Soon after the hike with Malcolm on Monday night, I started hatching a plan for the weekend. Our 20th wedding anniversary was coming up, and my wife had never hiked a 14er before. Now that I had been up the standard Bierstadt route, I knew it was something she could handle and I put the plan in motion.
I packed a little surprise for the summit…
We took off early Friday afternoon and headed to Idaho Springs, stopping to check out the Mother Cabrini Shrine on the way. Hadn’t ever been there despite driving past it a million times.
Then we wandered around town and spotted some locals.
At the city museum, I was shaking my head at the sight of the camera I used in high school being displayed behind glass. Kinda makes you feel a little bit old.
I’m a Nikon guy now, anyway.
We were up at 05:00 to get an early start on the mountain. That ended up being a very good move.
Right off the bat she spotted 3 moose having breakfast near the trail. I would have cruised right past them.
It was a great morning. I feared we would be freezing to death so early at such high altitude, but it was actually pleasant. Much warmer than Monday’s hike.
I knew this route would be a popular choice for the day, and soon there was a long line of people stretched out behind us.
As we were nearing the summit, I spotted this cool cloud arch. It only lasted about 45 seconds before it changed shape and was gone.
We made it to the top!
Wave at the people over on Grays Peak (8.5 miles distant).
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a butterfly (or more likely a moth?) over 14,000′ before. [Edit: Milbert's Tortoiseshell - thanks to Meghan for the ID]
We lingered for about 45 minutes and then got ready to head back down. A quick check of the skies brought some bad news. Weather was moving in. Fast!
I wouldn’t say it was a panic situation by any stretch, but the tension was palpable as people started scrambling down off the peak.
Lightning was spotted and soon thunder started rumbling through the thin air, adding to the urgency of situation.
We were still passing plenty of people on their way up, though. We got about halfway down and the wind started blowing hard, and graupel stung our faces.
We finally made it to the car. Approximately one second after I shut the door, the skies completely unloaded.
We had a great hike together. It was a special way to celebrate a special day. I was mighty proud of my wife for doing so well on the mountain. I can’t wait to do it again.