Oklahoma State Highpoint: Black Mesa

Sprocket and I did not roll into the Black Mesa trailhead the traditional way: we wandered in from the north via a variety of dirt roads towards the end of our first full day of visiting Colorado’s eastern plains. Thankful for daylights savings time, we hit the trail at about 4pm alternating jogging and walking the flat first two miles. It was warm but the breeze kept us cool (I probably would have ran more but I was a little worried about the big black dog).

Black Mesa Trailhead

Black Mesa Summit Trail

Hiking Black Mesa

We shifted into mountain gear for the short ascent to the top of the mesa and cruised right up:

Hiking Black Mesa Hiking Black Mesa

After wandering across the summit plateau, we found the surprisingly substantial monument marking the highest point of Oklahoma. The views around were pretty sweet, although the broad mesa mesa that they felt a little bit far off.

Black Mesa Summit Black mesa plateau View from Black Mesa

I was getting hungry so we jogged back down the trail. The sun was starting to get lower in the sky and although Sprocket was tired, we made good time, and were able to drive to Boise City for dinner before it was totally dark.

Colorado State Highpoint: Mount Elbert

Yesterday was my 30th birthday and since I was going to be in school I knew I needed to “celebrate” the weekend before. I have been loving my weekend county highpointing adventures with Sprocket but since this was a “special occasion” I decided to go big: Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert.

Way back last winter, Kelly and I had discussed lots of mountain plans but summer got crazy and we hadn’t adventured together since January. Since we’d had so much fun on that desert trip, it had been way too long since we had hiked something!

Kelly found a great camping spot along Halfmoon Road. I met her there after dark on Thursday so I didn’t get a look at it until morning. Wow!

Halfmoon Road camp

We hit the trail on Friday about 7am and started to plug our way up the peak. For the first time in recent memory, I felt terrible heading up the mountain. From the time we hit treeline, I felt pretty terrible. I had a headache and just couldn’t seem to get it together. The weather was fantastic and I couldn’t possibly let this day go to waste so I just kept plugging along and it was all worth it.

Haze in the valley

Mount Massive from Mt. Elbert

Mount Elbert North Ridge

Southwest from Elbert

Once we reached the top, we took a little bit of time to enjoy the view, get a photo, and then make a game plan for the rest of our day.

Mt Elbert Summit

We resolved to go down into Leadville for food but first, we decided to continue an extra mile south to South Elbert, an unranked 14,000′ peak. From the summit of South Elbert, we got a great view back to Elbert. …and of the slope we were going to need to reclimb to get back to our North Ridge trail.

Elbert from South Elbert

The reclimbing of Elbert proper was really tough since my headache only sort of had resolved itself and I was hungry and Kind bars weren’t really taking the edge off. Once we started down, I started to bounce back a bit and really enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.

Sprocket on Elbert's North Ridge

Mount Massive

In Leadville, Kelly stopped in to ask about mountain bike trails at Cycles of Life and we also asked for a food recommendation. The Tennessee Pass Cafe was adorable and the food really hit the spot after the long hike.

Tennessee Pass Cafe

Painting at Tennessee Pass Cafe

Afterwards, we headed back to camp where we enjoyed some Colorado craft brews, some gourmet s’mores, and raspberry-rhubarb pie before calling it a night right after dark.

Thank you so much Kelly for joining Sprocket and I for a special birthday hike!