I’ve been having trouble eating on the trail. No real appetite could be due to the altitude, or maybe I’m just sick of eating the same old trail food. Since I was going over a 14er today, I made myself eat a big breakfast, but it took a while and I got a later start from camp than I wanted.
At 10268′, I was 7.5 miles from the summit of Mt Massive at 14421′. I got to the Massive Trail after 4 miles, treeline maybe a mile after that, and stopped an hour or so later for a snack. I thought I was halfway through the remaining 3.5 miles but I was apparently way overestimating my speed. They say you should be coming down from a 14er by noon. Even if the weather looks good, you never know what could blow in quickly at that altitude, and there is nowhere to hide from lightning. I was estimating that I’d get there at 1pm, which was pushing it, but it was so nice out that I figured until I heard thunder, I’d keep going. There were plenty of clouds but they were all white and fluffy.
I finally started running into people coming down from the summit, and even though I looked so close, they all said I was still an hour and a half away, and the trail got much harder after the saddle. I asked what the clouds looked like on the other side and some said fine, and some said not so fine. I asked what they would do if they were me at that location, and some said turn around, and some said keep going. I kept deciding to keep moving and talk to the next group and get an updated view from the summit, at least until I got to the saddle. I finally talked to a girl that really seemed to know what she was talking about though, and she said turn around. She had made it to the summit but turned around there instead of going to her originally planned farther endpoint because the clouds didn’t look so good. The next couple had turned around before the summit. So it sucks but I decided to turn around. There were occasional gray clouds, and even though they blew through very quickly, I didn’t want to risk it.
As soon as I made that decision, the sun seemed to shine even brighter, but I didn’t let it tempt me. I also had plans in town that were making it easy to turn back. I learned some 14er lessons today though that I will use on Elbert tomorrow. Everyone I talked to started at 6am or earlier at the trailhead. I was a mile further away than the trailhead and I started at 8am. Most people were hiking with tiny day packs and my pack probably weighed thirty pounds so that slowed me way down. I think I was going less than a mile an hour once I got higher up. When I turned around, I had made it to 13100′ though so spending time up there should help me tomorrow as well.
I went back down and rejoined the Colorado Trail, making it to the Mt Massive Trailhead fairly quickly. I think I did 12 miles today, 7 on trail and maybe 5 off. I got a ride easily into Leadville, which is the highest city in the country at 10152′. I got checked into the Leadville Hostel in the last available bed. I had to sign up for two nights but that lets me slackpack Mt Elbert tomorrow. Who cares about Massive? Elbert is twelve feet higher any way, the tallest peak in the state.
Whisper and Mailman met me for dinner. We heard about this great Mexican place but then it turned out to be mostly burgers. I had a hard time getting it down. My stomach was already not feeling well since I hadn’t eaten much that afternoon. I hadn’t felt like stopping to eat; I just wanted to get to town so I kept hiking. That was a mistake though. We walked around town a little bit and enjoyed the sunset over Massive and Elbert and then I headed back to the hostel for bed. It was like a ghost town. Full of racers in the Leadville 100 tomorrow, the race starts at 4am, and they are all getting up at 2am. Oh, the joys of a bunkroom. Hopefully I will not also be getting up at 2am.