Monday, August 1, 2011

2nd Annual Camping and 14er hiking trip - Huron Peak

The weekend of the summer I had anticipated for so long finally arrived: our second annual camping and 14er hiking trip. Last summer you may recall I put together a camping trip for all of our friends at Kite Lake. Almost all of the group hiked Democrat and then half of that group finished the loop (Cameron, Lincoln and Bross). It was an excellent trip despite the rain that plagued us at Kite Lake seeing as we were camping at 12,000feet. I decided to make this an annual event so I planned a hiking trip for our group of friends that coincided with the Collegiate Peaks Music Festival in Buena Vista this past weekend.

Unlike last year, everyone in our group took off Friday from work so we could get to Buena Vista and set up camp early. I was especially excited this year because my little brother flew out from Alabama to hike with us as well as Lyndee and Mark's friend Silha. Silha had wanted to hike a 14er with us since he found out Lyndee and Mark did it last year and so he flew all the way from Wisconsin to join us. He had bets against him that he wouldn't make it to the top from his friends back home so I made it my personal mission to make sure he made it. We all met at a parking lot on Friday then headed to Buena Vista, which is about a 2 hour drive from Denver. I chose the Collegiate Peaks Campground for our stay because it was cheap and close to Buena Vista as well as accessible for our hike up Huron on Saturday. We booked the campsite in May which was a good idea because the sites were filling up fast at the campground. I had stayed here before last year when I hiked Mt. Yale so I remembered it vaguely. Each site has a picnic table and fire grate and we ended up putting 5 tents at one and two at the other because the second site was smaller.

(campsites complete now it's time for hot dogs!)

After arriving and setting up camp we grilled hot dogs and hung out until about 7 when we headed into town for the music festival. I will say, the festival was smaller than I anticipated with only one stage and it rained on and off that night but it was a lot of fun. There were lots of hippies there of course and so we danced, hula hooped and drank ska beer. We stayed until about 10 then headed back to the campsite in anticipation of our 4am wake up call Saturday.

(me and my bro at the festival)

Undoubtedly the worst part of hiking a 14er is the early wake up call. Since I was the one who was organizing the hike it was my job to set the alarm and wake everyone up. We wanted to be on the trail by 6 and the trailhead was a good hour away from where we were staying. The road leading up to Huron can get pretty rough in spots so it's slow going from Winfield. I think we ended up parking around 6:15 and the group was off.

(ready to get our hike on)
Huron is an awesome choice for someone who has never hiked a 14er before or people who need a little extra time hiking. The trail was crowded and since we had a large group we ended up letting a lot of people pass us as we hiked. You spend the first hour in the trees and then the trail opens up into a basin with spectacular views. It's here where we got our first glimpse of Huron and the rest of the trail that awaited. I will say except for the last 500 feet, the trail is very well maintained and there was wildflowers all around. We summited at about 10:30am and I'm proud to say every last person in our group (ten of us total) made it up. I couldn't have been more blown away by Silha and Austin who came from sea level with little time to acclimate and made it up the mountain just the same. Proof that hiking really is 90% mental and 10% physical.

(break in the trees)

(breaking treeline)

(views getting better and better)

(looking over at Brown's peak)

(the three apostles)

(we made it!)
Another motivating factor for our group to get up and get the hike over with was that we had a second night of the music festival to attend. So after arriving back at camp in the afternoon (our hike took us a total of 7 hours - 5 hours of hiking and 2 hours of stopping according to my gps) we cooked up some food and relaxed. Saturday night Keller Williams was playing so, despite being tired from hiking, we all made ourselves pack in the cars and head into town. We could have easily relaxed around the campfire all night but there was music to be heard and beer tickets to redeem.

We thought Keller Williams and the Kyle Hollingsworth band were going on stage earlier than they were so we didn't arrive at the festival until about 9. It turns out we had missed Kyle Hollingsworth but we got to see Keller so that made the drive worth it. We spent about half our time at the festival and the other half at the Eddyline because the festival ran out of beer. Around 10:30 we headed back up to the campsite and toasted s'mores around the fire before heading to bed. It was quite the long and tiring day.

(keller williams)

Sunday we all slept in (as much as you can when camping) and then cooked breakfast before taking down camp. My least favorite part of camping is taking down the tents and packing up to head home. It was bittersweet knowing the weekend was over and it was time for all of us to head back home. Thankfully my little brother didn't have to fly out until about 8 on Sunday night so we could take our time making it back. We decided to drive I-70 which ended up being a mistake because of all the sunday mountain traffic. The only upside was we got some amazing beef jerky at the top of the pass in Climax.

(best roadside beef jerky here!)

In the end I couldn't have asked for a better weekend with better people to spend it with. As much of a pain as it is sometimes to plan and organize these things for a large group of people, in the end I'm so happy to do it for my friends. I enjoy hiking 14ers so much and I love sharing this hobby of mine with my friends and family. It's such an amazing thing to accomplish to be standing on top of a mountain and I'm glad to have such a fun group to do it with. I hope to get in some more camping trips with friends this summer but I'll always remember this one and all the laughs we had. I hope to continue this annual tradition and make my friends hike at least one 14er a year for the years to come!

Details from Garmin etrex Legend HCx:

stop time: 2hr34min
moving time: 4hr 36min
Moving average 1.8 mph
overall average 1.2 mph

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