I find really challenging, endurance sports fun. I’ve run a marathon. I dabble in CrossFit. I like to drag my friends on casual 14 mile hikes. But I think Mount Princeton may have gotten the best of me this past weekend.
I spent the past weekend camping in the Buena Vista area with my friend Christina and a group of her friends. Christina and I met last year at Denver Trail Runners and bonded over our love of outdoor activities. I pretty much never turn down playtime in the mountains, so I was excited for the camping trip. I printed out Mount Princeton maps before we left, thinking that maybe we could squeeze in a quick 14er if we had time.
We got into Buena Vista on Friday afternoon, set-up camp and took off to go jeeping. Our campsite was probably every Colorado guy’s dream: six ladies, a 1986 Jeep and beer.
Can’t beat that sunset.
The next morning we woke up kind of late, but everyone was still game for giving Mount Princeton a go. To get to the trailhead of Mount Princeton, you drive pretty far up a four wheel drive road, and then the hike was “only” 6.5 miles or so. In my mind I think I was equating Mount Princeton with the difficulty of Mount Sherman, which is probably the easiest 14er in the state. I figured it would just be a quick 2-3 hour hike, leaving us plenty of time to tube in the Arkansas River in the afternoon.
We parked at around 10,800 feet and walked further up the road to the trailhead. By that time, the clouds started gathering, and we became a little worried about hitting an afternoon storm. Hannah, Christina and I decided to just quickly charge ahead, naively thinking we could summit and be back in no time. Oh how cute.
Mount Princeton quickly hazed Hannah, Christina and me, and we realized that perhaps this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The hike to the summit is less a trail, more just one large talus field. We were bear crawling over rocks, while keeping an eye on the weather. We kept reevaluating to make sure that things looked okay, though we were all equally feeling summit fever, so I doubt we would have turned back. I probably need my own personal sherpa to make decisions for me.
We also had Hannah’s pup, Mina, in tow with us, and, along with underestimating Mount Princeton, we underestimated how much water to bring. Mina became a little dehydrated, and we almost weren’t sure if we were going to make it to the top. Don’t worry, there was no animal abuse going on here. There was human abuse: we all sacrificed the last of our water for Mina. After a final push up some boulders, we finally reached the summit.
Team Masochist. No pain, no gain.
Totally worth it.
Unfortunately, the hike back down was almost worse. The hike was all scrambling and NOT the fun kind. And poor little Mina, we put that pup through quite the workout. We were so happy when we finally made it back down to the normal trail and got back to the Jeep.
During the Jeep ride on the way down the mountain, Hannah came up with a new scale for everything in life: on a scale of 1 to Mount Princeton, how bad was it? Mount Princeton definitely rocked us. I think it was especially bad because we were not expecting it at all.
I would probably repeat any 14er I’ve done – except for Mount Princeton. If anyone ever invites me to hike Mount Princeton again I will wait for them in a Buena Vista bar. Have fun!