On the Trail: Standing on the summit
August 29, 2005
We made it. On Aug. 14, 10 of us from the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt made it to the summit of Mount Sopris and got down safely.Judy and David Baum, Janie and Eddie Bradley, Sheryl and Doug Bech, Roger Hinds, Katherine Garrett, Ellen Temple, Bill Van Lieshout, and Jessie Van Lieshout and Cameron Garrett, who stayed at camp, hiked up to Thomas Lakes on Saturday while Capitol Peak Outfitters hauled our tents and sleeping bags by horse and mule and set up camp. We passed folks who were coming down before reaching the summit because of bad weather. We had a little rain, a little thunder on our way up, but then it cleared so we could fish and hang out.The outfitter served us a delicious dinner cooked over the fire, and we were all in our tents just as the rain started about 8 p.m. Sleeping with the gentle sound of rain on the tent was pretty good. We woke at 5 a.m. to the crackling of the campfire and gathered around the fire for a huge breakfast and coffee. The weather was cool and clear.Then we all headed up the Mount Sopris trail at 6:30 a.m. with our guides, Josh and Jeff, following the switchbacks through the forest all the way up to treeline, where the real climb began. Elevation gain is about 2,700 feet to the summit, at 12,953 feet, which is very steep. It’s a rugged, rocky climb with lots of loose rock. We hiked on the edges of ridges with beautiful views on each side: snow in the bowls, mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, even towns such as Carbondale and Basalt. We loved all the hardy alpine flowers in bloom: the blue sky pilot, pink moss campion, blue gentian and yellow snow flowers.We summitted about 10:30. At the top, we found hollowed-out pockets in the rock that folks over the years had used for protection from the winds, but we were lucky with calm, blue skies and warm sunshine all day! The view from the top was just incredible. After a snack and many photo ops, we started our long hike down, past Thomas Lakes to the trailhead at Dinkle Lake, where we arrived about 4 p.m. – very tired but happy to have done it – a pretty good accomplishment for a bunch of 50- and 60-year-olds.We all agreed it was the most physically challenging hike we had ever done. We’re all rested now and looking forward to another challenge next year. We’ve heard that Mount Elbert is the highest mountain in Colorado but an easy trek compared to our Sopris climb. We’re all thinking about Mr. Elbert next year – the good lord willing!