Colorado 14ers: Part 1

The Colorado Rockies are not only breaktakingly beautiful, they have the 14ers. There are 54 mountains that are over 14,000 ft. Many have a goal to summit them all. I most certainly am a hiker, but I don’t consider myself to be a mountaineer. I enjoy the whole experience: summiting up and then the return down. In my experience the more mountaineer at heart, once they summit they just want off the mountain. Skiing down, running down, sliding down, teleportation. You name it they come up with ways to just get off the mountain even if it’s just wanting or wishful thinking to get them down. Me, I just love everything about hiking.
So in no particular order, I’m going to recount the summits I have accomplished.

The town of Leadville is one of my favorite places. It has hints of the old west and apparently walking your donkey through town is just a daily routine. The trailhead for Sherman is not too far out of town, just a quick backroad trip. Sherman is not a difficult mountain in terms of terrain, but it really is beautiful is it’s own way. Fallen down telephone poles, rocks pretty much in the shape of anything, (I found one shaped like Michigan), and probably the best views of a panaoamic Mt Massive.

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The day I summited Sherman, it was a beautiful early Summer day in June. The moon was still out. But I was excited about getting the hike started, as any mountain summit can take the better part of a day, depending on the terrain and start time. In this case, I was getting a later start to my morning. Most of the start and hike up were with my iPhone and the summit photos with my real camera. I am so quilty of hiking and taking photos with my phone, my point and shoot and my real camera. Sherman was no exception.

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As I mentioned hiking Sherman itself might not be beautiful at every step, but it gives a good idea of what the mountains are, giant piles of rocks basically. The trails on Sherman are like most, narrow and either dirt or piles of loose rocks. I enjoy the journey and what you see or come across on the way. Heart shapes in nature is something I always seem to look for, for some reason.

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One of the most surprising things on the mountain was an old telephone line system that apparently ran up and over a section of the mountain near the trail. It was odd seeing it. Either modern day technology has far surpassed this older system or the landlines work amazingly well in Leadville.

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Just like any mountain I hike, at the start it’s the excitement of the start of a new trail, a new adventure. Then after awhile it’s about making good time and taking in what you can. At higher and higher elevation it is about breathing, maintaining pace and and for me, stopping to take short breaks to take in the view, and capture some pretty great shots. One of the worst things about any climb, the false summit. It’s staring up at a peak you think is the top, but when you get up to it, you still have a ways to go. Sherman has a false summit that makes you have to mentally power through.

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As with any climb, you go through a range of pushing yourslf, pure enjoyment and at times frustration. It is both literally and figuratively a mental and physical climb. There is a break through point, sometimes after a false summit, sometimes after large elevation gains, where you are completely adjusted and you carry on.

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Then all at once, glorious summit. Sometimes summits are large plateaus and sometimes they are small, almost tiny rocks not more than room for a handful of people at best. Sherman, has a nice large summit. Perfect for a packed lunch and lots of fantastic views of Mt Massive. One of my favorite things is to plan a large summit panoramic shot that I stitch together from several shots. I guess a good goal would be to create a full 360 pano one day…..

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