Alex, Dave, Sam and Trisha woke at 3:30 AM, aiming to leave Evergreen at 4:00 AM and arrive at the trailhead for Grays Peak (14,278’) and Torreys Peak (14,275‘) shortly after 5:00 AM. Grays and Torreys are two very popular and easy fourteeners that can be summited together in an 8.5 mile round trip with about 3,600 feet of elevation gain. Sam had actually hiked Grays Peak solo the previous Sunday while the Triple Bypass was going on, but she was up for hiking it again, and this time linking it with Torreys.
We arrived at the trailhead parking area, after a long drive up a bumpy, rough road shortly after 5:00 AM. By 5:30, everyone had boots on, hiking poles adjusted, and used the last “real” bathroom stop (pit toilets are “real” bathrooms… right?) of the morning. We hit the trail in the semi-dark, and Dave’s pace quickly carried him away from the girls. He took the opportunity to hike faster and not have to worry about leaving Alex alone.
The girls stopped for a morning snack before the steeper section up Grays began. Alex’s stomach didn’t feel quite right, and she attributed it to the early morning wake-up and too much gas station coffee on the way. Surely, its not altitude sickness!
The girls make it to the top of Grays and find Dave waiting there. He had already (literally) ran up Torrey’s with a guy he met along the trail before coming to the top of Grays. The group took some pictures before Dave headed back down the trail, looking forward to napping at the car while he waited for the girls. Alex, Sam and Trisha headed down off Grays and across the saddle towards Torreys Peak. As they head up the switchbacks to the summit, Trisha has gained a burst of energy and is crushing, while Alex and Sam are instead slowing down.
When all three reach the summit, they take some pictures amongst the many others on the summit, including several dogs!
The girls happily make their way back down the trail towards the car, crossing a snow field and talus along the way. They make many stops along the way for Alex and Trisha to pee, while Sam seems to have maintained her “teacher bladder” even during the summer. Alex later attributes the excessive pee to a lack of salt that day, and a good excuse to request salty snacks on their hikes.
By 11:30, they were back at the car where Dave was waiting for them. They arrived to find Dave talking to a guy who had been traveling all summer as well. Unfortunately for Dave, the guy was quite the talker and he was never able to break away to get his nap. After everyone exchanged their hiking boots for flip-flops, they made there way back towards Evergreen where breakfast sandwiches should be awaiting them!
Once back in Evergreen, the sandwiches were devoured and Alex went to take a nap, now positive that it was the altitude that made he feel sub-par that day. Dave received a call about a second interview for another teaching position. He would need to get home during the last week in July when they were back in Madison with A.J., Liz and Quinn. The question now, was how to coordinate getting home. A.J. was off the entire week, so they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend the week with him, and the interview was scheduled right in the middle of that week. Alex and Dave ran through many combinations of flying and/or driving before settling on flying home on Monday and renting a car to avoid a whole other coordination of getting picked up and dropped off at the airport to return to Madison on Wednesday afternoon. Sadly, somehow they scheduled everything around an interview on Tuesday, when in fact the interview was WEDNESDAY! After too many phone calls, price checks, comparisons and stress adding to Alex’s already altitude sick haze and headache, the correct plans were finally set!
The pair had planned on starting to organize gear for their backpacking trip that would begin on Sunday, but after all they had already done that day, they instead napped and relaxed for the rest of the night.