Four 14ers in One Day

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After Greg and I got married, we thought it would be a really cool tradition to summit a 14er each year on our anniversary. We started out strong and actually conquered two on our first anniversary. I remember the hike to Gray’s and Torrey’s being tough, but we also lived at sea level at the time and had just flown out the day before (I would like to do that hike again and see if it feels any easier, now that we’ve lived at 5300′ for a few years). On our second wedding anniversary, we did my favorite 14er to date, Mt. Bierstadt. That hike seemed much easier (and “easy” is a relative term, because any 14er is challenging) and I absolutely loved it. We also conquered Quandary Peak before the end of the season that year.

For the next two years, our plans got kind of screwed up. I had ACL surgery in late May of 2014, so I wasn’t quite ready for such a big hike by July. We drove up to Mt. Evans instead, so we could technically still summit a 14er on July 17th. In 2015, I had some bad luck again and broke my pelvis right before the start of summer. I was still on crutches on our anniversary, so obviously hiking was out of the question. Luckily there was still another 14er (Pike’s Peak) that we could summit by car, so we did just that. I was in decent enough shape to climb Mt. Evans by the very end of the summer, which was fun (but parts were a little scary).

I still have some lasting injuries from the car wreck I was in last year (which will be fixed at a later date), but I was actually well enough to continue our anniversary tradition this year (and SO grateful for that!). Greg and I have wanted to hike the Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross loop for awhile now, since you can knock out all four on the same hike. We did some research beforehand and decided that this was our plan for our fifth anniversary (which was on July 17, 2016). We thought about camping overnight (and in retrospect, we should have), but decided to head out to Breckenridge the day before and stay at a hotel there (since it’s only about 45 minutes from the trailhead). We went out to dinner the night before and tried to go to bed early, but I was so anxious that I probably ended up getting around 3 hours of sleep total.

The alarm went off at 4:30 am and we quickly checked ourselves out of the hotel and headed to the Kite Lake trailhead. Once we got there, we had to park about a mile and a half away (due to some jackass telling us that there wasn’t any available parking near the trailhead), so we had a nice warm-up before actually starting the hike. The sun was just coming up, and it was beautiful!

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After waiting in a long bathroom line, we were finally off to start our big hike (around 7:30 am). We decided to do the traditional clockwise route and started with Mt. Democrat as our first summit. The trail started off pretty easy, which is a relative term because just breathing at 12,000′ is a bit challenging.

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ACL Reconstruction Surgery: Post-Op Week 10

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It’s a little hard for me to believe that ten weeks have gone by since I underwent ACL Reconstruction surgery! Thankfully, time has flown by pretty quickly, thanks to my intent to stay really busy. I’m definitely happy to wrap up July and see what new “abilities” August will bring. I haven’t seen my surgeon in a really long time and am excited about going in for my 11-week check-up next week. Hopefully he’ll be pleased with my progress and tell me I’m on the right track.

Just like I did for my last post, I’m doing a little breakdown of how things have been going during over the last few weeks:

Pain Level: I very rarely feel pain in my actual knee- more in the muscles surrounding it. Although the scar in my large incision is definitely starting to look better, I still feel some pressure and soreness there from time to time. My quads have been sore a few times (after a lot of activity) and I’ve pulled a muscle in my left hamstring twice (which sucks!). There’s definitely still quite a bit of stiffness around my knee in general, which is a constant reminder that I am still very much on the mend. I still can’t kneel on the ground because it causes great pain to my operative knee (and the large incision)- and can not wait until I’m able to. It’s amazing what I took for granted before this whole injury thing happened.

Here’s a close-up of my knees yesterday:

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And to compare, here’s a shot from week 6:

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Sierra Trading Post Blogger Hike

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I’m sure you know that I love to hike. I typically 3-4 times a week (or more if I can help it) and consider myself very lucky that I live so close to so many different trails. My regular hiking trails are mostly around Boulder and take about 1 1/2 – 3 hours to complete. Most start a little below 6,000′ elevation and gain no more than about 2,300′ total. Once in a while Greg and I will venture out to tackle something a little more challenging (like the two 14ers we hiked this summer). This past Saturday was one of those challenging hiking days… to say the least.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Andy from Sierra Trading Post’s blog. He and STP’s videographer, Chris were interested in doing a hike with a couple of local bloggers and filming/blogging about the adventure. The local bloggers happened to be my good friends Heather, Lynne and Heidi! Without any hesitation, I said “yes!” Greg was also invited to come along, and I was glad that he’d be able to share the adventure as well. Our plan was to start at the top of Guanella Pass, which is the same location as the trailhead for Mt. Bierstadt (but in the other direction). We were going to summit three 13ers during the hike: Square Top Mountain (13,794’), Argentine Peak (13,738’) and Mount Wilcox (13,408’). The hike was estimated to cover a little over 10 miles and we planned on it taking about 6 hours round trip.

On Saturday morning, the group of us met up at the trail head (which is about 11,700′ elevation) around 8:30 am and set off for a day of fun. It was around 32˚ and pretty windy, but the sun was shining brightly. It had snowed a bit in the last week and parts of the ground were completely covered. Luckily we had all planned for it and wore waterproof boots! We were all smiles at the beginning of the hike. :)

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WIAW 55: Hiking to 14,265′

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Happy hump day, friends! If you haven’t already – go check out this COOL giveaway from a GoodPop!

Last weekend I hiked my fourth 14er- Quandary Peak!

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Source

Hiking at 14er is a whole different ballgame than going on a day hike around Boulder. The elevation here is around 5,300′ which seems low in comparison to the 14,000+ feet at the summit of these very tall peaks. Most of the hikes start above 10,000′ and there is a considerable difference in the oxygen at that elevation. There’s also a big difference in how much energy it takes to just walk up the street! I like to wear my heart rate monitor when I hike 14ers to see just how much harder my body has to work (and how much energy it’s using). Just take a look at my stats from my hike to Quandary Peak:

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I can’t remember a time that I’ve ever burned over 4,000 calories in less than seven hours. That’s just crazy!

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Our Anniversary Tradition: Hiking a 14er! [Mt. Bierstadt]

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Sometime in the winter or spring of 2012, Greg and I came up with the crazy idea to hike a 14er on our first wedding anniversary. By that point, we had visited Colorado numerous times and had plenty of hikes under our belts, but a 14er is entirely new territory. The challenge of hiking above 14,000′ elevation sounded incredibly appealing to both of us and we knew that it would be a cool way to celebrate one year of marriage.

In case you’re wondering, a “14er” is a mountain that peaks above 14,000′ from sea level. Colorado has 54 different 14ers that range from Class 1 (easiest) to Class 5 (most difficult and requiring ropes) – which is strictly for comparison (no 14er is easy) You can read all about the 14ers in Colorado here.

For our first big hike, we researched a few different 14ers that were somewhat close to Breckenridge (where we would be staying). We ended up choosing Grays and Torreys because you can summit both on the same trip (since they are connected by a saddle). The hike totally kicked my butt, but it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Greg and I immediately decided that we should aim to hike a 14er every year on our anniversary.

For anniversary #2 (which was this past Wednesday- 7/17/2013), we decided to climb Mt. Bierstadt (which is considered Class 2). The number one reason that we chose this hike is that it’s one of the closest to where we live. We weren’t able to go camp out or rent a nearby hotel the night before, so a trail with a shorter driving distance was critical. It’s important to start your hike very early in the morning to avoid any early afternoon thunderstorms that roll in. You definitely don’t want to be stuck on the top of a mountain when there’s lightening in the sky!

Another benefit of Mt. Bierstadt was that (as 14ers go) it’s relatively easy. We plan on hiking a few other 14ers this year but with this being the first since we moved, we wanted to ease into it a bit. This particular hike is also shorter than others and we could easily summit before noon even starting as late as 8:30 am. Another thing to keep in mind is that your hiking/climbing pace is much slower than your normal running/walking pace. We’ve done hikes before that took an hour to cover one mile!

Get ready for a lot of photos (all from my iPhone- which is much lighter than carrying an SLR on a long hike!). 

On Wednesday we woke up around 5:30 am, filled up our backpacks with water, snacks and extra layers of clothing and we hit the road. With a stop for coffee on the way, we ended up getting to the parking lot around 8:30 am (we had left the house around 6:30 and hit a little bit of traffic on the way). It was a sunny, clear day and the temperature was in the mid 50s (not bad for morning in the mountains!).

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We were ready to tackle this 14er!

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