This past "weekend", the theme was moonlight hikes to high elevation areas.
The first hike was started at almost 1am in the morning to Longs Peak
I had wanted to do this hike last month. But a freak August snow storm canceled the hike.
So this month, we tried again. The moon was almost full, the weather was set to be good. Everything aligned for a great hike.
Then, by 8pm, it started to rain hard..which means SNOW at 14k+ feet.
A decision had to be made. Did we go and take a chance it would clear up? Or would we postpone this hike for next year?
At the parking lot, we made a game day decision. I had a gut feeling the drizzle in Boulder would be clear by the time we made treeline. It was a gamble, but something in me said it would be fine.
So we went for it. The five of us grabbed coffee at a gas station, piled into Tara's Subaru and made it to the trail head for 12:30 am. By 12:45 were on the trail.
The night was drizzly, but surprisingly warm. As we continued higher, the clouds started to thin out.
As we popped above treeline, the clouds almost instantly vanished. The moon lit up everything so brightly that a headlamp was not needed. We were above the clouds and could clearly see the summit of Longs above us.
It was quite simply one of the most stunning moonlit nights I've been on.
As we made our way up the trail, I continued to be amazed at the sight around me. Being above treeline at the foot this distinctive summit was simply a sight to behold. The famous Diamond was illuminated, the patches of moonlit snow glowed, the cold air made us feel alive.
We made our way to the Keyhole at about 13k ft. Looking beyond, we decide to call it a night (morning?). The route becomes somewhat technical beyond this point and hiking at night in the snow and ice was not something I wanted to do!
No matter. The sights to that point was just jaw dropping.
We took refuge from the wind in the Agnes Vaille shelter that is next to the Keyhole. Threw on our "puffy jackets" and slurped copious amounts of hot beverages.
After a while, it was time to get going.
We made our way to the Boulder Field where the sun was just starting to rise.
If the moonlit was walk was surreal and stark, the sunrise over the plains was dramatic and awe inspiring.
We were still well above the clouds. It looked like an ocean below us with the "islands" being the peaks poking above the cloudline. It was simply awesome.
After this amazing sight, we worked out way down in the morning alpenglow. We greeted the people working there way up the mountain and above the clouds as we descended back into them.
After walking into the cool, crisp and fragrant pine forest, we made it to the ranger station for one last group photo. After ~12+ miles and 4000' elev gain, this amazing hike was over.
As we drove back, being up since 8am or so hit me. We grabbed some breakfast (a burger and beer was craved out of habit!), made our way back to Boulder. I arrived at Casa Mags. Crawled into bed and almost immediately dreamed about the wonderful hike I just had.
And the following day? A 13er AND another moonlit hike!