Mt. Bierstadt, 10/01/05

Originally posted 10/01/05

Early this morning I set off to an attempt at two 14ers at once. Mt. Evans and Mt. Bierstadt are very close to each other, and can easily be done together. To do this, you hike up to the top of Bierstadt (class 2 hike, about 3 miles to the top), then cross the sawtooth (Bierstadt is the peak on the right, sawtooth is class 3 climbing):

After you cross the sawtooth, it’s mostly easy stuff from there – head east a mile or two, regain some elevation, and you’re there. Then come back and take an easier and shorter way down, bushwhack through a giant willow field, and you’re home.

I got in the car about 3:40, and headed off to Georgetown, CO. Uneventful drive so far. Once you get into Georgetown, you head up Guanella pass. I don’t have any pictures of it, but to say that the road is in godawful condition is putting it lightly. There are frequent 1′ deep, 3′ diameter potholes. Some bigger, some smaller, but LOTS of them. Apparently they realized this is a problem and decided to shred the road and have been doing “construction” for a couple years now. Still no new pavement, just shitty old potholey road, and dirt. Dirt with gigantic potholes. After 12 miles of that, I got to the parking lot.

Left the trailhead at 5:30, and when I was nearing the summit, my knee started hurting. Not sure why – I didn’t twist it or anything. It hurt a little yesterday but I shrugged it off as not-a-problem. I pushed on to the top anyway. No register that I saw, but I did find the USGS marker:

My knee kept hurting more, so I sat down, ate some food, drank some water, and took some ibuprofin. I looked over to the sawtooth, but didn’t think to get a picture of it from that perspective. “Discretion is the better part of valor” popped into my mind, and I almost immediately knew I wasn’t going to be crossing over today. It wasn’t worth possibly being stuck or falling off the mountain and dying (there are pretty major drops off both sides) to risk it, so I sat back for a few minutes, took in the scenery, and took some pictures:

A real, genuine lens flare, not added in PS:

The Mt. Evans ranger station is the little verticle spike a little left-of-center in the picture.

Here to the west you see Grey’s and Torries peaks (the double one with the saddle). Those are pretty easy, although there’s a more difficult (fun) way to go up that I will possibly be attempting in the next few weeks, depending on weather, school, work, etc.

Looking south, you can see Pikes Peak. That’s down by CO Springs and involves a 26 mile hike round-trip, so I may be doing that one the next time I go visit my parents, which is another 2 hours south of CO springs (go down one day, hike it, sleep in the car, finish the trip – or just do it all at once, we’ll see).

I took a picture of Long’s Peak from the summit, but it’s really small and far away and hard to see.

You may have wondered why my finger was in the picture of the sawtooth up above. Well, this is why:

When I got back to the bottom, my knee was feeling better, so I decided to go bushwhacking in the willows and head over towards the hike up evans. As I was heading over to get up the much easier, not-sawtooth way, I realized I didn’t have enough water left to do it. Apparently I had forgotten to take the camelbak bladder out of the bag when I filled it, which cut its volume by at least 1/2. At this point, I had no choice but to turn around and head back to the car.

So only one successful summit today, and an easy one at that – only about 4 hours start to finish. As disappointed as I am, it’s better to still be alive. I’m sure I’ll end up doing Evans this winter with snowshoes, which will be nice since the snow gets up above the willow height. Those things are THICK and in many places up over 6′ tall. That’s going to be an 8 mile round-trip hike. Should be fun.

Next week: who the hell knows (if anything at all)
Week after: Possibly Pikes Peak, possibly something else.

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