One encounters all kinds of people in the mountains. These giant cathedrals of rock attract all manner of people from all over the world. People come from far and wide to marvel at the giant towers of rock and ascend to the summits of these ancient rocks. There are 600+ peaks over 13,000 ft in Colorado, so you can imagine the number and variety of individuals that this place attracts! I experienced a range of individuals from friendly to fucktard on this stint in the mountains, and they definitely made things interesting!
Mt. Elbert is the highest point in Colorado and one of the more popular 14ers in the state due to this very same fact. I expected there to be somewhat of a shit show along the NFS road into the trail-head due to the popularity of Elbert and the adjacent Mt. Massive, however nothing could have prepared me for the all out barrage of backwoods lunacy I was to encounter along this road. There were at least 3 different campsites within 50 yards of me that seemed to have an insatiable need to practice shooting their handguns. I’m all for people’s right to bear arms however, when there are dozens of people camped within a hundred yards of you, don’t you think it may not be the best time to pop off a few hundred rounds? I mean seriously, there are children playing 30 yards away, put the fucking pistol away you ass-clown! I literally spent the majority of that day in my car waiting to get hit by a stray bullet. I couldn't wait for it to be tomorrow so I could move on.
Unfortunately, the next day brought me a whole new brand of crazy and this brand apparently rolls in giant Winnebagos from 1972. I'd never seen a motor home this big, I mean this thing made city buses look like Mini-Coopers. It was immense. As the 'RV' creaked to a stop, a lanky version of Captain Cave-man exits the driver side door and walks directly up to me and mutters “Coming or going? Cuz I got pit-bulls and I don’t like to have them around people." Uhhhh...... OK psycho, then why the fuck are you here? I glanced over his shoulder at the mobile menace and saw a dog’s head that could have easily been mistaken for that of a grizzly bear, poking out of the front passenger window. “I’ll be gone in an hour,” I said. Without a word he turned and walked right back towards his lovely bear-ridden abode. I needed to get the fuck out of here, now. Fortunately, I was on the last set of my workout, so I finished up and was gone in 10 minutes flat. I camped a ways down the road that night. The next morning when I awoke at 4 am to hike up Elbert, I was convinced that a mountain lion sized pit-bull was about to jump out from behind every rock. After hitting the summit of Elbert, I exited the area as fast as possible, rednecks with guns and over-sized pit-bulls are not my idea of good neighbors.
Thankfully Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford were the next mountains on the agenda, and they were miles away, and, as luck would have it, the dispersed camping area was far quieter and infinitely less hick-ish. I found a great little pull-out less than a quarter mile from the trail-head to camp at, being less than a mile from the trail-head is a very convenient place to spend the night. It was perfect, I can chill out, relax, eat some food, turn in early, and be primed for an early start in the morning. I was lying in my car watching Die Hard with a Vengeance on my laptop when I heard a car pull in behind me. I turned to see a couple guys hopping out of a VW. Lewis and Ryan. Lewis was a college student from Madison, WI visiting the area for the summer, and Ryan was a teacher from Denver whose brand new Jeep had just broken down on a 4WD road to the La Plata trailhead. Talk about your bad luck. He was in pretty good spirits for a guy who’s new ride was miles from anything that resembled a decent road. As it turns out we were all planning on doing the Belford/Oxford combo route the next day, and agreed that we would hike together the following morning with a 4 am departure time.
We awoke to a beautiful warm summer morning, and set about the task at hand. Lewis and Ryan both kept a pretty good pace and were good company the entire trek. We made great time, had really efficient breaks, and got some really good weather, so we hit both summits before 10am. I couldn’t have imagined things going any better. It is kind of weird how 3 different guys had set out with their own solo agendas and then all of a sudden, randomly; they’re all on the same page, doing the same route, together. Mother nature definitely dictates all things in the mountains. One thing is for sure though, this mountain experience was far superior to the crazy backwoods shit I had experienced the day before by Elbert.