Project 54/54 is finally underway. After 2 or 3 postponements Jon C. and I were finally able to get away and head up to the high country. A 4:30 a.m. start got us to the trailhead at 7a.m. We would have arrived a little quicker if it had not been for the speeding ticket in Frisco. I did not mean to be speeding, I promise!
From a quick glance at the topo in Roach's 14ers book it looked like a relatively easy 3.3 miles to the summit, with the steepest section being the first 1/2 mile, before breaking out into a gentle alpine incline. I guess I need to learn to read topos better, or at least take more time in looking at them.
The first 3/4 of a mile climbed gradually through a sparsely wooded forest. We only saw a few groups as we climbed upwards. I was feeling strong as we cleared the woods, which surprised me, based on my past 14er experiences. The trail continued to climb gradually, through the tundra, until it turned west onto the long ridge leading to the summit. Turning onto to the ridge, I had a shocking realization that I had misread the topo. Really misread it, the steepest section was still to come.
At this point the well worn dirt trail turned to a rock strewn jumble. Just as I was thinking that maybe I should find a stuffed mountain goat for a mascot for this project, I looked up and spotted two real mountain goats strolling down the trail towards me. These were only the second group of mountain goats that I have seen in Colorado; the first was in Rocky Mountain National Park (a whole other story). These goats hardly flinched as we humans approached. I tried to talk Jon into smacking one on the butt, but he wouldn't go for it. We slowly worked our way towards the final steep section, that boldly rises before the summit.
Jon and I separated, as we each worked our way up this final section at our own pace. The trail here was more blocky than I had first thought. It took me about 50 minutes to push myself through this final section. I was not lonely on the summit waiting for Jon, as it was rather crowded. Jon joined me about 10 minutes later.
Lincoln, Democrat and Bross could be seen to the south. After a lunch and summit picture break we began the descent back to the car. Coming off the final section below the summit I had to stop and rest as I had a bad case of sewing machine legs going on. This section seemed rockier and looser on the way down than it had on the way up. After the rest break the remainder of the way down was uneventful. We did get some light rain showers. Just enoguh to get us to stop and pull on the rain gear in time for it to stop raining again. go figure! Round trip was just under 6 hours with 30 - 40 minutes on the summit.
One down 53 more to go. Ready! Set! GO!!!!!!