Saturday, June 21, 2014

Climbing Grays and Torreys Peaks

Today was a day to climb mountains! 

My younger son and I woke at 3:00 a.m., hopped in the car, and headed for Grays Peak (summit elevation 14,270 feet). 

At 4:30 a.m. we arrived at a parking lot right off the highway and three miles away from the actual start of the trail. This remote departure point was necessary because my Mazda has very low clearance and would have sloughed off useful parts (muffler, catalytic converter, driveshaft, etc.) all along the rough jeep road leading up to the trailhead.  Here is a photo of the beginning of the jeep road that my son and I walked in the faint pre-dawn illumination of a quarter moon, augmented by an ingenious little light my son wore on a head-strap. 

At the two mile mark a young man driving a jacked-up, stripped-down Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 (small jeep, big tires) graciously picked us up and gave us a lift to the trailhead.  We arrived in a cloud of dust as the Land Cruiser bounced over rocks and ruts into the trailhead parking lot.

My son needed to stay on schedule and therefore immediately took off like a rabbit and was soon out of sight.  My own speed was leisurely, bordering on shambling.  This slow and steady approach worked well for me at first; but after an hour and fifteen minutes, my legs grew leaden and I couldn't walk twenty steps without having to stop and catch my breath.  I threw in the towel at an elevation of about 12,000 feet and sluggishly retraced my steps to the car, arriving there exhausted and foot-sore at about 9:30 a.m.  After enjoying a recuperative nap, I was surprised to receive a triumphant text from my son:

"Bagged Grays and Torreys both.  I'm down under 13K feet.  Everything going smooth."

My son was feeling so energetic after conquering Grays Peak that he hiked down a saddle and then up into the adjacent Torreys Peak (summit elevation 14,275 feet).  It was an impressive double-14er day for him.

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