Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tara's Visit and two 14ers!

I'm not really sure what it is, but I have some sort of infatuation with the mountains of Colorado. I am constantly awed by their beauty, especially when I least expect it. I've been hiking all summer long and have had the opportunity to take in some of the most incredible views, but this past weekend I went on my first Fall hike and was once again, amazed! Three words pretty much sum it up...I love Colorado.

Tara, my college roommate, was visiting in town and we had been talking for months about climbing a 14er when she came to visit. So I brainstormed and tried to think about what would help her to "make the most of [this] opportunity." So after throwing a few ideas around, we decided on camping in the Missouri Gulch and hiking 1,2 or potentially 3 14ers; Belford, Oxford and Missouri.

On Friday, Tara arrived in the Springs, and we were ready to hike! Zach and Jeremy, two friends from the Springs, met us at my house, we loaded up my little CR-V and we headed West to Buena Vista.

We made it to the Missouri Gulch trail head a little after 5pm, made all our last adjustments, loaded up our packs and we were off! We forgot to get a before shot, I think we were all so excited, well, at least I was : )

We stopped about a mile or so in on the trail to take our first pictures. I think this is one of my favorites from the whole weekend.

The boys being boys...

The girls

We made it to the fork for Belford & Oxford and Missouri-our goal for the night, found a great little campsite a little after 7, and managed to get our tents up and settled in before we lost all the light of dusk.

As the last ray of light disappeared, the moon began to rise over Mt. Belford.Tara and our tent!

I wish I had taken pictures of our little fire and dinner, but I guess I forgot, we were hungry! After eating and talking for a little bit, we decided to turn in and try to get a good night sleep for the next day's hike. We had been warned by another hiker who had been up there for the past three nights that the wind had been pretty intense, but aside from a few gusts throughout the night, it really wasn't that bad.

After a little bit of a late start (us girls were too cozy in our sleeping bags to get up on time) we started up the trail our focus on Belford and Oxford around 7:30 am.

An epic pose, about halfway to the top. Yes, that's snow in the background!

We made it! Tara, the flatlander, did great! I, on the other hand, was doing all I could trying to keep up with her!

Tara and I on the top or Mt. Belford with our next challenge of the day in the background...Mt. Oxford...

We only stayed briefly on the summit of Belford because it was so stinkin' windy and we were getting cold fast, so we decided to just keep going. Going down the saddle was fun, it was nice to be going downhill for a change! But inevitably, we had to start going up again in order to reach Oxford. After a few stops to catch our breath-13,000+ft is high!!- we summited our second 14er of the day! Way to go Tara!

Here are the four of us, Tara, me, Zach and Jeremy.

It had been a great day so far, two 14ers, what more could you ask for : ) Well, we had met this other guy on the trail who was shooting for Missouri on top of Belford and Oxford, so Zach and Jeremy, eager to make the most of every opportunity, decided to attempt the difficult and technical traverse to Missouri. As much fun as that would have been, Tara and I decided that two in one day was good enough for us, so we wished the guys good luck and they were off. We hung around the Oxford summit a little longer until the wind made us shiver and then decided to head back towards Belford and the trailhead.

Here's Tara on the rocky traverse back to BelfordBack on Belford for the second time that day, with a fun picture of Oxford behind us. The wind had died down a bit on Belford so we decided to enjoy warm sun on the summit for a while. Besides, we had plenty of time since Zach and Jeremy had gone to do Missouri, or so we thought...

Tara and I made it down Belford back to the fork (where we had left our packs) chatted with a nice couple from Fort Collins, trying to see if they had seen our friends, when Jeremy emerged from the willows! We were shocked and thought he had beaten us, but as it turned out, he started the traverse, but then decided against it and went straight down while Zach continued on. Well, we weren't sure what the weather was going to do, so as nice as it would have been to hang out in the willows just off the trail while we waited for Zach, we packed up and continued down the trail. We took our time, figuring we'd have to wait for Zach back at the car, but at one of our rest stops, we heard a familiar voice coming up behind us and sure enough, Zach had caught up to us! He told us his amazing story of the traverse to Missouri, and though I wish I could have made it, it sounded like it would have been pretty insane! Anyway, well done, Zach, three in one day!

One of my favorite parts about this trip was the foliage. Not quite at the height of it's colors, but still radiant!Here we all are, finished at last! Tara, did you ever think you'd make it up two 14ers in one day?! I am so proud of you! After a long day of hiking, what's better than a nice big dinner! Unfortunately, nothing in Buena Vista opened until 5, so we waited around for something to open. Tara and Zach were a little tired...

I really think this was one of my favorite hikes of the year. Thank you Tara, Zach and Jeremy for making it such a great trip!


Heather said...

Looks like you guys had an amazing weekend! The aspen are amazing! Was Belford different in the daylight? ;)

Tara said...

thank YOU, mindy, for introducing me to the 14ers! i am privileged to have gotten the chance to hike with you! :) thanks for such an awesome weekend! love ya,