Last night two of us decided to (what I like to say) "mount the cat"...te he he! We set out on yet another evening "after work" hike up Mt. Garfield.
This is a tricky hike because it is with out a doubt, straight friggin up and straight friggin down! And it can take a considerable amount of time. Typically when I set out after work to climb it, I set out between 6:00 and 6:30 pm and don't get back down until well after dark. And because I know this, I always bring head lights and night time necessities.
This particular hike, I decided I wanted to just see how fast I could do it and still keep the hike enjoyable. So I set a goal time up the mountain based on my past experiences and how quickly others have told me they've hiked it (I've been told, and it seems to work the best...that for every ten steps up, take ten breaths). I said ok, my normal hike up time is between two and three hours (and that's with ample amounts of stopping to catch the breath and massive picture taking). So I decided to see if I could hike up it in an hour and a half AND get back down before dark.
Down is another story. Nobody really does that much stopping to rest or picture taking cause all they really want to do is just get down. And gravity really doesn't allow one to stop. The mountain forces you down! But I guess normally it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to get back down.
This is a post card I made of last summer's evening venture up Mt. Garfield. We took off around 6pm-ish and didn't get back down till after 10pm.
On this hike, we once again set off in the perfect temperature, the perfect amount of sun and the perfect breeze. And yes, still got winded several times and had to catch out breath.
Here we come to our first break! The first flat stretch between the hardest first climb and the next climb.
This is the second flat area, a somewhat green lush-ish area protected by rock on all sides. Wild horses are often seen grazing in here!
A view of Mt. Garfield from the second flat just as the sun sets over it.
This sketchy part of the trail is just before the last major climb up the head of "the cat." Most call this the scariest part of the trail. It is very thin and if one slipped, they'd tumble all the way down to the valley floor.
Heading up the last major climb, almost to the top, looking East.
Near the top there are a l bunch of really intimidating and kinda scary looking cliffs that look like they could just break away at any time.
Reached the top! Looking East at the Grand Mesa. One of my favorite things about hiking Mt. Garfield in the evening is...watching its shadow grow. I love how it exactly resembles Mt. Garfield and slowly creeps across the town of Palisade.
The flag pole, usually displays and very majestic or very tattered USA flag, always fluttering in the wind. From what I hear, a flag hasn't been up there for quite some time. It was very strange to not hear the clank clank of the pulley on the flag's rope.
Wandered over to look towards the West and the rest of the Bookcliffs. Low and behold just as I was about to hit the picture button...
...I found a new friend! As I took a step to take the pic, a brown stick moved! And I said, "a snake!" And stepped back a bit. Then I heard a sound of this hard-ish thing dragging at its end. Turns out, my new friend was a Rattle Snake! YIPE! But fortunately I must have scared the crap outta it, cause it moved three feet to my right and buried its head in a rock, kinda like an ostrich does with its head in the dirt, poor guy! "If I can't see you, you can't see me!" I didn't feel threatened by it at all and it must have felt the same. PHEW!
This is what the view looks like looking down while sitting on the edge. I-70 looks tiny below!
I had a couple more friends hangin out next to me on the edge of that cliff!
One final over looking view before we headed back down. Lonely lonely flag pole...
The results! With minimal stopping to catch the breath and minimal picture taking (this does not include the 20 mins or so spent chillin at the top), we made it to the top of Mt. Garfield in an hour and ten minutes (record Nola time)!!! And we made it back down in forty five minutes! So the entire up/down trip took only an hour and fifty five minutes! WHEW!! Go us! AND we made it back down with just enough light in the sky that we never had to pull out the head lights!