On July 15th, myself, Jenny, and our good friends Tyler & Amber Artz head towards Rocky Mountain National Park in their swagger wagon filled with supplies and delicious meals. We wanted to experience life in it’s purest form…we wanted to find a story worth telling. We wanted to live this story out. Here is our story.
We made it all the way up to treeline when we thought it was a good stopping point for lunch. We enjoyed sandwiches off the trail and at that point we decided to part ways. It was exciting to continue on, but to not have my wife beside me in one of my greatest journeys was sad. I’m happy that she and Amber enjoyed Root Beer floats in Estes.
Tyler and I made it all the way to the top of Flattop at roughly 1pm. We made pretty good time even with stopping for a half hour for lunch. The views at the top were breathtaking. Jack was sick so took advantage of the limited cell reception to call and see how he was doing, (maybe even sneak in a tweet.) The continental divide was beautiful. Mountains as far as the eye can see. This hike, in itself, would have been a great feat. Tyler & I decided however, that it wasn’t enough! Time to press onto Andrews Glacier!
This is where things get interesting. I’m slowly running out of water. I also dont know if it was the altitude or the fact I only ate half a sandwich at lunch…but my stomach was not in a good way. It felt as if I needed to call up dinosaurs constantly. We decided to forgo the summit of Hallet peak to get to Andrews faster. On the divide however, there are no clearly marked trails. We weren’t exactly sure where the glacier was or even which mountain was which at that point. We decided that we were probably going to have to climb up a bit in order to see where we were going. We passed Otis peak and thankfully enough we didn’t have to summit it, the glacier was actually at a lower elevation. After walking over what felt like the biggest stone field ever created, we finally make it to the top of the glacier. It was magnificent. But the one thing it also was that I didn’t think it would be…SCARY! The thing was much much bigger than it is in pictures. Tyler and I just simply stood there in awe for a few minutes….maybe it was because we both soiled our shorts…but eventually we began to move down.
We had decided to forgo the long way to the bottom for the short way down to the edge of the glacier and then walk down the sides. This in retrospect was probably not the best idea. The grade was a lot steeper than the 20% had we gone the long way. This lead to a fun, uncontrollable slide. Now I dont know how fast or for how long I slid, but what I can tell you is that I was genuinely scared. Not being able to stop, 200 feet from my destination with a nice bed of rocks waiting for me wasn’t the warmest feeling in my heart. I was able to stop eventually, thanks to Tyler, but that was enough of a scare that I decided to take my time and crab walk down the rest.
BOULDERS!! FREAKING RIDICULOUS BOULDERS! Nowhere in the brochure did it say anything about the ridiculous boulder trail that we had to take. We did not see one piece of solid ground from the bottom of the glacier until we made it to tree line. For a good hour, we battled finding our way down this crazy steep boulder field. While crab walking the glacier was tiring…to battle those boulders began to break my spirits a bit. It was beautiful and at times fun acting like a caveman, I was beginning to break down.
We finally get to treeline and I was excited for the relief the shade of the trees would provide until our next culprit arrived-MOSQUITOS! We couldn’t stop for rest but for a few seconds because we would get eaten alive. We pressed on. We thought we only had roughly 3-4 miles back to a ride back to camp and cold drinks…that turned into 5-6 miles. Along the trail back, we saw a beautiful waterfall. Honestly it could have been Eva Mendez in a bikini serving me cold beer and with being as exhausted as I was, I wouldn’t have cared. (well..maybe)
Around 7:30pm, we finally cross the finish line. Our awesome wives were waiting for us with Red Gatorade. It was the best feeling ever! I was a hurting unit…but it felt good to finish.
Looking back almost a month out now, I can easily say it was the most physically tough thing I have ever done. 13 miles, 3500 feet increase in elevation, sliding down a glacier and battling a boulder field. During the 11 hour hike, I had experienced many things: Pain, joy, happiness, fear, fatigue, patience, and peace.
This story is one that will forever live in my heart. This story, because of the added adventure, makes it a great one to tell. This is definitely the best story (outside of my family stuff) that I have lived. Because of this, if I died today could definitely say that I lived!!! We lived. We truly lived.