Mt. Massive , CO- Elevation 14,421- 07/17/2004
My good buddy Todd and I go way back to when we both lived in Dallas and worked at Stream, our first tech jobs. This week he called me up and said this weekend is his birthday and he wants to celebrate by hiking his first 14er, so I thought Mt Massive would be a good challenge. Its the second highest mountain in Colorado and has more mass above 14,000 than any other mountain the continental U.S. with 5 separate summits above 14,000. Only the main Massive summit is counted as a 14er since the other summits do not dip more than 300 feet below the main summit. This whole area of the state around Leadville and Vail is absolutely beautiful, it never disappoints.
We hiked from the North Halfmoon trailhead which was 6.5 miles round trip, 3900 feet elevation gain, and a class 2 hike. We left Denver at 4:20 and arrived at the trailhead around 7 and started hiking shortly after. We summited in 4 hours 10 minutes, stayed on the summit for a while and made the hike back to the trailhead in about 3 hours. It was in the 40's when we started out, but quickly warmed up to the 60's for the rest of the day.
The road up wasn't bad at all except the last mile or so, but much better than others I've been on lately.
It's Todd's birthday and he's psyched to hike his first 14er. Charlotte says his expression in this picture looks just like his son Austin.
Its a foggy day in Massive Wilderness. Todd is one of the most ambitious and motivated people I know, he talked me into leaving by 4am so we could be on trail by 7, by far the earliest I've ever left for a 14er. This ensured our success of reaching the summit just before the thunderstorms rolled in.
Here are some beautiful flowers that still had some dew on them. Consulting a Colorado Wildlife book the closest match I found to this flower was the Subalpine Fleabane. I shot this with a large aperture on the digital SLR. The only negative thing about bringing that camera is I have to wear that goofy hip bag, and narrow down the 100+ excellent pictures it takes to just 20 or so to post here. Sometimes I enjoy photographing the hike as much as the hike itself.
We just got past the treeline and have an excellent view of Elbert in the back of the picture. The weather looks so nice and clear in the picture, but that would change on the way back down.
Oops, the guide book didn't say anything about this, I guess we are taking the alternative and direct route, and its steep!
Here Todd fights his way up the steep rocky trail.
And the snow......
Almost to 14, 000 at the ridgeline we are approaching the South Massive summit.
After achieving South Massive we turn the corner to see the true Massive summit is still a ways off, its the last one on the far right and a few more hundred feet up in elevation.
Todd prepares to work his way around one of the Massive summits.
It's the summit subculture as Todd says. This is the true summit, unfortunately there wasn't a register on this one, but lots of interesting people hanging out, swapping stories, and enjoying the view.
Yahoo! We finally made it.
Todd's summit pose.
I can see for miles and miles...
A view from the summit of Leadville the highest incorporated town in America, and Turquoise lake. It looks more like a view from an airplane, and occasionally on these hikes you can see planes flying at a lower altitude than you are standing.
On the way down Mt Elbert looks angry now with some nasty clouds moving in. This is almost the same picture as before when Todd and I first moved above the treeline, but this time there is a much darker sky. The Thunder was starting to roll and we were still a ways above the treeline, fortunately no lightning could be seen yet, and only a little drizzle.
Todd works his way down the endless rock trail that seemed longer going down than up.
Finally back to the valley and almost to the trail through the trees, just another mile or so from here. On the far left of the picture you can see a sign which is not very specific but is near a cairn that marks a spot where the trail splits. This morning we nearly missed this left turn (left if you are heading up), but fortunately printed out the directions which tell you if you go straight you end up at the Halfmoon lakes, the opposite direction from Mt. Massive.
Back to the trailhead, great day, great hike. We got back just in time because shortly after the thunderclaps became very loud and it starting pouring rain as soon as we departed. Driving back on the 4WDR road through the rain and mud was more fun than the usual dry rocky roads.