Longs Peak

     What a hike!  You start at over 9000 feet, yet gain almost a mile of elevation before reaching the top at 14,255.  The trail combines just about everything a hiker could ask for, from a relaxing walk through the woods (OK, a relentlessly uphill walk in the woods), to scampering across VW bug sized boulders, to the near-vertical rock climbing in the trough.  The trough is the only place where I've had to spend a significant amount of time deciding where to put my hands and feet next.  Some of the reaches between hand- and foot-holds were at the limit of my admittedly short limbs.


     Added to the mix is an endless string of awe inspiring views, especially above tree-line.  There are alpine lakes, meadows, plenty of wide Rocky Mountain vistas, and crazy rock formations all along the way.  Despite this incredibly wide range of terrain, Longs Peak can be completed in one day without rushing, although you may start and finish in near-dark conditions.  Round trip distance is somewhere near 15 miles.  You need to come prepared for a wide range of conditions, as exemplified by the blizzard that moved in quickly during my first descent.  A tee shirt and shorts were the order of the day just a few hours earlier!

Our group of Hughes Aircraft coworker/friends tried to work in a Longs Peak ascent every year.  One guy conquered acrophobia to make it to the top.  That must have required enormous will power, especially in dealing with the ledges such as the one Terry, Greg, and I are standing on.  Way to go, Paul!  On this particular day my sunglasses fell off as I jumped across a creek, causing one of the lenses to disappear as shown in the pictures below.


Amazingly, the picture below right shows Terry and me standing on the trail (well, Terry is sitting on the trail).  The camera is looking in the direction we are headed.  The trail, such as it is along this stretch, was marked by faded painted bulls-eyes and cairns (small piles of stones) that always seemed to be just a bit too far apart.  But part of the fun was figuring out where the next target might be.


Greg clearly has no fear of heights, nor anything else as far as I could tell.  The picture below right is not from the Longs Peak hike, but does illustrate another of my favorite mountain vacation pastimes, river rock hopping.  Just as Longs Peak offers a near-perfect hike, the floor of Rocky Mountain National Park offers this near-perfect rock hopping opportunity.


Getting to the Trails

I ran across these two Colorado pictures in my search for trail pictures.  I think they suggest that getting to the trail head can be almost exciting as the hike itself.


Black Canyon

This is also not really trail related, other than the short walks involved in reaching the rim, but the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is mighty impressive.  I found this picture while searching for representative hiking pictures.