Part of the reason I don’t get lonely being homeless and not living in a “community” is that we’re surrounded by our friends. This weekend we went hiking with some friends whom we met over Christmas while in the British Virgin Islands, who live in Chattanooga and were visiting a brother here in Boulder. Small world and getting smaller.
Angelika’s brother Chris had the crazy idea that we should all hike up Mount Audubon, and since we’re game for pretty much anything, we agreed.
Hiking by the numbers at Mt. Audubon:
- Met our hike mates at 7 a.m. Temp is 53 degrees.
- Hiking by 8:30 a.m. at a starting elevation of 10,508 feet.
- Summit just after 11:30 a.m. at 13,223 feet.
- 2,715 foot gain.
- 40-50 mph at top and 55 degrees, not taking into account wind chill.
- 7.9 miles round trip. Back at the car at 3 p.m.
- Low of 29 degrees F tonight up there.
This was certainly one of those, “now whose idea was this?!?” hikes. The last 0.4 mile stretch through the talus field was a 523 foot gain over not just “rocks” but boulders from shoebox size to a small car. In many areas there was no clear trail or path, you just picked a rock that looked somewhat stable and kept moving upward.
We took a lunch break and rested as best we could in the frigid wind chill once we got to the top. It quickly became apparent that I’m a noob since I was dressed for 75 degrees and sunshine – a very valid temperature at the base, just not here at the summit.
There was just reward however – the views from the top were absolutely breathtaking, like nothing I’ve seen from ground – only from airplanes. We were well above the tree line (the tree line disappears at 11,400 feet and turns into alpine tundra) and the snow, with very limited cloud cover giving us clear views as far as the eye could see. With the cold wind whistling through our rock shelter I was reminded of sky diving and remembered it was somewhere around 13,000 feet that I jumped out of the airplane. Amazing to be sitting on top of a mountain at the same elevation.
This was by far most strenuous physical activity that I can recall throughout my entire life. We’ve hiked several three mile trips at high altitudes here in Colorado and I usually average around one mile per hour, compared to my usual 15 minute mile on the treadmill at the gym. Today we made pretty good time, in part due to Chris keeping a very brisk pace ahead of us.
Some very valuable lessons learned:
- Research the trail!
- “Moderately Strenuous” in Colorado hiker terms is roughly the equivalent of boot camp on a 18yr old Marine packed into a 6 hour hike.
- Check the forecasted temperature at the top as well as the bottom.
- Buy a bigger Camelback with a full sized packpack.
- Fill that backpack with provisioning for all climates!
- Stop to smell the roses. And pine trees. And take lots of pictures.
- Carpe Diem. It’s better to fall short and turn back than to never start.
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