Back in June, while I was hiking through Eldorado Canyon, I met a girl who also wanted to spend the summer hiking 14ers. After my failed attempt at climbing Huron, I was particularly motivated to find a hiking buddy. So, I texted her and we met up to climb Mt. Elbert. We set up camp together the night before and we had Mountain House meals and S’mores. We talked about our experiences throughout our lives and the things that motivated us to go on our summer adventures. After our fire died down we headed to bed. I had a hard time falling asleep and before I knew it my alarm was going off at 3:45am.
We headed to the trailhead, maybe half a mile from our campsite, and started making our way up Elbert. We caught twinkly glimpses of the surrounding towns as we inched our way out of treeline. Then, as we emerged from the green trees the sun was rising.
Looking back at the bright orange magnificence behind us felt particularly rewarding, as it gave us an excuse to take a quick breather and a swig of ice cold water. The trail of gentle switchbacks in the trees turned into a more aggressive and direct trail the further we traveled. Our view was ever evolving as the light transformed it from a series of blue and black shadows, to a revelation of light and dark greens, baby blues, scattered white clouds, and brown crunchy earth. Happy flowers greeted the day with drops of dew glistening upon their vibrant petals.
Eventually, our feet led us to nothing but rocks that squeaked and grumbled beneath the hardy soles of our boots. My energy levels began to fade and I told my new friend to go at her own pace. She made it to the top a few minutes before me and greeted me with a smile. We snapped a few shots of the beauty around us, but pictures never compare to the real thing…or maybe I’m just a terrible photographer? That’s probably got a lot to do with it.
It was bitingly cold and windy, even though the sun was glowing brightly above. We made an easy descent and met a young history teacher along the way. He had driven out from Kansas the night before and ambitiously decided to climb Elbert with little time for his body to adjust to the elevation. He didn’t seem to have any trouble and was full of talkative energy. He seemed excited about being a teacher. He wanted to teach in a way that made kids like history.
With a roaring conversation going between my new friend and the history teacher, the end of our hike seemed to come faster than usual. Back at the trailhead the teacher packed up his things and headed out to his next destination, while my friend and I made our way back to camp to take a post summit nap in our tents.
It was a morale booster to have a conversation with someone other than myself. It was nice to have a friend. It was nice to share the demanding, yet rewarding experience of climbing a 14er. And as much as I relish solitude, it was quite nice to not be alone. It was nice to be in good company.