For my 30th birthday I thought it would be fun to backpack 30 beers up to the Boulderfield with friends and go for a summit of Longs Peak. Well, I got a handful of takers and we loaded up out packs and started the steep climb up with HEAVY packs.
It was slow going, but the views were nice. Especially once we made it above tree line.
After slogging it uphill for a few hours we made it to camp and set up our tents. The weather moved in and the wind picked up. But we didn't let that ruin our spirits. We hung out in the clouds after dinner, enjoyed a few beers and called it an early night so we could wake up for a sunrise summit.
That night the wind picked up and holy moly was it hard to sleep. Even with the wind break, the tent was folding down and smacking us in the face all night. I'd be surprised if I was able to get a solid 2 hours that night. The next morning the wind had calmed down a bit and Corrie woke me up and told me I needed to get out of the tent. It was one of the best sunrises I've ever seen. We were so high it was like watching the sunrise from a plane.
Unfortunately, it also snowed overnight and the Keyhole Route that we planned to do was fairly icy according to the climbing ranger. He also said it was unlikely to improve according to the forecast. We had a couple friends that planned to meet up for the morning, so we explored the views around camp before they arrived and we had to break the news.
It's crazy how fast the weather was changing being in the clouds. If you sat in one place, the weather would go from sunny to cloudy and back in 60 seconds.
Once the rest of our group arrived we made the decision to pack up camp and head back to the trailhead. Even though it was breakfast time, we thought it would be silly to carry all the beer back to the trailhead. So at 9 in the morning we started shotgunning beers at nearly 13K feet elevation. It was simultaneously the best and worst idea. The hike out was interesting!
Trip notes: Doing Longs Peak as a day hike is about 14 miles and 5K feet gain. Ideally you're supposed to summit late morning so you can be heading down before the typical afternoon thunderstorms. Our plan to stay in the Boulderfield was sound. It would give us the maximum amount of time in the mountains, but ultimately you can't control the weather. Doing it as a day hike does provide more flexibility since you don't need a permit. So take that info as you will. Even though we didn't summit, we did have a blast and everyone was glad we did the trip. Sometimes the curveballs make for a better story in the end. We did get some great views from Chasm Overlook and Mount Lady Washington, so we didn't get skunked completely.