We started the day with an earlier than usual wake up of 4:30 am we all hurriedly ate breakfast and packed up so we could get moving towards the MT Elbert trailhead to start our long climb. Mt Elbert is the second highest peak in the lower 48 after my mountain, Mt Whitney in California.
When we reached the trailhead a few peak baggers started up the same time as us. Even though it was Monday a good amount of folks were out to climb the peak. Climbing a 14’er in Colorado is big tourism and Mt Elbert is apparently one of the easier ones to do and very popular. We met one guy who was 72 years old and climbing the peak for his 26th time.
Buttercup and Stop and Go took off at a pace that cheesy and I could not maintain, so the two of us set our own pace and ground up the mountain. The total climbed was 4,400′ to reach the summit at 14,433′. It took Cheezy and me about 3 hours to make it up, not bad considering we kept pace with the day hikers who didn’t have the loads we do. The elevation kicked our butts, I haven’t been that high since I hiked the JMT back in 2011.
Once up top we enjoyed the view of the Rockies and got some great pictures. We made coffee and snacked for a bit. A nice guy up there knew all the peaks and took the time to point them out to us. As we started to pack up the masses were arriving; families with kids, fat and unhealthy tourist from Texas and Oklahoma, folks who were in jeans and seems so out of place. We all descended the north trail to rejoin the CDT.
We took the CDT to a road crossing and parking lot for Mt Massive another high peak. A nice guy in a pick up have is half a pizza and chatted with us for a bit. We took a long break to recover for the climb. We swam in the creek and cooked a hot lunch. We also took the time to fix a leaky air mat and I fell asleep for a few minutes by the creek.
We packed up and then set off to make some miles so tomorrow’s day into Leadville wouldn’t be too long. I ground up the next mountain and then as I walked the ridge I bonked. I stopped and ate an energy chew and Cheezy passed me. I was once again the caboose on the trail but that is fine with me. I eventually caught Cheezy on the downhill and we took a break along a nice river before heading out at 5:30 to find the boys.
The trail was nice but a bit of a PUD (pointless up and down), we tried to focus on the positive that the tread was nice, there were no blowdowns and most of all the entire day was snow free. At the top of the ridge, we saw Buttercup waiting for us, we discussed possible camps and then he and cheesy took off while I attend to some business of the bathroom kind.
For the next couple of hours, I saw no one, I walked in the woods contemplating life and the big day we had done. I was exhausted but still moving along the trail, I got to the creek we were going to meet at and low and behold every one had hiked on further. I was a bit frustrated but instead of being pissed I sat down and took a break and contemplated staying there by myself. Since today is the longest day of the year I bucked up threw on my pack and walked the last mile and half to where the others had decided to camp.