After two years of waiting and developing my backpacking and mountaineering skills, John decided that he would plan an entire week long adventure for us through the San Juan Mountain Range in southern Colorado, including a stop at Mount Sneffels!
You can read about our entire adventurous week in the Sneffels and Uncompahgre Wildernesses in this separate blog post here!
We called it a night as soon as the sunset so that we could get an early start in the morning. We hoped we could get on the trail and get to the summit of Mount Sneffels by sunrise, so we set our alarms for 2 a.m. and said goodnight before 9 p.m.
Surprisingly, the early morning wake up call wasn't as difficult as we thought. By 2:30 we were up and moving around our tent. We put on warm clothes, laced up our shoes, and managed to be on the trail at precisely 3:26 a.m.
It took us exactly two hours to reach the trailhead. You can see, in the video below, that it was exactly 5:26 a.m when we arrived at the trailhead and signed our names in the log book!
We had our dog, Maria, with us, and even though there were warnings about potential risks for dogs, we thought she could handle it because of her previous mountain climbing experiences. Once the trail turned into rocks though, we got a bit nervous about how she would handle the steep grade.
The trail quickly went from a gradual incline to a nearly straight up rock climb in less than a mile. For a while, we were the only people on the trail, so we could stop and take breaks without anyone passing by, but eventually, another group of two and their dogs passed us. Not long after they did, we started to have to climb the rocks.
This part got a little scary not only because we were grabbing at rocks on our hands and knees on a steep mountain, but mainly because the group in front of us knocked a decently sized rock loose and sent it whirling straight toward us. If they hadn’t yelled a warning as loud as they did and given me the two and a half seconds to move out of the way, I would have been knocked off the mountain side.
John graciously offered to stop where we were, hold on to the dog, and let me summit first. According to our map we only had about .2 miles left, so we figured we would just trade off. We were lucky to have stopped when we did, because the last ascent was the hardest to climb.
The last few minutes of the climb were the coolest of all. I was able to turn around and look back on the entire climb I had just made, and it felt so rewarding to see how far I had come especially with the incredible mountain views surrounding me. It didn’t take long until I had pulled myself up to the tippy top of the mountain.
Standing 14,150 feet above sea level and looking down on the entire San Juan Mountain Range all by myself was a feeling I will never be able to explain. The hard hike, the early morning, the training hikes, and other 14ers led me to this point. I felt so strong and so proud of myself.
I didn't stay up at the top long, because it was super windy and John still wanted to make his way up. I signed the summit log book, snapped my pictures, took some videos, and started my descent.
The walk down was much scarier than the climb up simply because of the downward view, but it took only about half the time to get down. It took me and John each almost an hour to get from where our dog was, up to the summit, and back down. While John went up, I hung out and took in all the views and took some more pictures.
Eventually, we made our way back down the trail. It was around 8 a.m. and the trail was starting to get busy. Where we had been the only ones on the trail in the morning, there were now about 10-15 groups of people. It made the climb down a little more treacherous since we didn’t want to send any boulders flying down toward them.
If you want to see more from our entire week-long trip in Southern Colorado check out our YouTube video below!
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read!