Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Two 14ers in one day? Yes, Please!

It was about 6:15am on Monday, September 3, 2012, when my good friend Chad and I reached the trail head for Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. After a brief hour long drive we were ready to hit the trail and begin our 8 mile hike towards the summit of both peaks. The parking lot next to the trail head was full of other vehicles and groups of people both young and old alike. The morning was nice with an occasional chilled breeze. The sun had just started to come out as we made our way along the trail.

We started by trekking through a portion of the trail that was surrounded by trees. The trail was pretty level and very easy to navigate with minimal steps and the usual plethora of rocks. 

After making our way out of the trees we continued on a narrow stretch of the trail that was covered in brush that was about waist high. This section was small and in some areas it only left enough room for one person at a time

After reaching towards the end of the brush the area finally opened up and we got our first glance at both peaks standing side by side. It was an amazing sight! One of which that we took a moment to soak up the view and snap some photos. During this time the sun had finally peaked over the adjacent hills just enough to light up both peaks making the moment unforgettable and worth photographing.

Grays Peak (left) & Torreys Peak (right)

Shortly thereafter we continued on our way through an open field and reached the base of Grays Peak. This would be our first challenge as we would have to navigate our way through thick rock, an incline, and ledges that would surely lead to injuries should one slip and fall.

Upon clearing the trail packed with rocks we reached the start of the switchbacks that would ultimately take us to the summit of grays peak. The switchbacks seemed to last forever as they felt as though they reached from the far left side of Grays to the far right side. While trekking through the switchbacks the summit remained in sight keeping our spirits up and confident that we would be reaching the summit soon.

 With that thought in our minds and keeping us going we finally reached the summit to be met with a spectacular view of the valley that we had spent the majority of our trip trekking through.

Grays Peak Summit - 14,270ft.

Grays Peak Summit - 14,270ft.

View of the valley from the summit of Grays Peak - 14,270ft.

View from the summit

While on the summit we sat down for a quick snack followed by a few brief conversations with other hikers who had reached the summit. In the few 14ers that I have hiked the experience has always been a pleasant one and I have had several friendly conversations with fellow hikers about where they have lived, other 14ers that they have climbed, and so on. You'd be surprised of the people that I have met, some as close as natives to Colorado and some from as far as Spain, all with the goal to summit a Colorado 14er. Although I don't know them personally and may sometimes experience a language barrier between us that never stops us from sharing a smile and high five when reaching the summit. It is an accomplishment to be shared by all who venture to do it.

 We eventually packed up our gear and set off to traverse the saddle-back in attempts to summit both peaks that afternoon. With the sun shining and a few clouds in the sky we were confident that we could summit Torreys Peak without the threat of inclement weather turning us back.

A view of the saddle-back that connects Grays to Torreys. View from Grays looking towards Torreys.

We made our way down towards the saddle-back, trekked across, paused to take a few photos, and then made our way up towards the summit of Torreys Peak. The trek up Torreys Peak felt more difficult as the switchbacks were more direct and short going from side to side. After trekking approximately .5 miles from Grays Peak to Torrey's Peak we had finally reached the summit thus accomplishing our goal to summit both Peaks in one day.

Looking up towards Torreys Peak from the saddle-back

Looking towards Grays Peak from the saddle-back

Standing on the summit of Torreys Peak - 14,267ft.

View from the summit

The hike was an amazing one and will go down as one of my favorites. The opportunity to summit two 14ers in one day is one that should be taken advantage of. The day was perfect, although we did run into a small amount of cloud cover and rain on our way back to the trail head. We met a lot of great people that day and had a blast. I'd also like to note that this was Chad's first 14er(s) and two perfect ones for it. I remain fascinated by the valley that we had to trek through in order to reach both peaks (I'm sure you'll recognize it from the photo on the top of my blog page). A great hike that I recommend to anyone!

Grays Peak & Torreys Peak - Directions 

From Denver, drive west on Interstate 70 to Bakerville, Exit 221. Turn left over the interstate and drive south 3.5 miles on a steep, but wide and passable, dirt road to the vicinity of Stevens Mine at 11,300 feet. There is a parking lot for about 30 vehicles, and outhouses are adjacent to the parking lot. 

- The Colorado 14ers: The Standard Routes by: The Colorado Mountain Club Foundation 

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