I’ve dedicated this trip report to my good friend Taylor who hiked her first 14er with Shawn and I. Taylor fought her way up Mt Bierstadt and now almost two years later she’s fighting cancer. I am confident that she will get through it because I know the strength and determination this girl has in her.
Mt. Bierstadt was the first 14er I had ever tried the summer I moved to Colorado in 2007. I had NO idea what I was doing. My room-mate Adam told me to get a sleeping bag and that we were going to hike part of the way in, camp over night, and get up early so we could catch a sunrise on the summit. I bought a $25 sleeping bag at Sport’s Authority, some long (cotton) pants, tennis shoes and a sweatshirt. It was the middle of summer how cold could it be? That was my first lesson with how cold it gets at nearly 11,000′ in September.
Everyone handed over whatever extra clothes they had to keep me warm, which resulted in a pretty ridiculous looking outfit. I was freezing that night and got very little sleep. The boys and I got up around 4 am (?) and headed up the trail. The guys we’re hiking fairly quickly and I couldn’t keep up, it didn’t take long before I was already exhausted and dealing with a headache. They told me I should go back down so that I didn’t get altitude sickness, so Shawn offered to walk me down and then meet up with Adam at the summit. Off I descended back to the tent and slept until they returned.
Nearly a year later after I had tried Mt. Bierstadt the first time, we decided to try it again. Shawn promised that if we took our time and went at our own pace we would reach the summit. Taylor, Shawn and I headed up the road to Mt.Bierstadt the night before so that we could get an early start. (this time I brought better clothes and a warmer sleeping bag).
We woke up bright and early and drove to the trail head. Mt. Bierstadt is a popular 14er and on any given summer weekend there are so many people it’s like hiking in a Congo line. Near 13,000′ Taylor and I were struggling, but slowly we made our way up to the summit. What I learned about hiking, while on Bierstadt, is not to look at the big picture “We have to hike all the way up there?!” Instead, you have to make small steps to reaching a larger goal. “I’m just going to get to that rock over there and then I’ll take a break… Ok, I made it to the rock I’m just going to hike to that ridge…” This is a thought process that I think carries over in everyday life: climbing, running, career, etc.
At the summit we took too many photos and ate lunch. It was the perfect day to enjoy the view.
On the hike down our legs felt like jello, but we had made it! We couldn’t have been more excited! This was all I needed to catch the bug, I continue to look forward to hiking 14ers every summer since.
Today, I know that Taylor has a huge fight ahead of her, one that doesn’t compare to any 14er, yet I’ve seen how she handles difficult situations and I know she’ll get through it, one step at a time. She’s such a strong person and her outlook on life is always so positive, that I know she can fight it. I wish more people looked at life they way she does.
Someday soon I am hoping I can convince her to do another 14er with me. 😉