Mt. Bierstadt, Colorado: 14,065 ft

By Em - September 06, 2018

After listening to a friend of mine tell me about hiking his 25th and 26th 14er last weekend, I decided that I would hike Mt. Bierstadt the next morning.

Until I moved to Colorado 6 years ago, I didn't know what a "14er" was, and for those of you not living in this majestic state who may not know, a "14er" is a mountain whose summit is above 14,000 feet. details all of the mountains, their elevations, elevation gains and distance of the hikes as well as a plethora of other information.

I decided to hike Mt. Bierstadt because it is known for being the easiest 14er on the Front Range.  It would take me an hour and half to drive there.  I had a dentist appointment that morning at 10:30, so I knew I wouldn't be starting until early afternoon so I did a quick search on how long the hike should take.

I didn't even click on the article, just arbitrarily decided I was half way between average and those people who make it up and back in three hours, and that it would take me 4 hours.  I did a quick scan of the weather radar and saw that it was almost definitely going to snow during my hike.  But I had already committed to these plans 6 minutes ago, so I packed a warm coat and hat and gloves and hit the road.

I got to the trailhead at 12:55pm and started the hike.  I had 7 miles to hike with 2,850 feet of elevation gain.  The first couple miles were extremely mellow, weaving through willows that were brilliantly starting to turn gold with the change of the season.

At around 12,500 feet of altitude, a headache crept in, and didn't fully dissipate until I fell asleep that night.  Altitude is not particularly kind to the human body.  I did see the fattest marmot I've ever seen right near the summit, so apparently they thrive in high altitude.

About an hour into hiking it started snowing.  It snowed for about two thirds of my hike.  I made it to the summit around 2:30 and hung out up there for 20 minutes waiting for a brief clearing of the storm in order to take a good photo at the summit.  I brought a beer for the summit, which is apparently mandatory.  I also brought a sign to hold at the summit for a picture, which I surmised from photos of friends was required to be on cardboard, not any other type of paper, in order to look like a homeless person begging for $14,065.

The snow picked up on my descent, and I ran into a couple guys I had passed earlier on the trail close to the summit.  One of them admitted that the only reason they kept hiking into the snow when they had thought about turning around was because they knew I was ahead of them.  Oh, the male ego.  I wished them luck and continued with my descent.

I ran parts of the hike back down the mountain, ready to get back to a lower altitude, and made it back to my car at 4:06, the whole hike taking me three hours and eleven minutes.

I enjoyed the hike, as I enjoy most outdoor activities, but I'm not a huge fan of signing up for a headache for a day, which seems to be an inevitability with a 14,000 foot altitude.  Would I do another 14er?  Absolutely, no question, yes, I'd do many.  Do I have a desire to go out and hike them all?  Not particularly.  I really didn't mind the snow, but if I was hiking anything more technical, I would probably opt for starting early in the morning to avoid precipitation.

Well, it took 6 years of living in Colorado, but I've now successfully hiked a 14er, and got to peep some of the aspen glow on my return to Boulder.

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