I climbed my second 14er at the end of June: Mount Bierstadt, elevation 14,060 feet. Wow, what a beautiful ascent with a great group of hikers from Northern Colorado Adventurers. We started hiking at 6:43 am.
There were a mother and baby moose sighted at the parking lot (which I missed) and then five more shortly after we got going.
Roach calls this “the willows” in his quintessential guide book Colorado’s 14ers and I see the same description online, but isn’t it manzanita? (Go ahead and set me straight in the comments.)
The topo maps I consulted labeled this pretty pool merely “11510″ which I presume to be the elevation. I shall henceforth call it Moose Lake. Can you see all five moose in the photo?
We reached the summit in 2 hours and 21 minutes, the last 20 of which were spent climbing the final pitch above.
This time I remembered to sign the summit register. However, I couldn’t locate the geo marker despite being told I had hiked right over it.
In our group of eight attempting Bierstadt, Dave & I ended up pacing ahead of the rest on the way up. We were on the summit nearly half an hour and ready to start down when the rest of the group arrived (minus one who had turned back early).
So our summit stay clocked in at 37 minutes. I felt great and didn’t want to leave. I checked my step counter before heading down at 9:41 and it said 12,025 steps.
Six more Northern Colorado Adventurers had hit the trail earlier than we to climb Bierstadt, cross the Sawtooth, and claim Evans as well.
I’ll be honest, my knees weren’t happy by this point. Thank God for trekking poles and ibuprofen, but still. I’m a very slow descender. If this tested Dave’s patience, he was extremely good natured about it. Several from the later summit group passed us on the way down, and somewhere I traded hiking partners.
Scott Gomer Creek was easy to cross on stepping stones. This dog was happy to frolic a little in the cool.
I returned at 12:17 for a total time of 5 hours, 34 minutes, step counter boasting a whopping 23,498 clicks. The round trip is officially 7 miles, plus summit exploration. (Math trivia: coming down took me 15 minutes longer than going up, courtesy of creaky knees.)
The flashing lights of two emergency vehicles greeted us. We deduced that a search had been initiated. It began to sprinkle as we all waited in line at the outhouse, and just as we were leaving the parking lot, a brief hailstorm ensued. Winding down Guanella Pass, we passed two more emergency vehicles going up with sirens howling, and then an Alpine Rescue van.
From a news release and the Alpine Rescue web site I pieced together the story that a 15-year-old boy had taken a fall from the Sawtooth but was not found, leading rescue teams to believe he was able to hike out by himself.
Update: Nineteen days later a 32-year-old man had a fatal accident crossing the Sawtooth. It seems more personal being a place I so recently visited.