I spent the best summer of my life at a ranch in New Mexico with a few other guys at a little place called Pueblano. I won't mention the specifics of where it was because at somepoint I want to work there again. But, suffice it to say that in the north country we lived in we grew close.
At the ranch we have a certain number of days off which we allowed to leave and go our own way. Well, most of us being from many hours drive away decided to do a few things over our break. First, we had perhaps two and a half musicians between the four of us and knew of this place called Pearl Street in Boulder Colorado where we could play our instruments and people would donate to our eating expenses. My friend's aunt owned a house and she was away but would let us stay there.
It was the perfect set up. We had the place to go and place to stay and some of the other guys were going to a concert so they had stuff planned but we knew we had another whole day where we had nothing to do. I am all about climbing mountains and my friend had never climbed a 14er before so he asked if we could do one. When someone I like who is in shape asks me if we can go climb a mountain and we both have the time its something that I salivate over. I have some of Gerry Roaches guide books and they have all the info about all the mountains. So the wheels in my head began to turn.
We need a mountain relatively close to Denver or Boulder. Personally I like the difficult climbs up and easy walks down so thats what I looked for. As well, its another personal thing of mine to want to climb more than one mountain because after climbing 3000 feet what is another 500 to the next from the saddle?
Torreys Peak and Grays Peak made the list. Here comes the interesting part. We had two seperate cars lined up because none of us had one so if one of the cars became busy or their owner suddenly denied us the keys we had a back up. So we get there the evening of getting off at basecamp and neither car is there. As we found out both cars left to go climb Blanca Peak together!!!!
The next six hours of our lives went very very slowly. For some reason people won't lend their cars to random people who they only mildly know.
Then it became dinner time and we were just utterly frustrated and three of us decided to eat while the other one was just going to walk around and sporatically check the parking lot again. We we just about done eating when we came into the dining hall with this huge smile on his face. We thought this couldn't be happening. We had all but convinced ourselves we wouldn't get to start driving until tomorrow morning. It was amazing the car showed up. We went to check for the owner but he must have been lending it to another person because he wasn't in his tent.
Leaving at 6 pm the youngest of us drove the old acura stick shift heavy ladden with food and instruments so that dips made us bottom out. We just kept driving. I thought about it and thought and the rest agreed with me that we could just camp there for a few hours when we got there that night and start at first light.
Yeah right!! Our adrenaline was pumping. We were a bit tired having all woke up before 8 that morning and driving for five hours to get there but when we were going up that horrible road until we couldn't get over the next bump we parked on the side of the road. First we were going to just sleep there for a few hours then I think Eric suggested that we should just start right there at 1 am. Almost instantly it was unanamous and we were packing all the stuff we would need for a few hours.
This was the place to be. Only three of us had headlamps but the moon was so bright that we just decided not to use them at all and hike along the road in the moonlight. There was a fair number of cars going up the road which is the kind of thing I like to see because I know those people will not get caught in afternoon thunderstorms unless they do something wrong. We walked for a long time and the trail was quite wide and strait-forward so it was no problem to follow. When we finally got to the cutoff where the Kelso ridge trail seperates from the normal trail we were alone.
I can in no way describe the trail up the ridge except that we had no gear of anykind at all and some of it was harder than other parts of it. Until, we were above 13,500 or so we were completely in the dark so we could only see efficiently perhaps 100 feet. It was a good climb we moved at a steady pace and only rarely stopped because as I told them if we stopped you would get cold quickly so it was better to just keep moving. Right about when the sun was comming up we could see the distinction of the neighboring hills. It was just amazing there were clouds comming over our right side and then sweeping down into the valley on our left side. It was a tad windy, perhaps 30 miles an hour. As we got higher the clouds became thicker. It was no problem though because the last few hundred vertical feet were probably class two stuff that you didn't really need to route find just head up. We summitted at 6:30 for nine minutes or so. I don't like to hang out on summits. Up to this point the mood had been mildly serious and focused. Now that I knew we had over come the hardest park we all just walked around easily and talked a lot more than before as we made our way to Grays Peak.
Grays Peak had a few people on it which was in contrast to Torreys where we had been the only ones. A summit is a summit and some are cooler than others because you worked hard to get there so we easily got bored and went down. My friends were talking with every person we passed and while I like talking to people as well I was starting to get tired and agitated from not sleeping for 26 hours or whatever so I left them behind and ran down the moountain in short little steps. I layed down on a rock to wait for them and the next thing I know they were waking me up to walk down the road to our car. A pickup passed up and we caught a ride to our car. From there we headed to the closest town on the way to Boulder and ate at Subway. The whole not sleeping thing was starting to kick in for me. After Subway we got back in the car and I slept immediately. Needless to say his aunt's house was amazing and I slept a lot that night and the rest of the time was fun dressing up and playing music but that is not a summit story....