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A Casual Night Hike
Friday night after a long week, there was really only one thing for me to do. Hike uphill for 9 miles in sub-freezing temperatures with a bitter wind chill, through snow and over rocks, to 14,000 ft. above sea level, where the oxygen is so scarce you head feels like it’s about to implode. Oh yeah, did I mention it was in the dark.
That’s right, last weekend a handful of friends and I hiked up Mt. Gray’s and Mt. Torreys in the middle of the night to be able to catch the sunrise from 14,000 ft. We left Boulder at 11:30 p.m. Friday night (forgoing all sleep), and drove just short of two hours into the hills to the trailhead.
We set out excited, and maybe even a little gung-ho. 3 hours later we were at the top of Gray’s. Except there was one problem. The sun wasn’t set to rise for another two and a half hours. It was very cold and windy up at the top, so we decided to try and make it across the saddle over to Torrey’s for the sunrise. We made it across with over an hour to spare. With around 15 minutes to go to our second peak in as many hours, I suggested we hang out a little lower and kill time to protect ourselves from the wind. Turned out to be a great idea. We did anything and everything to conserve/create heat, including but not limited to, push-ups on the ground, yoga, and huddling together chanting the song from “The Lion King.”
Finally as the sunrise approached, we made our final ascent up to the peak of Torrey’s, where we got to see the entire horizon on all sides, unimpeded by anything else, turn every color in the rainbow, until, at long last, the blood red sun peeked up. We let ourselves warm up and then began heading down. It was 7 a.m.
I did feel a little bit bad on the downhill, because the valley we hiked through to reach the peaks was exceptionally beautiful that early in the morning, and we missed it on the way up (however, the stars in the middle of the night at that altitude are really in a class of their own). However, by about 9 we were back at the car, exhausted after no rest and a big hike, we piled in and were home by 11. I slept until 4.
Recap: No sleep, two 14ers, twelve total hours, one awesome time.
From 14,000 feet,