(originally published on my old blog, ‘Atlanta Trails’)
But the achievement I am most proud of is summitting Mt. Elbert, at 14,433 ft. the highest mountain in Colorado. It’s not a very tough mountain in terms of technical skills required, you just need big lungs, strong legs and be ready to face lots of false summits.
Elbert is near Leadville, CO, a pretty special place for us ultrarunners. I camped right at the bottom of the mountain at about 10,000 ft. (Prior to this summer, I had never been above 7,000 feet, btw.) and headed out at 5 a.m. one morning.
The climb starts out on a dirt road that my little civic would have succumbed to about a 1/4 mile in. If you have a big 4wd vehicle, you can drive the first two miles, but I didn’t that luxury. It lead me through a beautiful birch tree forest and then some of the steepest trails I have ever seen. I honestly could not believe how steep that trail was at the bottom. It must have taken me about 30 or 40 mins or so to just cover a mile.
But I was making quick progress anyhow. Soon, I was above the treeline and saw a large group ahead of me. I reached them as they were taking a break and decided to rest with them a little. To our left was Mt. Massive (the second highest in Colorado) and to our right the Ivy League Mountains (Mt. Harvard, etc.)….INCREDIBLE!
It was time to move on though, since it was supposed to storm early today. My strategy was just to put one foot in front of the other. And that worked better than expected. After only 3:10 I had finished the 7.5 mile treck to the summit.
What a view it was! It felt like being in an airplane flying over the mountains. There were mountains everywhere and, boy, was it beautiful. I can’t describe it. Pictures will have to speak for me here.