The last challenge was the most emotionally difficult but not physically, we had to leave the Chicago Basin—as you can see from the picture above, this was not an easy feat.
We spent our last night enjoying our amazing spot and the incredible view while finishing the whiskey and wine, relaxing in our hammocks, and of course the amazing company of our hiking crew.
We got up bright and early because we didn’t want to risk missing the train. There was a slow group and a fast group; the slow group, which I was a part of, left earlier because we were really paranoid we were going to take about as long as it took to hike up. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and we finished in a little under three hours.
After our hike out, we sat and enjoyed the river and bridge while waiting for the train. Once on the train we headed immediately to the bar—a beer and a bloody Mary was my reward for making it through this trip, exactly what my body needed!
We enjoyed our final pictures of the seriously breathtaking scenery on the train and then pulled into Silverton. Reality set in as we all received cell service again and the world we had left quickly returned.
We were back but not done with our trip just yet. Next we headed to Ouray for lunch and ate at the Ouray Brewery. We had barbecue and wings; it was such good food in general but the perfect first-real-food-meal to eat after four days of dehydrated food.
We then went to go to the Ouray Hot Springs but as we pulled up we realized there was way too many kids so we went to a much more adult hot springs. We went to the Orvis Hot Springs and the amount of naked old men will always be imprinted in my brain. To get away from this view I got a 30 minute massage that was of course incredible. Then after this we hit the road for the long trip back to Denver, the trip was over.
The night ended with me feeling so refreshed after a shower and in a real bed with Taco Bell.
Challenge number three was a biggy, it was without a doubt the hardest challenge of the four challenges of this trip —challenge number three was tackling Windom Peak. We woke at about 4:30 am and our group of seven headed out right around 5 am. We did the same hike that half of the group had done the day before to the Twin Lakes. I don’t know if is because it was dark or because I knew this part would be the easiest even though I was repeating but the hike wasn’t as bad as the day before. We stopped for a quick snack at the lakes and then started the journey of which way to we go. We really struggled with figure out the correct path. This was the only 14er that I was ever attempting that had a decent amount of scrambling/climbing and on those types of mountains the path isn’t as clear. We were told just follow the cairns, well we are happy to report there are a lot of them. We tried to follow the cairns but at some point decided to just start going up on the route we thought looked the easiest. This is where we lost our first person; Candace had a shoulder injury so when she say how much climbing was involved she decided to sit it out.
For Windom Peak there are basically two ways to get to the top, the way we went which was through the basin between Windom and Sunlight then climbing or you could do a longer more gradual climb on the right side still aiming for the saddle. Either way you go you will be doing about Class II scrambling.
The six of us continued on till we came to the saddle between Windom and Jupiter which was one of the couple of false peaks. At this point is when the climbing became scary and if you had a fear of heights you would have a really difficult time. I felt like I could fall off the mountain at any point and constantly had to try to keep myself calm. This is where we lost three more: Kara, Karen and Moses.
John, Nolan, and I decided to overcome our fears and kept going slowly but surely and made it to the summit. The feeling of accomplishment on top was amazing but couldn’t over come the fear that I felt. The pictures do a pretty good job of showing how narrow the top boulders we were on were. I could barely stand, but I took in every bit of the view from 14,088 feet and at that moment I had so many different perceptions; I felt strong, short of breath, and not able to connect thoughts around the beauty I was experiencing, it was incredible.
After that moment I wanted down and realized how long I had till I was so called “down” and the scrambling began again! We were reunited with the group and hiked back to the lakes and then to our camp for our last night.
Look at the previous posts on Challenges One and Two
Challenge Two: Day Hike to Twin Lakes
Challenge One: The Hike In