Megan Pray, Bekka Simpson & I hiked Grays Peak via the North Slopes, descent on the North Ridge. (Difficulty – Ascent was Class 1, descent was Class 2 and we felt every second of it.) Route is approximately 8.10 miles round trip. Summit elevation was 14,270 and elevation gain was 3,600 feet from the trailhead. We finished the hike with Adam Pray, Danny Gilbert & Jay Simpson, they got a later start but still finished with us.
I spent the night at the trailhead because my drive was over an hour from Evergreen and I didn’t want to drive in the dark in the wee hours of the morning on the windy mountain roads. The road up to the Grays trailhead was so bumpy, 4-wheel drive recommended with deep potholes and large rocks along the entire drive. The parking lot was about half full when I got there around 7:00 pm and continued filling up until midnight. There were several dispersed campsites. Being by myself with no cell phone reception was truly extraordinary. I picked a spot by the river, read a book, enjoyed the incredible quiet and beauty. Existing among these massive peaks during sundown was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I read the map at the trailhead, hiked up about 10 minutes of the trail in my flip flops to see what to expect in the morning, chatted with a few people who were camping overnight, organized my gear and headed to bed in my car at dusk. Setting my alarm for 3:40 am was painful, but most of the campers were quiet and I fell asleep easily. Around midnight the moon was so bright in my window that I had to cover my eyes, and then hikers started taking off for the peak so sleep was really choppy with doors slamming and car lights coming on for the next three hours. For the most part the hikers were quiet but I was nervous and sleep wasn’t great from midnight on.
I planned to start at 4, I waited until 4:30 but my hiking buddies hadn’t arrived yet so I started on my own and we met up around 9:00 am at the Grays/Torrey’s junction. I was blessed with some really great people on the trail, I had good conversation and a feeling of comradery all the way up. The hike was beautiful, rocky once the incline started with a ton of manmade rock steps. This was my first full hike with two hiking sticks and it is life changing for these old knees.
About an hour from the top my quads felt great, my calves were tired and my hamstrings were somewhere in the middle. For the last hour of the hike, it was about 5-10 steps then quick rest before repeating. We summited around 10 am. We spend about 30 minutes at the top then took the saddle down. At the middle of the saddle we decided not to proceed to Torrey’s Peak (that will be for another day), so we braved the snow and descended back to the Gray’s/Torrey junction.
Legs were tired on the way down, we didn’t rush it and stopped for pictures, bathroom breaks and to put our feet in the cold stream. It felt amazing, I didn’t even want to put my shoes back on. We passed a guy on the way up that hiked for a while without his shoes LOL. When we got back to the wooden steps with approximately 1/4 mile of the hike left, the guys caught up with us and we finished the hike with them. Adam and I raced to the finish, that was my half-hearted effort to complete the hike before them 😉 I fell asleep at 7 pm and slept for 10 hours, the next day my calves were sore but I felt great, ready to take on the next one! I loved sharing my love for these mountains with friends, I was so happy they came with me.