Roundtrip Elevation: 5800 feet
Starting Point: Guanella Pass
This hike was one I wasn't planning on doing until about two days before I did it. My wonderful wife was great to let me spend the morning hiking. I had realized I had the day off and nothing to do. Climbing Mount Bierstadt was the obvious choice.
I arrived at the trailhead at about 6:45am after driving the final 13 miles over a half dirt/half asphalt road. The road was a bit deceiving as it was littered with significant potholes throughout. I was hiking towards Mount Bierstadt by 6:50am.
The initial portion of this hike runs through a swampy, wet field. Luckily, the trail leads to bridges that carry the hiker over the really wet muddy areas. If not for these bridges this trail would be much less desirable. While on the bridge I lost sight of the trail but I eventually found it again.
You can see from this picture that the fog was very low. This did not clear up until I was on my way down the mountain and nearly to my car. The fog rolled along the mountain side the entire morning. Winds were mild but still made for a cold hike up the mountain. Little lakes and streams were scattered throughout this meadow. Even with the fog it was a very pretty hike and I imagine I would enjoy this hike even more on a second trip given a clear day (maybe a good starter 14er for the ole' ball n' chain). About half way up the mountain the fog cleared for a moment to reveal the goal.
Normally, this is visable from the parking lot at the beginning of the trail but on this day, I only had about 5 minutes to soak in this view until the fog rolled back over it. This was the first time I've experienced a significant limit in visability while hiking. At times I couldn't see more than 20 feet in any direction. I was fortunate that route finding was not required on this hike. Towards the top, visability did not improve. I spent all of 10 minutes on the summit and decided I'd better start the descent. Being on top of a 14er isn't as exciting when you don't have the views you've worked so hard for. As I'm about to post this next picture of myself on the summit my wife informs me that I should explain why my face looks like I just went diarrhea in my pants. I have no explanation for this and I am posting this in spite of my wife's behest.
Arriving at the ridge leading to the final pitch the visability was at its worst. I snapped a photo on the way down looking back up the final pitch. There's a lone hiker somewhere in there.
It was also a first running into snow and ice. I started seeing snow at about 13,500 feet. This picture was at the summit.
It was 9:10am when I arrived at the summit. This was pretty good time for me. I zoomed down pretty fast as well. I didn't pass anybody on the way up and didn't see any other hikers at all until I was on the summit I was joined by another sole hiker. I saw plenty of hikers on the way down and secretly harbored ill feelings towards them because the fog started to clear almost as soon as I was about halfway down the mountain. I thought it unfair that I had woken up early and hiked the mountain and the "lazies" get to enjoy all the good views. I gave one hiker the "stinkeye" and I don't think he understood why. I may have whispered aloud, "Die in a fire."
Almost back at my car I turned around and the whole mountain was in view along with most of the route up.
It was 10:50 back at the car and I headed back for home. It was a quick hike and my 6th 14er. Next week I get to hike Pikes Peak with my Dad. I'm really looking forward to that even though I've already hiked it solo. It will be my first 14er with a hiking partner though which is another reason I'm looking forward to it. Most of my readers have asked me to make a post about it even though Pikes Peak has already been conquered. Since I'm all about making my readers happy, I'll do it.
Notes to Self:
-it's getting colder and while I wore gloves, I wish I had better ones
-find something to cover my ears
-work on my camera faces