Mad Hiker, Part 1
(4 Days, 6 Peaks, 39 Miles, 16,093 Vertical Feet)

On an early summer day in June of 2002, while pondering the meaning of life (read relationship problems) and an impending job change, I decided on a whim that I needed a week-long vacation. What to do? The answer was obvious: my favorite pastime -- hiking. My first impulse was to hike Mount Whitney in California, something I've wanted to do for years. Unfortunately you need a permit to hike it, and that mountain has been reserved for the entire year! Can you believe that? The whole YEAR!

A little disgruntled, I decided on Mount Elbert in Colorado, my second-choice destination. In retrospect, I think Colorado should have been my first choice for this vacation because I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the many superb hiking opportunities there. Who cares about the 61 feet of elevation difference between Mount Elbert and Mount Whitney anyway? (At least that's how I rationalized not being able to check off the highest point in the lower 48 states.) This trip also awakened me to the fact that there are 54 fourteeners in Colorado and planted the seeds in my mind that I might one day hike them all.

Armed with my trusty Rand McNally Road Atlas and my friend Scott's Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners (awesome guidebooks by the way), I headed in the direction of Colorado. After some detours through Monument Valley and the Four Corners region, I arrived in Telluride Monday evening just before 7 pm. My plan was to stay there and hike Mount Sneffels in the morning, but after seeing some of the hotel prices (>$200 per night), I decided to go directly to Ouray (U-ray) and perhaps camp out before the hike. As it turns out, I enjoyed the quaint little town of Ouray much more than touristy Telluride and was able to find a hotel for $35. Ouray, which means arrow in Ute, takes its name from a famous Ute Indian chief. I whiled away the evening by strolling the main drag in this beautiful little resort town, enjoying a microbrew and a plate of surprisingly authentic wurst at a local beer garden, and hungrily inhaling the pine-scented freshness and the hint of chill in the thin mountain air. Lovely start to my week-long adventure in Colorado where I would rack up nearly 40 miles and over 16,000 vertical feet.

The following table shows the hikes I was able to do on this week-long hiking trip. The hikes range in location and difficulty, but are mostly in the Front Range mountains near Denver. I worked my way from southwestern Colorado toward Denver and hiked along the way. I'm grateful for my friend Annette's hospitality in hosting me for the week. I was able to venture out from her home and do some more hikes along the Front Range.

Hike Date Distance Gain
Mount Sneffels (14,153') Ouray, Colorado 2002-06-18 11 mi 4,653 ft
Mount Elbert (14,440') Leadville, Colorado 2002-06-19 9 mi 4,380 ft
Mount Bierstadt (14,065') and Mount Evans (14,265') Georgetown, Colorado 2002-06-21 12 mi 3,415 ft
Grays Peak (14,278') and Torreys Peak (14,275') Bakerville, Colorado 2002-06-22 7 mi 3,645 ft
Grand Total:     4 of 5 days 39 mi 16,093 ft