Tag Archives: 14er

La Plata Peak

Mary’s birthday felt like it came early because we woke up a little after 3 a.m. We had our individual Bible times, finalized loading our packs, and headed out. Since we were unsure of how Dad’s feet would do, we took John’s truck and the van. 

We arrived at the trailhead and began our hike at 5:36 Central. Headlamps were a must. 

IMG_6634Walking in the dark is interesting in its own way. When you come back through in the light, you get to see all the things you missed. At one point, we knew we were approaching water, but we couldn’t find the trail. As the guys searched around the big boulders, Dad found the way to a bridge across a deep canyon! You’ll see pictures of that canyon later.

By dawn, we came to a pretty meadow with a bubbling stream, wildflowers, and tall grass. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to be a camper somewhere in the meadow or see a moose drinking from the brook.

After the meadow, we began more of a climb, but thankfully there were switchbacks to break up the steepness.

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IMG_6462Around this time, we saw our first hikers way above us on the ridge. We made our way slowly but steadily to the ridge and then took a break to be ready for the final ascent.

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The next area consisted of boulders and places with loose dirt on the trail. As we continued, someone noticed a mountain goat ahead. We neared, and the goat didn’t seem to mind us except for Dad’s red coat, which did seem to bother him.

IMG_6516IMG_6545After pictures, we kept going, and the trail became much harder. Finally, about a 1/2-3/4 of a mile from the summit, Dad and I turned around while the rest went on.

The rest continued on.
The rest continued on.

Even though we stopped short, the views were still pretty. The others summited about 11, which meant it was a 5+ hour hike just to the summit! It was cold and windy, but they still enjoyed 45 minutes on the summit.

The birthday girl!
The birthday girl!
John
John
Anna
Anna
Jesse
Jesse
Chocolate on the summit: can't beat that!
Chocolate on the summit: can’t beat that!
Anna loves marshmallows.
Anna loves marshmallows.

IMG_5368The descent was tricky, involving loose dirt on the trail which isn’t a comfortable feeling as you slip and slide your way down. We met many people still working on the ascent, so that broke the hike up as you talked to them.

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I love this selfie of the girls.
I love this selfie of the girls.

Below the ridge, we saw the mountain goat again. He was happy to use the path as his trail, which made it inconvenient for people desiring to pass him. He did eventually move off, though, if you worked hard enough. It was amazing to be so close to him.

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John made his descent quickly due to a work issue, so we were glad for two vehicles, because he had to go back to the cabin. The rest of us made it down by 3 something.

For those thinking about hiking La Plata, all I can say is it’s a difficult one, with lots of loose dirt and scree, and some areas have a steep hillside next to the path.

Jesse
Jesse
The canyon we went over in the dark.
The canyon we went over in the dark.
Mom and Mary after completing the hike: birthday girls!
Mom and Mary after completing the hike: birthday girls!

Happy birthday to Mary!

Love,
Sarah

“And he hath put a new song in my mouth,
even praise unto our God:
many shall see it, and fear,
and shall trust in the LORD.”
Psalm 40:3

A Triple 14er: Democrat, Cameron, and Lincoln

Monday morning didn’t start too promising, because we woke to rain and lightning. Consulting the weather, we saw that the area where we were going didn’t seem to forecast storms until later, and the radar looked okay, so we decided to try it. Thankfully, the storms moved away.

We took John’s truck to the trailhead (Kite Lake). When we got to the parking area, we could tell this was a popular hike by all the vehicles, tents, and people!

We hit the trail around 7:30 Central. It was a beautiful birthday morning, and we began our climb.

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When we reached the ridge, there were two options: left was Democrat and right went to Cameron and Lincoln, so we went left since Mt. Democrat was our destination. We met a fair number of people and it’s fun to talk to them. Of course, you can tell the really fit ones, because when the path gets harder, some of us quit talking, while those who aren’t struggling can keep talking!

Here is where we went to the left to go to Democrat.
Here is where we went to the left to go to Democrat.

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Even though the next area was a rock field, the path was generally easy to keep to, and if you strayed, you’d easily find the path again. We got to the false summit and could see the real summit–not far! 

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There was even a patch of snow to go through.
There was even a patch of snow to go through.
"Smile, girls!"
“Smile, girls!”

We pressed forward and summited about 9:50 am. Hooray! It’s always a great feeling to reach the top.

Anna taking a selfie after she summited.
Anna taking a selfie after she summited.
Happy birthday!
Happy birthday!

Dad and Mom were a few minutes behind us so as they summited we sang Happy Birthday to Mom. The others already on top seemed to enjoy that, too, and some even joined us.

We took pictures, the younger 4 did 14 burpees, and then John, Anna, Jesse, Mary, and I decided to go for Cameron and Lincoln.

Dad and Mom, on their anniversary and Mom's birthday!
Dad and Mom, on their anniversary and Mom’s birthday!
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Pringles are a Maxwell staple on hikes.
Mary
Mary
Way to go!
Way to go!

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Lots of action on the summit.
Lots of action on the summit.

Dad and Mom would take their time on the summit and make a slower descent on Democrat. So, we “kids” rushed off.

When we reached the trail split off, we continued across the ridge toward Cameron. This was the hardest part of all, with steep, rocky sections.

You can see the path behind Jesse to the left.
You can see the path behind Jesse to the left.

As we continued toward Cameron, the wind became really strong, but the views were incredible! We reached Cameron about 11:22 am. It was the most unique 14er we’d seen yet with a very flat top. We grabbed more pictures, and layered up, as the wind whipped around us.

Mount Cameron!
Mount Cameron!

We started out for Lincoln, and it only took 15 minutes to summit! It was a pretty easy trek. 

You can see the path. We dipped down and then climbed.
You can see the path. We dipped down and then climbed.

There were many people up on the summit, which made getting our group picture super easy. In addition, since this was a loop, we consistently saw people we’d seen along the trek.

Lincoln’s summit was rocky, with jagged drop offs, but enough room for the group. The younger four did 14 burpees to celebrate, much to the cheering of the onlookers.

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Jesse and John
Jesse and John

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Then, we turned our focus to making the descent. We enjoyed chatting and making our way down to meet Dad and Mom.

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Going back to Cameron.
You can see the path. We dipped down and then climbed.
You can see the path. We dipped down and then climbed.

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Dad and Mom down near the trailhead. You can see the false summit behind them.
Someone was very kind to grab our family picture for us after the climb.
Someone was very kind to grab our family picture for us after the climb.

“The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty;
the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith
he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished,
that it cannot be moved.”
Psalm 93:1

Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 3

(At long last: the final part to one of our 14er climbs last August. If you want to refresh your memory, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.)

When Team B (Dad, Mom, and I) reached Mt. Columbia’s ridge, it was extremely windy. So windy you had to lean forward into the wind. It took us awhile to traverse the ridge.

IMG_3364The clouds were pretty as they blew quickly over the mountain tops.

A practical hint if you’re using your iPhone for pictures on a long hike. Invest in a small, external battery charger. Here’s the link to what I have, and the black is on sale (update: blue is no longer on sale) now for only $9.99 from Amazon! I love mine (okay: I do have the pink one)! Make sure to see if your phone is compatible with this charger. The Amazon link is an affiliate one. Read our disclosure/privacy policy here.

IMG_3351After climbing over multiple false summits, we finally reached the real summit. Ahhhh. There’s really quite an amazing feeling to summit another 14er.

IMG_3372IMG_3381We took pictures, and we were also in radio contact with Team A. Sadly, with the temperatures and wind, we knew we couldn’t stay long on the summit and wait for the rest, so we began our descent.

Meanwhile, Team A was quite exhausted, but they kept pushing. They had an intense traverse, and despite obstacles, they maintained their cheerfulness.

IMG_7964IMG_7969The last summit was in sight!

IMG_7985IMG_8006IMG_8014IMG_7990IMG_8028When they reached the top, they also took pictures and were surprised to find a mountain goat enjoying the scenery too.

Team A didn’t spend long on the summit, as they knew the descent on Columbia would be hard. We were grateful for our iPhone app RunKeeper, which we had been using since the beginning of the climb. Team B had found the route difficult to find going up, and there were certain routes you did not want to take going down (like catching the gully). RunKeeper was perfect as we consulted it to make sure we had the right path going down. We also radioed to Team A to try to help them get on the right path.

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It was a rough descent. Tiredness, pain, exhaustion, and slippery slopes made it difficult. You ended up sort of sliding down different sections.

IMG_3459Finally, we all met up in the forest! Praise the Lord!

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It had been a long, hard, incredible day, but we made it. Well, almost. We then experienced a thunderstorm in the forest, along with lots of rain. But I think that just added to the adventure. We put our phones in waterproof compartments, dug out rain coats, and sloshed through the forest.

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They could still smile for a group picture. Good job, y’all!

Climbing mountains is a beautiful analogy of our journey as Christian.

  • It’s physically hard.
    • We face challenges in life.
  • Company helps.
    • Fellowship with other believers is a great encouragement.
  • The views are gorgeous.
    • God’s blessings abundantly fill our lives.
  • Carbs, protein, water, and even electrolyte chews or drinks are a must.
    • Reading God’s Word is essential.
  • When you reach the top, you realize the climb was worth it.
    • Heaven is our final destination, and words can’t describe what it will be like!

Love,
Sarah

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:14

Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 2

–With all the wedding and trip posts, I never got our 14er summits finished. But, I’m not leaving them undone. If you want to refresh your memory, here is Part 1. I’ll be sharing some Christmas pictures later, but for now, here’s Colorado!–

Team A (Joseph, John, Anna, Jesse, and Mary) saw wonderful progress and made Harvard’s summit at 7:20 local time. Pretty amazing! They enjoyed a cold and windy but beautiful summit. The clouds and sunrise made for a dramatic light show that morning.

This doesn't look so hard, but actually they had to climb a rock that required you to hold on, and if you let go, well, you don't want to go there!

This doesn’t look so hard because the picture doesn’t show the exposure to the right, but just below the summit they had to scramble a rock which proved to be one of the more interesting places of the climb.

Way to go, y'all!
Way to go, y’all!

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After consulting the weather and deciding it didn’t look prohibitive, they decided to start the traverse.

IMG_7896They were one member short as John decided to head back and do some work in town. On John’s way off the summit, he made a new friend (check the picture).

Talk about a selfie! I guess the goat got the memo too.
Talk about a selfie! I guess the goat was pretty pleased too.

Meanwhile, Team B (Dad, Mom, and I) began the steep trek up one of Columbia’s slopes. It did look daunting, but we knew that step by step, we’d make progress. As we climbed, a young lady caught up to us, and we enjoyed talking. Then, she went ahead. She disappeared after awhile, which meant our path wound around the mountainside. Due to the loose rock (also known as scree), it made the climb unpleasant. I knew if it wasn’t pleasant going up, it wouldn’t be pleasant going down. But that part didn’t have to be faced at the moment. As we climbed higher, the wind grew stronger.

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Back to Team A. They were attempting to accomplish what is considered a rigorous mountaineer experience.

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Here you see the traverse to Columbia. Yes, it’s that far off.

They followed the cairns and light trail which generally stayed to the right of the ridge. They then crossed to the left of the ridge and descended into the basin to avoid a section of the ridge that was practically impassable.

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After they started descending towards the basin, route-finding became significantly more difficult. Cairns disappeared and there was certainly no semblance of a trail to follow. When they started traversing below the ridge, the terrain became rough and they found themselves scrambling across fields of boulders the size of cars.

In many ways the back side of ridge was a bit of a box as there was no easy way to continue descending into the valley, and the best way out was over Mt. Columbia (which wasn’t visible). This element, and the fact that thunderstorms were likely coming that afternoon as evidenced by the clouds starting to develop, made the lack of navigation quite disconcerting. They prayed and asked for the Lord’s wisdom as they pressed on. It was a stretching time for them, as it was an uncomfortable feeling not knowing for sure if they were on the right route.

This is the basic they descended into to avoid the ridge.
This is the basic route they descended into to avoid the ridge.
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Here Columbia’s summit is easily visible before they descended into the basin. Notice how far off it still is?

After perhaps a 1/2 hour of scrambling and pushing on, they started coming across an (very) occasional cairn, which was an answer to prayer.

I’ll finish up with Part 3 sharing the summit stories.

Love,
Sarah

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalms 34:4

Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia: Part 1

Even though it started out as a regular 14er morning, we knew this one would be our hardest yet. Some of the family opted for tackling both Harvard and Columbia, while Dad, Mom, and I chose to only try for Columbia (15 miles and 6200 ft versus 11 miles and 4500 feet of elevation gain).

Joseph, John, Anna, Jesse, and Mary, whom I’ll refer to as Team A, started early–as in 2:30 am. Dad, Mom, and I–Team B–began about 4:15. Headlamps and flashlights were the mode of illuminating the trail. Unfortunately, at one point, Jesse lost his headlamp down a steep hill, and John, being the hero, retrieved it, so all was well. I can’t imagine hiking a 14er by yourself, especially starting before light. There’s comfort in being with a group. There’s just something about walking through the forest and wondering what is “out there” that you can’t see.

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Team A found the trail to Mount Harvard pleasant. The first part of the hike was just ticking down the miles and walking through the forest, without much of an incline. For the double climb everyone started at the same trailhead, and then about 4 miles up at a trail junction, Mount Columbia’s trail splits from the main trail, while Mount Harvard continues on. Then, after a person summits Harvard, they can traverse the ridge to Columbia (that sounds too easy the way I wrote it: wait until you read how it really went). Team A helped Dad, Mom, and I locate our trail (it isn’t marked with a sign) as that split is hard to find. Jesse used GPS coordinates, and about mile 4, they found the correct turn off. Team A collected lots of rocks and made a big rock cairn so we wouldn’t miss it. They also wrote a note on a paper towel and then continued on their trek.

IMG_4868Meanwhile, Team B plodded along. We started out later as we wanted to reach the tree-line about dawn; if we began too early, we would face a very difficult section of trail in the dark, which we didn’t want to do.

Both teams had radios, and after some time, we were in range and could communicate. As the dark sky lightened, we could see clouds already forming. That is typically not a good thing. Conversation was pleasant in both groups as we enjoyed God’s creation and watched the sun rise.

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“They go up by the mountains;
they go down by the valleys
unto the place which thou
hast founded for them.”
Psalms 104:8

An Adventure From Multiple Viewpoints

It started about 2:30 am for Joseph, John, Anna, Jesse, and Mary as they began their trek up Mt. Harvard. But for Dad, Mom, and I, our adventure began about 4:15 am as we hit the trail and headed for Mt. Columbia. Oh, what an adventure Monday was! But for now, I’ll leave you with a few pictures. We have hundreds from that day. More later!

Enjoying beautiful Colorado,
Sarah

A headlamp beginning for sure!
A headlamp beginning for sure!
They kindly built us a huge rock cairn to help us know where our turn off for Mt. Columbia was.
They kindly built us a huge rock cairn to help us know where our turn off for Mt. Columbia was.
From the Harvard crew's viewpoint.
From the Harvard crew’s viewpoint.
We found the cairn!
We found the cairn!
Joseph and John
Joseph and John

“They go up by the mountains;
they go down by the valleys

unto the place which thou
hast founded for them.”

Psalms 104:8