Kevin has done this hike many times in the past. So I decided that it would only be right if I joined him. The plan? Leave the house at 11:30pm and drive to Longs Peak Trailhead (about 1.25 hours from home) Then hike up to Chasm Lake to watch the sunrise.
I decided I needed the exercise. Really. I tested out Kevin's ultralight backpack, Kevin took his camera gear, and off we set. There is something really special about setting out in the dark with just the light from one's head lamps. It is curious. I found the night oddly comforting, and watching Kevin's feet in my spotlight hypnotic. Since our fitness levels are about the level of a slug we set off at a slow but steady pace. We made good progress. The hike to Chasm Lake is 4.2 miles each way. The elevation gain is approximately 2300 feet. We dressed lightly and carried extra layers for any extended stops.
I have on previous hikes developed severe headaches (with nausea). I had read up on this and wanted to test out whether this condition was caused by dehydration or altitude. I had read that many hikers thought they were suffering from altitude sickness, when in fact they were suffering from dehydration.
So our hike up to the lake was slow and steady (as mentioned previously) and we made sure that I drank plenty of water.
At about 10,500 feet I felt the onset of a headache. I drank more water, I rested.
I was determined to hike to Chasm Lake and see the sunrise. I couldn't bear the thought of turning back. I am glad I didn't. It was beautiful. Quiet, and still. Longs Peak and Mount Meeker rise like giants. We could see the tiny moving dots of mountain climbing parties beginning their assault on Longs Peak. And as the sun came up I was able to see where we had hiked: through a verdant alpine meadow, with large clumps of columbine. We had crossed swiftly flowing streams, and walked paths with mountain views, and waterfalls, and alpine lakes. We had walked above treeline, and in amongst the forest. We heard robins and humming birds; disturbed ground squirrels, pika's and marmots. It was good. This is what I picture the Garden of Eden to look like.
And here is a picture of me proving that I had done it:
We got back to the trailhead at 10:30am tired. I had thought I would be able to drive - but I am ashamed to admit I let Kevin drive (I hadn't the energy to insist) and immediately fell asleep and slept the whole way home. We got home and immediately fell asleep.