West Ridge from Summit Lake
The first time I hiked one of the 14,000 foot mountains in Colorado was a shitshow, probably like most everyone just starting out. Ill prepared, not hydrated well enough and arriving late to the trailhead starting from Summit Lake not fully understanding the 3,000 foot rule at the beginning — a hot mess.
In 2011 alpine conditioning and skills were a foreign language to my partner and I. But we were naive and wanted to give it a shot! I remember us stopping a hundred times just on the approach to Mount Spalding and being entirely out of my element. Passing over a Colorado Centennial peak, Spalding, I chuckle looking back knowing I had no clue about the 100 highest peaks in the state at the time.
Adding to the disaster we were wearing cotton clothing, naturally. Of course we’ve since learned the importance of NOT wearing cotton for alpine adventures. We all make mistakes and the mountains will promptly use those mistakes as teachable moments.
Unfortunately, given some of the mentions I highlighted in the first paragraph, dehydration caught up with me after we descended from the mountain that day. Altitude sickness hit me on the way down with a major headache and then a puking rally once we got back to the car. I may have swore never to climb another mountain after that day, but luckily my mountaineer's memory handled that!
Mount Evans may be underwhelming to some of us after hiking more scenic, less trafficked peaks, but I still enjoy the summit lake area and nearby peaks. Plenty of new-to-me routes to return for!
If you're new to Colorado or looking for recommended places to stop when passing through Idaho Springs, check out these local spots.
Be sure to stop for a post-hike beverage and snack at Westbound and Down.
Or spend time exploring the mines, hot springs, or shops around town. Check Idaho Springs official page.