laura, climbed one of Colorado's 14,000 foot peaks, Grays Peak.  I was really glad that I could accomplish this after hurting my back so badly earlier this summer, and felt really grateful while I was hiking.  Climbing a 14er is like running a marathon, except your not racing anyone just yourself and your mind; it's a huge mental and physical challenge. 
Josh and I have climbed Mt Bierstadt (with dogs Rock and Aspen)  Mt Quandry with Dad and Greg (and Rock) and now Grays Peak, with Laura and David (with Rock and Sadie).  We also attempted Snowmass, Dad, sister, friend Laura, Josh and Rock, but didn't make it to the peak.  Mostly due to a really long car drive there, falling rock and a Class 3 trail. 
It was a beautiful day in the mountains, there was not a cloud in the sky when we began our hike at 8:30am (one hour later than planned) but there was a cool wind, and it was about 60 degrees out.  Really nice weather actually, except for the wind. 
Getting there:  Click here for google map.  Directions per Take I-70 to the Bakerville exit (#221). Leave the highway and drive south over to the dirt parking area near the start of Forest Road 189. This is the winter trailhead and, even if the upper road is open, low-clearance passenger cars should park here. It's almost 3 miles to the summer trailhead. Reach a junction after one mile - stay straight and follow the sign for the Grays Peak trailhead. Continue another 2 miles to the trailhead at 11,280’. There are restrooms and a few dispersed camping spots near the parking area.  Check out the trail info and route on this page.
The Journey:  When beginning a 14er, I always am out of breath really early in the hike, probably because you are starting a hike at 11,000 feet (exactly; 11, 280)  and your body needs to adjust to the altitude.  But on each hike, I catch my breath after a few miles and usually feel really strong, and ready to get up that mountain.  Yesterday was no exception. 

The Gray's Peak standard route is a pretty easy trail, and there are switchbacks, which we are not used to in a 14er.  On the prior three 14er hikes, you just looked straight UP, picked your route and climbed; but Grays Peak was more like a well cared for Open Space trail.  It's very easy and many people hike it.  There were many, many hikers and their dogs on the trail, it feels to me like a community of folks getting out and enjoying the 'extreme' trails; everyone chats as you pass each other and is really friendly!  The fall colors are at peak right now for the season in the mountains and the bright yellow Aspen and Birch trees are always stunning with the mountains in the background. 
The Grays Trailhead is also the trailhead for another 14er right next to Grays called Torreys, you can hike both peaks via the ridge that connects the two, 1.7 miles long.  The summit to Torreys is a Class 2 hike.  After hiking to the top of Grays, I wanted to also summit Torreys so Josh and I took the connecting ridge down towards Torrey's Peak trail and we planned on doing both spontaneously; however once at the center of the saddle Josh didn't feel so great and we decided to head back down.  Below are some photos from the trail. 

Start of trailhead.  Cross the bridge, and into the wilderness.

This is not our Peak, but looked really cool as we were hiking alongside of it, probably 12, 500 feet. 

Grays Peak in the distance    14, 270 feet. 

Laura and David, and Sadie. 
Grays Peak in the distance.

Here are the 2 peaks, and you can see the ridge between them.  Grays on the left, Torreys on the right. 

Josh and Laura, and the dogs, standing in the bright yellow brush.  I have no idea what these plants are called, but they are all over between 9-12,000 feet.

Rock, very excited to keep hiking, and not to ready to stop for photos!

The ridges behind us were incredible, but they were in the shade, and I never got a good pic!  Laura and Josh hiking up.

Looking up from the bottom of the summit, you cant really even see the top.  There are people in the photo waaaaaaay up there, but they are hard to see.

View from above, about 1/2 way up the summit.  You can click on the pics to make them bigger.  Look closely and you can see people climbing up from below, and the trail on which we hiked. 

You can see Laura in the red shirt and white hat, I think David is in there too?!

Ahh Victory!  View from the TOP!  You can see lake Dillon in the distance looking west.

Josh and Sadie on the top!  Hungry, thirsty, tired, but we did it!  This peak was pretty big, compared to others we have climbed, and it was nice to sit on the top and talk with the other hikers!  We all shared many accomplished peaks in common, and talked about our victories.
Rock and I on the top!  Rock, 9 years old, and 3rd 14er.  She has been sleeping since the hike though, and didnt even get out of her bed this morning when we got up!  I look at her now, she is asleep. She was also the best behaved dog on the trail (there were lots of runaway dogs on the trail).  Rock did great on the hike, she always wants to hike fast, and whines at us when we are not moving at her pace.  She also doesn't like the group to be split up, because she has to watch us all.  She runs between me, and Josh, and usually whining at josh to hurry up, haha!  She also did this with Laura and David, who were a little ways back.  Sadie, stayed with us a good part of the time, she and Rock did well together.  Sadie stayed pretty nearby and Rock is always close.

You can see Laura & David, the couple hiking together, with Laura in red.
Standing on Gray's Peak, looking at Torrey's Peak.  You can see people on the top.  1.7 miles away on the trail.

Funny pic of Rock, licking her face. 
Rock is sore today, she is slowly walking around the house, the longer I post this entry. (loading pics takes forever)  WE are sore too, so I am sure its normal, but I worry she is getting too old for 14ers soon.  Though, she was fine throughout the hike...but ready to be done near the were we. 

Josh and I on the top.  Maybe I will find our old "On the Top" pics of other hikes and post them soon,.
I was getting cold after about 10 mins, but we stayed on top for probably a 40 minutes or so,.
David, Laura, Jen and Josh.  Sadie too!

After walking down for about 10 minutes, you are quickly away from the top.  It's amazing how long this takes going up, then how fast going down.  You can see people up there too, if you look close, right on the ridge.

You can see the trail, and this trail re-connects with the trail we went up on, about 1/3 of the way up the summit.  WE had a much faster/shorter and steeper way down. 
You can also see the green pine trees, on the left of the photo, in the middle, that is where the car is parked!  With the naked eye, you could see the cars, you cant in the photo though.  And there are those Ridges I kept trying to photograph earlier in the hike.

Done with the hike, here are all the fall colors we were seeing, everywhere we drove! 

Our campsite, you can see the blue of the tent through the trees.

The campsite, and fire.  The beautiful trees in the background, I loved it!  The campgrounds were already closed for the season, so it was just camping at a National forest plot.  I was shocked they closed so early in the season, there were so many people out camping, they would surely fill up!

Here are Josh and I and of course, Rock too, who is learning to sit for pictures. 
What a great time, hiking and camping with our friends, accomplishing a huge hike, and seeing the beautiful fall colors!  I love Colorado!

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