A Great hike up Longs Peak
Posted 20 August 2005 - 10:18 AM
Anyway, about a week before the trip I started to question myself as far as my conditioning. Did I do enough running? Did I run hard enough? Enough biking, etc? I wondered if I'd get my butt whipped by Longs in the last week before leaving for RMNP.
Last year during my RMNP vacation, probably while on my hike beyond Black Lake, I had my first serious thought of attempting Longs Peak. Last year was my first year to test out my wheels after I dumped all the junk in my trunk...err most of it anyways (lost 65lbs...something I'm embarrassed of and proud of and something I'll never return to). I kicked major booty last year on my hikes in comparison to every other previous year. Then in January while on the Thunder Lake snowshoe during the STOMP, I was shooting the breeze with Erik (Malok) and Michael (Smudge) about how I was seriously thinking of doing Longs Peak. Michael told me quite a bit about the hike and said I should go for it. I learned a lot from hearing Michael talk about it and was comforted by hearing him say he thought it wasn't as bad as most make it out to be. But it wasn't until we made it to Thunder Lake that I decided 100% that I was going to do Longs Peak. It was how whiped out I was at the point of making it to the Lake that made me realize if I could do that wearing snowshoes and in January....then I COULD do Longs Peak! Plus, hiking with those two mountain goats and doing a decent job keeping up gave me a confidence boost to solidify my decision to do Longs.
So now fast forward to August 6th, 2005 at 12:30am. JB and I were just waking up. Actually if it weren't for JB waking up to his wristwatch alarm then we wouldn't have made the hike!! I had intended on getting up at midnight but didn't wake up from my wristwatch alarm....and my stupid cellphone surely wasn't gonna help me with its stupid stupid *bleepin* problems!!@!!%@$#! Anyway that's another story...
The previous evening we had prepared our packs, mixed up some gatorade for our camelbak bladders, etc so that we would be all ready to go the next morning. JB and I crawled out of our tents, I felt fine but JB looked like his alter ego "MONGO". It turned out that JB probably only got a couple hours of sleep overnight. I got at least five hours of sleep. We hit the sack the previous evening at 6pm.
JB didn't really have too much to say and I wasn't really gonna try talking to MONGO at this hour anyway (was about 1am). We stopped by a co-workers campsite in the Longs Peak campground to see if he wanted to start with us or whether he was gonna get a later start. He chose the later start.
We signed in at the trailhead log book at 1:35am. (see bottom left picture below)
JB was still in MONGO mode but I was feeling GREAT!! The previous two days my right calf was feeling tight and sore but this morning everything was feeling great. I was ready to roll!
A short while after signing in we decided, well I decided since JB was still in MONGO mode, that I would get a picture of us at the start of the hike.... (see the bottom middle picture below) Notice how incredibly stupid and dorky I look? Although not unusual, I didn't expect to look this dorky but I wasn't expecting the camera to fire as quick as it did.
We hiked for a while in the near complete darkness. It was very dark, but very incredible to see all the stars that I usually don't see crammed into the sky above RMNP...what a cool sight! As I was saying before the stars memory sidetracked me...we hiked for a while in the darkness and it was great and easy for me but JB...err, MONGO was having a tough time getting going. "MONGO need rest", I would hear MONGO say. So we'd stop, and MONGO would try to figure out if he was tired, hungry or what the deal was....he just wasn't having an easy time getting started. Of course those who know MONGO know that "MONGO no like morning!".
Anyway enough of my sidetracking thoughts (shut up....the readers like a little sidetrack every now and then. Oh yeah!.....YEAH!.....WILL YOU TWO SHUT UP!?! They can hear you you know!?!) After about a couple hours, I think, we met up with another friend of ours from work, Rod. With him were his wife Jessica and her friends Monae and Mindy. (see bottom right picture below)
Posted 20 August 2005 - 10:44 AM
The temps were a little chilly, and the wind wasn't really blowing too much so I was thankful for that. I should mention that by this point we were at/above treeline. Things were pretty uneventful as most hikes in the dark can be....unless a mountain lion pounces on your back (hey....shut up with the sidetrack business....No, you shut up!....You two!! Am I gonna have to come over there and deal with you again?!?!!) Well, uneventful except for the time when Mindy cracked her knee on a rock somewhere above treeline but before the boulderfield.
Speaking of the boulderfield. As we got closer, and the horizon started to light up, I found a big boulder to use as a tripod and got a nice picture of Longs Peak. (See bottom left picture)
I think that may have been the very outskirts of the boulderfield? I dunno? But I liked the picture. The ladies ooohhed and aahhhed the picture, so I had that going for me. Mongo, well he was still being Mongo and not quite back to being JB so he could care less about the picture. Rod said about the picture, "that's cool". Not that any of this at all matters to the hike....I just wanted to mess with the voices in my head (Hey....I heard that! Don't make me thump yer skull again punk!)
Well I stayed at that spot for a while grabbing some pictures and the rest of our group continued on into the boulderfield. While I was still grabbing some pics I got the chance to meet quite a few nice people. A group that stands out in my memory was three guys, the oldest being the grandfather, and the two youngun's being his grandsons. As I talked with them I told them how I thought that was cool to have a memory like this that they'll have to look back on forever! I crossed paths with those three many times up and down the mountain.
I was waiting at that particular spot so that I could get a good alpenglow shot. Well time seemed to be flying by and I didn't want to get too far behind my group so I put on the wheels and caught up with them in no time. Well actually I caught up with them right in time....right in time for a 'potty break' as the ladies would call it, or for a whiz as I would have rather called it. I met up with my group near the privies in the boulderfield. There was a line of about 5 or 6 people waiting to whiz so while I was waiting I grabbed a picture of Longs Peak soaking in alpenglow (see bottom middle picture)
Okay, now with the whizzing and 'potty breaks' done we were back on the 'trail' up the through the boulderfield. (see bottom right picture)
Posted 20 August 2005 - 10:50 AM
Lucky readers! This particular post will be short so you won't fall asleep reading. Plus, the picture to word ratio will be higher so folks like Marvman will be happy!
More pictures of the keyhole. The bottom right give some perspective.
Posted 20 August 2005 - 11:13 AM
As we got closer to the top of the keyhole (I was aiming for the left side where the Agnes Vaille shelter is so I could check it out) I got this picture of Rod and Jessica....ahhh, don't they just look soooooo cute. (see bottom middle picture)
After that picture, or was it before that picture(?), I crawled into the shelter and enjoyed a nice seat and a rest as well as a good view of the boulderfield.
After the shelter, I hauled booty up through the keyhole and was VERY impressed with the view of the other side, the Glacier Gorge. Wow! It was cool to see all the lakes, etc, that I had been to last summer like Mills, Black, Green, and Italy lakes as well as Ribbon Falls. I also got a good view of where I had intended to go last year...Shelf and Solitude lakes and the turnoff that I missed. The keyhole is definitely a worthy destination within itself. Anyone interested in just making it to the keyhole will not be disappointed with the view.
But I came here to summit this mountain, so it was time to get movin' again. What we were in for next was a trek through the ledges. While I have the voices in my head tied up with a nasty boy george earworm, I'd like to get sidetracked again and talk about the hiking up to this point. I thought everything so far was pretty easy going and was really enjoying the hike. I had a nice, fun time through the boulderfield. For me it wasn't that complicated.
The ledges were also, in my opinion, not very bad either. (see bottom right picture) The views were nice as well. I remembered John's picture (at least I think it was John) of the bars for the hand and foot holds as we came to that particular spot. This was the spot where Mindy decided she was going to turn back. While making it through this particular spot Mindy's foot slipped and it psyched her out. She felt bad but decided she couldn't make it past that point and would wait for us back at the keyhole.
**edited addition to this story----The keyhole is where Mongo became JB again. That was a welcome transition, and I was glad to see good ol' JB again.**
Posted 20 August 2005 - 11:31 AM
Well we made it to the trough and I still felt great! I wasn't as demoralized by the trough as some of the others were. Actually I wasn't dreading it at all. It was just another stretch to make it through to get to the summit, and did I say...I felt GREAT!
The pictures below hopefully are decent enough to give some perspective on the trough. The bottom right shows us starting up the trough. The bottom middle is some unknown amount up the trough and still looking up at what we have left to do. The bottom right is looking down at all the poor saps still making their way up.
Posted 20 August 2005 - 11:55 AM
I should also mention that during the trough adventure the gap between JB and the rest of us in the group started to grow. Here and there I'd wait for him to get close and then I'd burn it back up to meet up with Rod and the ladies. Then I'd wait again for JB and bur it back up to Rod again. Eventually we made it to a point past the trough that I was sure JB would not make it past. Unfortunately I pressed on with the rest of the group without getting the chance to speak with JB about continuing on. Once we met up again though, I felt better knowing that that was the exact spot where he had decided to turn back...which is what I figured/guessed he would do as his fear of heights issue.
Now since I'm finally getting to this report, enough time has passed to erase fine details from my memory. After the trough we traverse through the narrows and just like others, and as I mentioned earlier, Michael, said....it's not as bad as some make it out to be. So far that was the theme with me....it was not as bad as others have made it out to be....but then again I don't have a fear of heights, and also worked pretty good within the last year+ to get ready for this hike.
Once through the narrows it's time for the homestretch. I found this to be pretty interesting. It made it interesting and fun to always look for the best route as others were coming down as you were going up. And as it was in the trough, the few icy spots here and there added to finding your best route.
I have to say the coolest thing, even more than making the summit, was getting the hi-fives and congrats from everyone once you were up there. It was great to see how happy everyone was and how nice everyone was to each other and how happy everyone was for each other....even complete strangers and completely strange people such as myself! So as I said, when I made it from the homestretch to the summit hi-fives and handshakes were awaiting me. It was a great and memorable experience to make it to the summit of Longs Peak. The first thing I did, after the congrats from many, was to get my pack off and head towards the summit marker to get a pic of my keychain next to the real marker. (see bottom middle picture)
Then after I got a few pictures I went to a place alongside the mountain (somewhere along the northern side of the summit) to call home and let Jenny know I made it. Then I went back up to the summit marker and found the summit log and squeezed in my name as each sheet was filled up. I got a few pics for other people who wanted one next to the summit marker and then headed back to where I laid my pack so that I could go to grub-town on my MRE. Well I must have taken a left turn at Albuquerque and ended up in blandville which obviously was right next to dryville.
My MRE wasn't very pleasing but that's what you get when the pickin' are slim from previous years' supplies of MRE's. I had cheese tortini. I choked that down as well as the poundcake. The applesause was orange colored but tasted sweet like applesause should. The good thing about that MRE was the cherry flavored drink that I got inside. I saved that for later though when we got back to our campsite.
Posted 20 August 2005 - 11:56 AM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 12:08 PM
Well I gave up and returned, dejected, to the keyhole where the others were awaiting me. Once I got to the keyhole, at the absolute first sight of anyone in the boulderfield, I heard "Aaron we've got your camera!" That felt soooo good to hear that!!! Wow, I didn't want to have such a great hike to end the way I was dreading it could end.
So other than that I still felt GREAT. It wasn't until around treeline that my toes started to get sore/hurt. My socks must have been bunching up or something and my big toes were hurtin' pretty good. But that wasn't really too bad. When we got back to the trailhead at 3:50pm I was impressed that I still felt great!
Someoe asked me back at the trailhead when it was going to be that I would do this hike again......a long time from now I said.
Oh, I better also mention that we made the summit by about 9:15-9:30am,
Thanks for suffering through my trip report!
P.S. Here's a picture of us right about the time that my toes and Rod's feet/toes began to bother us. The look on Rod's face says it all
Posted 20 August 2005 - 12:26 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 01:05 PM
Thanks for sharing..."all of you"!
Posted 20 August 2005 - 02:58 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 03:02 PM
Exxxxcellent job Aaron!! I agree with Druw, 65 Lbs. is some serious chunk shedding!!
You Sir have shed your Dorkiness!! Hence forth you are Sir Aaron-Slayer of The Peak! I bow before you !
( So Aaron - any ideas on who should be your Dork replacement?)
Seriously - MAJOR props - it's great to work hard to achieve something like that & then pull it off - Sweetness!!
Posted 20 August 2005 - 03:48 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 03:49 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 05:05 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 06:43 PM
What a great report and great photos as well.
Not the hike, but those voices that you here. You might want to get that checked. (Just a thought)
Seriously, Great Job!!
Posted 20 August 2005 - 07:42 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 08:04 PM
Posted 20 August 2005 - 09:08 PM
I'll eventually get 'er done again. But I don't have any ambitions of doing Longs for at least five years. Not because I thought it was too hard. But because now I know what to expect and don't want that to make it seem to take longer and also there are so many other peaks to get to now.
Thanks for the comments everyone!
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