August 23rd 2013
Kit Carson Peak – Saguache County, CO – 14,171 ft (4,319 m)
Dry Dock Hefeweizen – Hefeweizen – 4.3% ABV
After the short rest on Challenger, it was time to set my sights on Kit Carson. I had read all about ‘the avenue’, a walkway that circles the steep face of Kit Carson and allows easy access to it’s summit. But as I looked at it from Challenger it really did worry me.
I descended down to the saddle between the two peaks on stable rock. I was greeted with a sign that read ‘DANGER: Loose rocks cliff. Many have died’. Got it, no short cuts, thanks sign. I looked up the avenue that I was to be walking across and my fears eased. It was easily 5 foot wide, and even then a fall would not be fatal.
Following the trail first up a bit, then down a bit, finally I reached the point to leave the avenue and attack the summit. Unfortunately that attack meant going through more scree. Fortunately it was only a few hundred vertical feet of it though.
After the scree was behind me I was at the summit, which again I had to myself. Here I was able to enjoy another brew not often seen in cans. Dry Dock’s award winning Hefe. This as long been a favorite of mine. Loads of banana up front, it really does represent a solid Bavarian Hefeweizen. No wonder it has won multiple golds at GABF in that category.
After taking in everything the summit had to offer, it was best time I started down. Back over the avenue, the sign of death, and back up the Challenger. Easy.
Then came the scree field again. By this point in the day it was around 11 o’clock and the crowds were just making their way to the top of the scree. At first it was small, 2/3 person groups who looked prepared and ready. They stepped lightly on rocks and when they did make the mistake and send some flying, they made sure to call out ROCK.
But eventually I began passing larger and larger groups. Five, seven, TEN?! Yikes. And it seemed that each was less prepared than the one before. And the ones that were moving slowly in tennis shoes, shorts, and a single water bottle in hand with nothing else also seemed to be the ones just digging their feet into the loose dirt and rock with every step sending all sorts of crap down the mountain. But they didn’t care. Oh well, I had my helmet on and was on my down, so I was ok.
At one point I stopped and waited for a group of ten-ish to pass as I was in a rough spot and knew I didn’t want to send anything tumbling their way. Most of the group had no gear other than the summer clothing they wore. The second to last to pass asked if I was a guide. Apparently having a helmet and trekking poles makes me look like I know what I am doing? I chuckled and hold her no, I just have done a few hikes before and had an idea what to expect.
After they passed I continued on my way down. Mostly on my feet, sometimes on my ass, but luckily never on my face. At one point I slipped, tried to jam my pole into the mountain to save balance, and SNAP. I tumbled a few feet and stopped. I looked around and found three poles. Turns out I snapped one of my carbon fiber poles right in half. Yikes. Well, better it than my arm or leg.
Eventually I was back in the willows and at camp. I was sore, but knew I still had to pack out that day. And that I did. Shoulders still sore from the day before, and all around aches setting in, I figured might as well just get it over with. Before I knew it was I looking at the lot and ready to be home.
It’s strange how an exhausting and tiring trip really can recharge you. While I am sore, I feel so much a better person now. I wish I could get on trips like this more often.