Climbing Gothic Mountain

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

I returned home from Crested Butte, Colorado to Austin, Texas a week ago.


If you haven’t visited Crested Butte, it is the more outdoorsy mountain town cousin compared to its glamorous counterpart Aspen. Think Gucci (Aspen) vs. Granola (Crested Butte). Or Chanel vs. Cargo shorts. You get the point.


While Crested Butte is known for its wildflowers in the summer and world-class mountain biking, there are many great hikes, and my father and I experienced a different one every day.


The hardest climb of the week we did was up Gothic Mountain.


There are two trails to the summit - an easier, more gradual climb up through the Washington Gulch, and a much more difficult steep climb up the face of Gothic mountain via the Trail 403. We chose the latter after completing the former earlier this year.


We parked at the trailhead at 9am. Steady rain during the week made the climb slippery and muddy, and we spent the first mile climbing through loose rocks and slick switchbacks. Arriving in a meadow about 1,000 feet from the starting elevation of 9,600 feet, we stopped to catch our breath and hydrate.


We meandered through evergreen forests and mountain streams for the next mile, occasionally making loud noises to keep the bears at bay (they are prevalent in this part of Colorado).



The final stretch of the hike again took us over 1,000 feet in elevation over 0.9 miles. Surprisingly, the lack of oxygen at this altitude didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I stopped to get a selfie and a video.





About half way up this final path, we saw a deer grazing ahead of us. Bowhunting season had just ended the day before, and luckily this beautiful specimen of fauna survived the numerous hunters we had seen clad in camouflage for most of the week.


Feeling like true mountaineers, we ascended the peak to the viewing area at the summit. From the top, you can peer over the valley and see the peaks of Mt. Baldy, Mt. Bellview and White Rock Mountain.



In the distance, ominous clouds hovered over snow-capped peaks. We decided to head back down the mountain to avoid getting caught in a blizzard like the movie Cliffhanger.


The hardest part was not slipping and twisting an ankle or breaking a leg on the descent, especially during the steep parts.


After a three hour hike totaling 6.6 miles, we were finally back at the car, slightly muddy, slightly wet but proud of ourselves and our accomplishment.


That night, I hit the hot tub to massage my sore muscles. Somehow, despite the fact that I am 25+ years younger than him, my dad had no aches and pains. Must be nice.


I decided that I would use this hike as a metaphor for my life. To get to your goal, you usually have to experience ups and downs, wet weather and sunshine. But no matter how you get there, try to enjoy the journey.


This realization is something I will try to apply in my life going forward when I get frustrated. I hope it will help.


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