When I woke up Sunday morning, Andrew was standing over me, still in his paramedic uniform, asking me if I wanted to go hike Mt. Sneffels. I of course said yes.
We spent the morning packing and researching routes up Sneffels. There’s the SW ridge, a class 3 route, that goes up a beautiful and slightly intimidating ridge line and the standard route, a steep hike up two gullies filled with scree. After hearing more about the SW ridge we were quickly sold on that route. At noon we packed up the car and drove 6 hours to Ouray.
I had driven through Ouray once before on a mini road-trip, only long enough to see where the ice park was in the winter and drive through the town. This time it didn’t take me long to decide that Ouray was an awesome town. Despite the lack of rain in Colorado the valley leading up to Mt. Sneffels was green and full of life. Yankee Boy Basin, at the start of Mt. Sneffels was one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen. The best part, all the of wild flowers were blooming in the basin. I had never seen so many different kinds of wildflowers all in one place.
The old mining road up to Sneffels quickly turns 4-wheel drive and those who can make it get about a 3 mile round trip hike up to the summit and back. We parked in the middle lot giving us about a 6 mile RT. At 4 am we woke up and started getting ready for the hike. Even though it was a short hike, we wanted to get an early start to avoid thunderstorms and people above us kicking rocks down (Andrew had a separate agenda that I wasn’t aware of). The weather was perfect and before the sun even came up I was peeling off layers.
The SW ridge looks intimidating, from afar, but it’s actually not that bad. Some parts of the hike have exposure, especially near the summit, but the rock is pretty solid near the top. Route finding was fairly easy, however I was glad we brought some photos because there are a couple forks and one down climb. Our video is little shaky in sections and the camera died right after we got to the summit, but it still gives you a good idea of what to expect.
The summit was by far one of my favorites yet. It’s not very big and the views are spectacular. We reached the summit before anyone else and before I could even catch my breath from the exposure of the ridge, I got a pretty big surprise, Andrew proposed! I of course said yes!
Not long afterwards a guy came up the standard route and chatted with us and took our photo. The man left us by saying “marriage has a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but all and all it’s not that bad.”
After a few more photos we headed down the standard route. We blurted out that we just got engaged a few times and soon everyone coming up the mountain had already heard. We even had a group applauded us. Two older men, in their 70’s, one of which had been married for 50 years, told us when you get to their age, 14ers were slow going. Andrew and I just thought it was amazing that they was hiking at all. Their advice, “just keep moving and you’ll be hiking at our age too.” The words keep moving reminded me of an article I had just read earlier in the week by Will Gadd. I’m starting to think that’s those two words may be some of the most vital advice I’ve ever been given.
The standard route is a steep gully with a lot of loose rock. It was definitely not my favorite route and reminded me of the standard route we descended on Mt. Lindsey. I was thankful we had taken the fun ridge up.
The morning ended with celebratory beers and burgers at the Ouray Brewery. Everything from the wild flowers, the route, the proposal and the advice was perfect!