During these past six months, I have rededicated myself to investing in my overall health and fitness: I have a monthly membership to a fitness center and have my own personal trainer, who trains me hard twice a week (hi, Brittany!). When it comes to my health and fitness, these days I am not merely working out for aesthetics: I also know that this time around, I am in it for the long haul, and that this is a lifestyle, not a hobby.
So, what better way to test my endurance than to hike a 14er (if you had asked me this time last year about hiking a 14er, I would have promptly said, “No thank you!”). This is exactly what I did over this past weekend with Ryan.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term “14er”, the term refers to mountain peaks that are 14,000 feet and higher, and Colorado boasts over fifty of them alone. These mountains vary in difficulty in terms of elevation, length of hike, and terrain.
It was only last Thursday (July 5th) when Ryan and I decided to hike Mount Bierstadt, which sits at 14,060 feet and is considered a Class 2 mountain. Before this, we had only driven up Pikes Peak and Mount Evans, so Mount Bierstadt was going to be the first 14er for us to hike. I admit, I was a little nervous about hiking it, even though as Ryan researched about the mountain, he said that overall, other hikers seemed to think that the mountain was an ‘easy hike’. I read over a blog post by Laura Skladzinski at 50by25 about her experience with Mount Bierstadt, and the post helped me prepare mentally for the challenging parts of the climb.
The whole hike up and down Mount Bierstadt took us about 9.5 hours round-trip, for a total of 6.9 miles and 2,729 feet in elevation gain (we already started at about 11,000 feet at the trailhead). The trail is very popular among people of all fitness levels, including families–although I am not sure how many of these families made it to the summit. Needless to say, the whole hike exhausted us out, but we made it to the top with relatively no altitude sickness symptoms. Hoorah!
Anyhow, we did take away some lessons from the whole experience, which will be handy for those of you who are curious to try out a 14er in the future.