- Mileage: 9 miles round trip
- Altitude: 11,280 at trailhead, 14, 270 at summit of Grays, 14, 267 at summit of Torreys
- Elevation change: 3,540 feet
- Class: Grays: Class 1, Torreys: Class 2
- To get there: Take Interstate-70 west toward Grand Junction. Get off at exit 221 for Bakerville. If you have a 4WD or high clearance vehicle, take the dirt road about 3 miles to the trailhead. If not, park in the lot at the bottom of the dirt road and hike up. There is also a parking lot about halfway up, before the road gets too rough.
Slow and steady wins the race. This is my motto for climbing at high elevations. I stay at such a pace all the way up Grays, taking no breaks longer than 2 or 3 minutes. Of this, I am proud. I am a high energy person, a sprinter so to speak, so for me to take anything slow and steady is a bit unusual. Living in Estes Park and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park for eight months must have taught me to pace myself. You can’t go anywhere there without going up. Hiking is one of my favorite times to mull over ideas and thoughts, so it is with this that I am able to fall into a rhythm where my body is climbing a mountain and my mind is wandering off to Kenya. With very little distress, we reach the top of Grays, our first of two summits for the day, within 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Although I’ve read about the crowds of people that climb Grays and Torreys, we are only with about 10 other people on top of Grays. A girl offers to take our picture before she heads down.
“So, which smoky view do you want in the background?” she asks us.
Poor Colorado is on fire, and we can see the evidence from up here at 14,270 feet. In every direction there is a pinkish haze obscuring the mountains and the sky that rests on top of them. Where is it coming from? Which fire? Colorado Springs? Boulder? Grand Junction?
We get a few pictures, eat a snack and then head down the other side of Grays, across a saddle, and up the steep side of Torreys. It turns
out that the climb up the side of Torreys looks longer from Grays than it really is. But it’s a steep one. There are more sliding rocks here, a bit less of a sturdy trail, so we I have to concentrate more on what I’m doing. By the time I am climbing the last couple of switchbacks, my legs are getting weary. It took us about 45 minutes to get from the top of Grays to the top of Torreys, at 14, 267 feet. We spend a bit more time on Torreys, enjoying the haze and looking directly north to Mount Kelso and west to Loveland Pass and A-Basin and Keystone ski areas.
After we get off of the mountainside on the descent I am lollygagging down, stopping to look at all the strange tundra and high altitude wildflowers along the trail. We see Columbine- Colorado’s state flower, Old Man of the Mountain- which can take up to 70 years to flower, Indian Paintbrush- my favorite, plus a plethora of others: Asters, Elephant Head, Stone Crop, and Mouse-Eared Chickweed. With this lazy pace we reach the trailhead at about 12:40, making our total journey on these two 14ers 6 hours long. Although these, my second and third 14ers, were much more leisurely than my first (Long’s Peak) I am still worn out, but thrilled to have gotten up some 14ers before July arrived!
For more information, visit http://www.14ers.com
Sources: http://www.nps.gov/romo/common_wildflower_families.htm, 14ers.com