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Mount Elbert, Colorado


Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 8.3 miles

Arrived to Twin Lakes area day prior to hike and found descent camp spot close to the upper trailhead on the South Elbert Trail. started the hike at approximately 0620 and returned at noon.
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  • Spanky's Gourmet Mustard

very steep, will need lots of oxygen for this one!!

I arrived at Mt Elbert from Drew’s house in Breckenridge from over the Weston Pass Trail.  Fairly easy pass to cross.  Once in the eastern valley from Mt. Elbert, I could see a pretty good sized thunder storm building.  The plan was to get up as high as I could in the H2 and camp out.  I was also going to do the south trailhead, as it looked easier and had a better view.  On the way up, I got to the no kidding Trailhead and saw tons of cars, from this point the road turned to dirt, much narrower and said, only 4X4 vehicles allowed.  Started up this road and it was a one laner.  Met some cars and painfully had to backup to find wide sections in order to pass.  There was one spot up there that I passed that was the moneyist spot to have a campsite.  It was like a shelf with a huge overlook of the lakes.  The good thing about these sites is they were primitive and FREE!!  That’s what I like when you’re throwing gas in an H2.  This road got worse as I went and pulled in the mirrors so I could get up it.  Large rocks that I had to straddle over and tactfully maneuver in order to press on.  Actually came up to a small creek I had to cross. field testin' H2 is always fun.  Anyway, made it to the trailhead and worked my way back down to find a site that was vacant as close as possible.  By now, my battery was dead for my campin fridge and there were clouds that wouldn’t allow me to charge it back up with the solar panel.  I have now decided after this trip, that the solar panel I have is just too small. I can give it to the girls for experiments or something.  Also wished I had the windmill to help out with the charging demands.  I found a spot near a dad and son that were going to sleep in the back of their truck and they said it was ok if I set up near them.  Once all setup and got the H2 all situated with my crap in it, I was going to ride up to the trailhead to calibrate my gps.  This couple had come down and asked if the trailhead was far and we said just down a bit.  About 10 min later, they came back and said they realized they were had come down the wrong trail.  Must be pretty bad up there above the tree line to get lost I thought. Anyway, they asked me to bring them back if didn’t mind and they looked extremely tired.  I had to think a little before I committed because it was going to take about 1+20 for round-trip.  I gladly said I would do it, because if I were in their shoes I would expect or hope for the same.  I also like to help out and do some good deeds for the day.  Makes me feel good to help others out as I get older.  Anyway, got them back and he ended up giving me $50 bucks!!  Wow, so got back and started cooking the rest of the burgers and had some good conversation with the neighbor.  He said it looks like you’ve done this before.  I guess I make it easy looking and have too many darn gadgets that you could shake a stick at.  Anyway, cooked dinner, ate, got everything cleaned up, went over to their fire for 15 and decided I need to get some shuteye before the big day.  Legs were still hurting a little from the black mesa that was really quite easy, so I knew this hike was really going to hurt.  Got up at 0530 and it was freezing.  Didn’t really sleep that good and still don’t know why.  I got up and got everything ready and started the hike w/ my nugget light.  Got some good pics on the way in with the sun coming up thru the aspen trees.  Holy steep hike.  Was very steep and just never really got flat for the 1st part.  Once up to where the trees got sparse near tree line, the sun came up.  Had to shed some layers.  Once out of the tree line, I could see this huge mountain (vertical) that was still left to go.  Very depressing in a way to know that it was going to be painful.  Stopped on a rock and got some pics.  Guy had same idea and we chatted for a bit.  This pup and couple just passed me like nothing and I never caught up to them.  As I got about halfway, it got really hard.  I think it was around 13.5 and the altitude just hurt.  Seemed like I would crawl for about 20-30 feet and then stop for 30 seconds.  And then do the same thing over and over. Got passed again and those guys were doing the same.  I got a long way to go in order to get in shape for Rainier.  Finally made it to the top and it was spectacular.  The clouds were really coming over the peak, which at times, made us IFR.  Had to wait on some moments to get the hero shot.  Signed the log at the top and just hung out trying to catch my breath and get another cliff bar down too.  Started down to one of the little “rock barricades” someone had built and wanted to finish Revelations where we had left off from church.  Got to read this and just sat there spiritually touched and praying to God about this wonderful creation and how I was so blessed to be able to even do it.  Exhilarating.  Started down and ouch my knees and quads.  Seemed like I was never going to get to the bottom.  Finally did and was just drained.  Only an 8.5 mile hike, but a 4K altitude delta.  It was outstanding.  I want to do Humphreys in AZ and then try for Mt Whitney next, which is the highest in the lower 48.  Wonder if I can get McKinley in a couple of years.  Would like to do Rainier next summer with Blondie and Osto.  We weren’t able to this year, bummer.

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