Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Birthday Number 65: The Mt. Bierstadt Climb

The following is a pictorial review of my 65th birthday climb of Mt. Bierstadt, outside Georgetown, Colorado.

1) Before heading up into the mountains,
we stopped in Golden to refresh the flower decorations on my Dad's and Mom's grave.

2) It was a brisk, strong wind that was blowing in the Rockies Sunday evening. This was the view northwest from our hotel in Frisco.

3) Monday morning, the 4th of July, we drove back down to Georgetown and then up the Guanella Pass road towards the trailhead where I would start my hike up Mt. Bierstadt the next day. This was one of the molting mountain goats who said hey to us on the way.

4) And on the same morning, one of the marmots also greeted us. Hey to you too, little buddy.

5) One of the many waterfalls in the area.

6) The view of the Sawtooth and Mt. Bierstadt from the Guanella Pass trailhead.

7) Looking north from the trailhead. (This is still on the 4th of July.)

8) July 5th, 6:23 AM. (My 65th birthday.) I put on my pack and begin my way through the willow marsh atop a frosted-over wooden platform.

9) Down deeper into the valley towards Scott Gomer Creek.

10) I decide it's too early to get wet crossing the creek so I look upstream to find a place I can jump across. I find a spot about 400 yards east.

11) Still in the wet marsh area, I'm looking north here towards one of the small lakes in the valley.

12) The trail through the sage begins to dry up a bit which makes for easier hiking. But I'm well aware that I haven't yet begun much of an ascent.

13) The narrow path now begins a fairly gentle climb.

14) Well underway now, I definitely feel the difference between my regular walking on a level parking lot in Omaha and hiking up a Colorado mountain that reaches over 14,000 feet. Whew! The view of the Sawtooth and Mt. Bierstadt is terrific...but pretty daunting too.

15) It's a tough go, but I'm still making a good pace here. But the summit looks farther away than ever. And, just as important, it looks considerably more difficult than I was led to believe.

16) Have I used the word daunting yet?

17) It's still a hike, but it's becoming increasingly steep. Also, I'm certainly feeling the altitude. The pack isn't heavy but I'm stopping more often to rest my legs and catch my breath before moving on.

18) I've brought along my regular prayer lists and the Bible verses I'm currently using for memorization and meditatiion. However, I don't get around to using them. My prayers are too focused on asking God to supply the strength, patience, and persistence required...not to get to the summit, but just to get a little further. I manage to pray for a few people and ministries and other things. And I'm thrilled by what I'm seeing and...just by making it this far.

19) The view north. It has been partly cloudy and cool so far. But I'm sweating pretty good. And what skin is showing is well lathered with sun screen.

20) The path is giving way to rocks.

21) One of my favorite photos of the trek. This is looking from the shadow of Bierstadt towards the mountain ranges north.

22) And another beauty. This is looking westward.

23) I'm really beat now but, thank the Lord, He is sustaining me so far. Most of the others who started the trek have already turned around. Time, nausea, headaches, lack of breath, fatigue, and the dangers that come with rock scrambling are taking their toll.

24) I've nearly given up several times yet I'm still on the way. And now, there's a new surge of energy, daring, and sheer fun as I start scrambling over the rocks towards the summit. I just might make it yet!

25) I've made it to the top! But it's an awfully scary place for a guy like me who has vertigo! This photo shows Abyss Lake over the cliffs and way down yonder to the south. I'm thrilled to be here...but I'm far from comfortable.

26) I shared my summit experience with this fearless and agile little guy.

27) It's official. I've made the 14,065 to the peak of Mt. Bierstadt! Thank You, Lord!

28) Among Claire's prayers (she was still down in Frisco) were that someone would be on the summit when I was to take a couple of photos. Well, a young couple, Blake and Miriam, showed up. We had a nice visit on our precarious perch and we took each other's pictures. What a birthday!