A beautiful day on the mountain -- plenty of sunshine and no storm. This hike is fairly easy, and I expected a little more fight out of the tallest point in Colorado. Nevertheless, it was a great summer hike. One question though: Why is the tallest point marked with nothing but a makeshift wooden cross? Did I miss something?
I started at 7:30 from the Colorado / Main Range Trailhead and reached summit around 11:10. Felt really good going up, which was a little unexpected because I had just done Sneffels the day before. Smooth and clear the whole way, the only regret I had was getting sunburned on top of my head.
Fourth 14er, second solo.
My first 14er. Wow, what a hike and what a view from the top. La Plata was very inviting over to the SW as it still had a considerable amount of snow on it. The trail was in great shape and it would be impossible to lose it. However, I did not think that it would get so steep so quickly. I found the initial hike through the Aspen's to be the worst part of the hike. Many people had told me to just stay at it and you will get there. This is so, so, true.
First Mountain ever climbed.
This time I climbed Elbert with my two sons and one of my grandsons. Both sons had to wait about 2 hours on the summit for dear old dad to make it. The grandson gave up about 500 feet from the summit. He should have stayed with me and climbed at a much slower pace.
The birth of the “Noodle Knees Express”
A pleasant day of hiking up the mountain yielded great new friendships. After a leisurely lunch on the summit, thunderclouds in the distance persuaded us to begin our descent back to the trailhead.
And then it began.
First, the clouds rolled in. The air was charged with electricity. I felt a buzzing and snapping in my ear, which turned out to be my (now electrically charged) earring.
I can still hear the words as if it were only yesterday….
Betsy: “Robin, your hair is standing on end.”
Robin: “So is yours.”
Both [turning to me]: “Mike, so is YOURS!” (My shoulder length hair was standing straight out!)
Aaron: “LET’S BOOGIE!”
And we ran. When we could run no more, we stopped. CRACK! The lighting burst straight past us into the valley below. We ran some more.
I have never been so frightened and humbled in my life. Far above timberline, there was nowhere to hide, nothing to hide under. WE were the tallest point on the surface of the mountain.
We stopped. The rocks around us were now buzzing and humming with electricity. BANG! The air exploded around us. We ran until our knees cried out in agony; our hearts felt like they would burst as we panted and gasped for breath. Wave after wave of lightning erupted on all sides, above and below us.
You have never truly lived until you have had the life scared OUT of you. There is no experience that even comes close.
We ran for the tree-line, lightning flashing all around us. When we thought it was impossible to continue, a crash of lightning would start us running again.
The storm passed as quickly as it had begun. It turned and moved toward the south, in search of other hapless victims. By the time we reached the trailhead, the weather had turned downright pleasant again, as if nothing had happened. We stopped and soaked our aching feet in the river. As we drove away from the mountain, we could see another storm approaching behind us. Later we learned that one mountain away, a woman had been struck by lightning while climbing Mt. Massive with her husband. We were grateful to have made it out in all in one piece.
That day, we coined the name “the Noodle Knees Express” and it stuck.
It is said that people who survive trauma together form strong bonds. This was doubly true of the friends formed that day. We would climb together for years to come, and shared many wonderful and extraordinary experiences.
I climbed Elbert the second time in September. It's still a long climb, no matter what month its climbed.
Climbed Elbert for the first time with my son Patrick. He was just 7 at the time and never made it all the way to the summit. He waited for me on the trail and everybody who I saw told me how he was doing.
Not much of a trail in parts. Lots of false summits. A good workout that day!
A nice hike at high altitude!
long climb, great views though.
Extremely cold day for May that started out with an hour or so of snow showers in the wee hours of the morning. Heavy winds kept the afternoon stormsto the north. Still plenty enough snow for a nice snow slide back down on my cafeteria tray. If I had a chance to do it again, I'd take the Halfmoon trail since it is shorter and just as easy of a route.
2nd summit of Nolan's 14. Steve Simmons was about an hour behind and most other runners were ahead. We climbed the NW ridge, 3000 ft. in 1 mile, descended over Bull Hill to Echo Canyon. On to La Plata.
Tried to solo Mt. Elbert, but there were way too many interesting people on the trail. Only Grays, Longs, and Whitney have been as crowded in my experience. So I gave up and enjoyed the social mtn. hike. Pretty big old pile of stones Elbert is.
2:00 summit, sunny and windy and chilly!
Climbed with Sean McHugh (now deceased). Most memorable moments included hiking through the largest patch of Columbine I've ever seen; passing by some old mine structures; and climbing in weather that included rain, sleet, snow and hail at different times during our hike. It was nice to get to the top of the highest peak in Colorado. TJ Burr, Author of "Rocky Mountain Adventure Collection" available through www.bn.com.
1st 14er Summit!
Great time and a pretty long day, snow shoe on, snow shoes off. Almost proposed to my exgirlfriend on that summit, WHEW that was close!
This was my first fourteener. I went solo and took 4 hours to summit and 3 hours to get back to the car. I must've done this hike in the late summer during the week because I don't recall seeing a single person and the photos I have show a decent amount of snow on surrounding mountains.
Great views, great weather. Very popular and crowded due to its status as highest in colorado.