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Q: Where in the United States does a typical college Friday night involve climbing two 14ers under the moonlight and Milky Way, and end with a sunrise at 14,275 feet?
A: Boulder, Colorado
This past week, with three friends and two cousins, I summitted Greys and Torreys Peaks for the second time. However, this hike was drastically different than my first trip up these peaks. The trip started when, after a brief three hour rest, three of my friends and I dressed in a combination of hiking and winter clothes, packed water, cameras, and PBJs, loaded up the car, and left Boulder at about 11:30 pm Friday night. We arrived at the trailhead at the same time as my cousins who drove up from Denver, and our hike began at 1:15 am Saturday morning. I was wearing a beanie, three layers of warm clothes, long pants and hiking boots, and had ski mittens on with liners underneath. We set off under the Milky Way, which, isolated from the urban sprawl of the Front Range, was absolutely spectacular. During water breaks we all turned our headlamps off, and although the temperature was close to freezing, the experience was unreal. Through our breath, we saw numerous shooting stars, including one that zoomed overhead in a thick beam of light right over the summit of Torreys; it was easily the biggest shooting star I've ever seen. Going up the west ridge of Greys the trail had some snow covering it, but before we knew it, at 4 am, we were on the summit of Greys.
Unfortunately, the sun was not due to rise until around 6:30 am, and the howling wind on top of the summit of Greys led to our decision to go down to the saddle between the two peaks and eventually up to Torreys to watch the sun rise. After sliding down an icy slope, we arrived at the saddle around 4:45, with the summit of Torreys a short 15 minutes away. Thinking it would be just as cold on top of Torreys, we stayed on the saddle for over an hour, doing everything we could think of to stay warm. Pushups, jumping jacks, group huddles and Lion King singing; nothing was left out. Tired from the night and slightly delirious from a combination of low oxygen and temperatures, we had a great time.
Finally, we headed up to the summit of Torreys to watch the sun rise. It was an unreal sight; the entire spectrum of the rainbow reached over the mountain peaks and valleys in front of us all the way to Denver. We were on top of one of the highest points for miles, and the sunrise was doubly welcomed: not only was it an awesome sight, but my fingers had swollen considerably during the hike...although the sunrise was well worth the price of a few swollen fingers. True Boulder hippies, we threw in some yoga poses at the summit, feeling it was only right, and then headed down to the car. Seeing the trail in full daylight coming down after hiking up in the pitch darkness was very satisfying, as were the surprised looks of hikers on their way up to the top. We made it back to Boulder by 10 am, slept until dinner, and enjoyed a great night of food, friends, and college football. Just another day in the life living in Boulder...I can't get enough of it.