By this time, I had "discovered" the Colorado 14ers, but since I was still teaching for a couple more weeks that summer, I decided to climb something about 13000ft to see if I was OK with such altitudes before committing to a 14er. The day before this hike, I bought my first pair of hiking boots (on my two trips before this I just hiked in running shoes.) My journal entry went thusly.
Byer's Peak trip. Unfortunately, I grossly underestimated the time. Made it to Fraser in about 3 hours, but the 11.5 mile trip to the trailhead took almost an hour, because it goes quite a ways up the mountain. It was just barely doable in my car, and I had to let people pass going up and coming down. I made it to the trailhead around 1:15, 3 3/4 hours after I left. The first mile or so of the trail is through a forest, but not quite as dense as Laramie Peak. This suddenly gives way to grassy rugged terrain, with several subpeaks to cross before reaching the peak. I wasn't prepared for the steepness of some of the hiking and in spots I was hiking only about 20 steps between stops. I also wasn't prepared for the cold temps. It was only about 50 degrees at the summit and windy. In the most favorably exposed areas wind was sustained around 25, with gusts over 40 at times. Reached the peak in about an hour and a half. As I was making my way to the top, could see virga which looked like it would miss us. However, by the time I summited, new development had occurred, so I stayed there less than 10 minutes, watching it get closer. Hiking back down, the wind was even stronger at times and I had a hard time walking straight. Before I could make it to the forest, I felt a few sprinkles, and heard thunder. Once in the forest, I could tell that the thunder was going to pass pretty much overhead. There were some big wind gusts probably near 50 in the tree tops, and I had steady heavy sprinkles for the last mile, with a few fairly nearby thunderclaps. By the time I had reached my car at 3:50pm, it was pretty much over. The scenery is exceptional, but on the way down, things were muted by the low light levels. I could see Fraser, and the Winter Park ski runs. Willow Creek Pass is nicely labeled; but I didn't get a picture. On the way back, I got some variable light rain as I outran some storms. Also saw the backsides of some nasty storms that produced tornadoes in the general vicinity of Ft. Collins. Got to follow these on KOA radio. My hiking boots worked very well, except that my ankles are sore the way they are when I have to stand a lot; presumably from not being able to move them much. This may be a problem on a 14er, but I could probably briefly take them off during rest breaks.
As it turned out, the boot problem turned out to pretty much be a non-problem. Oh, and the road to the Byers Peak trailhead isn't that bad; again my inexperience made it seem worse than it really was.
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To the Byers Peak page
File last modified: 11 May 2005