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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Brecheisen

Mt. Sneffels In All Her Glory and Horse Poop

I am Jennifer, and I am a wimp. I am from SC. We don't have mountains here; we have what we CALL mountains, but they are actually like hills compared to those in the west. Mt. Sneffels is what the Coloradians call a 14er. That means that she rises more than 14,000 ft above sea level. The Coloradians are very boastful about their 14ers! (As they should be.) I planned my Colorado trip about 6 weeks in advance, paying close attention to every single detail, because I wanted to climb a mountain. Not only did I want to climb one, I wanted to summit one. That didn't happen, and I wasn't able to get the pictures I wanted. However, I learned a lot about myself in so many different ways, and I am eager to try again!

We started out usual. This time it was a road closing. Now this is not something that was planned into my trip, because even after all the research there was nothing on the internet about this. Basically, the road to Silverton, the ONLY road to Silverton, was closed both ways. This road is in the middle of mountains, and it opens 2 times of the day. This put us behind about an hour. We finally get to the road that the trail head is on, and we were quite surprised.

First of took us an entire hour to drive 9 miles on ONE road to get to the trailhead. I would say that the road was jeep worthy. Thank goodness we were in our AWD STI! Anyway, the internet has a bit of info about this road, but nothing about the time it would take to drive it. So if you are NOT in a mountain type vehicle-this is your warning.

2nd Pro-Tip for Easterners: Moderate in the West is STRENUOUS in the East! I prepared for weeks to get myself into shape to tackle this thing, but it wasn't enough. I started off with 10 lbs extra weight in a backpack and hiked for hours, then I graduated up to about 15 lbs. I wanted to be able to carry my essential camera gear. I should've trained harder. Without the gear I would've been right as rain, but that extra weight killed me. By the end of the day my shoulders and back hurt so bad that I went numb-mentally and physically-It was quite bizarre.

3rd Mt. Sneffels piece of info that will help you greatly- HORSE POOP. I don't know what they were feeding these horses; I never EVEN saw a single horse, but there was runny type poop every 3 to 4 feet the entire length of trail we went. On my descent I lost all dignity. I was falling so much (btw-invest in HIKING BOOTS-tennis shoes won't do) that I decided I would just scoot and slide down the switchbacks. Plus I'm scared of heights.

4th Pro-Tip: Its a Glacial Basin at the first Blue Lake. I prepared for this, but once was not enough. I brought warm pants, a huge coat, gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat! I was FREEZING! I started out wearing some short work out shorts and a T, and as soon as we were up the trail into the meadow opening up to the lake the temperature dropped like crazy. There are so many firsts for me on this trip, I know, but I've never experienced such an extreme temp change like this. At this point we stopped and ate, and I got a few pictures. I believe we were 3 hours in.

5-waterfall!!! At about 3/4 the way to the first blue lake there is a gorgeous waterfall. Not much is said about this thing online, and no I didn't get any pics of it :(. Back to the trek- we began hiking again to reach the Blue Lakes Pass, and it became more of a climbing hike. It got really steep. We crossed over 2 waterfalls to get to this point. A couple hundered feet up from this point is where we stopped. I looked up and realized we had about 30 minutes of daylight left and no camping gear. I cried. I literally sat down and cried. I felt like a failure, and I was totally exhausted among other things. I got up and made the decision to turn around, and I honestly continued to cry for a couple of minutes on the way down.

6-Darkness-This trail was already strenuous going up, but coming down in the dark is very difficult. I had my headlamp, but you know you see things different with those harsh shadows. Your depth perception can be a little off and you really can't see that far at all. At some point-I don't really know when-I switched from being morose and brooding to laughing hysterically. (I like to think that was due to some sort of instinct to scare off mountain lions and bears.)

When I was snug back in the car I realized how much of a failure I am not. The only reason I turned around is because I knew my limits, and realistically, running out of daylight is dangerous for a novice like myself. No matter how tired I was or how much I hurt, I was going to continue to press on to the end. I originally wanted to camp a few days, but my husband did not. If I had been able to camp at the lower blue lake my vision could've been realized in the following days. Now that I know what to expect, I am eager to plan a trip out there in the spring. I am really interested in the Uncompahgre Wilderness and trekking for a week or 2!

This short post doesn't do Mt. Sneffels justice, nor do my pics, but I wanted to share the experience nonetheless. Check out my pics below :)

Jennifer Brecheisen

Photographer | Rock Hill SC

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