September 20th 2014
Pettingell Peak – Clear Creek County, CO – 13,553 ft (4,131 m)
Upslope Brewing Thai Style White IPA – Belgian IPA – 6.5% ABV
Over a year. I know it’s been over a year, don’t you think? September 7th 2013 to September 20th 2014. It doesn’t take much math to figure that one out.
But it’s been a rough year. It wasn’t just that I was lazy and sitting on a couch eating Cheetos (I mean I did do that occasionally), but mostly health issues that kept me away from summits (and beers).
You see, I have Crohn’s disease. In non medical speak that roughly translates to ‘Oh dear God, I am bleeding out my anus and have to shit RIGHT NOW’. Or near enough. I was diagnosed shortly after my 18th birthday, and have had it pretty well managed for the past 8 years or so. Even in full remission for the last 4 of those.
Until this spring, that is. Long story short, in April I started feeling pretty sick on and off. During the late spring and early summer they tried some meds to see if they helped. Nothing did. I couldn’t run, bike, or hike. Hell, I was having a hard time walking a few houses down. In August they removed just about a foot of my small intestine. I was laid up in the hospital for ten days. I was only just release 30 days ago from it.
And now here I am, back at it. I wanted to see some fall colors, hit a summit, and not drive forever. I landed on Pettingell Peak to meet all those criteria, and started out. The TH was Herman Gulch, a popular trail right off the interstate. I followed the well-wore trail up to Herman Lake, where most people stop.
Leaving the trial I circled around to the back side of the lake and started up. Straight up it seemed for a while. It was wet, slick, and steep. I fell a few times, but eventually got to a little better slope and slowly worked my way up the tundra to the saddle, and onto the summit.
It was great to be back here. I was an addict getting that first hit again. I sat with Izzi and drank it all in. Cool breeze, beautiful colors, even a view of the interstate winding its way towards the tunnel; it was wonderful. I needed that.