This past Saturday, August 23, Lauren and I attempted to climb Mt. Evans for the second time since we failed to reach the summit the first time, back in September of last year. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas.
We started out from the Guanella Pass trailhead at about 7:15 am and quickly worked our way into the Bierstadt Willows. It had snowed the week before, though that was all gone, and rained the night before. Little did we know that we would be heading into a nightmare.
We took a little different route than we had previously to attempt to avoid the muck. The trail through the willows is only well marked where there is so much mud that people sink in, so we tried to stay up on the ridge to avoid the mud. It didn't work. It didn't take long working our way through the willows until both of us were pretty soaked and our boots were covered in mud.
After about an hour and a half of slogging through the mud, we were barely a third of the total distance on the trail and completely frustrated. We decided to head back and then drive around Mt. Evans and go up the Mount Evans Road and try to summit from Summit Lake. As we left Guanella Pass, three frustrating hours after we had started, our spirits were improving and the clear skies left us hopeful of summiting yet. But Mother Nature had other plans yet again.
By the time we reached Summit Lake about 45 minutes later, the clouds were building rapidly over the mountain. It even spat some raindrops while we were eating lunch, but hearing no thunder we decided to set out up the mountain. The route from Summit Lake is pretty short and there is a lot of traffic on the mountain in case the weather got us stuck on the top.
About halfway up the trail though, our window of blue sky was closing rapidly. We debated for a bit, but then a couple of nearby lightning strikes that were a couple of peaks away sealed the decision for us. We hustled back down and got in the car right as it started raining and hailing.
On the drive back down, there were portions of the mountain where it looked like it had snowed because the hail was so deep. We did stop and take some pictures of some really beautiful clound formations that had filled the valleys below the thunderstorms, but we headed down toward Denver, defeated by Mt. Evans yet again.
When we got back to Denver, we had dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill with Andrea. Andrea then had to leave to go work with DNC volunteers at her hotel and Lauren and I watched the Rockies game while I washed both of our muddy clothes.
More photos from the hike will be forthcoming soon.
Update - August 26, 2008 - Photos from Mt. Evans on August 23, 2008