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Hector's Longs Peak Report


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#1 hector

 
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Posted 15 September 2010 - 09:33 PM

Day 5, 8/26/2010: Hiking to and camping at the Boulderfield of Longs Peak.

Get Bill Up the Hill. Okay, who are we kidding? Get ME up the hill! The Forums' plan to get Bill up Longs Peak was a good excuse for me to join a trek up a mountain I hadn't ever considered going up before. When I first heard about this excursion, I was pregnant with our second daughter. Imagine planning a trip, while still pregnant, to hike up a 14er, and you're out of shape, and due 7 months before that monster of a hike. I was concerned, but it didn't stop me from planning and dreaming. Our daughter arrived on January 29, 2010 and I let myself off the hook for 3 months. Then it hit me --uh oh! Only 4 months to get into shape! I signed up for fitness classes at our city's parks and rec system and I faithfully went to them (on some especially grueling exercises I thought, "Longs Peak! Longs Peak! Longs Peak!"). When it came time to do Longs, I knew I was in the best cardio and muscular shape I had been in for a looooong time.

I knew well in advance that I wanted to camp in the Boulderfield the night before going up Longs Peak. Part of it was because I was concerned about day-hiking the Keyhole route, and part of it was because I wanted the experience of sleeping in a place that people told me "is like a different planet". Allen didn't share my enthusiasm for camping, so we made plans that I'd camp and he'd day-hike. We'd meet up in the Boulderfield in the morning and go up to the summit together. So that's what I did. With a lot of help from John regarding backpacking gear, I was ready for the big day. I had been looking forward to camping in the Boulderfield as much, if not more, than summitting Longs Peak. My hiking/camping partners included John, Monica, Rick, Mike and Staci.

Hiking day! Allen drove me to the Longs Peak trailhead and I met the others in front of the ranger's station at 10 a.m. My pack weighed around 40 lbs after I put 3 liters of water in my Camelbak bladder. (I have an older backpack, and a co-worker of mine sewed a loop of nylon webbing on the inside of the bag so that I could hang the bladder – it was a very nice retro-fit!) Some people, not to be named, (unintentionally) freaked me out about the weight, so I got rid of some of my items, including my summit pack (Allen would be arriving with his day-pack in the morning, so we could share) and my borrowed water filter. Mike and Staci offered to filter water for me. OK! So now my pack weighed 38 pounds. Whew! What a relief! :P

On our way! L-R: John, Lora, Staci, Monica, Mike, Rick
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Monica signs in at the register:
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John suggested we take it slow up the trail, and that's what we did. Slow… VERY slow. But steady. It's surprising how far you can go without stopping when you go slooooow. We stopped for lunch at the falls and continued upward. Pretty soon the views opened up and… WOW! We had a beautiful day for hiking, and everything around us looked gorgeous on that fine day.

Mike & Staci
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Twin Sisters. Folks hiking in the dark don't get to see this view on the way up.
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Longs Peak teases us with just a glimpse from the trail
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This picture just plain cracks me up.
http://abierbaum.smugmug.com/2010/August/RMNP-Day-5/IMG0793/987370596_gvFSL-M.jpg

continued...

Edited by hector, 16 September 2010 - 07:45 AM.
to change title at Hector's request

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#2 hector

 
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Posted 15 September 2010 - 09:37 PM

Rick knew the Jim’s Grove shortcut to Granite Pass, so we took that route while Mike and Staci took the regular trail. The Jim’s Grove trail is very pretty (and unmaintained) and we had a nice hike, taking our time. We could see the hikers on the regular trail off to our left. Whereas we were in the grove/meadow, they were on a trail on the side of the mountain. (Which one? I don’t know.)

Jim’s Grove was a nice “shortcut” but it didn’t save us time because we had our heavy packs and weren’t really in a rush. The last slog up to the main trail is a brutal one, especially when you have 38 lbs on your back. We sat down and rested while Mike and Staci came up shortly behind us on the main trail. They said they were watching us go up that last bit of the shortcut and commented that it looked pretty tough. They were right.

Monica and I talked and hiked. John and Rick took up the rear. Jim’s Grove.
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A breather break:
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I’m not endorsing the Jim’s Grove shortcut, but if you wanted to take it, this is what you’d look for:
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Only a short way to go!
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The tundra was gorgeous, as were the views.
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Another fun pose, this time on the switchbacks.
http://abierbaum.smugmug.com/2010/August/RMNP-Day-5/IMG0816/987423831_9eZvc-M.jpg

continued...
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#3 hector

 
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Posted 15 September 2010 - 09:45 PM

We were a merry group again and made our way up the switchbacks beyond Granite Pass and, before we knew it, we were in the Boulderfield. We headed toward to the campsites, and after much confusion as to where the 3-tent spots were located, we finally settled on a spot and started on our tents. Pounding tent stakes into the ground of a boulderfield… yeah, it’s as fun as it sounds.

A little pika
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There it is! The Boulderfield and Longs Peak!
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Clouds, mountains, boulders. A perfect day for camping.
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Our tents:
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The rest of the group filtered water after the tents were up. Here’s my dirty little secret: I’m not sure what I was doing (probably going “potty” as my 3-year-old says, for the hundredth time), but I didn’t help filter. I feel guilty about that.

My thoughts on the Boulderfield privies: they were wonderful. Now, maybe it’s because I have a 7 month old with messy and smelly diapers, but they didn’t gross me out, although they were pretty pungent. You climb stairs to get to the enclosed toilet (there are 2 separate ones), and it feels kind of strange to be sitting up so high. The whole system for disposing of waste actually interested me – there were pipes snaking around the rocks to go to a… disposal area? Am I weird? Probably.

I was fascinated watching people leave the Boulderfield. It was well past 5:00, maybe more like 6:30/7:00ish and people were STILL leaving for the trailhead. I guess I always had it in my head that people went up and down with daylight to spare. After all, we had met people around 10:30 a.m. who were coming down after summiting, so I was surprised that people would WANT to hike out in the dark. There were a couple of guys who were breaking down their campsite, smokin’ some stuff that I hadn’t smelled since college, and they were one of the last to go. Other people who were later leaving included climbers who had come down from the Chasm View area and had their helmets and rope on their backs. Then I was fascinated watching people ARRIVE at the Boulderfield, almost in the dark, or in the dark, having to find an open campsite and put up their tents with their headlamps. One thing is for sure… that place had activity ALL the time. I think the Boulderfield was full of campers that night.

Anyway, it was time to eat supper and John kindly heated some water for my super-gourmet freezer-bag meal I made at home. It was called “Chicken Walnut Rice” or something like that. I ate about ¼ of it, Rick ate about ¼ of it, and I was left to carry out the rest. It was a little crunchy, but not too bad considering I was sitting on a rock with Longs Peak looming over me.

Dinner time! Rick, John and Monica.
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The sun created some pretty colors on the clouds.
http://abierbaum.smugmug.com/2010/August/RMNP-Day-5/IMG0835/987466944_hpCYQ-M.jpg

One last picture from our lovely day. Me and Monica, sitting and talking.
http://abierbaum.smugmug.com/2010/August/RMNP-Day-5/IMG0840/987476793_A6oXy-M.jpg

Did I mention we had perfect weather? The Boulderfield is quiet at night when there isn’t any wind to fill the void... a bit TOO calm and quiet for me, since I like a little white noise to sleep. Our camping spot was divided by a rock wall – we speculated it had been part of the foundation of the Inn that was once there - and on that wall sat all the little gallon zip-lock bags of water that the others had filtered for the day-hikers. I think it was punishment for not helping, because those little bags kept me up all night. Water shifting, bags crinkling… you get the idea. I was convinced marmots were getting at the water, but I was too tired to get out of my cozy tent and sleeping bag to inspect the situation. Great, so not only did I fail to help filter, I didn’t defend the bags from critters. (Lucky for me, they were fine in the morning.)

At 1 a.m. I finally gave in to a potty break; at 2 a.m. the first of the day-hikers arrived and didn’t know the meaning of quiet voices around tents (Hey, Jim! I think this is the Boulderfield! Oh, hey, I can hear water down there! It must be below the boulders! Oh, look, the toilet!) The wind picked up around 4:00 a.m., and after that I slept like a baby.

The whole day was fun. My new friends are wonderful and I’d spend any day in the mountains with them!

Up next: summitting Longs Peak!
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#4 Rhonda

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 07:56 AM

You poor thing, all that heavy hiking and hard work and then no sleep? And yet you summited. You must've been going on pure adrenalin. It doesn't look cozy, but it does look like an adventure, and I know you are always up for an adventure.
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#5 soatley

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:07 AM

Another great report filled with pictures and details.

Sandy O
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#6 John

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:07 AM

I LOVE THIS REPORT!!! We had a blast!
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#7 Igloo Ed

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:26 AM

I'm proud of you Lora, you have it in your heart. I feel confident you will live a long, healthy and happy life.
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#8 workrelease

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:27 AM

GREAT report! Informative and fun.
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#9 Aaron

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:54 AM

Great report, Lora! Did shaving those two pounds off your pack really make a difference? Also, now you've got me curious about the Longs Peak waste system. :lol:

--Aaron :ballcap:
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#10 hector

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 09:11 AM

You poor thing, all that heavy hiking and hard work and then no sleep? And yet you summited. You must've been going on pure adrenalin. It doesn't look cozy, but it does look like an adventure, and I know you are always up for an adventure.

Actually, I felt fantastic after hiking. I wasn't the least bit sore (a first for me!). I think the slowness of our pace helped. We took 7 hours to go 6.5 miles. I did get some sleep -- maybe 4-5 hours total. I think that's pretty good for sleeping at that altitude.

Did shaving those two pounds off your pack really make a difference?

No, it didn't. When we got the boulderfield I immediately regretted leaving the water filter. I hated being a burden on Mike & Staci (and the next day, John, too, since Allen forgot to bring it in the morning). But, being the nice people they are, they didn't mind helping me out. At least, that's what they told me. :lol:
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#11 Bill 007

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 09:15 AM

Great report Lora!
I'm glad to see what we missed by hiking up in the dark. The views were spectacular! Looking forward to the rest!

Bill
(Marmots tried to steal our water? Those dudes are getting out of control!)
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#12 Monica

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 10:26 AM

Great report, Lora! Loved it!
Yes, we were a merry group. I have the fondest memories. Every now and then something about that day will come to my mind and I'll laugh out loud.
Yes, you did like those privies. They gagged me and I was thankful for large boulders.
I felt awful for not helping with the water filtering, too. All I did was carry a few bags back to camp from the area they filtered. I was so glad I didn't drop one and ruin all their work.
In my mind the whole thing was about getting me up the hill, and it haunted me for a year. I'm so glad we could experience it together.
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#13 Twinebender

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 10:26 AM

Great report Lora,
I enjoyed reading every line. It was entertaining, funny and informative.
I always enjoy hearing others perspectives on hikes.
I should clarify to other readers that we did start out slow but once on the Jim's Grove shortcut, Monica and Hector put it into overdrive and left John and I in the scree dust. Meanwhile chatting the whole time as if they were enjoying a cup of tea. Thanks for holding up countless times for us to catch up.
Filtering water was something else. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to suck the dove dry.
BTW your daughter and I share birthdays! Just a half century apart.
Can't wait to read part II.


Rick
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#14 jflo

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:59 PM

Super Report Lora!! So glad you guys made it, and enjoyed it!!
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#15 iceberg

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 02:52 PM

I love the commentary on the early day hikers talking too loudly around the tents! :lol: I also enjoyed the comment that the water bags kept you awake yet you were too tired to get up & check it out. Very entertaining & interesting report!
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#16 hector

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 03:09 PM

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words. Trip reports can range from "we hiked, set up camp, slept, summited, got back down" to more descriptive ones. I tend to be on the chatty side. :smile1:

They gagged me and I was thankful for large boulders.

Monica, I laughed out loud the other day when I was writing this report and thought of your completely opposite reaction to the privies! And then I laughed again when I thought about the Sky Pond hike, when I left you high and dry behind that tiny little boulder while I searched out something more private for myself. :lol: Some friend I am!
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#17 SandyM

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:23 PM

Oh my gosh, Lora! What an outstanding trip report, you really do have a gift with words.
It really gave me a feel for the fun and camradarie you all shared.
I can't wait to read about the summit!
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#18 DeeCeeM

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 05:28 PM

That's a really neat report. I'm looking forward to more.
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#19 mwilson

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 07:55 PM

Great report! Can't wait for more.
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#20 foxfire

 
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Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:07 PM

Great report and pix Lora! Thank You! :yup: :yup:

Fox :smile1: :wink2: :peace:
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