Trip report on Trail Running locations in Leadville, CO: Mount Massive.
 Home>>Mount Elbert Trail Report
Mount Elbert Trail Run
Splash! Ooh, not a good way to start a run/hike. 100 yards from the car and my foot’s already soaked. While I’m on the other side of the stream shaking off water and attracting dust, my dad remarks mockingly, “You need to be more observant!” Lucky for me, he is running with a pack with all of our gear in it, so I can run ahead and catch a breather just to spite him. This marks the beginning of a long journey (9 miles round trip) up Mount Elbert.

We pass many people on our quest to the top of towering Elbert, the most interesting of them being a group of Amish-looking hikers in skirts and overalls. I wouldn’t want to be the one in the overalls. We are surrounded by trees that are spaced in a way that made me think of the original Mortal Kombat movie, in the scene where Johnny Cage fights Scorpion. The trees provide cover from the sun, and despite all the hills and obstacles, my dad and I feel good, and are convinced it’s a perfect day. What we forgot, or at least I forgot, is that we are sub-timberline. Uh-oh.

This is where the real challenge starts. Timberline! The wind is blowing at what seems to be gale-forces, which makes it really hard to pee (aiming straight down takes it about 20 feet down the mountain). On top of that, I’m bonkin’. Lucky my dad keeps every supplement bar known to modern man in his bag, but you can only stomach a few. We hide behind a rock to help break wind (no immature humor intended), and I have a chocolate chip Granola Bar. Those taste really good when you’re hungry. Then I’m forced to eat a half of a Balance Bar, and those taste like shit even when you’re hungry. I try to get the Mocha-Mocha Cliff Shot, but my dad uses it as an incentive to get to the top quicker. Yup. I like Cliff Shots. If you haven’t tried one, do, because they have 80 mg. of Caffeine, a couple of electrolytes, a few Carbohydrates, and they go down easy. If you like them, then use them to your advantage. Okay, back on topic. So my dad, not wanting to freeze his ass off, gets the hike going again.

At this point we are hiking (not running) because of the wind and the rocks. It isn’t as monotonous as I thought it was going to be, because I keep expecting to reach the peak. But it is always one peak after another, and I think that the next peak is always the last. There is beautiful scenery on either side of my dad and me, though we didn’t spare the time to see it. We are going to get to the top, like that Leadville 100 runner that just zipped past us. Dad predicts that we’ll reach the top at or under 2 hours, and if we hadn’t taken so long eating and putting our snivel gear on, which took 7 minutes total, we would have made it there in time. Instead, we make it there in 2 hours and 3 minutes.

So we make it to the top and see a bunch of people huddled behind wind barriers made of rock, checking their cell phone service. I feel unwelcome being the youngest one there, and being the only one getting his picture taken. My toes are dry, but my shoe is all muddy on one foot, and my hands are freezing. I put gloves on and a sweatshirt over my mom’s fluorescent yellow Pearl Izumi windbreaker that could guide ships to harbor. I try to cover my bare legs with my hands, and my dad asks, “Are you cold?” This really means “Suck it up! My hands and legs are fine.” We take a rest next to a guy who, once off his cell phone, explains that he has walked from a town in Texas for inspirational reasons.  We comment on the coolness of his dog, and then start running back down the mountain.

The way down Mount Elbert is fraught with peril and marmots. Strings of profanity shoot out of my father’s mouth as the rocks jump in front of our feet. After lots of stubbed toes and little squeaky weasely thingies which we later learned were marmots, we reach the timberline and de-snivel. We run on, and from there on out, there are twisted ankles. After I got a couple boulders in my shoes, I decide to evacuate my shoes of all foreign bodies. My dear father says that I will catch up with him later down the trail. That’s what I hate about performing well; there are expectations involved. After my dad finds me, it’s an easy run to the truck.

I finish a Coke, and I give my dad a Monster. Unaware that we had both risen 3,600 feet in elevation, and the can of Monster was loose in the back of the truck on a washboard road, it becomes a grenade when opened. Dad is now covered in Monster and has an elliptical mark on his finger from the metal thing that usually goes into the can when you open it, and the flies begin to bombard me. So we get a picture of me by the San Isabel National Forest sign, and realize that we had a travel bug from a Geocaching site, SportTrac, that we should have taken along. I rush into the car, to escape the flies, and on the drive back to Leadville I depict the lyrics to the song “Shit Towne” by Live. When I get back to the Leadville Hostel, there is a congratulatory pound of peanut butter-chocolate fudge waiting for me. Life gets no better. Nick out.










Nick on Mount Elbert

Nick on top of mount Elbert after his epic adventure run (4,650 feet of elevation gain). Elbert is the highest peak in Colorado and in the Rocky Mountains at 14,433 feet and second highest in the continental United States (Whitney in California is the highest in the lower 48)


mount Elbert summit

Nick and Dad on the top of mount Elbert, CO 4th of July both 2005 and 2006. Next year we will be going for three years in a row and much faster time.
mount elbert trail head
Getting there: From U.S. 24 just south of Leadville, turn onto Colorado 300 and cross the railroad tracks. Drive 0.7 mile and turn left onto County Road 11 toward the Halfmoon Creek. After another 1.2 miles, turn right on the dirt road to Halfmoon Creek. Drive on for 5 miles to the Mt. Elbert trailhead on the left.
 Home>>Mount Elbert Trail Report