|Shyeah, right! I read in Gerry Roachís book on the 14ers about Mount Massive; the trail we were to take was supposed to be a short trip up a gentle slope. I learned 3.3 miles up the trail that you have two options for a 14er: a long easy trail, and a short hard trail. I say 3.3 miles because that is when we left the Colorado trail, a safe haven from steep ascents and brutal winds, and also my Dad had me carve the checkpoints into my arm with an inkless knife (pen). At first when we broke through timberline, it surprised me to see flat, sunny meadows and waist-high shrubbery in various patches along the trail, which turned out to be convenient later on for concealed urination. I know what it reminded me of. Teletubbies! The show I never watched (seriously, I pride myself on that point), but am sure brought in Oscars by the dozen. Except for instead of queer characters in costumes, there where marmots. Omnipotent marmots. From now on Iím calling them Pudgeweasels. The only reason there isnít a red squiggly line under the word Pudgeweasel right now is because I added it to the dictionary. So there. Now itís a word. Anyways, there were little squeaky Pudgeweasels everywhere, and one particularly bold little Pudgeweasel even laid on his stomach on a rock staring at us as we passed. I thought, "I wonder if I got a big bogie hanging from my nose." I check and I realize itís just a stupid Pudgeweasel. Marmots. Tricky little bastards. |
So we stop at a cairn to have some scrum-diddily-umptious (I just wrote that word to see if I could. I couldnít) Balance Bars, which, surprisingly enough, still taste like it came out the back of a Pudgeweasel. I have about a quarter of one and it doesnít get any better. I was going to have a cliff shot, but I decided to save the best for last. So if you havenít been keeping track, the only thing Iíve eaten in 10 hours, and hours to come, is a quarter of a Balance Bar. Thatís a recipe for bonkage (if anyone knows what part of speech a word ending with -age is, please email my mom at email@example.com. I am completely serious, and that doesnít happen often).
We head up the trail tediously for longer than planned, and eventually get to a group of people hammering temporary trail markers into the unforgiving rock and sand. For the last thousand feet I was wondering what those little markers were for. They had scrawled on them: XX 2+100 (XX being initials of some kind) and the number 2 rose by one every 100 feet. Anyways, they are hammering these little stakes into the ground after measuring it out with a tape measure. We ask what for, and they said it was a week-long project to mark the trail for renovation. I am completely out of it by this point though. I was running on fumes.
The rest of the trail couldíve been the coolest portion of a 14er Iíve ever done, but it wasnít fun then. Every rock I stubbed my toe on made me think, why put myself through this? Then we got to the top. I Hastily unzipped the portion of my dadís pack that held all the goodies. Once I polished off my second Cliff Shot, I looked at my options: A high protein bar that probably sucked a peanut butter power bar, and prunes. I figured, how bad could they be? Not bad at all, I discovered after my first one. Theyíre pretty good, at least when youíre hungry. We ate and then head on out. I felt good.
I wasnít feeling good anymore. The trail was steep and had oddly scattered rocks and I kept on stubbing my toe and tripping, but never actually falling. The closest I came was when I did a Neo and was parallel to the ground, but grabbed a rock with my right hand and righted myself. From there I was too scared to actually run. I kept on having this feeling of being out of control. I walked down to timberline for what seemed like hours. It might have been hours. Then we got to Teletubby Land and urinated, and had to cut ourselves off as a couple people rounded a bend in the trail.
Timberline was easy and fun until we ran out of water. Even then it was fun, just uncomfortable. But, in the end, we made it down to the safety and comfort of the truck, finished off an eight-pack of Gatorades and waded in a mountain stream that was on the edge of being ice, and drove back to the Hostel. I should really learn to eat more. Nick out.
Getting to the Mt. Massive trailhead: 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 and then 1/2 mile past the Mt. Elbert trailhead is the Mount Massive Trailhead on the right. Overflow parking for the Mt. Massive trailhead is on the left side of the road just prior to the main trailhead parking.
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