The family vacation season is drawing to a close at Grand Canyon, and with it the days of wall-to-wall visitors in every direction. I’m often asked, “Where do YOU vacation if you live at the Grand Canyon?” This summer is was the lofty peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. Joining me in a backpack to the summit of Longs Peak were a few friends for another installment in our once-a-year mid-life crisis peak bagging tradition.
Longs Peak stands on the Front Range of Colorado’s Rockies, towering over the endless plains that trail off to the east, literally as far as the eye can see. The 14,259 ft. mountain was first climbed in modern times by Major John Wesley Powell; coincidentally the first man through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River in 1869. Having rafted through the Canyon in May I was excited to repeat another of Powell’s achievements.
After dodging lighting on the grueling climb to our campsite above treeline, a few of my altitude sensitive pals were reeling from the lack of oxygen. We decided to forgo the summit and descend the following morning. The adventure wasn’t a total loss as we were treated to a glorious sunset and sunrise, big views of the nearby peaks, and all the bewildering antics that two hundred city slicker day hikers could serve up.
Any lingering frustration with our aborted climb was washed away when I arrived home at the Grand Canyon, better for the wear as I prepare for a rigorous fall hiking schedule.