Trails traveled: Mount Sherman Trail, Difficulty: Black (Difficult)
Out-and-Back, 5 miles round-trip, 2,080ft elevation gain, Summit elevation: 14,036ft.
Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
- Not a cloud in the sky
- Above the treeline
- Moderately busy
- Early riser
For my first fourteener as they are called, i.e. over 14,000 feet elevation, this hike was not as hard as I expected. I want to preface that by saying that I have been hiking anywhere between 5 and 10 miles “at altitude” (at least 7,000 or 8,000 feet above sea level) almost every other weekend since the end of April. So my conditioning is good.
The vertical sections the whole way up the mountain had me sucking wind. Even just a few thousand feet higher than I am used to, I was really breathing heavy to get every bit of air in my lungs. There weren’t many stretches where you are walking on a flat surface and no sections where you are descending on the way up.
I had my hydration pack that holds 3 liters of water (about 72 oz.), a bottle of powerade to replenish electrolytes, a secondary water bottle, and a lunch consisting of clif bars, pretzels, a sandwich, and some apples. I packed (and wore) sunscreen, a baseball hat, and the rest of my usual attire for hiking.
I don’t own poles.
I felt kind of insecure about my “gear” and attire compared to everyone else on the trail. I am working on another post about being a bad Colorado hiker. 😉
However, that being said, I made it up and back quicker than most of the other people who started before I did and all the cars parked around me were still in the parking lot when I was leaving. So there’s that. But it’s not a competition.
It was a fun experience to go “solo” on the fourteener, which is not recommended in any of the hiking guides. There was probably 100+ people on the mountain, which made for a slow climb at times, but it was kind of a fun “atmosphere” with people of all ages and ethnicities, some out-of-towners, lots of dogs, even a few kids!
I never felt afraid during the hike. I don’t have acrophobia, i.e. a fear of heights (not vertigo). And this mountain was classified as a Class 2+ out of 5 in difficulty for similar summit hikes. There wasn’t any time I felt afraid that I was in danger, or couldn’t breathe, or was particularly hungry. I had a bit of a headache, which I think is probably more related to getting only 5 hours of sleep, instead of altitude sickness.
Compared to the usual hike, which is not always busy, has some tree cover, places to “sneak away” from the trail, this hike was nothing like those. I didn’t really expect this to be like those either. This hike was more of a challenge for myself. It was about testing myself and pushing myself to complete a new goal. I feel like I did complete what I set out to do. I feel like I accomplished the goal of climbing my first fourteener and it feels good.
I would definitely do it (climb a fourteener) again. I would probably choose a different mountain since there are 58 named peaks in Colorado over 14,000 feet tall according to the Colorado Geological Survey.
I would definitely do it again, either solo or with a group of friends (or even strangers).