The 14er crew took off from camp around noon on Saturday, fully loaded with six campers along with Pete and myself. Our first stop was a spooky, old ghost town for a quick lunch. Pete expertly navigated cinnamon pass, jeepers looking on with respect as we passed in our 12 year old stock suburban. We pulled up to the trailhead to Handies Peak around three o’clock, expecting to do little more than a short exploration hike due to the stormy Colorado afternoons. As expected, about halfway up in a beautiful meadow, we heard the first clap of thunder. However, the thunder was distant and it appeared as if the black mass would potentially skirt us. After hanging in the meadow for half an hour, noshing on trail-mix, we decided to continue towards the summit. As we continued hiking, the ominous clouds grew distant, the sunshine came out, and we had perfect weather for our summit attempt. Around 150 yards shy of the summit, the youngest member of the group, Sebastian, decided that he had had enough hiking. This was further exasperated by him not wanting his brand new cowboy hat to be blown away by the wind. With the summit in eyesight and only a few minutes distance away, the rest of the group pushed on to reach their goal. Of the eight people in our party, seven summited Handies. That night we ate burritos in the parking lot and set up camp in the dark.
The next morning came very quickly with the first alarms going off at 5:45. Breakfast was eaten and camp was quickly disassembled. We arrived at the trailhead to Red Cloud, another 14er, around 7:45. It was clear that people were exhausted from the day before, but the kids pushed on through without complaint. Upon reaching what was dubbed, “Marmot Town,” it was clear that some people were too exhausted to reach the summit. At this point, the summit team, consisting of myself, Gus, Steven, and Alex, split from the rest of the group to try and beat the storms to the top of Red Cloud. When we reached the saddle, Alex decided that he had accomplished what he had wanted to and turned back to rejoin the rest of the group. “Summit Team Three,” continued on quicker than ever on ever steepening terrain, racing the fast approaching clouds. It began to sprinkle as we reached what turned out to be a false summit. Disheartened, Steven wanted to stop, but with a short pause and pep talk from Gus and myself, we pushed on as a team to conquer the last 15 switchbacks. The gorgeous views from the top of Red Cloud were short enjoyed as thunder sounded 30 seconds after we summited. With light hearts and heavy legs, we raced down the mountain (at a safe pace) to join the rest of our group.
Summiting a 14er, let alone two 14ers, is a feeling that will never be forgotten. Sebastian, the only member of our group who did not summit, later announced that this was the best weekend of his life. Although I have summited 14ers in the past, I have never achieved two summits in 48 hours. This was a special weekend not only for the campers, but for us staff as well.