When we bought land in New Mexico, we knew we had about a year to build our house–which meant we had about a year to experience as much of Colorado as we could. On our list: the fourteener. Colorado boasts nearly 60 mountains that reach 14,000 feet or more. We chose Mt. Evans, originally named Mt. Rosalie.
(Obviously, the mountain had an indigenous name before it was called Mt. Rosalie, and there’s now a movement afoot to restore a Native name to this mountain, since Governor Evans was the guy who participated in the Sand Creek Massacre, and his legacy is not a good one.)
Our first trip to the mountain was a warm-weather scouting expedition. We’d heard the hike was sort-of okay for dogs, so we brought Dulcie to the Summit Lake Trailhead to check things out. It quickly became clear that Dulcie isn’t enough of a mountain dog to safely handle rough terrain, and it also quickly became clear that if we were going to hike the mountain for real, we’d have to leave early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms.
So we planned ahead, and when the stars aligned, we put Dulcie in the kennel for a few days, got up at 5:00 AM to drive to the trailhead, and began the ascent.
I love being in the mountains, and the higher we climbed, the more gleeful I became. We saw other hikers–most of them far younger than Steve and I–but for much of the hike we were alone with the mountain goats and the bighorn sheep.
In the rock field at the very end, we had a bit of a scare when I developed hypoxia, with numbness and shooting pains in my hands and an epic headache. I stumbled about, confused. Steve had to boost me over the larger rocks. My fingers swelled up like sausages, and (to quote “Hotel California”) my sight grew dim.
I don’t know when we’ll attempt another high-altitude hike like this one. We’d have to stay overnight at elevation for several days beforehand to take the edge off the altitude sickness, and we’d probably have to take Diamox as well. But I’m thrilled and grateful that we made the climb, for we saw sublime, ethereal landscapes and wild, fantastic beasts, and we conquered the mountain.