4:30—Leave Ault (a little rural town east of Ft. Collins).
6:30—We've made it about half way up the dirt road to the Stephens Gulch Trailhead. At this point we ran into a very rough section of the road where there are deep ruts. I was unable to negotiate these without scraping the bottom of the car (a Saturn SL2). After two attempts I gave up and parked the car on the side of the road. There was already one car who had apparently had the same experience. So we geared up and began our hike.
7:10—We make it to the Stephens Gulch Trailhead after hiking for a mile and a half. While we were hiking up the road probably 20 vehicles passed us. I had debated trying to hitch a ride with one of them (I had no idea how far the real trailhead was). However, by the time I made up my mind to ask the next pickup that passed us if we could jump in back, we were at the trailhead.
8:20—We hike through the tundra. I was wearing my polypro long underwear top and was on the borderline of being cold. I thought when we reached the sunshine I would warm up so I resisted the idea of putting on my heavier polypro sweater. However, after we reached the sunshine, the wind began to pick up and I became even colder than I was in the shade. So I put on my polypro sweater, a pair of light gloves, and a stocking cap. These would keep me warm enough (just barely) for the remainder of the hike.
8:40—We're just about to leave the tundra and get into the rocky slope. My wife is not feeling very good. She's got a headache and her stomach hurts. She decides to head back to the car and take the dog with her. I continue on alone.
9:35—I reach the saddle between Grays and Torreys. I decided to climb Torreys first. I'm not sure why I did this, but I think it was because the trail up to Grays started to go way out to the east, whereas the trail to Torreys seemed to be very direct.
9:50—I reach the summit of Torreys. It is cold and windy on top. The temperature can't be much more than freezing, and one hiker estimated the wind speed to be 40 miles per hour. I can see I-70 to the north. On the summit I met a bunch of kids from the outdoor club of my high school Alma Mater (the infamous Columbine High School). I got one of them to snap my photo. As I was leaving a bunch of them were posing for a photo with their shirts off. Ouch! After spending five minutes up there I was ready to get moving so I could stay warm.
10:40—I make it to the summit of Grays. For some reason it doesn't seem as cold and windy up here. The climb up from the saddle to the summit of Grays was pretty steep. I ended up walking a hundred feet, and then resting for 30 seconds, then walking a hundred feet etc. to make it to the top. Based on this, I think it is easiest to climb Grays first. The branch of the trail that goes from the fork (where I decided to go to Torreys) to the top of Grays is longer, but not as steep. There is a couple on top who are trying to identify as many 14ers as possible. I join them in hopes that we could identify Bross, and/or Lincoln, and/or Democrat. Unfortunatley we can't distinguish these mountains, but we can identify Quandary, Longs, Evans, Bierstadt, and Pikes.
11:45—I've made it down to the tundra where my wife turned back earlier in the morning. I stop for some snacks and shed my sweater. It feels good to sit in the grass and enjoy the sunshine. Since I left my wife I haven't rested for more than five minutes in one place. It feels good to sit for ten minutes, especially where it's warm. I'm also enjoying a new trail mix blend that I stumbled upon. At King Soopers (aka City Market), I really like their Honey Bee Mix that you can buy bulk. To this I added a bunch more banana chips so that my Honey Bee Mix has a triple portion of banana chips. Yum!
12:30—I make it back to the trailhead. Unfortunately I still have another mile and a half to hike down the road until I get to the car.
13:00—I make it to the car. My wife has been waiting for me for about two hours. Also, there are about ten cars parked along the road before the big ruts. I'm not the only one who couldn't negotiate them.
13:45—On the way back to the front range, we decide to stop at the original Beau Jo's in Idaho Springs for a couple of beers and some pizza. They have one of my favorite beers on tap (Easy Street Wheat brewed by Odell in Ft. Collins) so I am a happy camper. If you've never been to Beau Jo's, I highly recommend it. Their pizza is very unique—it's the opposite of New York style pizza. The dough is very, very thick and they pile inches of toppings on top. Instead of sizing their pizzas by diameter, they size them by weight!
16:30—We role into Denver to help my brother-in-law celebrate his birthday.