This makes the 3rd 14er I have hiked. Which is still crazy to me considering I grew up in Colorado and never hiked a 14er until last year!
(For those of you who might not know the lingo…14er = a mountain that is above 14,000. I’m not trying to sound condicending, so I hope it doesn’t come off that way. In Colorado, there’s 53 14ers, and a lot of people strive to climb all of them. Some are more difficult than others, and some are on private property, making it a little more tricky to tackle all of them)
Waking up super early in the morning, I made my way down to the group meeting point, their Cross Fit gym called Bodywerx. My friend from personal training school used to workout there and once she graduated got a job there!
We all car pooled into the mountains for the two hour or so drive. Actually, the drive took way longer than expected. Due to construction and the gradual increase in people wanting to go to the mountains over the years, this drive was double what it would have been when I was a kid. Seriously!
If you are interested in hiking Grays Peak, you exit 221 off of I-70 towards Bakerville. Take a left once you exit and go straight for the dirt road into the woods. The road is rough one; we were in my friend’s SUV, and it was super bumpy. I’m not sure if my Mazda 3 would make it or not. Although, I did see a lot of low, compact type of cars in the parking lot, so I’m sure it’s possible. Just be careful!
For this particular 14er, there is minimal parking. Once the small lot fills up, you start parking along side that crazy dirt road. Get there early or you’ll have a hike before the actual hike. Luckily we didn’t have to park too far back and were maybe a quarter of a mile from the trail head.
The hike wasn’t too bad, I personally think this was easier than my first 14er, Mt. Bierstandt, even though most people say the opposite.
With a total of 3,000 feet elevation gain over the four miles, it wasn’t too steep until the last mile; and the last half mile being a series of switch backs until the top. Once I hit that last half mile, I knew that I needed to just keep trudging. I opted to hike ahead of my group a bit because stopping and going as much as they did made it a lot harder for me, personally. They didn’t mind, I swear.
I finally reached the top, and was presented with this view:
Fantastic, eh!? No matter how rough the hike, the view at the top is well worth it.
Many of you familiar with this 14er might know that it is super easy to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Torrey’s Peak is right next to Grays, and it’s an easy jaunt to get over to the other. It might add maybe an hour to your overall day on the mountains and you get to knock off two 14ers! However, when all of our group got to the top, we were greeted with rain clouds and I was chilled to the bone. With the risk of lightning in the air and the some members of our group experiencing some aches and pains, we opted to just head back to the start and skip climbing the other peak.
We all started down and actually got snowed on for a couple of minutes! Can you believe that!? In August!
Once the trail leveled out and was less rocky, I broke into my favorite thing: trail running, and raced down the mountain.
I could hear people talking as I passed by, shocked that I was actually running down the mountain; although a couple times I answered back and said that I did not run up the mountain, just down. I did see some guys running UP throughout the day; not sure if they made it all the way to the top in that run.
When I got to the bottom, I stretched out while I was waiting for the rest of my group. An older man came up to talk to me and asked me what I was doing. I had seen him off and on throughout the entire hike, and every time I passed him he was telling a crazy story about his life. At one point he asked our group if we knew where the flag on his hat was from. It turned out he was from Norway and he was with an exchange student from China who was climbing his first 14er that day.
The gentleman, who’s name I can’t remember anymore, asked me how I knew all the stretches I was doing. “I’m a personal traininer,” I said. Then, the nice man started “advertising” for me telling others finishing the hike that I was a trainer as well as the other members of his hiking group.
He said that he was climbing his 200th 14er, obviously having gone up and down all the 14ers of Colorado (and maybe elsewhere in the world) 200 times! Can you believe that!? He also told me he was almost 70 and that he jogged every day to stay in shape.
Also, one of the ladys hiking in our group had completed all the Colorado 14ers herself, and some of them more than once. Both of those people really made me want to strive for all 53 Colorado 14ers. Both of these people are super inspiring!