Thursday, August 9, 2007

Day 11: 8/4/07: Mount Elbert: 14,433


9 miles

Standard Route – NE Ridge

Company: Solo

Wildlife: none

4700 feet

Start: 7:10 am

Summit: 10:00 am

Stop: 12:50 pm


Warm/partly cloudy – 6:00 am

Rain – 1:00 pm

40+ cars at the trailhead. Oh no!

No flowers along the trail!

Legs filled with peanut butter!

Oh Elbert. On a Saturday. In early August. Alone at the trailhead last night, sleep came easily (much needed after the traffic of 82 keeping me up the night previous at the La Plata TH). One other car belonging to a backpacking trio from St. Louis kept me company but as for living things, only the world’s tiniest chipmunks were there with me. And then the onslaught. Starting at 4:00 am, cars of all shapes, sizes and colors streamed into the lot and out the driveway. Passing 6 hiking groups in the first mile and 50 more people in the second mile, I readjusted my anticipation of solitude and started making friends among the folks crawling uphill. Other than the conversation on the uphill train, Elbert was rather un-noteworthy. Despite its reputation as a giant among giants and the fun of saying you’ve been on the highest peak in Colorado, the fun part of the day started at the post-party in the parking lot (which consisted of me sitting in the Crazy Creek with a book under a light drizzle).

While trying to finish an Umberto Eco novel, a lovely strawberry blonde with one blue eye and one brown sidled over to my tailgate party. “Jaye” enjoyed a few of my pets and a bit of water from the MSR cook set lid. Not long after, “Koda” joined the festivities. None of the other hikers finishing in the parking lot knew of these dog’s owners. I watered and leashed them assuming the owners were merely slower at descending than their 4-legged friends. Hours passed. Witnesses questioned. Phone calls made to the number on the dogs’ tags and the Lake County Sheriff. By 6, no owners! Lucky me! I inherited two pleasant canines and a half package of hot dogs (donated by concerned witnesses). From what I could gather, the dogs had been at the summit and had water at tree line. Rather than turn my new friends over to animal control, I prepared to keep them overnight. I would set up the tent for their shelter and have Wendy stop at the Leadville Safeway for kibbles. They would hike with us! Be our companions until their owners turned up!

Phone call. Troy from Denver: I hear you have my dogs? I’ll be there right away to pick them up.

2nd Phone call. Troy from Denver: You said the Mount Elbert TH? We’re there – it’s a paved parking area off 82 and we don’t see you.

Me: What!? Not the South Mount Elbert TH! North!

The dogs had gotten up with first Elbert pilgrims, abandoning camp before being leashed up, and summated from the south. After reaching the highest point in Colorado, they continued down the north side. They probably packed in 10 miles! The sweeties jumped into their familiar green Explorer amid promises to leash them up before hikers entice them out of camp. In remembrance of my afternoon with the dogs I can’t have, I ate their hot togs sliced into mac and cheese in the continuing drizzle. Much thanks to the Oklahoma guys for fun after dinner conversation around the campfire! I’ll lend you fire anytimeJ

P.S. for pictures of the dogs posted on, go to:

No comments: