Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Post Date:  07/19/2012
Date Climbed:   07/09/2012
Posted By:  familyoffive

 South Trailhead near Twin Lakes  

I checked out the road to the trailhead the night before and started wondering if I had bitten off more than I could handle but I hadn’t driven 3 hours and stayed overnight in Twin Lakes to back out now. I was up and out of the cabin at 5:30 and drove about 2 miles from Twin Lakes to the turn off to the trail head road but another 20 minutes on the 4wd road to the actual trailhead which is worth the drive as it saves about 4 miles of additional hiking. Even the torrential rains the afternoon and night before had very little effect on the road except for the little runoff stream that I had to drive through. I was on the trail at exactly 6 a.m. but there was plenty of light to have started earlier. I hiked alone so for me the full daylight was important though. The trail is very well marked once you get on it – read the descriptions of the hike on this website and you’ll find it with no problem. Just pay attention to the direction you actually turned to get on the trail as there is no sign directing you back to the lot at the end of your hike and several trails merge there. I had to wait for some other hikers to show me the way back to where my car was parked. The trail is steep through the forest with the tree roots providing “steps” to help. Of course it’s beautiful and peaceful and the aspen grove section is as well. I only ran into two spots where the rain had puddled, both were very small. Hiking above tree line was spectacular due to the mist, fog, and clouds, mountains….until I realized that there is no air up there! The rest of the hike was walking a short way and resting, walking a short way and resting, etc. I only sat down once but the tops of my trekking poles were a convenient place to lean on. I did pass one family of three just before tree line and they made it to the summit about 45 minutes after I did. Thank you to the two couples from Abilene who, while they didn’t actually wait for me, they certainly provided me with the resolve to not give up when I thought I might not make it to the top. It was about 45 minutes from the time I could easily see people on the top before I actually made it to the summit myself. For what is described as a busy trail I only passed 7 people going up and about 12 on the way down. The summit was fairly crowded however with at least 30 people not counting an entire college football team (with one member carrying a huge rock on his back). No solitary meditation to be had so I checked out the beautiful views, took a few pictures and noticed the clouds moving in so I started down after about 25 minutes. The hike down was easier than I thought, even my ACL knee didn’t bother me, but it did take longer than I thought. The round trip including the time at the summit was just at 7 hours (4 hours ascending). Not bad for a 61 year old woman first timer hiking solo. I think I might have the 14er bug, on to Torrey’s.

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