Today Brenda & I hiked to the top of Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in the state of Colorado. At 14,433' above sea level, it's second only to California's Mount Whitney (by about sixty feet) for tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. Today, we stood on the top of Colorado, and it was a hell of a feeling. Our first "fourteener". Yeah!
Now, Elbert is considered an "easy" fourteener. And it is, I guess. The thing is massive, so the approach ends up being fairly shallow the whole way. But you're still walking six miles across and 4,000' up, and then get to reverse and repeat the process to get back to the car. We were quite pleased with our performance, regardless of the "easy" rep Elbert enjoys. We passed several people on our way to the summit, and got the whole ordeal completed in 7.5 hours, including spending 40 minutes up there just looking around.
At the summit I had to chuckle, as I looked across the valley at Leadville, CO. Just a couple miles south of town is Lake County Airport, the highest public airport in the lower 48. And here we were, looking down on it! Pretty amazing. A few planes flew by while were were near and on the summit, and it was kinda cool to be looking directly at them, or looking down on them. In the photo below, you can make out the town of Leadville in the center and the long runway at the airport just to the south of town.
The clouds started building and we decided to get the hell outta Dodge a little before 11AM. The general idea is to be off the mountain by early afternoon, lest you get roasted by a nice bolt of Colorado mountain lightning. Below treeline, there were loads of charred trees and pulverized stumps to serve as reminders of what happens up there when the afternoon thunderstorms unleash their energy. After heading back to the (really nice) B&B we stayed at for a quick shower, we headed home. As we drove along RT24 we watched Mount Elbert get quite a soaking from an afternoon rainstorm, but thankfully no lightning; we knew full well that there were still a bunch of people on that hill, as we had passed them on their way up just hours ago.
All in all, it was a great weekend and a great hike, and I think we're as ready as we can be for our attempt on Long's Peak. Stay tuned.