Longs Peak 14,259'
19 July 2012
Rocky Mountain National Park is a bit of a hike (haha!) from Leadville, so when I checked the weather and saw that thunderstorms were likely over the next few days, I was discouraged. I’d planned to tackle Longs Peak, but I didn’t wanna drive all the way out there just to get run off the mountain before making the summit. Ultimately I figured life is full of uncertainty, and I can’t make every decision based on what kind of bad thing might happen to spoil it. What’s the worst that could happen, anyways? A “wasted” trip? Sure. So I bet $30 in gas money, because…why on earth not?
I timed my hike a little better this morning, leaving around 3a. I was still making better time than I expected, much better actually. I covered 7.5 miles in no time, passed dozens of hikers, and made the summit at 630a, shortly after sunrise. I had the whole plateau to myself for a few precious minutes. I was the first on Longs this morning which wasn’t my intention, but it was still pretty cool.
My descent was actually slower than my ascent. I figure I’ll bust tail and push myself on the way up, because I’m building muscle and lung capacity. On the way down, I take it easy(ish) in order to protect my joints. I wanna be doing this for a long time yet, and ten years of soccer and long distance running in cheap shoes have already taken their toll on my knees.
I also made a detour to Chasm Lake, which is nestled below the east face of Longs, also known as The Diamond. It was a dream of a place and only added a menial 1.4 miles to my trek. So worth it.
I might’ve made it down before 1130a, but I ran into a solo hiker sitting on the trail. He seemed to be in distress. Initially he blew me off when I asked if he was ok. As I passed, I asked again: “You’re sure you’re not hurt? And you don’t need any help?” He said he was fine, just a touch of altitude sickness. That was my cue. I started asking about his symptoms. He was obviously dehydrated, even if the altitude sickness had abated as he’d made his way down from 12,000 feet. I offered to walk with him, and he agreed, much to my surprise – and relief. He seemed to be struggling, but I wouldn’t call his demeanor ataxia. Still I was a concerned. I learned as we made our way down that this was his first fourteener. Longs isn’t really a walk-up. It’s kind of a serious undertaking, so it may have been a poor choice for a first, but who am I to say. Regardless, we made it down and parted ways. He was doing significantly better, though still not 100%. Hope he made it home ok.
All in all, it’s been a sweet weekend. Both hikes were exceptional, and I was pretty proud of (and totally shocked by) my stamina at altitude. Looks like the trail work is doing me some good. Tomorrow I’m sleeping in, watching movies all day, and straight loungin’. I’ve earned it.