This hike was sponsored by the Heroes Project, called Climb For Heroes. We decided to participate in this special event to support our injured heroes. There was a $100 minimum donation to the Heroes Project in order to participate and all proceeds would go to the injured heroes to help pay for all of their adventures and explore the world.
So this is where our little adventure began. Because it was our first time there and we wanted to arrive early, we left with plenty of time, however, we did have some little bumps on the road that caused us to arrive a bit later than we planned to but we still made it on time. J We started seeing a lot of cars parked along the road and head off onto the trails, so we thought we’d do the same and follow them. Quickly we were recognized by a few other fellow hikers, who were also lost but started asking around and we found out we still had about another half mile to drive up. We also decided to walk but so glad we did not. That seemed more like a mile! So we got back in our vehicles and headed towards the ski lifts parking area, where we saw all the excitement going on! Now we were in the right place! Parking was free but we did need an adventure pass, which we purchased at Big 5 Sporting Goods.
Starting the hike
Meet time: 7:30am (it was really supposed to be at 7am, but it’s ok, we made it!)
Once we got out of our cars, put on our gear, we had to walk towards the check in area. Here we had to find our last name and grab our bibs. We still had about 15 minutes until the first wave started, so we got to take some photos, eat some snacks, chat with other fellow hikers and off we went to start our climb!
Start time: 8:15am
So the first 20 minutes or so, was all incline. In my mind, I was thinking this was going to be a piece of cake, I was so wrong. I started huffing and puffing within the first 20 seconds. Are you kidding me? Is the entire hike going to be this way? Will it get better? Worse? Why had I never heard anyone complain how ward this hike was. Why didn’t anybody warn me!
Off we went, along with several hundreds of other hikers; taking 10 second breaks in between, letting the faster ones pass us up. It was really hard to talk because we were so out of breath. Good thing we had trekking poles because this was the time we needed them! Well, we actually borrowed a pair and both hubby and I shared them, one each. Since then, we’ve now purchased a pair.
Finally, after we finished that portion of the trail, on we went to a smaller incline, which gave us some time to catch our breath. The trail did not have much shade, so it was really starting to warm up at this point. The views were already amazing, we were able to see the ski lifts, which I really really wanted to take up to the top! But we knew why we were here and wanted to experience the entire journey.
We made it to Camp 1, where we met the first wounded hero. We were presented with our first coin, we got to talk to him briefly, take some photos and off we went. We continued to climb higher and higher. The views were only getting better and better. We had to keep taking a few breaks here and there but not too long. They really do help though, giving a bit more energy.
We made it to Camp 2, where we met another wounded hero. We were presented with our second coin, we got to talk to him briefly, take some photos and off we went towards the ski hut. There is a little café where you can take the ski lifts back down to the trailhead, however, we needed to continue going up. We stopped shortly to use the restroom and ran into other fellow hikers. Took some photos, gave out some hugs and off again we go!
We made it to Camp 3, where we met yet another wounded hero. We were presented with our fourth coin, we got to talk to him briefly, take some photos. Here they were giving away free beer since Coors light was a sponsor as well as putting tattoos with the Climb for Heroes logo. There was a long line, so we scooted on our way.
After camp 3, we found a shaded area because we were getting quite tired. We ate some snacks and rested for about 15 minutes, as many other hikers continued on their path. This was not a race for us, we just wanted to reach our destination safely.
Some parts of the trail were very narrow, such as the Devil’s backbone. However, in person, didn’t look as dangerous as it does in photos. We then continued on our path and at one point, there was a rope placed on the trail for us to hold on to for safety reasons. Throughout the trail, there were plenty of volunteers, encouraging us all and even there if we needed some support or medical treatment. They had their walkies and were communicating with one another.
We then arrived to Camp 4, where we met yet another wounded hero and he encouraged us to keep on going because we needed the final incline to reach the summit. When I saw that incline, my jaw dropped. I thought to myself, “I cannot do that, it is insane!” when I looked over at my husband, he obviously saw the look on my face but encouraged me and motivated me to keep going.
As we started taking one step at a time, the wind became so strong, extremely strong. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with the incline, the wind, the elevation, the injured soldiers, their stories, seeing all of the support and the many hikers, that I suddenly began having troubles catching my breath. I became emotional, turned to my husband and he saw my pain, my emotion. He pulled me to a side and I broke down. He hugged me and comforted me until I was ready. His encouraging words gave me more motivation to continue. After a few minutes, we were on our way up. Then I felt it again but this one was a bit different, I felt an overwhelming joy, strength and so much more. I decided to record my emotion and post it on our page. It was hard for me but I was doing it as well as so many others and I wanted to share that.
Middle of the hike
Finally we reached to summit! Wow, so many people. We received our final token and were able to take a group photo with the plaque that describes the elevation/name of mountain, etc. I cannot believe we were actually here. We met many more hikers, took some photos, ate our lunch and relaxed for about 1 hour. The views were spectacular, the weather was perfect.
Now it was time to head back down.
End of the hike
Going down, as usual seemed so much faster but it was still very difficult. As a matter of fact, one part of the trail was so steep, it almost made you have to run down the entire way and little did we know that it was a short cut and a different route than the way we came up. It really takes a toll on the feet and toes for sure!
At the end, we crossed the finish line together, hugged, gave each other a high five, and thanked everyone in our group for coming out to this amazing event. Awesome job! Then to top it all off, we got to exchange our awesome coins for some sweet Climb for Heroes gear! We got water bottles, bottle holders, t-shirts and they even had dinner waiting for us! How awesome is that! Some delicious pasta, garlic bread, salad, cookies galore! Wow, definitely will do it all over again!
4:00pm: Completed our hike!
Total of 10.2 miles in 8 hours!