3:45 am: We wake up (and wish Mary a happy birthday). We have personal Bible time, prayer, and eat a quick breakfast. We packed our CamelBaks the night before, so that part is set.
5:14: We reach the trailhead. Piling out of the van, we don our CamelBaks. Those who have headlamps put them on, and others use flashlights. The moon is gorgeous, but it won’t give us enough light on the tree-shrouded trail. We fall into a line and begin up the trail. We can hear the steady crunch of our hiking shoes making contact with the ground. There were other vehicles at the trailhead, but we don’t see anyone for over two hours. (BTW–we stayed on Central Time, so it was actually an hour earlier Mountain time).
7:00: Headlamps and flashlights are no longer needed.
7:50: The summit of Mt. Yale is clearly visible. It is exciting after only 2 1/2 hours to see the summit so clearly. We trek along the trail. Sometimes it’s steep, and we take breaks to catch our breath. Occasionally a reminder is passed along to drink water. Those Camelbaks are so handy!
Distances are very deceiving. The summit in the above picture is over a mile away. At this distance, you can not discern someone on the top.
8:22: We take breaks as needed to catch our breath and grab drinks from our Camelbaks. It’s very important to stay well-hydrated on such an intense climb.
It is about this point that John tells us this is the tough part. We climb steadily, taking breaks as needed and enjoy the views.
9:02: We’re getting close to the saddle, our final ascent to the top. The path is great to follow. Yes, it is still chilly at this point since the sun is on the other side of the mountain.
Walking sticks are a huge help to me. 😉
9:02: John, who has led our trek so far, is the first to reach the saddle.
9:05: It’s gorgeous on the saddle. We take a break, and then we split into three groups. Jesse and John take the lead, with Joseph, Mary, and Anna next, and Dad, Mom, and I taking up the rear.
9:23: Jesse is the first person of the day to summit Mt. Yale (out of probably 23-25 people)! Congratulations, Jesse!
9:28: Dad, Mom, and I work our way along the boulders. Mom is a great trooper! One thing I like about this 14er are the solid rocks! Sometimes rocks can be loose, and you have to carefully make sure it’s solid before trusting it. With Mt. Yale, this is generally not the case.
9:42: Still working along the boulders.
9:45: I’m really enjoying this climb!
10:00: We have all summited. Praise Jesus! The view is gorgeous, stunning, and amazing. We spend the next hour on the summit enjoying the views, eating lunch, taking pictures, and exclaiming about the incredible weather.
The birthday girl!
We are grateful for some fellow hikers taking our family picture.
11:00: The descent begins!
As Joseph, Anna, Mary, and I climb over some boulders, we meet another group of hikers. One of the guys comments to us, “I’ve never seen someone mountaineer in a skirt! That’s cool!” Another of his buddies adds, “I like your mountain skirt.”
11:34: At the saddle, we meet two ladies. One has summited almost all of the 14ers, except for one, and she is bringing her friend on her first. When we comment that it is Mary’s birthday, we find out her friend’s birthday is the next day! We grab a picture of the birthday girls.
We really enjoy talking to hikers as we go along.
12:26 p.m.: My awesome younger brothers and sisters.
12:53: These badger-type little guys are so cute. Talk about a view!
1:07: We arrive back in the treeline. Now we start seeing scenery we had missed in the dark.
2:06: About a half hour ago, we heard our first rumble of thunder. It’s important to summit a 14er as soon as possible due to afternoon thunderstorms. We are glad we are off the summit. It sprinkles a bit, but never pours.
3:00: All the Maxwells have finished the hike. Our Mt. Yale adventure is almost 10 hours (including our time on the summit).
“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains;
thy judgments are a great deep:
O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings”