One of the Hardest Days of my Life

Trip Start Aug 15, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Sunday, August 23, 2009

So the morning starts off by waking up at 4am. It storms around noon on top of the mountain, so we have to start the hike super early. After breaking camp with only a headlamp, we drive a mile or so to the trail head. It starts at 9,400 ft and tops out at 14,256 ft at the peak. The total distance is 15 miles round trip. I thought it wouldn't be that bad....boy was I wrong! Once we got above 10,000 ft, the trees started to break some and we got a fantastic view of the sunrise over the mountains. We continued to hike up the mountain. We took breaks every 20 minutes or so to catch our breath and give our legs a break. The higher we got, the more frequent our breaks became. Once we reached the "boulder field", we were thoroughly tired and hungry. The altitude was also starting to effect us. We all had slight headaches and Daniel and Wes felt a little nauseous. We climbed  / jumped up the boulder field and finally made it to the "keyhole". The fact that it had the most breathtaking view was enough to lift our spirits after the rough trip up. After making our way around the bend, we saw that we had to climb this super steep section to what we thought would be close to the top. After taking breaks after every 10 steps, we finally made it to the top of that section. The views were again amazing. We were so close to the top and yet I could have gladly given up and started back down the mountain, but I told myself I had made it that far and that I probably would never have the chance nor desire to do it again, so I kept on. After successfully navigating the "narrows", we made the last surge to the top. We were 14,256 feet above sea level! I somehow managed to get phone service and called Alix to proclaim my accomplishments, ha. Even though we tried to catch our breath and slow down, my head was pulsing with every heartbeat. I was starved for oxygen. Coming down wasn't quite as bad as going up seeing how gravity helped a bit. It seemed like I just wanted to lie down on the rocks and take a nap. I was very tired. Except for the rain storm on the way down and running out of water with a few miles left to go, everything went very well. The experience definitely put things in perspective for me. I once thought, if I had the opportunity, that I might want to climb Mount Everest, but now I think I can safely say that that is not one of my desires anymore. I slept very well that night back at Wes' place and took it easy the next day to let my body recover.
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