My morning alarm blared “Buttons” by The Weeks at exactly 3:45am this morning. It’s Grays and Torreys 14er day with Aaron! It would be my 6th and 7th Colorado summits over 14,000 feet and Aaron’s 3,600th. Just kidding, but he has hiked more than he can count both recreationally and as a member of Alpine Rescue Team. Surprisingly, this would finally be our first time hiking a 14er together!
Our bags were carefully packed the night before with our 10 essentials plus trail PB&J sammies (our unofficial 11th essential). We hopped in Aaron’s new Dodge pickup and we were off flying down the I-70 with the mountains in the distance and very little traffic in between us. After exiting the I-70 at exit 221 we followed a pretty rough, grab the “oh shit handles”, four wheel drive road for about 4 miles, stopping once to let some fellow hikers hitch a ride in the pickup bed up the steep, rocky road to the trailhead.
Trailhead “before” selfie at about 5:45am ready to hike up Grays and Torreys
The sun is just starting to come up but not quite high enough to illuminate the valley just yet.
Grays and Torreys Peaks coming into view as we hike higher up on the trail. The sunrise illuminating them was breathtaking!
The view from behind us where we had just hiked from as the sun rises higher.
Crystal clear mountain water with Torreys in the distance.
So many colorful, spectacular wildflowers!
A whistle pig!!! Ok, he doesn’t appreciate that nick name, he prefers Mr. Marmot.
Great view of Kelso Ridge. (A route I will probably never attempt on account of my intense fear of steep drop offs)
Now you’re probably saying, “get to the summit pics already!” Well, today, as it turned out, was not the day we would make it to either summit. Aaron had been feeling a little “off” at the start of the day. He had spent the week on the East Coast for work and had just flown back to Denver the previous day. He was operating on very little sleep as well. By the time we had hiked about two miles, he was now experiencing all the signs of altitude sickness; nausea, lightheadness, dizziness, headache. It was an easy decision, we were turning around and heading back down the mountain. Getting down is the best way to cure altitude sickness.
Was I disappointed that we didn’t “bag” our first 14er as a couple? Absolutely not. If you hike in the mountains, you MUST be willing to turn back if something isn’t right. Sometimes it could be that a member of your hiking party is not quite ready for the physical challenge. Often times in the mountains, the weather turns you back. Today, it was altitude sickness and it would have been potentially dangerous to continue further up in elevation.
However, the best part of the mountains: they WILL be there tomorrow and we WILL get another shot.
Today we hiked four miles of scenic trail and gained about 1200 feet in elevation. It was all very awesome and soul rejuvenating. We even got to enjoy our PB&Js 😉.
Altitude sickness is no joke. If you experience any symptoms, help yourself out, and get down! Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated. Aaron is feeling a million times better and we can’t wait to get out there again!