We started in the dark at 4am. When we arrived at Mills Moraine, the 3.5 mile mark, the sun was just rising, and we had a fantastic view of Longs Peak (14,255 feet) at dawn.
Below, solar powered toilets at the Boulderfield.
At the Boulderfield, my altitude sickness made it impossible to continue. I was hoping to make it to at least the Keyhole, seen in the background here (you can barely make out some people standing in the middle of it), but stopped here.
Back at Mills Moraine for another break. Mike, the mountain man, in front of two llamas brought by a ranger there to clean the solar toilet.
One more look at Longs Peak and Mount Meeker (13,911 feet) before descending. I'll be back to try again next year.
Distance up/down: 7.5 miles
Total distance: 15.0 miles
Distance we went up/down: 6 miles
Total distance we went: 12 miles
Time to Boulderfield: 5:00? (4am to 9am?)
Time at Boulderfield: 1:00?
Time down: 4:00? (10am to 2pm?)
Total Time: 10:00
The next day we tried a casual hike of the Twin Sisters Peaks (11,428 feet), which are just across the Tahosa Valley from Longs Peak and have excellent views of both Longs Peak to the west and the Colorado plains to the east. They were low enough that I shouldn't have any altitude problems, and the hike short enough that we should be able to start late and not run into thunderstorm problems. Well at least one of the two turned out to be true.... I didn't take a picture of the Twin Sisters Peaks themselves but here is a good one on the web.
Longs and Meeker from an excellent viewpoint at which we stopped for a snack.
A short while later, a group of three teenage girls take our picture in front of another view. Note the weather has deteriorated a bit.
We near the top, the path out of the trees here. The weather doesn't look bad in this shot, but all around us the storm was building (around 11am). We kept going for a while hoping for the best, but upon seeing a lightning strike close by, and to a spot considerably below where we were, we turned around immediately. We were just a couple hundred vertical from the summit.
Soon after we turned around a hail storm started, which validated our decision. The hail was smaller than pea size and not too bad. My rain jacket protected me perfectly, and the only place the hail hurt was the back of my hands. It was actually quite fun hiking through the hail. You can see my good mood in this picture Mike took with his camera.
A little further down, once the storm had stopped (for the time being), a ranger took this picture of us.
Denied our chance to eat lunch at the peak, we returned to the original view spot to enjoy our food in reasonably good weather, gaze upon Longs Peak, and be very glad we weren't hiking there on this day.
Distance up/down: 3.7 miles (3.5 miles?)
Total distance: 7.4 miles (7.0 miles?)
Time up: 2:00 (9am to 11am)
Time down: 2:00 (11am to 1pm)
Total Time: 4:00