Sunday, November 29, 2020

Colorado - 2012

For the third year in a row I planned a trip with my boys to Colorado to hike some fourteeners. Sam and I got to Colorado first and were later joined by Andrew who had commitments that prevented him from coming earlier. 

On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, Sam left Salt Lake City at 8:10 p.m. on Delta and got to Denver at 9:39 p.m. I left LAX at 8:11 p.m. on Frontier and got to Denver at 11:20 p.m. Sam was waiting for me and we went to E-Z Rent-A-Car and got a Jeep Cherokee. It was after 1:00 a.m. by the time we got the vehicle. 

Early in the morning on Wednesday, August 8, we drove 164 miles, over 3 hours, to the North Cottonwood Creek Trailhead, at an elevation of 9,900 feet, where we planned to hike to the summit Mount Harvard. 
We started hiking at 5:35 a.m. and noted lots of mushrooms on the way in, something that Andrew is very interested in.
After 6.75 miles of hiking we reached the 14,420 foot summit, the third tallest mountain in Colorado (after Mounts Elbert and Massive) and the fourth tallest in the contiguous U.S. Next was the most difficult part of the day, a 2.75 mile, four to five hour, cross-country slog to 14,073 foot Mount Columbia. It was another 5.75 miles out down nasty, loose scree. We did not get out until 7:00 p.m., 13.5 hours from when we started. We hiked 15 miles and had over 6,100 feet of elevation gain. 
To top it off, we had to drive 96 miles, two hours and twenty minutes, to Georgetown where we had reservations at the Georgetown Mountain Inn. We stopped in Leadville on the way for something to eat. We did not check-in in Georgetown until after 10:00 p.m. 
     Mount Harvard  (Bob) 
     Mount Columbia  (Bob) 

Thursday, August 9, we had to pick up Andrew at Denver International Airport early evening, so we decided to hike Mount Bierstadt with a trailhead only 11 miles away near Guanella Pass. The trail was only 7 miles roundtrip with 2,850 feet of elevation gain, which would give us time to hike to the summit, go back to the hotel and shower, then drive to Denver. For an extra $25 charge, the hotel allowed us to shower and check-out late. We had breakfast, 

then left the hotel about 7:30 a.m. and saw bighorn sheep near Guanella Pass and several moose near the trailhead which is at 11,669 feet. 

Near the summit, which is 14,060 feet, I saw a white-tailed ptarmigan. 
We got back to the hotel in Georgetown, showered, check-out, then drove 91 miles to Denver International Airport to pick up Andrew who was supposed to arrive at 6:16 p.m. from a Frontier Airline flight from LAX. However, it was late, so we did not connect with him until 7:00 p.m. Andrew hadn't eaten and we needed food for our hike the next day, so we stopped at Safeway on our way to Salida, where we were going to stay at Hampton Inn & Suites. 
It was 166 miles and over three hours distant, so we did not get to the hotel until 11:30 p.m.  
     Mount Bierstadt  (Bob)

Friday, August 10, we left the hotel before 6:00 a.m. for a 13.5 mile, 40 minute drive to the Mount Shavano Trailhead at 9,750 feet elevation. 
We started hiking about 6:40 a.m. Andrew was showing signs of altitude sickness, sluggishness and a headache. So we went into mushroom finding mode. 

Ultimately, at about 12,000 feet, Andrew indicated he was going to continue to look for mushrooms and Sam and I continued on. After 4.5 miles of hiking, we reached the 14,229 foot summit of Mount Shavano. 
Then eyed the 14,155 foot summit of Tabeguache Peak, which was a 2 mile roundtrip and 2 hours of hiking away. After summiting Tabeguache we went back the way we'd come and got caught in a refreshing thunderstorm which cooled things off. We found Andrew near the trailhead who had enjoyed his day hunting mushrooms. We drove back to Salida where we spent another night at Hampton Inn & Suites, after eating pizza for dinner in Salida. We were tired from hiking and lack of sleep and went to bed about 9:00 p.m.  
     Mount Shavano  (Bob)
     Tabeguache Peak  (Bob)

Saturday, August 11, we were up at about 5:00 a.m. and had a one and three-quarter hour drive ahead of us to the North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead for a hike up Mt. Massive. 
The trailhead was 8 miles down a dirt road, the last 2.5 miles of which were rated 4 out of 6 (6 being most difficult) on the website. There was also a 40% chance of heavy thunderstorms by about 11:00 a.m. and so I was anxious to get there and get hiking. 
Andrew was exhibiting more signs of altitude sickness, so Sam and I left him to hunt mushrooms while we continued on to the summit at 14,421 feet, the second tallest in Colorado and the third tallest in the contiguous U.S.  It was an 8 mile roundtrip hike with 3,950 feet of elevation gain. 
We summited and found Andrew back at the trailhead with an assortment of mushrooms he'd found. Afterwards we had a 71 mile, 1.75 hour, drive to Georgetown where we spent the night again at Georgetown Mountain Inn. 
I did not record where we ate dinner. It was probably either in Leadville or Georgetown. 

Sunday, August 12, we left Georgetown for Denver International Airport. Sam had a 1:00 p.m. flight on Delta for Salt Lake City and Andrew and I had 12:40 p.m. flights on Frontier to LAX, arriving at 2:00 p.m. 


  1. Lots of driving and then climbing with too little sleep. I'm pretty sure I would have hung out with Andrew. His activities look like more fun.