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Touching the Sky

By Ann Driggers

Above: Myself and Janis Taylor on the summit of La Plata Peak, 14,336 feet, Colorado's fifth highest yesterday morning.

"It is something though...

To jump up from fourteen thousand feet and touch the sky

To wonder at enormous land-waves cresting in slow motion all around

To run back down through wild meadows of diverse flowers

To return once again - to practice figuring out how to best be a human living with other humans" - Janis


Our plan was hatched to bag a 14er so late in the evening it was just 6 hours later Janis and I met and drove east over Independence Pass. The early morning start saw us running through the dark, damp and pungent pine forest. The rising sun gilded the surrounding peaks as we emerged above treeline.

The trail switchbacked its way up the flanks of the north west ridge amongst beautiful wildflowers.

Views for miles...Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest, and Mount Massive, on the horizon and closer in the sawtoothed Ellingwood Ridge, another of La Plata's ridges. The rock around the trail was covered with a bright green lichen.

We tried to be as speedy as possible, wanting to beat any chance of the forecast storms, and made it to the summit in a little over 2 hours. We jumped for joy and touched the sky. I made it to about 14,346 feet, Janis a little higher since she can jump better than me.

Going down we ripped through the meadows of wildflowers, pausing only for pictures and to tell hikers on the way up they *really* weren't almost there yet. 

It was a very runnable trail, apart from a couple of short rocky sections near the summit. One of the most enjoyable 14ers I have ever been on. We pretty much had the place to ourselves until we were about 2/3 of the way down.

La Plata was a very pleasant surprise to me. Typically I expect crowded and rocky choss piles when I climb 14ers. This was the opposite. Absolutely gorgeous scenery, fantastic running trail and no people, at least those that are willing to set off at 6 a.m. and run! Extra bonus - we did not get electrocuted and we made the 9 miles RT and 4,600 feet of climbing in 4 hours and back into Aspen for a late breakfast!


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