After a whirlwind trip to Colorado to climb that state's tallest peak, Mt. Elbert
, at 14,433 ft, I am back in Norman.Matt Shipe
, Cory Mottice
, and I left Norman at 8:30 pm on Friday September 1, 2007, and drove to Salina KS, arriving around 12:30 a.m. We were thwarted in our attempt to stay at the Motel 6 by mysterious - but fatal - computer system failures. So we drove across the road to the Day's Inn for the night. After grabbing some cereal & bagels from the lobby, we were on the road by 8:30 a.m. We drove right through Denver and arrived in Leadville (after a series of traffic tie-ups along I-70 east of the Eisenhower tunnel) around 4:30 p.m. We setup camp at the Mt. Elbert trailhead
campground (by Halfmoon Creek), and went back into Leadville to eat at the Golden Burro cafe. The Cafe had a live webcam (www.goldenburro.com
) in the seating area, and we were able to wave at our family & friends back home. We returned to the campsite and enjoyed 2 rounds of the "up-and-down" card game and then turned in. I tossed & turned all night, unable to get comfortable in the chilly air (the temp inside our tent at wake-up was a balmy 6C, or 43F). At 5:30 a.m., the alarm beckoned us to rise and begin our ascent.
We snoozed a little but by 6:15 a.m. we were off! We reached Elbert's summit in 3:48, or at 10:03 a.m., which was a very good time for us! After lounging around the summit for probably an hour, we began our descent. We reached the bottom in 2:30 (after taking another 30-min break below the 2nd "false summit" and just above the treeline). We broke camp, gassed up in Leadville, and headed to Pueblo. After dinner at Applebee's to celebrate our accomplishment (Elbert is Colorado's tallest peak and the 2nd tallest in the lower 48, behind Mt. Whitney in California), we headed south on I-25 toward our intended overnight point in Trinidad. Matt and Cory were pretty excited and wide-awake in Trinidad, so we kept pushing south and east toward Amarillo. Once we got to Amarillo (at 1:30 a.m.), we decided 'what the heck' and we drove on to Norman, arriving at 5:30 a.m.
That made for one heck of a whirlwind trip: Depart Norman Fri at 8:30 pm, drive to CO, hike a fourteener, drive back and return to Norman Mon at 5:30 am. 57 hours of fun!
Ahh, the incredibly ironic "colorful" sign welcoming us to Colorado (along I-70 West entering from Kansas).
Matt, Brad, and Cory at a scenic turnoff along CO-91 northeast of Leadville.
Wow, there are many things to be said about this tent. First: 3 people should not attempt to put up a 10-man tent. Second: three people who have been camping before should not take 1 hr to put up any size tent. Third: man this was difficult work at 10,000 feet. We're camping in the Halfmoon Creek campground, and our site was about 1/6 mile northeast of the Mt. Elbert trailhead. Perfect location!
Sunset over the Rocky Mountains, Saturday 01 September 2007, south of Leadville, CO.
Welcome to the trail to the summit! We began at 6:15 a.m. and summited at 10:03 a.m.; total of 3 hrs 48 mins.
Stopping for a rest just after we came out of the treeline.
Resting near the second "false summit". It was both cold and tiring, but Matt and I are determined to continue upwards!
Resting yet again, this time just beyond the second "false summit". Mt. Elbert had not one, not even two, but three
Wow, near the top!!
View of the "twin lakes" east of Mt. Elbert; view from over 13,000'.
Matt Shipe at the top of his very first 14er. And what a 14er it was!
Cory Mottice at the top of Mt. Elbert. Cory is definitely the expert having hiked a dozen (or more?) 14ers. (A "14er" is a mountain whose peak is above 14,000 feet above sea level).
Woo hoo! At the top at last!! (and YES IT WAS COLD!)
Looking back towards the summit (can you make out the long line of people going up/down the mountain?)