Matt House Photography

Grays and Torreys

Back in September we took advantage of some nice weather to get out and hike up Grays and Torreys. It was #7 and #8 for me and Ariel while it was #1 and #2 for Ed. We drove out to the trailhead on a Thursday night to camp and then hike early Friday morning. I find it easier to acclimate by camping near or at the trailhead for these hikes rather than getting up at 3am and driving from 5,000ft to 10,000ft and then hiking up to 14,000ft in one shot. However, camping at 10k can be difficult, especially when there’s a slight slope on the campsites.

Camp

Getting things organized

Grays Peak lit by the moon in the back of the valley

So on this particular trip, sleeping was not that great and the early wake up was even worse. Forcing down coffee and some food just wasn’t sitting right. Ed puked a couple times and I felt like crap. Ariel was doing great though and she sort of led the morning charge up the first part of the hike.

Somewhat accurate portrayal of what it felt like hiking before the sun came up

Hiking in the dark always feels weird. You’re trudging along following the trail, but it’s hard to gauge how far you’ve gone. I always question my decisions on these early starts until the sun comes up. Once the sun pokes over the hills there’s a new energy and any doubts I had about getting up early are gone.

The moon over Grays and Torreys

Quick break as dawn approaches

Dawn in the valley

The Sun!

At this point in the hike, you just keep a good pace and take breaks every 15-20min for food/water. Staying hydrated and keeping the furnace fueled are super important. Especially at altitude.

Just keep walking up

Looking down the trail. Kelso Mountain on the left

Up more…

Ridges to the south

Torreys and Kelso Ridge

One of the many breaks, taking in the views

Looking west from the summit of Grays

Grays Peak summit

After a break on the summit of Grays, we had new energy knowing we only had one peak to go. Also Ed got some food in his system finally. The people you meet on the summits are a great source of energy as well. Everyone is psyched to have accomplished their goal. But on this hike we’re only partway there. The next goal is Torreys.

Now down to the saddle and up Torreys

Looking up Torreys..ugh

Finally on the summit. Looking down Kelso Ridge

Summit of Torreys, Grays in the back

Looking North. I-70 is at the bottom of the valley.

Torreys seemed worse from the summit of Grays. But it was relatively short once you’re down in the saddle and start going up again. The trail is a little loose in spots but it’s not bad at all. The views all day were hazy due to wildfire smoke blowing in from the northwest. Seemed to be the story of Summer 2017. Wildfires everywhere. Smoke blowing hundreds and hundreds of miles.

Now we had 2 peaks in the bag, but still a long slog back to the trailhead. This part always feels the longest even though it’s actually quicker. It’s downhill and we take less breaks. But the early start is catching up to me mentally and the downhill really sucks on the knees. But the views were still great and now you can start thinking about a hot meal somewhere on the way home.

Back on the saddle looking at our destination

Down the valley. The trailhead is down where the trees start on the right side of Kelso Mountain

Couldn’t see any of this in the morning so it all felt new on the way down

Back at the trailhead

14ers are always worth all the effort.

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