It’s 3:43 AM and I’m awakened by my jarring yet melodic alarm tone. I can hear the rustling of sleeping bags and the muted groans of being awake this early in the morning on a Saturday. While I would have gladly slept in until 5, I was coerced by my group of friends to get up earlier and add 1 more summit to my day.
Our goal was to be on the trail by 4AM for a sunrise summit but it took us a while to gather our gear and pack the food, especially after Heidi and I realized we had left our precious PopTarts on our friends counter back in Summit County. After making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast (which was dropped and eaten by a dog), we shone our headlamps towards the trailhead and started making our ascent up the mountain at 4:20AM. If all went according to plan, we would hike 4 14ers that day and Heidi and I would bag Mt. Bross, which eluded us a few weeks ago due to bad weather.
Heather, Beth and I set out with a fast yet steady pace. The first part of the trail up to the saddle went quickly, either because I was busy stargazing or I was in slightly better shape than our last attempt 3 weeks ago. Let’s go with the former…
Photo Credit: Barrett Langton
As we reached the saddle, the sun was just starting to peek out over the horizon and would later grace us with a gorgeous sunrise from the summit of Mt. Democrat. Our group had separated into 2 smaller groups and I somehow was convinced into climbing up the treacherous rock garden to Mt. Democrat for a second time, after swearing the night before I would skip it and save my legs for the other 3 summits. After about 40 minutes of scrambling up a boulder field and through a patch of snow, we found ourselves on the summit of Mt. Democrat just in time for the sun to rise and the freezing wind to start blowing. We spent about 10 minutes on the summit before making our descent back to the saddle where we hoped to meet up with the rest of our group.
When we reached the saddle up to Mt. Cameron, we had hoped to find Heidi and the gang huddled in the tiny mine shaft for shelter but they were nowhere to be found, so we trudged onward and upward. Heather, Beth and Barrett sped up the hill while Melissa and I hung back a little to enjoy some solo hiking. It was the perfect time to reflect on a lot of things in my life that have been plaguing my thoughts. Where else can you have a conversation with yourself (out loud) and not look like a crazy person? With no one around for at least a football field in each direction, it was the perfect time for self-reflection. But, I soon caught up to the speed demons, snapped a few quick pics on top of Mt. Cameron while enjoying a glass of Cabernet (Get it? Cab on Cameron!) and sped on to Mt. Lincoln.
Photo Credit: Barrett Langton
The scramble over to Mt. Lincoln was quick but lacked volunteers for a Penguin Slide down the mini glacier the connected the summit to the gulley. As we rounded the corner to the summit, we were greeted by a familiar voice…we had found Heidi, Sarah and Logan, alas! With the gang all back together, we enjoyed some beers, chatted with brave souls who had also made the summit and of course, I had to Periscope (or Telescope as my one un-social-savvy friend calls it). Eager to bag Mt. Bross, we took off for our 4th and final summit…or so I thought!
The walk over to Bross was a breeze and a little exhilarating knowing it was technically illegal to be on its summit. Our whole group was excited to celebrate with brownies on Bross (we’re good at this alliteration thing!) before beginning the treacherous descent. But before we could head back to the car, someone suggested we go out to South Bross, which was an unofficial 14er, so we could get 5 (yes, I’m not kidding) 14ers in that day. So we all made the ½ mile trek over to the peak, which in my opinion was anti-climactic, but now I can say I hiked 5 14ers in 1 day…crazy!!
The descent was steep and full skree; not the best for someone who’s had knee surgery. It took every ounce of energy I had to concentrate on not falling while my quads were burning and my knee felt like it was on fire. About ¾ of the way down, I had had enough of the pain and decided to run the rest of the trail.
Back at the parking lot, we reflected on the day’s accomplishment. It was close to noon and we had finished 5 14ers in 7ish hours. We had definitely earned a burger and beer. But more than that, I was so happy I got to spend the day playing in the mountains with my friends, pushing my physical limits and learning things about myself. Not only did we bag 5 14ers in 1 day, I got to be a part of Heather’s first 5 14ers ever, after shooting her engagement photos on Mt. Sneffels just 2 weeks ago! I’d say this was a successful adventure and I can’t wait to go on many more with all of these badass ladies (plus Barrett)!