On September 2, 2016 we hiked with our friends up Mt. Princeton, which lies at 14,197 ft. Our friends flew in from sea level two days before, so the fact that they hiked to the top – with 3,200 ft of elevation gain! – was really impressive.
- Round trip length: 6.5 miles
- Start elevation: 11,000 feet
- End elevation: 14,197 feet
- Total elevation gain: 3,200 feet
- Trail head: Mt. Princeton road to the radio tower
We drove up to Buena Vista the day before to help acclimate. They fished for a few hours in the Arkansas River (no luck) while I started “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while. It reads very similarly to Atlas Shrugged…
We then drove up to the Mt. Princeton upper trail head to camp high for the night. This is the description of the approach on 14ers.com:
If you have a good clearance 4WD, you can continue up the narrow 322 (Mt. Princeton) road. Just after the lower parking area, there is a fork in the road – stay right on the main road. Drive 3 miles to the radio towers at 10,800′.
Well usually we can drive up 4WD roads. But having four people in the car and all of our stuff for a week of camping and hiking = much harder to negotiate steep, rocky roads. We didn’t have enough speed and torque getting up one section and in trying to get the car to move forward, one tire migrated to the side of what felt to be a deadly cliff. We unloaded most of the stuff from the car and then Dan basically risked his life for us. I had visions of him rolling down the cliff and felt a sturdy sense of dread. It ended well, but we decided that we didn’t want round #2 and the three of us hiked up the final mile.
We slept at about 11,000 ft and therefore I woke up 39 times and had shallow respirations the entire night. I felt like trash in the morning.
We started hiking at 6 AM. The start of the hike had fantastic views of the valley and surrounding mountains. AND we had unobstructed views of the sunrise, which doesn’t happen often since we usually start in the trees.
Up and up we hiked.
Soon we were in a cloud.
Before you know it…SUMMIT!
It was windy and cold and snowing off and on. We were kind of bummed that our friends didn’t get the 360 view that 14er summits usually afford, but we were excited to have made it up their first one!
That evening we found an AWESOME campsite off of route 390. Near a stream (which means sleeping white noise), not crowded, and beautiful. We enjoyed beer and brats and [green] beans. We had a campfire and enjoyed a clear night for stargazing.