Back around 2010, when I taught at West Virginia University, I was introduced to a young man, Mike Levy, at a party that one of my graduate students was throwing. At the time, both of us were big into long-distance trail running and so, unsurprisingly, we hit it off. We also shared similar personality traits and views on the world and therefore easily formed a friendship. Well, fast forwarding to 2014, Mike had gone on to UC Davis to further pursue his graduate studies and I moved to Fort Collins to take my position at Colorado State University. We have stayed in touch since that time. Recently, I received an email from Mike stating that he was going to be in my area and wanted to know if I would like to climb a 14er with him. After lobbing several email back and forth, we decided on Mount Antero (14, 269′), which resides about 100 miles southwest of Denver.
On Saturday, I drove down to Buena Vista and met up with Mike, who drove in separately. We enjoyed a long conversation and dinner and then headed back to the hotel to crash. Early the next morning, we headed down to the trailhead as the sun came up.
Part of the “fun” of climbing Mount Antero is a grueling, slow 4-wheel drive ascent of the Baldwin Gulch Road to get to the trailhead. It was 3 miles where we both clenched our teeth and winced, as my Jeep Cherokee slowed crawled across rocks and ruts, bottoming out a couple of times for good measure!
We hit the trail around 7 am and made quick work of the first 3 miles leading to the top of the ridgeline. In truth, this is not a great wilderness experience. Mount Antero has an extensive history of mining and, in that context, you are hiking up an old mining/jeep road. Then, you hang a left on another old road until it dead-ends in about 1.5 miles. It is at this point that things become relatively more difficult, with a steep 0.5 mile ascent up a field of talus to the summit. Altogether, from the car to the summit, it is over 5 miles and roughly 3,500′ of elevation gain. On a scale of difficulty for 14ers, I would give it a 2-to-3 out of 10. Mike and I comfortably got to the summit in less than 3 hours.
After a lunch on the summit gazing out over the beautiful landscape below, we started back to the car. A mountain storm was building to the south. On the way down, we were passed by other hikers headed towards the summit hoping to beat the storm. We were also passed several times by a variety of dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, and jeeps. This was my 8th 14er and I was glad to get this one done.
The best part of the trip was getting to reconnect with Mike. In my opinion, there are not many better feelings in the world than to talk with someone at a deeper level of awareness and know that you are understood. It is hard to find this authentic connection. Another great thing I discovered about Mike on this trip and really appreciate is his admirable ability to stay in peace. Thank you for showing me that side of you, Mike …
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson