Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mt. Tom WINTER 4K (1/48) - December 29, 2012

Mt. Tom (4,052') via Avalon, A-Z and Mt. Tom Spur trails December 29, 2012

Mileage:  5.6 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  2,150'

Trailhead:  Trail starts behind Crawford Depot on Route 302, about 8.5 miles east of the junction of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302 (Twin Mountain), 0.1 mile after the Highland Center. 

Lessons learned:  1. Hiking in deep snow is work, and 2. what a difference a dry shirt makes!

Hiked my first winter 
four thousand footer (4k) today with Rich. The region had been hit with about a foot of snow several days before so we picked Mt. Tom as our first peak as it's well traveled (most likely to be broken out).  It helped that the hike would be less than six miles, allowing us to learn how to manage our body temperature in winter conditions without committing to being outside for too long.

Our first winter  4k would test our hiking skills.  We had all the gear and had done 3ks in the winter (Mt. Monadnock, Mt. Crawford) but just didn't know what would work for us on a 4k in the Whites.

Extra stuff I put in/on my pack for winter hiking:* 
  • snowshoes and microspikes (microspikes are in my pack 9 months out of the year)
  • crampons 
  • winter baskets on hiking poles
  • thin long johns 
  • balaclava and face mask
  • winter mittens (I carry heater packets and light gloves year-round)
  • extra food and a bottle of water deep in my pack (in case my Camelbak tube freezes, which it did)
  • extra hat
  • (I carry extra socks, fleece vest, half zip warm shirt, rain pants, pad, bivy and the rest of the ten essentials year-round)
On the way to the trailhead we talked about what this hike might be like.  Rich thought it would be like hiking Mt. Willard twice.  I thought it would be like hiking Mt. Avalon one and a half times (both are close to Mt. Tom, and we'd done both in winter).  Thinking back on the conversation, none of our past hikes compared. This hike was longer, more strenuous, more beautiful than any winter hike we'd done.  

We arrived at Crawford Depot late (parking was tight).  Snow was predicted for the afternoon and I was hoping for summit views but we'd have to get there before the storm hit. 

It took extra time to get all the gear on (which is why I prefer summer hiking). We crossed the tracks at about 10:15, following footprints toward the A-Z trail junction.

We passed the trail to Mt. Willard

The trail had a narrow breakout(as indicated in a recent posting on, easy to follow, and the temps were downright pleasant (20ish°).  

The Avalon trail was in great shape!  
First water crossing, partially bridged.

Second water crossing still running but easy to negotiate.

We'd spent the fall leisurely hiking in Moultonborough (small peaks and long, gradual carriage roads) and it showed in our lack of stamina.  We were sucking wind shortly after we started on a gradual upslope.  Up and to our right we could see the summit of Mt. Tom, which seemed immense and way far away in our breathless state.  Like a whiny kid, I started asking Rich to check his GPS to see how far we'd gone; it was the longest mile!

We finally reached the junction where the A-Z met the Avalon trail.  The A-Z trail was also broken out and a steep gully presented an unexpected challenge for me. The path had one icy, steep area and negotiating down it brought back memories of a recent spill when skiing Attitash (I'd injured my knee).  It took a few tries before I could get past that area without feeling like I would slide and twist my ankle (snowshoes are awkward) but once past it I didn't have a problem descending.  

The trail got steeper causing us to sweat through our shirts and hats. We were breathing hard and going slower.  People were passing us - most wearing less clothing.  

A gray jay adopted us; apparently pegged us for the nut-eating suckers that we are. After a few gorp breaks (tossing more than a few nuts to that fat little bird) we made the last push up to the spur trail.  It started to snow; we would not get any views today.  We were chilled but figured we could make another .5 miles to the summit.  

Only .5 miles to the summit!

The woods were dark and romantic as we walked down the trail to the summit (which is pretty flat). 

One small steep section later, we were surrounded by sky and tall trees heavy with snow. It was magnificent.   Then just as quickly we reached short stubby trees, the mark of a New England 4k summit.

The overlook is more overgrown than I remember.

We were not on the summit alone (two other groups were there).

I'm still not convinced I want to add another list to my peakbagging spreadsheet but just in case, I looked around for the summit cairn  - which is easy to find in summer (see Mt. Tom trip in 2009).  

The landscape is so different in winter.  Where did I just come from, which direction am I headed?  I tramped around the top to find the true summit and couldn't see anything that resembled a pile of rocks under the snow.  Other peakbaggers were doing the same thing without luck.

On the summit, waiting for us to get lunch out.

We took a few photos and then ducked into trees to eat lunch.  I took off my coat and changed my shirt (a really good move).  It wasn't windy but it was cold, particularly when we removed our mittens to eat so we had what amounted to a few bites of lunch and then headed down (to keep warm and for the protection of the deep woods).  

Down was beautiful.  Our snowshoes shushed down the path where they could.  When we stopped and listened, we heard just the snow falling lightly through the trees.  Heaters in my mittens relieved cold fingers and I was grateful to have been spared cold legs and feet on the hike.  As we approached the Depot and parking lot, we discussed what worked and what didn't (see below).  

At Crawford Depot a winter storm was in full swing, emphasizing just how sheltered the trails are. Snow was heavy, blowing at a 45° angle and the wind was whipping!  We got to our car, removed all that was snowy and wet and headed to the Highland Center to warm up.

Our first winter 4k is behind us; it was harder than expected. Last year the snowshoes stayed home all winter and this was the first time we'd taken them out for a big adventure. We were pleased with their performance and look forward to hiking in them again soon.  

What worked well:
  • Warm fuzzy leggings under rain pants with gaitors
  • Garmont winter boots (though I will change to flat laces to keep them tied)
  • MSR snowshoes with the 4 straps and clips (climbing bars are cool)
  • Heavy duty ski mittens with heaters
  • Winter coat (it kept me warm and dry but there are drawbacks)
What didn't:
  • Hot Chillys crew neck long sleeve shirt (my neck was too cold - changed out of it on the summit)
  • Necky - it was fleece and too hot/constricting 
  • Winter coat (very warm but it encouraged me not to layer, a bad thing - though I liked the extra pockets)
  • Sports bra (although moisture wicking, it chilled me most of the way)

*Note: the items on my "Extra stuff" list take into account where, when and conditions and circumstances of this hike.  For a more complete list of items to bring on a winter hike, visit the AMC site.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mt. Willard and Mt. Pemigewasset, October 20, 21, 2012

Mt. Willard via Mt. Willard trail (2,850) October 20, 2012, and Mt. Pemigewasset (2,557') via Indian Head trail October 21, 2012.

Both Mts. Willard and Pemigewasset are on the "52 with a View" list, a list I am not working on (but you may be).

Mt. Willard

Mileage:  3.2 miles RT

Elevation gain: 900'

Trailhead: I-93N to Route 3. Turn on to Route 302 and drive 10 miles to Crawford Depot (next to Highland Center).

Hiked with Rich and Mike. Mt. Willard has to be the most popular summit in Crawford Notch. If you have a few hours to kill, you can hike this mellow trail to fantastic views and get back to your car with time to spare.

Mt. Willard allows the novice hiker to feel victorious!  Easily climbed in any weather; the trail offers solid footing and is sheltered by trees.  We were volunteering at the Highland Center, which involves assisting visitors who come to Crawford Depot on the North Conway Scenic train.   When the train departed, we sprinted up Mt. Willard to burn off some energy before dinner. 

1.6 miles to beautiful views!
We've hike Willard dozens of times before; I think it was our first ever winter summit years ago.  When we rounded the first corner past the trail entrance, we were stopped by flooding.  Apparently Hurricane Irene's debris caused an alluvial fan at the base of the mountain.

We'd never seen flooding on the Mt. Willard trail!
We rock-hopped this area and poked around to pick up the trail.  Bushwhacking on Mt.Willard - who woulda thought!  Once we were past the water, ascending is gradual and wooded.  No views en route although Centennial Pool is cool and a lovely stop along the way.

In fact, going is so steady with little deviation in the trail, it temps the hiker to ask "how much longer?" - after all, it is only a 1.6 mile trail!  

But when the path levels out the spectacular view can be seen ahead.  

And what a view it is!

The summit is a rock ledge with views of Mts. Jackson, Webster and Willey.

Mt. Pemigewasset 

Mileage:  3.6 miles RT

Elevation gain: 1,522'

Trailhead:  The Indian Head Trail begins on the west side of US 3 south of
the Indian Head Resort at a small parking area, reached by a short gravel road marked with a Trailhead Parking sign (I-93 to exit 33 or 34).

This short hike also offers mad views for minimal effort. The parking lot is just south of the Indian Head Resort on the opposite side of the street.  

Hiked with Rich; a quick stop on our way home.  This peak is the indian's head and like Mt. Willard, the summit is a bald section of rock, cliffy and ledgy.

From the parking lot, turn right.

The path starts out flat, adjacent to houses, and then turns left and goes under I-93 (admit it, it's cool to look at the underside of an interstate).

Is this  I- 93  north or south?  I forget.

This area was still soaked from Friday's downpours. After we left the interstate, we followed swollen Hanson Brook,  and turned away from the brook on a gradual grade.  A right turn brought us to a flooded area of trail (reminded me of Rocky Branch trail).

On this day, much of the trail was a babbling brook.

We rock hopped around the wet and ascended out of the flooded area into a quarter of a mile of mud and wet leaves.  Just when it feels the trail couldn't be deeper into the woods it turns a hard right and the climb begins. 

As climbs go, this steep area is short and sweet!
We arrived at the junction of the Pemigewasset trail and kept going until we reached the summit and wonderful views, even on this drizzly day.

Trail junction

Steep rock face.
We enjoyed the views and headed back into the trees when the rain came.  We were down to our car in no time.  A wonderful short hike in Franconia Notch!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sandwich Dome and Jennings Peak, October 13, 2012.

Sandwich Dome (3,980') and Jennings Peak (3,460') via Sandwich Mountain, Jennings Spur and Drakes Brook trails, October 13, 2012

Mileage:  8.6 miles (lollipop loop)

Elevation gain: 3,030''

Trailhead: Route 49 toward Waterville Valley, take a right less than a mile before (south of) Tripoli Road. The parking lot is straight ahead. The Sandwich Mountain Trail trailhead is located just before the parking lot on the right.

Lesson learned:  "Dome" does not necessarily guarantee a 360° view!

Hiked with Rich today. There were many other options out there for us but I chose Jennings Peak and Sandwich Dome for the following reasons:

1.    Less driving time than hiking the Whites
2.    Rich has never done these peaks
3.    It has been six years since I hiked Sandwich Dome (see previous report)
4.    I don't recall ever hiking Jennings Peak
5.    Both trails on the loop are pretty mellow
6.    It was a bright clear day and the views will be spectacular (especially at the Dome)

Both Sandwich Dome and Jennings Peak are on the "52 with a View" list, a list I am not working on (but you may be).  Sandwich Dome (also called Sandwich Mountain) is also on the "New England Hundred Highest" list, a list I am working on. 

We were late heading out the door that morning and even more delayed when the coordinates we put in the Garmin were for a different trailhead.  The Sandwich Mountain parking lot is hard to miss - good signage, though there are several other trailhead parking areas in the vicinity.  It was a beautiful fall day and the parking lot was filling up fast.

We headed up Sandwich Mountain trail.
The sign led us to a cross country ski run and as we headed down a power transfer station was on our right.  There's a worn path to the section of woods and the start of the trail. There is no sign but as we walked by the power station we looked for a cut in the woods on our left.  A faded yellow blaze is evident on a tree a few steps onto the trail.

Trail heads into the woods on the left.
 Immediately we descended to the water crossing (Drakes Brook).  The recent rains made for few choices to cross.  We headed up the shore to find more rock options.  

The water was swift and most hopping rocks were submerged.
The water was high and swift.  Several groups of hikers came and went, not without a wet boot or two. Had we headed below the trail we might've found more options but eventually we removed our boots and crossed (a first for us).

The air was cold and crisp. Thankfully the water was warmer.

With that behind us we started up a mild grade.  This area was not well blazed and with the heavy leaf cover we wondered at times if we were on the trail.  Eventually we saw more blazing and the trail became easier to find (in fact, I went back to this spot to make sure we had the trail and not some well used bushwhack).

A thick blanket of leaves disguised roots, rocks and tricky footing.
 The trail had several steep spots, all in the same vicinity. At one point we just kept climbing the rocks to find that we'd overshot the trail.  There was a right turn part way up the steeps and we'd missed it.  A herd path got us back on the right track.

A few steep sections on this trail.

On our way up we stopped for a minute at Noon Peak for spectacular views of Mounts Washington and Bond, and Scar Ridge (another upcoming adventure).  

We got to the trail junction after what seemed like an exceptionally long last mile (we were out of shape!).  Here is where Drakes Brook trail came in. 

We continued on and took a right at the sign for Jennings Peak.  

".2 Jennings Peak"
The peak was at the top of a very short steeper area, with beautiful views. A group had also just arrived and as we sat down to lunch, two of them lit cigarettes and drank rum. They were up from Haverhill, MA, enjoying the day, wishing it was just a bit warmer.  We would leap frog this group for the rest of the day.  

A clear day on Jennings Peak.

One hiker suggested we enjoy the view at Jennings because Sandwich Dome did not have a good view.  What!!??   I recalled the summit as having fine views and was surprised to hear this.  We would soon find out.  After our lunch we started on the last mile (and 480' gain) to Sandwich Dome. 

The day was chilly, in the 40s and we dodged icy patches here and there.  We rounded the corner to find a light blanket of snow on the trail.  It was cold and shady and there would be no melting today!

We told everyone we hiked in the snow!
l think we expected some steep or slab or scramble just before the top but it never came.   Next thing we knew we were at the top of Sandwich Dome, a small outcrop with surrounding trees.  

Summit of Sandwich Dome (no USGS marker, just a bent metal rod in the rock).
There was a view to the north.  I hopped up on the rock to get a photo. 

Not exactly the 360° view I was expecting but nice nonetheless.

It was too cold to linger so we headed down quickly.  The snow cover wasn't slippery. In fact, the thick wet leaves at the lower elevations were more of a hazard. 

At the trail junction we took Drakes Brook trail, an easy wide trail that turns into a road. We met our happy hiking group (the rum was taking affect) and we heard giggles now and then as we continued down. 

Leaves on the mellow Drakes Brook trail.

Once again we crossed the Drakes Brook, only this time there were better rock hopping options. Across the brook the trail becomes a road that hugs the brook all the way to the parking lot.  
Road to the left, brook to the right.  
A popular hiking destination, Sandwich Dome can get crowded and as we drove away, we saw that the parking lot had filled to capacity, with cars spilling out onto the highway.  

In our opinion, Jennings Peak has the real views, which today were a bit rusty (foliage had gone by).  Noon Peak was nice too and both destinations in their own right.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mt. Elbert, Colorado September 21, 2012

Mt. Elbert, CO (14,433') via South Elbert trail (State High Point #22) September 21, 2012.

Distance: 8.4 miles RT
Elevation gain: 4,218'
Trailhead: US 24 south from Leadville, right on CO-82, travel 4  miles- take another right onto Lake County Road (a highway sign indicates the South Elbert TH). Drive past Lakeview Campground. Lower trailhead will be a half mile further on your left (9,560’). If you park here and walk up you will add 4ish miles and 900’ elevation gain to your hike.  OR Just past the lower trailhead is USFS 125 1-B, a four wheel drive road (note: 2017 reports have indicated this road has gotten very rough, needing a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle). Drive the 2 miles to the upper trailhead (there are many places to pull off and park if the going gets too rough for your vehicle).

Lessons learned: A level 1 trail is hard at an altitude of 12-14,000 feet!
Hiked with Rich, Peggy and my brother Bob (Bob was WAY ahead).  
I learned in February that I’d be in Colorado in September to attend a work-related conference. In the past, I’ve combined visiting state highpoints with work trips and saw this as a perfect opportunity to go for Colorado’s highpoint, Mt. Elbert.
The thought of climbing Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s (home of the Rockies) highest peak was intimidating.  Though still considered summer hiking season, September is late to be climbing a fourteen thousand footer.  Somehow I managed to convince Rich to come with me; we booked flights for the week prior to my conference and reserved an SUV just in case.  I also talked my brother Bobby and his wife Peg into joining us.
Four inches of snow fell on Mt. Elbert the week before our trip. Since it was getting late in the season we brought our Microspikes.  Bob and Peg, who'd planned on driving out from Utah, threw four pair of snowshoes in their car for us.  Just in case. 
We live and work at an altitude of about 81’ so we needed time in CO to acclimate to the higher altitude.  Work schedules allowed us four days to acclimate enough to reach the summit at 14,433’ without too much risk.  We’d fly in to Denver on Tuesday and summit on Saturday. 
As soon as we landed we drove to Vail (8500’) where we explored the town.  We were winded when climbing stairs and walking up Vail’s sidewalks but confident that would subside in a few days.
Vail - cute but quiet this time of year.

We spent the night there, planning to head to Leadville (10,000’+) the next day to continue acclimating. 
Are four days really enough time to acclimate for a trek to a 14k summit?  We weren't sure.  To try to prepare ourselves, we drank unbelievable amounts of water (and consequently spent a lot of time in the bathroom and behind trees).  We also watched what we ate and drank (limited alcohol, caffeine).  Four days was all we had to acclimate and we were determined to hike to the summit of Mt. Elbert on the fifth (Saturday).
We stayed in a private room at the Leadville Hostel.  The hostel is neat, clean, spacious and quiet.  Day 1 there we hiked the North Elbert trail to 11,600’- 2.5 miles up (still in the trees) and hung out for over an hour feeding the gray jays, having lunch and playing with our phones.  The weather was beautiful.  The North Elbert trailhead is nice with bathrooms and lots of parking. This route is very popular and the one most visitors take.  We originally planned to hike to the summit on this trail so I wanted to see what it was like.  Our short hike had us gasping and huffing.

Day 2 we hiked the South Elbert trail, driving the extra 2 miles on the four wheel drive road to the upper trailhead (our rented Kia Sportage did very well).  We had no problem going up and the dips, rocks, holes and stream were easily overtaken without scraping the undercarriage.   

The upper trailhead of South Elbert trail is about 400’ higher in elevation than the North Elbert trailhead; we were at 11,600’ in 1.5 miles, much of that trail offering up some spectacular views.  The distance from trailhead to the summit was shorter and the description of the rest of the trail seemed more appealing than that of the North Elbert trail (where there's a disheartening false summit just before the top).  South Elbert was described as easy to descend in one trip report
South Elbert trailhead.  

Mmmmm, let’s see.  Shorter trail, better description, less elevation gain, no false summit – a no-brainer, South Elbert was it! Everyone was on board and excited for Saturday.

Colorado and Continental Divide trails come in left of the trailhead signs.

Both the North and South Elbert trails begin in tandem with the Colorado trail, a popular 500 mile trail in the state that happens to run concurrent with the Continental Divide trail in this region.
Bob and Peggy drove eight hours east, meeting us in Leadville on Thursday. Bob is an intense hiker and planned to hike up the South Elbert trail to the summit, then down the North Elbert trail to the trailhead,and then back up North (summitting twice) and down South to meet us at the car.  Since the Colorado Trail joins the North and South Elbert trailhead (forming a triangle), Bob could opt to cross over from the North to the South trailheads via a stretch of the Colorado trail should conditions prohibit hiking the mountain a second time.  We hatched our plans for Saturday.
Call it pre-hike enthusiasm, call it group-think - before we knew it we'd decided to hike on Friday instead.  Would we be ready? Hiking Friday shortened our acclimatization plan, removing a badly needed third day of acclimating. But Friday just seemed like a good idea to us.  We weren't going to spend another day hanging around to acclimate (no shortage of fools in the world). 
At dawn - excited for the challenge.

The next day we were up and on the trailhead at 6:50, it was a beautiful day.   Any snow from the week before had melted to a patch here and there (more on the north side) so we left the snowshoes but kept Microspikes in our packs (in case it was icy).
Bob was well ahead of us in no time (in fact we only saw him in the distance after this point).  We crossed the bridge and headed down the South Elbert/Colorado trail. 

Shortly after taking a bit of a dip (which as you know becomes a grueling uphill on the return), the Colorado and South Elbert trails parted ways.
We took a left and immediately went up!
Trail junction (where S.Elbert leaves CT and CD).

Peg says this is the hardest part of the trail, heading up the wide path with its unrelenting incline.  The ground eventually flattens out for a short period; this is where we rested and breathed.  We were winded already, less than a mile into the trip.
Shortly thereafter we started seeing awe inspiring views of the surrounding mountains, and the lake and towns below.  Rich says those views are what kept him going.  Colorado’s fall foliage is spectacular, with its shimmery yellow aspens and dark, rich green tall pines.  
The day was clear and the sky was a wonderful blue (well, a bit of a haze from wildfires in the Northwest crept in).    Soon we were above treeline and trekking on what I call the “tractor road.”
It's not really a tractor road, just deep ruts from many feet.

We were going much slower than our usual pace, stopping to rest - clearly not as acclimated as we should have been. Peg and Bob live at about 7,000’ and Peggy too was huffing and puffing as we ascended to 12,000 and then 13,000 feet.

It was Friday and only a handful of people were on the trail. All but the serious hikers were resting often; we looked like we were on a big conveyor belt, moving and stopping in unison.  One brave mountain biker was bringing his bike up the trail.

I wonder just how many of us live high enough to find climbing to over 14k not an issue. 

The path was wide and though not blazed, easy to follow.  We wound our way around the back of a small bump in the mountain and soon were walking up the slant of the mountain; clearly the longest 4 miles of easy terrain I’ve done. 

The little outcropping of rock (center right) is the small bump 

A few cairns were visible but not many.

It started to warm up. But at 12,000 a bit of wind would swing by so we stayed in long sleeves, taking off and putting on gloves from time to time.  Thunderstorms, a serious threat when hiking this peak, were not predicted.  The day just shined.

Every time I'd be out of breath I’d take a drink of water. It’s not easy to find a private place to lose all that liquid high above treeline.  We had to plan our pee times and take advantage of the odd pile of rocks or shrub.

 Part of the trail went right to the edge of the cirque.  I dared a small peek down.

Long way down!

The summit cones of New Hampshire's northern Presidentials consist of large gray angry rocks requiring hikers to hop their odd angles, desperately trying to find the right place to step and stay upright. Nothing like that was on Mt. Elbert. The trail is primarily soft easy grade, good footing earth with the occasional rock. 

At 13,000’ things changed (we changed). Our heavy breathing wasn’t cutting it. I focused on slowing my pace and filling the depth of my lungs with each breath.  I would stop and breathe, breathe, breathe – deep ones.  And of course I started to get dizzy which wasn't altitude sickness at all but the affects of my deep breathing  - I was hyperventilating!

The views were even more spectacular. Tired and breathless, I forced myself to turn around and look at them; it took my mind off the chore of trying to get enough oxygen from the air to continue to lurch my body upward.  Peg and Rich were also slowing, stopping continually to catch their breaths. 

At 14,000 we became hopeful.  Rich (who was carrying the GPS) said we couldn't ask how high we were anymore, it was annoying but I caught him sneaking peeks at it.  Switchbacks were coming faster now and each time I stopped to rest I could hear and feel my heart pounding out of my chest – so hard and fast that it seemed impossible to slow.  I tried to focus on a rock ahead and move toward it but would have to stop and catch my breath on the way. 

Twelve steps, stop. Twelve steps, stop. Eight steps, stop.  After a while I found a slow step/stop pace that got me up to the overlook about 20 yards from the summit.  And what an overlook it was.

Looking down on the north side.
Snow streaked the steep slabs of rock that continued down into oblivion.  It was exhilarating. 

When I reached the summit I was floored by the views. I was actually looking DOWN at peaks of the Rockies!

Peg and Rich followed and soon we were lunching and taking ours and others’ photos at the top. 

Rich on top of the world (close to the summit).
The summit air was sharp and dry.  No longer out of breath we reclined and socialized, aware that we shouldn't stay on the summit too long.

Fine hiking conditions made for a popular summit.

There were several homemade signs left up there. We opted for this one.

Cell coverage was funny – not a bar for any of us if we faced north, 5 bars for all of us if we turned around and faced south.  Facing south I posted my photo on Facebook; Peg heard from Bob (who was on his way back up to summit a second time via North Elbert trail), Rich took a phone call.

A few more photos later we got our stuff together and headed down.  Breathing was still tight but no longer a problem (we were, after all, descending).   We were elated to have reached the top and feeling confident that we would wiz down, starting making dinner plans.  Above tree line we could see the North Elbert trail on the north ridge and a figure in red heading up to the summit.  It was brother Bob; he waved back at us!

The treeline ahead meant bathroom break!
At the treeline we rested (everyone needed to go to the bathroom after the long trek out in the open). We took our boots off, drank some Gatorade and stripped down to short sleeves. At 12,000’ and close to 2:00 p.m. it was getting warm. 

 About 3:00 we reached our car (that last little uphill wasn't even noticed) and an hour later Bob showed up. He’d hiked trailhead to summit and down of both South and North Elbert trails in about the time it took for us to go up once. Thirsting for draught, we settled for bottled beer and toasted our day at a local restaurant.

It took us 5 hours to hike 4 miles to the summit of Mt. Elbert, an easy trail that would have taken us half the time had the altitude not affected us. No matter, we got what we came for and other than a big headache and sunburn, we are none the worse for wear!