Photo Blog: Grays Peak - Prelude To Something... - 7/11/18

Ten years ago a buddy and I hiked Grays and Torreys Peak, meeting at midnight at a central location, then starting the hike around 2 am under the full moon. The goal was to enjoy a full moonset to the west and a sunrise to the east while standing on top of the word. The hike was harder than usual, mostly because of a lack of sleep, but the results were amazing.

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Grays Peak Moonset

Sunrise and Moonset arrive at the same time on one of Colorado’s easier 14ers, Grays Peak (14,270'€™). My hiking partner and I left our families around midnight to make the full moon ascent up Grays Peak in order to witness this simulteneous event. It was a beautiful morning with all of the mountains at our feet, but I for one was sure tired upon my return home!

Fast forward ten years and we were back using Grays Peak as a springboard to prepare for a few more 14er summits. We’ve both topped out at 31 peaks so far and hope to add two more in the next week. The goal – Castle and Conundrum in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. Besides Longs Peak, these are the only two peaks we’ve been turned away from because of weather.

So on this morning we met in Dumont along I-70 at 5:15am and made the short drive past Georgetown and were hiking by 6:20am.

If you’ve hiked the Grays/Torreys Trail (which follows the Continental Divide Trail in Stevens Gulch), you know it is not difficult. The path leads up and through a scenic gulch, gradually raising you up to 12,000, 13,000, and 14,000’. Along the way, in summer, the wildflowers can be quite colorful. This trip was no exception. Purple daisies, red paintbrush, and many other varieties of blooms lined the dirt trail, with the most concentration of flowers about a mile into the walk.

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Wildflowers in Stevens Gulch - Grays Peak Trail 1

With Grays Peak (14,270’) in the distance, the wildflowers in Stevens Gulch and along the Grays Peak Trail add an explosion of color to a mild summer afternoon. The hike up and back is nearly 8 miles, and the scenery along the way can be breathtaking (and not because of the altitude!). This trail follows the Continental Divide Trail, as well, and leads the way to two of Colorado’s 14,000’ peaks - Grays Peak and Torreys Peak

Eventually, the trail splits – go left and you head up towards Grays Peak. Go right – Torreys. Our plan was not particularly ambitious. We’d summit Grays, hike down to the saddle between the two 14ers, then make a decision about whether or not we’d tackle Torreys. I figured there was a 50-50 chance we’d stand atop Torreys. After many long switchbacks, we made the summit of Grays and both felt pretty good.

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Torreys Peak from Grays Peak, Summer 1

A cairn marks the path down from Grays Peak (14,270’) to the saddle and back up to Torreys Peak (14,267’). The skies were beautiful and the trail down and back up quite rocky. Still, the views from these 14ers are amazing, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to see the world from up here.

However, the wind was howling and the temperatures had dropped from a pleasant 60 degrees in the lower elevations to the lower 40s at 14,000’. We downclimbed to the saddle and discussed the situation. After some reasoning and justifying not going up Torreys (I’d summited it two times previously and my friend three times), we decided we’d head down and have an early lunch. A few hours later, we were on the very bumpy road heading back to I-70. Our plan was to eat in Empire at the Lewis Sweet Shop. But as we drove back to Dumont to pick up the other car, my buddy decided he didn’t want to double back; instead, he’d just head on down to his home in Littleton. Taco Bell was his lunch of choice. Now, I haven’t eaten at a Taco Bell in at least 10 years, so I figured I’d give it a try before I drove over Berthoud Pass to Winter Park. So inside I went after my friend pulled away (he went through the drive-through.) I waited at least 5 minutes at the counter – no one else around – and no acknowledgement by the hired help in the back. Finally, I left. My next plan was to stop at the Lewis Sweet Shop in Empire and grab a burger or barbecue and take home. But that plan was thwarted, as well, as this eatery was closed on a Wednesday at 11:30am.

And that was our day.

Nevertheless, the hike was a success, and more are planned for the coming weeks.

In the meantime, have a good week, everyone!

~ Rob

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If you have any questions about these photographs of Grays Peak or Colorado Wildflowers, please do not hesitate to contact me.