Friday, August 12, 2011

Climbing Mt. Sherman: Our first 14er!

 Happy Friday everyone, the weekend is here again! As I mentioned in my post about our camping trip this past weekend, Cam and I finally climbed our first 14er! For those of you not familiar with this Colorado lingo (aka myself a month ago), a 14er is a mountain peak over 14,000 feet, and my current state of residence has 53 of them. Now I consider Cameron and myself somewhat seasoned hikers, but we had been advised not to attempt a 14er until we had acclimated to the altitude a little bit. So on this weekend's camping trip, we happened to be near Mt. Sherman, which is supposedly one of the easier 14ers and good for first-timers, so we felt ready to give it a shot.

Wait, we're going hiking?!? Why didn't I get a say in this?! Wahhhhhhh! (Our dog's expressions are absurd)

Now during our time in South Carolina, Cam and I did a lot of hiking, including climbing Mt. Pisgah, which has an elevation of 5721 ft. However, here in Colorado, we live at about 5000 ft, and the trailhead where we started our hike at Mt. Sherman was at 12,000 ft. So a little bit different. Going into this hike, I though I was in pretty good shape, but it was honestly one of the most challenging experiences of my life thus far.

Hiking is hard.
There are two routes that you can take to climb Mt. Sherman, and since we were in Leadville, we took the route from the west via Iowa Gulch. This route is 4.5 miles and you gain 2,150 feet in elevation. Piece of cake I thought. The hike started out nicely enough, and there were tons of beautiful wildflowers everywhere. (One of the great things about Colorado in the summer!)

I'm ready for our hike when all of the sudden...
Lola flips a shiz and starts running through the wildflowers like a maniac...
Seriously she is a nut.

However, once we got past the treeline aka high up enough where there are no plants, things got a little more intense. The trail was extremely steep and rocky at a lot of points, and Cam and I both needed to keep stopping because it was pretty difficult to breathe. Apparently gaining over 2000 feet at 12000 feet is different than doing it at 3000 feet. Extremely different.

Well duh, I could have told you that before we got out of the car fool.
For me, the climb was also very very mentally challenging. In most of the hikes we've done, you're walking through the woods for the majority of the time, so usually you don't know exactly how much you have left to go. In a hike like this where there are no trees, the entire time you can see exactly how high you still have to climb, and I felt like it was really draining to keep looking up and feel like we weren't getting any closer to the top. I basically had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and trusting we would eventually reach our goal.

Tons of climbers heading toward the summit
 Once we started getting close to the top, I was so ready to just get there, but I was very surprised at just how frigid the weather was. I'm not sure of the exact temperature, but I have a pretty good feeling it was below freezing since there was still snow around. Also, the wind was whipping for a lot of the climb near the top, so thankfully my hubby had the good sense to pack 2 pairs of gloves in his backpack. (I'm not used to bringing gloves with me when I go hiking in the middle of the summer...) Now granted I don't know what the experience of having a baby and being in labor is like, but during our climb I kept telling Cam that I imagined it would be something like climbing this mountain. Basically you're in pain, you're struggling, and it's hard but you know that eventually it will all be worth it. You know that you're going to be in this that way for a few hours, and eventually you just get to a point where you can't take it anymore so finally you summon all your strength, power through, and then in the end it is all worth it because you have a baby...

...or you make it to the top of a mountain! Hooray!! (And yes, I realize that this is not the same as actually birthing a child, but you catch my drift) I was so happy when we finally made it to the summit, and I felt really proud of Cam, Lola, and myself for doing it. We sat in the sunshine and rested, took our picture with the elevation sign, and signed this scroll saying we had made it to the top! It was definitely an amazing feeling, and as much as the lack of oxygen sucked, it does make me want to try to do it again. Here are some pictures from the summit:

Oh hey, good job hubs :)

Thought bubble over Lola's head: I hate you both so much for making me do this.
But then she found a friend so that made it all better...typical.

Now you'd think once you make it to the top, it would be smooth sailing. And you'd be wrong because the hike down was basically almost as challenging as the hike up. Since the incline was so steep and the trail was so rocky, it was very tedious making our way down. You really have to tense all the muscles in your legs to keep yourself from just tripping down the mountain, and all the impact ends up putting a lot of stress on your hips and knees. I'm thinking that next time we do one these hikes, I want to invest in a good pair of trekking poles because I think they'd be very helpful.

Finally, we made it back to our car and headed back to the lake to relax. It was definitely an amazing hike, and I'm hoping that we can do at least another couple 14ers before the weather gets too cold, but I think that I may be taking "Climb Mt. Everest" off my bucket list. At least for now.

Christmas card potential...
So that was my first major mountain climbing experience in a nutshell. Now I'm off for another weekend get away with my hubby and my in-laws, so I'm sure I'll lots more to share on that next week. Have a great weekend lovelies! xoxo


  1. 1. the pics of the flowers are absolutely gorgeous and made me want to cry because that's what happens when I see a bunch of wild flowers, and it's weird, I know, but it happens
    2. the pics of the mountains are awesome
    3. the pics of lola running through the flowers made me laugh out loud at work. she is so crazy
    4. my friend nadine said she might be moving to denver and I was like, JAMES WE HAVE TO MOVE TO CO.

    p.s. I'm thinking that maybe we could come visit in december after the RnR Vegas... what are you doing dec 7th-11th

  2. WOW!! What an accomplishment to do together! Very cool! Enjoy your weekend!

  3. Congratulations! I am so glad someone else agrees with me that climbing a 14er is way harder than so many Coloradans make it out to be! We did our first in July: We did not bring our dog I'd love to try your route w/ our guy.

  4. Congrats--and amazing photos!! Looking forward to reading more. Officially following!

    Love for you to check out my blog when you have a sec--


  5. All your photos of Colorado make me want to move there (okay maybe just visit for a long period fo time!)

  6. Glad you enjoyed your first 14er! I've been on a mission to finish them all and I'm getting close--only like 15 left! Sherman is a great one to start with, and I promise--they get (a little) easier!

  7. And now you guys can enjoy all the 14ers in CA! :-) There are way fewer of them than in CO, but there's great variety among them, and so many amazing views to make it all worth it.


Your sweet words make my day! :)


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