Summiting Carpenter’s Peak

Carly and I have started a small “Colorado Bucket List”, which consists of things that we really want to do while we’re out here, and it’s meant to be a list that is continuously updated as we complete things and think of new adventures. It’s a way to keep track of ideas when they spring up, so we remember them when the inevitable “what should we do this weekend?” comes up.

One item on our list in particular has been there even before we moved out here: climb a 14er. A 14er is a 14,000ft peak, and there are numerous hikes that reach this elevation in Colorado. We have read and have been told by friends that Mt. Bierstadt is the first fourteener that you should do, but we decided we should test ourselves a little bit before we jumped right into such a challenge. The Mt. Bierstadt hike is about 7 miles round trip, so we were looking for a hike that was similar in length, but at a lower elevation, so we could work our way up.

After a little bit of searching, we settled on the Carpenter’s Peak trail in Roxborough State Park, about 20 minutes south of Denver. The trail was an out and back, at about 6.3 miles round-trip, according to AllTrails. A good challenge, but not something that was going to be as rough as a fourteener. It was also at a much lower elevation.

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We arrived at the parking lot around 9:30am on July 4th, and the parking lot was pretty full already. We didn’t have too much trouble finding a parking spot, but I would recommend getting there a little earlier if you don’t want to worry about waiting.
We had filled up both of our backpack reservoirs the night before, so we had sufficient water. We also had packed a couple of sandwiches, trail mix, and some other snacks in my backpack for the trek. Feeling prepared for what was about to come, we set off on our adventure.

The hike started off pretty steep at first, with a series of stairs to climb, but the sign did warn that this was the strenuous trail. The trail was nice though, and we expected to be tested. It leveled off a bit after the first mile or so, to where it was at least a gradual climb and not stairs, which was definitely easier to manage.

It was an extremely hot day, with full sun baring down, so any time we came across some shade, it was much appreciated. Unfortunately, the shady spots were few and far between. We had plenty of water and sunscreen, though, so we journeyed onward.

We were certainly exhausted by the time we finally reached the summit, but the views were absolutely gorgeous, and made the hard work worth it.

We spent some time taking the view in, and taking some pictures, but it was time to get into some shade in order to eat our sandwiches we brought. Just below the summit, there was a nice shady spot under a tree, and, since neither of us wanted to hike very far before eating, we decided this would be the place.

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We ate our lunches and relaxed in the peace that nature brings for a little while longer, but eventually it was time to make our descent. I think both of us underestimated the toll that the downhill portion would take on our legs, and knees in particular, but it was painful. I think it was at this moment that we both decided maybe we weren’t quite ready for a fourteener yet, and made me glad that Carly had talked me out of doing it today.

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All in all, it was a great hike, and gave us a good idea of where we were at physically, in terms of whether we would be able to make the Mt. Bierstadt hike or not. While we both made it without any issues, our legs are both going to be sore for a few days I have a feeling.

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