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Our alarm went off at 4 am. With the Lady wiggling next to me, I knew there was not going to be any extra minutes of snooze time. With headlamps, we met Stew outside and added last items to our packs. We started our hike down to the trailhead. After a stop at the trailhead toilet (bring your own paper, it gets a lot of use by the passing atv hordes), we signed in at the register. Stew said he wanted to stay at his own pace and would be behind us. We started up.
All was still dark as we climbed high enough in Grizzly Gulch to finally see the prize ahead- Handies Peak.
We were nearing tree line as the sun lit up the cathedral high around us.
Finally sunrise greeted us.
We discovered the big buck gentlemen’s club has a Handies Peak chapter.
A nice easy pace that keeps the heart rate even and the breathing such that you can carry on a conversation is just right. There was a lot of up ahead.
We spotted Stew below us, losing a layer in the sun, and doing very well.
The panorama view from the ridge was beyond words.
The terrain steepened.
Soon the Lady was ahead and nearing the summit.
Now you know why we made the trip back to Colorado.
We dropped just off the summit to get out of the wind. We were alone. It was 8:30 am. 4.5 miles, 3650 feet vertical elevation gain in three hours by a couple approachng Medicare wasn’t too bad. Never did we feel we were pushing it. We just let the engines work. We felt great.
We watched hikers coming up past Sloan Lake on the route up from American Basin.
This route is 2.5 miles shorter (round trip) with 1200 feet less vertical. The views along that route look spectacular also.
We snacked and hydrated. I walked around to take more photos and guess who was up here with us, Stew!
Three and a half hours to the top! Quite an accomplishment! Stew knows how to get it done!
We celebrated with the required summit photos.
On the summit of Handies, 14,048 feet.
What goes up must go down. We spent about thirty minutes longer on the summit. Hikers were getting close from the American Basin side. It was time to head down.
This next photo gives a great view of the road into the American Basin trailhead. You can also see the Cinnamon Pass road climbing and the Pass itself in the upper left.
We took a break to remove layers and enjoyed the flowers around us, still high above tree line.
Small streams tumbled through flower gardens.
We did also.
Stew was ahead on the way down. When we reentered the aspens, we knew we were nearing the trailhead.
After our showers and dinner and we relaxed outside without the need for Stew’s awning, Stew said it had been the prefect summit day – we started early, we were at the summit mid morning, we were back to camp early afternoon. Stew was right.
Stew turned in early. In fact he said he just might sleep in the next morning. He knew what we were up to.
As the day waned and all the traffic on Cinnamon Pass Road had vanished, the Lady and I took a quiet walk a mile or two up the road. We watched does with their fawns. We listened to the creek. We held hands and watched the quiet night creep over us.
Stew was right; this had been a perfect summit day.
Continued in Part Five - Click Here