Greys Peak (14,270’) and Torreys Peak (14,267’) Thursday, August 17, 2017
Mat, Josh, Danielle and I
Planning for our summer family vacation began more seriously at our Christmas gathering, although our best efforts didn’t yield that much. Mat kept pushing for a decision, but true to family form it was a lot like trying to herd cats and the decision was slow in coming. There was some general thought about going to the Boundary Waters, but we really didn’t get down to talking about it.
I had already taken a number of loads in the midst of our moving to Estherville, when at the end of May I had a phone call from Josh. I was in the garage and busy loading Nate’s trailer for another run and Josh informed me that we were going to Colorado and I would finally have the opportunity to get in another 14er. However, by the time I got the load to Estherville Judy said that the decision had been made and everybody agreed (I discovered later that she had only spoken with Nate and Amber) that we were going to Cutty’s. I will admit that I had a real let-down feeling of disappointment, but if that was what everybody wanted, I was up for it as the most important thing wasn’t the destination, it was spending time together. As time went on thoughts that the Boundary Waters might not be so great with Cooper and Kyler being under two both on the water and containing them around a campsite with enough to do was a real concern, but Cutty’s didn’t seem to be in the same kind of vacation category.
Mid-June Mat called me to get down to specifics and we added Josh in for a three way call with Danielle also involved via speaker phone with Josh. Danielle expressed her disappointment with Boundary Waters decision; that she wanted to do a 14er and when I said I was disappointed with that choice also, it was like flipping a switch and we shifted to making plans for Colorado. I checked with the time shares available in Colorado to make an exchange, but the only thing available was Christie Lodge, where we had stayed before a couple of times at Avon, and Danielle said she didn’t want to go there. So, we all started searching VRBO and as each person would see different possibilities, we would check them out individually. And nothing quite seemed to fit. There were actually some long silences as everyone was searching and I discovered the least expensive one we came across, and it had enough rooms and beds for 12 adults, so I made the arrangements for August 12-19. I later discovered that the owner kept expenses down by handling arrangements himself (I sent the checks directly) instead of using a management service and did not hire a cleaning service, expecting renters to wash the sheets and towels and clean up, etc.
The next question was what mountain to tackle for Mat, Josh and I to add to our collection of 14ers: Longs Peak (14,259’) was our first in 2008, Bierstadt (14,060’) in 2010, Pike’s Peak (14,110’) in 2011 (Danielle and Jen also made that ascent- our second two-day hike, as we were able to stay at a cabin half way up), and Mt. Elbert (14,433’) in 2013. Mat suggested a couple that were close and I looked some up and floated four possibilities with the group via e-mail. The consensus was to tackle Greys again as we did not make it to the peak during our failed attempt in 2013 when Danielle got hit with attitude sickness (headache and then nausea) and we turned back down at 12,450’ to get her back to a lower elevation (nausea is one of the symptoms you don’t want to mess around with).
I was again doing some things to train for the South Dakota Senior Games as the Iowa Games happened during the move, anyone can attend any of the State Games, and it is in Sioux Falls this year, which is an hour closer than Des Moines. One of the big plusses is that I can see the folks at the same time, and that is having greater value all the time. I had shot put, horseshoes and jump rope along and worked to adapt to the altitude by pushing a bit, going on hikes on the trails behind the condo each day and connecting with jumping rope, although I never went beyond 200 jumps at a time (about 2/3 of what I would need for the easiest jump roping event of 2 minutes), but that set my heart racing and lungs pumping for a while afterward, and it seemed to be all I was going to do. While it seemed greatly insufficient at the time, when I competed I did the two minute jump followed only a few minutes later by the three minute jump and was easily good enough for a gold medal in each without becoming winded and sucking air.
We decided on Thursday of our vacation week as the day to tackle the mountain. We wanted a couple days to acclimatize to the altitude and we went for a training family hike with everyone but Judy on Tuesday. There were rain showers coming through every afternoon, and the weather forecast seemed better for hiking on Wednesday. However, Josh had some work on Wednesday and Mat had an online seminar at noon on Wednesday, so that pushed our climb day to Thursday.