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Longs Peak Trip Report

Longs Peak was one of the hardest hikes that I’ve done in my life. For more information on Longs Peak, check out these links:

http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/longs-peak-keyhole.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longs_Peak

https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/longspeak.htm

https://rootsrated.com/stories/10-thing-know-hiking-longs-peak

http://www.summitpost.org/longs-peak/150310

Summary: It’s a hike that tops out at 14,000(ish) feet (a Colorado 14er) and over 15 miles long (round trip). It has a 5,000+ foot elevation gain as well, mostly near the end. Due to the conditions, you are supposed to start the hike no later than 3 a.m. in the morning and summit before 2 p.m. at the absolute latest. (This is due to Colorado thunderstorms and just the overall length of the hike). The hike itself is very exposed, meaning that there are massive drop offs at some points and there is also a lot of snow and ice up there, no matter what time of the year you do it. The best time of the year is generally in late August, when the snow has melted. We were planning on doing the Keyhole, which is the easiest and most popular route to Longs Peak.

Preparation:

My girlfriend and I have done one previous 14er in the past, Grey’s Peak. It’s a very novice 14er in general and it’s one of the easier 14ers (though I actually was affected by the altitude). Other than that, we have done some tougher day hikes in the past (Yosemite Half dome, which is somewhat similar to Longs, statistically; at 15ish miles round trip and 4800 feet of elevation gain).

it was getting very late in the season (mid/late September) and we were very busy with a lot of traveling. We still wanted to do Longs Peak and we knew that this could be the last year that we could do it (if we were moving for Physician Assistant school next year). We decided to go for it and to do it if the weather was permitting. To prepare for Longs Peak, I read as much as I could (in regards to trip reports, weather and trail conditions, etc). I knew that physically, we were strong enough to do this and in these big hike attempts, it’s more of a mental issue of pushing yourself vs. being physically unable to complete it. We were in relatively good hiking shape and hiked all summer long (doing 5-11 mile hikes with varying degrees of elevation gain each weekend). As I continually checked the weather, I decided that we were going to go for it and gave myself 2 days to prepare.

I bought myself some micro crampons, basically some strap on mini ice boot bottoms for your tennis shoes. These were really important for the top of the hike. I also prepped all of our gear two nights before the hike because I knew that we had to wake up at 12:00 midnight to wake up, drive to the hike (1 hour 20 minutes away) and then start the hike by 2 a.m. I made us some breakfast burritos and some sandwiches and packed our water, crampons, food, and other gear (such as hiking poles).

Longs Peak Hike:

We woke up at 12 midnight after getting about 3 hours of sleep (going to bed at 7 p.m.). It’s pretty damn hard to go to bed at 7 p.m. if you’re used to going to bed around midnight, and I really struggled there. We drank some energy drinks and then loaded everything in the car and drove to the Longs Peak trailhead. Funnily enough, we blew past a speeding sign and we actually got pulled over on the way there by a cop (who the hell checks Estes Park speeding at 1 a.m. in the morning?). He let us go with a warning and we were on the trail by 2 A.M.

The first part of the hike was not too bad. It was a decent incline over a solid dirt trail and it was fairly easy to go up. We gained maybe 1,500 feet during this part and were making okay time in general. We both felt pretty good.

It was an extremely cool experience and this was one (of many) situations where I had a better camera. Hiking underneath the stars and the massive mountains in the background (still very visible in the night due to the snow peaks) was unique to me. We actually passed a few different people, many of whom were turning back around. They didn’t think they could complete the hike and were making the smart decision to turn around and try again (this was probably around 5 A.M.).

We continued to hike up along a rocky boulder field, where it was extremely hard to find the trail. This was our big mistake of the hike- we traveled for about 1 mile and gained about 500 feet in elevation when we started talking to a nearby hiker. He asked us what trail we were doing and we said “the Keyhole”, which is the most popular trail to get up Longs Peak. He shook his head and told us we were on the wrong trail and that we were going up the wrong way. Pissed off, we backtracked a mile and found the correct split off and were back on the trail.

By this time, the wind was really picking up and there were massive gusts that made it tough in some areas. We stopped to eat our food and huddled around some rocks to block the wind. We were getting a bit tired at this point and my girlfriend was extremely cold (we layered but were cooling down a bit due to the weather).

We continued to climb and we could see the peak in the distance:

And we finally made it to the Keyhole, which is the ‘start’ of the massive climb. Sadly enough, the Keyhole was just the real start of the big elevation gain. If you look closely at the bottom left of the keyhole, you’ll see a tiny hut, where we spent a good 20 minutes eating food, drinking water, and recouping. Many hikers actually turn around at this point and a high % of people do not complete the Longs Peak hike. Even though you have reached the Keyhole and are 6 miles through (1.5 miles to the top) and only another 1000 feet of elevation gain, this last part was far and away the hardest on the route.

We decided we wanted to continue on and started the hike through the backside of the mountain. This part was extremely exposed and there were massive drop offs and ice throughout the path. The trail was marked by some painted signs (the Colorado ‘C’).

I can’t emphasize how difficult this part was compared to the rest of it. We were really tired by this point. One nice thing about this section was that much of this was rock climbing and scrambling up the rocks. As somewhat experienced climbers, it was a bit nice to use your hands to help pull yourself up and also use other climbing techniques such as stemming (http://www.zionadventures.com/ZBlog/canyoneering/stemming-an-essential-canyoneering-technique/)

We got to the point where we were literally stopping every 25 feet. We would say “okay, let’s get to the next trail marker and take a quick break” and just continued to push on. In situations where you’re extremely tired and fatigued, I have found it best to just take it one step at a time and to finish your short term/intermediate goals and not think “Oh God, I have another 2 miles to finish and another 1000 feet of elevation gain”.

We reached the summit around 2 p.m., fairly late in the day.

The hike down was tough and our feet were aching bad near the end. All in all, it took us about 15 hours in total. We likely would have cut this down by at least 1.5 hours had we not gone the wrong direction previously. We drove home, ate a big pizza, and spent about a week recovering from the hike.

We were extremely proud that we were able to do this hike in general. My entire body ached and my knees were especially hurting. But as I said before, these hikes are far more mental than physical (in my experience), and forcing yourself to continue onward is the best thing you can do. Thanks for reading.

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Sorry for not posting in a month! I wrote all of this out before but have been very busy. Here is a summary of the outdoor stuff we did.

Colorado Summer 2016

This is my second summer in the Fort Collins area and I really enjoy Colorado summers. My girlfriend and I made it an emphasis to get outside every single weekend and we decided to go on a lot of hikes throughout July and August. Our main focus was Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). We live only about an hour outside of Estes Park, CO (beautiful mountain town, if you ever have the chance to go, check it out) and we wanted to take full advantage of the hikes there.

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Our ideal goal was to build up endurance for Longs Peak, a 14,000 foot tall mountain (14er is what they are called in Colorado). We hiked at RMNP (and the surrounding areas) as well as Fort Collins/Loveland/Boulder each weekend and did this list of hikes:

Rocky Mountain National Park (and surrounding areas) hikes:
-Twin Sisters peak
-Flat top Mountain
-Lake Odessa
-Lake Hiaya, Bear Lake, Dream Lake
-Sky Pond and the Loch
Fort Collins/Loveland/Boulder hikes:
-Grey Rock
-Horsetooth Rock
-Devils Backbone
-Royal Arches

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The 14ers

After Vegas, we took a few weeks off and spontaneously decided we wanted to do Torreys Peak, which was one of the easier 14ers in the Front Range (mountain area). Grey’s peak is right next to it, along the same trail. We woke up at 5:30 am and drove 2 hours south past Denver to the trailhead. Torreys and Greys is an extremely popular trail and a lot of people come from Denver to do these hikes. Although we weren’t in as good of hiking shape as we were in July, we still felt that we could do Torreys peak fairly easily. It wasn’t a brutal hike on paper: Only about 3500 feet of elevation gain and 8 miles round trip. We’ve done some far harder ones in the past and thought this one would be fairly easy (easy is a relative term- obviously this hike is going to be very challenging for someone who does not work out often or have a lot of hiking experience. Just as Longs peak was extremely hard for us, it would be easy for many other people).

Here are some pictures of Torrey’s Peak. I actually got slightly dizzy due to the altitude and it affected me more than I thought it would. The last 500 feet of elevation gain were tough but I mustered through it. I am proud to say that this was my first 14er in my life. I will post the Longs Peak TR very soon, along with some pictures and such.

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WSOP + Business Updates

The World Series of Poker is going in full swing right now and I have a lot of associates and players down there right now. It’s fun thinking about all of the guys playing all day long and being together and it brings back fond memories from my WSOP experience. It’s been a few years since I’ve played down there and I definitely miss some parts of it. Living a carefree lifestyle where you are your own boss and have few obligations is probably the most attractive thing about being a poker player. I’m fairly sure I will go down there next year and play a little bit and meet with some of my players/associates. I know that some stables have 6-7 figures of action in this WSOP right now and those live tourney buy ins can add up huge. MTT backing is pretty variance heavy and one big run can literally make or break your year. It’s sick to think about.

As far as staking goes, I’m pleased with the progress that we have made over the past few months. We’re really making strides to improve every facet of our business and I am excited to see what we have in a few months. I’ll be posting some links when they are completed. Staking is still going well and let’s hope that I get lucky in some of the packages I bought this WSOP.

I’ve also decided I will try to update this a bit more. Overall, I enjoy seeing my old posts and seeing some of the progress or where I was at in different stages of my life. Talk soon.

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Half Year Update

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of updates. Some stuff going on in my life:

Poker/Staking:

Staking is still going very well and we are currently revamping our website. I’ll link it on this blog when we post. This will have been my 4th year in the staking industry and over a decade in the poker industry. Overall, I’m very pleased with our stable and all of our players. There are a lot of benefits to this lifestyle and I would find it hard to transition to a standard 9-5 (who knows, maybe it’ll happen one day). Once we launch our site, I will consider writing some new articles as well, since I know I haven’t added new poker content in a long time.

I have been playing some poker on my own here and there online and was/am very tempted to go to Vegas this year in June. Several of our players/associates are going to the World Series of Poker this year and it brings back a lot of really fun memories that I had 5 years ago. Playing some live poker sounds fun and meeting some of our guys would be enjoyable. In terms of poker leaks, I think that I struggle with many of the same leaks that players of my ‘generation’ struggled with- overly aggressive in some areas, not slow playing enough in others, etc. In terms of overall theory and fundamentals, I do feel like I am much better than I was when I originally played semi-professionally; however, I do think I am tighter and less capable of pulling the trigger, something that I was proud of in the past. I would say that is a reflection of the way the games have changed, though- many more players are more likely to play their equity and showdown their hands instead of auto c-betting A5 on a TT4 board. Talking poker to 40 players every single day allows you to improve, even if you are not necessarily doing the simulation work and watching poker videos.

Anyways, without going too into poker strategy, I will say that things are better than ever in regards to our poker staking and my own poker playing. Although I will always love the game, I would say that I used to believe that I could never play another hand of poker and feel okay about that. Now I realize that I do enjoy playing again and it’s become something that I look forward to.

Climbing/Workouts:

My rock climbing strength and endurance is disappointing right now. I haven’t been climbing nearly as much lately, primarily because I have a sprained finger and I am also doing some other life stuff. While I know it’s not an excuse, it’s something that I need to put more priority in (and once some of this life stuff clears up, I will be back to climbing 3-4x a week). I’m probably at 2-3x right now and I am substituting the climbing by lifting and doing more cardio. I’m still working out 5x a week and am going to be going outside more now that the weather is improving. Nothing big in the summer planned for now, but we’ll probably head to shelf road and clear creek canyon as well.

I do have some outdoor goals this summer. I want to do a 14er (or a few) and I hope that we can get some cool climbs in.

Life Stuff:

Nothing has changed a ton in terms of life stuff. I’ll be traveling to Las Vegas in August with my girlfriend and her family and probably will be taking a winter trip, hopefully to Florida. I am also going to Alaska in July for a family reunion and that should be fun. My girlfriend is currently going through applications for the GRE and applying to Physician Assistant school, so I am likely going to moving in about a 1 year span- no idea where.

Here are some good grinding music videos:

Good luck!

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Long Time No Post!

Hey guys, long time no post. My site went down for a while and I had to refresh some of the settings in the back end. For all I know, I could just be talking to myself here and no one is reading this blog anymore! I’ll keep this thing up for a long time, if only to look back at my old TRs and reminisce about some of those fun trips 🙂

Things have been going really well here over the past few months. The staking business is going very well and I’m really excited for how 2016 is projecting. We really want to take this business to a new level and we just need to prepare ourselves for it overall (infrastructure, systems, software/etc). This industry is constantly changing and is very unstable each year, so we’ll have to continue to adjust and adapt as needed. I still see myself staking in the near future until I decide I want to transition.

One of the goals I do want to do for 2016 is to really start diversifying some of my income and also gain new skills. I learned a fair amount of MS excel last year but I know I need to continue to working towards other skills. More on #1- I have some disposable income that I would either like to invest and/or do something with (I’ll likely research more in the coming months).

What else is new? Nothing much. I’m still climbing several times a week and have stagnated a bit there. I don’t think I’m really improving a whole lot right now and I think that could be due to my poor diet and/or lack of exclusive training. My overall endurance is something I need to work on and I do have a few climbing goals I would like to achieve in 2016 (Get my first V7 and also lead a 5.12 cleanly/top rope 5.13). I am fairly certain I could achieve all of these right now if I exclusively projected a route, but I could just be full of it.

I’ve been skiing a fair amount lately and am looking to purchase my first pair of skis/boots. I’m pretty excited for this step and I really enjoy skiing and being outdoors. I’m excited for 2016 as I have a few fun trips planned: several ski trips, a short trip to Vegas, a longer one to Florida, and I’m sure a few smaller/shorter ones as well. As always, I am very grateful for my job and the freedom it provides. I might pay for it later on, but let’s hope I can transition well out of poker when that time comes.

Thanks for reading!

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