Grays Peak , CO- Elevation 14,270- 06/11/2004
Ahhh, a new season has arrived and I just completed some unfinished business from last year. Grays peak is an excellent season opener, and wasn't so electrifying this time around. The temp at the trailhead was 44 degrees and stayed that way throughout the hike as it warmed up during the day. It was sunny most of the day, but the winds were gusting sometimes at 40-50 miles per hour. Time at the trailhead 10:30, at the summit, 2:30, half hour break at the top, then back at the trailhead by 6:00. 3040 feet elevation gain, and 8 miles round trip. Hike completed 6/11/04 taking the Stevens Gulch trailhead which is just a few miles off I-70 before you get to the Eisenhower tunnel. Once I got home I ate, showered up and then went catfishing with the guys at Cherry Creek. This page might take a couple minutes to load, it was my first hike with our new Nikon digital SLR so I took about 300 pictures and had trouble narrowing it down to 15. The pictures are over 2 megs each and 3000x2000 resolution but I was able to shrink them down to around 100k each.
Here is a nice shot near the Grays Peak trailhead. This is one of the prettiest hikes I've ever been on. You can see why Grays gets it's name, because its so Grey, which is a nice change from the usual dull brown you see above the treeline. I also wonder if there is some kind of metal that helps make up those grey rocks which might have worsened that static storm Steve and I were caught in up here last year.
At the trailhead they post this sign warning you off all the dangers you encounter hiking in high altitude such as lightning, hypothermia, altitude sickness, heart attack, etc... Even with this it seems to never fail, I almost always see at least one fool up here hiking these 14ers with nothing but t-shirt, shorts, and a 12 ounce bottle of water in hand. In fact there were two of them I saw coming down as I was going up, I talked some more guys higher up and they said those guys had passed them earlier but turned around because they were to cold and probably didn't have enough water either.
Another nice pic of a bridge crossing what I think is the beginnings of Clear Creek which flows along I70, and then highway 6 shortly after Idaho Springs eventually running through Golden.
The Trail is a very easy class 1 hike for the entire route, great for dogs or even kids if they can handle the elevation and weather. Here is a pic of someone's dog that I saw, he was so excited that he was running up and down the trail, I wish I had that much energy.
The top of Grays is visible from the trailhead parking lot, but as you begin the trail you lose it for about a mile as you hike through the valley, then you come around the corner and are rewarded with a spectacular view of both the Grays and Torreys peaks. Grays is the gentle rounded peak on the left and Torreys the more pointed peak on the right.
A view of Torreys with a small ice pond in the foreground. By the time I hiked back down the trail this pond was nearly melted. It probably refreezes every night.
Can you find Waldo? I didn't think so after I shurnk this picture down in size and quality, so I highlighed 5 areas where there are hikers battling up the mountain. The small size of the hikers gives you an idea of just how massive this peak is.
Another view of 4 hikers above me as we get closer to the summit.
Finally on the summit. There were a couple girls up there who took this picture of me. They were camping out at the trailhead with some friends and hiked up with their dog who was interestingly enough wearing some kind of dog shoes to protect his feet from the sharp rocks.
This picture is also taken from the summit. You can see Torreys peak on the far left and the Kelso ridge going down and then back up to Kelso mountain a 13er. Steve and hiked that ridge last year which has been my toughest climb to date. The much easier Grays Peak trail goes through the valley on the far right of the picture and around Kelso mountain back to the trailhead.
A view of one of the summit county ski resorts, I'm pretty sure its Breckenridge. I was able to zoom in on it with the 300mm lens but the result was very hazy.
Just one of the typical critters you see on the trail, this is a pika. Its a pain in the neck hauling the big SLR camera up the mountain but I have since resolved that issue by getting a small hip pack which holds the camera around my waist for easy access. In this picture I used the 300mm zoom lens which is a 450 equivalent in digital. You can really see the "SLR difference" as Charlotte would say. I used aperture priority to key in on the pika and make the background soft.
Another common critter is the marmot which looks like a giant fuzz ball. They are pretty big and can get over two feet long. I also saw a mountain jackrabbit but did not get a very clear picture.
Almost back to the trailhead, if only the whole trail could be this easy.
A nice view from the 4WDR road going back to I70.