Climbing Uncompahgre Peak

Hey, friends: I climbed a 14,000-ft mountain today! I need to start this story by saying that I got talked into this adventure after a long drive from Texas and three (…four?) glasses of wine the evening before. I’ve got some family that are fairly keen on mountain climbing, so we decided that we would conquer Uncompahgre Peak together. 

The whole thing started before sunrise. Our group, armed with caffeine and at least one pair of extra socks, made the bumpy 45-minute trek up the side of a mountain to get to the trailhead before 7 a.m. After adjusting our sunglasses (and, in my case, my particularly loud hat), we set off toward Uncompahgre, the peak of which stands at 14,309 feet above sea level.Needless to say I was not used to the altitude. I couldn’t get enough oxygen for the first hour and a half. Even in the early morning sunlight, which kept the temperature at the perfect point between chilly and warm, I wanted to die. In fact, it’s entirely possible that the mountain killed me and that I write to you now as a ghost.

After my lungs got acclimated to the thin air, general fatigue took over. Being neither a mountain climber nor a goat herder, it’s not often that I get to experience a real-life StairMaster. Clearly, I wasn’t the one leading the group up Uncompahgre Peak.

Concentrating on not talking, however, left me a lot of time to marvel at the views. It was a perfect summer morning in the mountains, with the sun breaking through light cloud cover. Add that to gurgling streams, blooming flowers and–what else?–an abundance of horse crap, and you have a fantastic morning.

After passing the tree line, we saw all kinds of tiny flowers and several giant fields of snow. We had the pleasure of traversing these giant fields of snow. I fell down. A few times. It was neat.

After the ~neato~ snow fields, we had to scale the Sinister Mountainside of Shale. I thought I was going to fall to my certain death. I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen (but no promises, honestly). After what felt like years of scaling the stupid wall of large, heavy, moving rocks, we finally made it to summit!

But the summit had a surprise for us: clouds had rolled in, surrounding Uncompahgre Peak in a shroud of mist. It made me even less psyched to be near the edge. We spent about 3o minutes eating, taking photos and playing with dogs before heading down. On the way down, my co-hikers were beleaguered with my sudden bursts of talkative energy and my incessant and compulsive need to take photos every 600 feet.

What an amazing experience, though. I’m putting “mountain conquerer” on my resume.

Have you ever seen the view from Uncompahgre Peak?

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