We left Ely, NV on Sunday morning and began the long drive to Leadville, CO.BC drove the entire day, well over 650 miles, making our way clear across Utah and then half of Colorado.Utah had some of the most beautiful and strange landscapes we had ever seen.

Below: some Utah landscapes, the first two taken at Devilís Canyon

We got into Leadville, CO at about 9:00 p.m.At 10,430 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the country.JO and BC decided that, after the slog through hell they had just gone through at Boundary Peak, a rest day was in order.Also, since Leadville is so high, we would get more acclimated to the altitude.On Monday, we decided to take route 82 west over Independence Pass to Aspen.Independence Pass (12,095 feet) was very cool, the road is extremely thin, barely wide enough for two cars, and for a great majority of the length there are no guardrails or other protection from falling off the side of the mountain.From the top of the pass, we looked back at Mount Elbert, still 2500 feet higher, and were both quite psyched up in anticipation of the next morningís hike.We continued on towards Aspen, and man, what a pretentious town.The parking situation was laughable, taking us nearly half an hour to find a parking spot at 2:00 on a Monday afternoon.We had an overpriced meal, hit a CVS for some bandaging and tape for BCís feet, and made it back to Leadville to get some sleep.We got to sleep around 8:00 p.m., woke up at 1:00, and headed towards the Halfmoon Campground, north of Mount Elbert.

The road leading up to Independence Pass (12,095 feet).Mount Elbertís summit is just off the picture to the upper right.

Highpoint: Mount Elbert
State: Colorado
Height: 14433 ft.
Highpoint #: 40 (JO), 39 (BC)
Date: 8/10/2004
Trails: North Mount Elbert Trail
Distance: 9.2 miles roundtrip
Vertical Gain: 5030 ft.
Time Taken: 11 hours
Weather: Gorgeous and cool before dawn, sunny and breezy after dawn, 80ís
Group: JO and BC
Comments: We left the trailhead (about 10,000 feet) just before 2:00 a.m.
The first mile and a half of the trail is on a perfect dirt trail through the woods, over pretty much flat terrain on the Colorado Trail.Once the trail turns right (west) off of the CT, it immediately begins ascending the northeast ridge of Elbert.From this point on, Elbert very consistently gains over 4500 feet in just over 3 miles.That may sound like a lot, but the terrain is relatively smooth and is not exposed at all.In other words, this is not a difficult trail, just a death-march.The scenery, however, is beautiful.We left the trees at about 11,800, and shortly thereafter, the sun began to poke above the mountains to our east.At this point, we began to ascend a seemingly never-ending series of false summits.Worse still, BCís the batteries in BCís new GPS were dead, so we also had very little idea how close we were to the summit.Thereís nothing quite like nearing the top of what looks like the summit, only to be presented with yet another half-mile and 500 feet of elevation to hike.And then to have that happen again and again, 3 or 4 times.Regardless of all of this, Elbert was still a fabulous hike, and we were so well acclimatized that neither of us had any headaches, even when we reached the top at 14,433 feet.Elbert is the second highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states, behind only 14,494-foot Mount Whitney in California.When we reached the summit, (at about 8:30) there were two people there, a stoner couple from Colorado who were smoking a joint.While on top, we also met a lady from Maine who was hiking the Colorado Trail.We stayed on the summit for almost an hour, talking to her about highpointing, basking in our conquering of the top of the Rockies, and taking pictures of the tremendous view.We began the long descent back to the car, and BC was worried that his sore toes and black toenails would make this descent a lesson in pain.However, the bandaging that BC put on his toes did a good job, and we were back to the car around 1:30 in the afternoon.

Looking east at sunrise, at about 12,000 feet.

The first (and most obvious) in a seemingly never-ending procession of false summits.

Yet another false summit.

Looking back down the final summit ridge.

Looking north at Mount Massive (14,421 feet), a mere 12 feet shorter than the ground from where this picture was taken.

JO at the summit of Mount Elbert, his 40th highpoint.

A psyched BC at 14,433 feet.

The lower part of the trail is well-maintained and picturesque

Mount Elbert from the parking lot.This picture captures how this mountain just keeps reclining back behind false summits.

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