Sawatch 14ers – Keeping Zach Awake
For this weekend’s adventure time we went on a 14er conquering trip in the Sawatch mountain range, again with the University of Colorado Hiking Club. We decided that we would do Oxford and Belford on Saturday, and Missouri on Sunday. Zach was only running on about 6 hours of sleep in two days from the week before, so it turned into an exercise of keeping him awake as we hiked the peaks. Here he is, looking his usually chipper self on the top of Missouri, along with usual creeper Pierce hiding behind his lens:
We drove down from Boulder on Friday night, and got to the trailhead at about 9:00. Our plan was to hike up the trail a ways, and set up a camp in the Missouri Basin. Before starting though we had to take pictures to document the evening. Gotta love hiking by headlamp! The crew was pretty standard. A few freshmen who had tennis shoes and barely-better-than-a-blanket sleeping bags, Pierce perfectly packed, Zach hastily over packed with extra everything and too much camera gear, and some pros who make us both feel like fat kids
We got to the basin at about midnight, and started setting up tents in the clear cold air. There was virtually no moon, and the sky was really clear. This made for some really neat shots of all of the kids setting up the tents:
About 2 hours later, the alpine start alarm rang like call of some devilish ghoul at 4:00 AM (Again contributing to Zach’s great abundance of sleep for the week). The hike started in pitch blackness up the northern face of Mt Belford. The hike up Belford is just a long tedious trudge up a rocky scree field. No change of terrain, scenery, or anything. Just thinner air. In the predawn darkness it was especially hard to judge if we were making any progress at all. This resulted in many unhappy Hikers in the group (in addition to those who were unaccustomed to the altitude). When the sun finally began to rise, the mood improved considerably as we saw how much we had climbed out of the basin. To be fair, the fully lit view of the ascent would have been fairly daunting to see to a bunch of sleepy hikers, so maybe it was good to just hike into the oblivion with no idea what was in store.
We finally weezed ourselves up to the top of Belford and enjoyed the cool morning air and the awesome views. Ended hitting the summet shortly after sunrise, which was a decent feeling. Zach sat down and promptly fell asleep (and fell over), so he was less enthusiastic than some of the others:
We than began making our way over to Oxford, which is a mild 1.5 mile traverse between the two peaks. Although it doesn’t look too far, again this turned into a trudge fest, as we were all pretty worn out by that point. Here is a shot from the final push for the summit. Pretty intense exposure eh?
We got to the top of Oxford and enjoyed a lunch and some rest. Grumpy Zach finally got his fuel (in this case, a dry Ramen packet) and we all passed around Zach’s secret Elixer for instant spunkitude (eat one dry, you’ll see).
Zach took this classic Hiking Club yoga shot, which became famous on the facebook website. Good work Zach!
After enjoying the views, we had to hike all the way back to Belford, and then back down to our tents in the Basin. This was a long descent which was pretty tough on the knees. When we finally made it to camp, where were all pretty wiped, and promptly passed out in the warm sun. Zach takes on average 2 naps per year, and this absolutely was one
The next morning, we again woke early and pushed for the Missouri summit before sunrise. In comparison, this hike was a dream. There were twists and turns, new things to see, and tons of rocks to scramble on. And we had some actual exposed spots to scamper across on this one. We also were running on more than 2 hours of sleep, so this ascent was a dream! Spunk aside, Taylor and Eli (pros) managed to scamper ahead and make it in time, but the rest of us took our time and made it there slightly after the sun had risen. Here is the crew on the summit:
All in all, it was a good backpacking trip. It was nice to cross three 14ers off the list in one weekend. Tired, bitter, sometimes schizophrenic, but it was pretty sweet. And it was a good prep for the most sleepless week of all time for Zach (post coming).