24 August 2009

Mount Harvard

22 August 2009

Some lessons I must learn the hard way.

We set our alarm for midnight and left the Denver Metro area in quest of sunrise at Bear Lake high in the Sawatch Range within half an hour. We arrived at the Cottonwood Creek Trailhead about three hours later and were making our way up the eight-mile trail that leads to the summit of Colorado’s third highest peak by 3:50 a.m.

I had not been hiking at altitude since early June, and I thought the Trek had prepared me for the length of this hike. But I wasn’t gaining 4,500 feet on the Trek.

I missed sunrise at Bear Lake because I bonked. I bonked because I didn’t want to miss the sunrise.

I didn’t hydrate adequately because I was not hot. I didn’t eat because I was afraid if I stopped for five minutes, I’d miss the sunrise. As first light hit the slopes of nearby fourteener Mount Yale, I ran out of energy.

This is a lesson I’ve frequently had to drill home on my bike. During this year’s MS-150, I thought I had developed life-sustaining habits. I’m going to have to work on translating those habits into hiking!

Nevertheless, because I missed sunrise from Bear Lake, I was able to strategically place myself in just the right location to capture the sun popping over gendarmes along Mount Columbia’s rugged northwest ridge. I then spent nearly an hour shooting lake reflections, wildflowers and my crocheted bears at Bear Lake. The Lizard “blasted” up Harvard while I headed back to the car, shooting wildflowers along the way and stopping to dip my feet in the ice cold Cottonwood Creek once in a while.

The Lizard caught up to me at the Trailhead. He toted one of my bears up to the summit, delighting other climbers by naming the bear Harv and shooting photos of the little blue guy with all the nearby summits as proof the crocheted critter claimed its first fourteener.

The Lizard vowed to get me up Harvard in an overnight backpack next time. Going as far as I can at Harvard may have to wait a while, though. I have some autumn destinations on the calendar I don’t want to sacrifice. My “degrees” atop Princeton, Yale and Columbia will have to suffice for now!

Bear Lake

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