Sunday, November 26, 2006

Longs Peak (part one)

With my increasing interest in mountainering, I felt I would recount my lovely experience with Long's Peak Mtn. For those who don't know Long's Peak is the only 14,000 foot mountain in Rocky Mtn National Park. To summit Long's Peak in one day you will experience a 4,500 foot altitude gain and hike over 16 miles.

With a little coaxing, I had convinced my brother, sister and sister in law to attempt to summit Long's Peak Mtn in one day after 4 days of car camping in Rocky Mtn National Park. We plan to wake up at 3:00 am, and start hiking around 3:30 to summit before any possible afternoon thunderstorms could fall upon us. I am really pumped to summit.

We wake up. Grab our bags. Make sure we have everything and start hiking. Since it is still dark out, we hike via flash light for the first few hours. As we climbed up Longs Peak, I can remember seeing the sun rise over the park, as we worked our way up the mountain. Who knew what sun and the mountain had in store for us later?

After about a few hours of hiking, we were making regular stops to stay hidrated and fuel up on the trail mix and pretzels we had brought with us. Everything seemed to be going very smoothly. At one stop, I noticed that we forgot the 7 peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches that we made the previous night. Our calorie intake is going to be shortened significantly. I remember thinking that we should turn around at that point. Go hang out in Estes Park. Anything but this. Summiting this mountain was not going to take place without those sandwhiches, but my desire to summit kept my mouth shut.

We make it to the timberline. Everyone is fine. Walking up the mountain at a steady pace, we are focused on the goal. We make it to the outhouse that marks the split in the trail from Chasm Lake to the Summit of Long's Peak. We take silly photoes of each other in the outhouse. It seems like it should not be a problem summiting this mountain, even though we still have more than 5 miles from the summit.

As we continue on, I start to feel a little fatigued which quickly turns into very fatigued. It would be a long painful day . My brother notices that I haven't spoken in over 5 minutes. An obvious sign that something is wrong. I eat some trail mix. (At this point it makes me want to gag.) We solider on.

We make it to Boulder Field. It looks exactly like it sounds, a giant field of boulders. We stop. I eat an apple and some pretzels. I am better almost instantly. Amazing what a little salt will do for you. Scrambing over the boulders we make it to the Keyhole. The keyhole is small opening that leads to the other side of the mountain and shows you Glacier Gorge which expands for several thousand feet below. (too be continued.)

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