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Campbell-Sevey Insight: Charlie Thomas – Hiking to 14,000 Feet

Campbell-Sevey’s team members have a lot of interests that go beyond steam, air and water. In this, and upcoming, newsletters we’ll share some of their stories. This month we feature Charlie Thomas, a sales rep at Campbell-Sevey for over 23 years, and his adventures hiking.

“I first got into backpacking when my family would go camping when I was a kid. Every vacation was a ‘camping vacation’ and I’ve camped as long as I can remember. In fact, I didn’t stay at a hotel until I was out of college. As my brother and I go older (and could carry our own share), we started hiking and backpacking. What I like most about it is seeing parts of our earth you couldn’t see any other way.

Once my two girls were grown and on their own, I returned to hiking and backpacking.  One of my favorite recent trips was bagging my first 14’er, climbing a 14,000 foot peak in Colorado named Mount Yale, one of the Collegiate peaks located about an hour west of Colorado Springs. My girlfriend, Kalyn, and I started the trail at 6:00am so we could be back below tree line before the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in. Those storms are a common threat on this mountain. It was about 35 degrees when we hiked out and we were bundled up in all the layers we had packed. Plenty of strong hikers passed us as we climbed. Kalyn was a bit frustrated, but I reminded her of two things: at 50-ish, we aren’t spring chickens anymore, and that slow and steady will get us to the top.

The climb is a little over 5 miles long, about 4,300 feet of elevation change, and an average grade over 16%. In one word, it’s strenuous! We were constantly shedding or adding layers as the temperature varied throughout the climb from cold at 35, sunny and 80, and windy and 50, stopping just a few times to refuel with food we had packed. We met some very interesting people along the way, including a guy whose goal was to hula hoop on all 53 14’ers in Colorado.  “Why?”, we asked.  “Why not!” he replied. Of course, right? We also met a church youth group that were bringing watermelons to enjoy at the top. We just smiled and shook our heads.

After 7 hours of climbing, we summited the peak. The view just couldn’t be beat. We didn’t spend much time at the top as the clouds were rolling in. After 6 hours back down the trail through sleet, heat, and rain showers, we were finally back at the trailhead. Though we were likely among the last of the hikers off the mountain that day, we had another feat accomplished. Cross that one off the list. And now, what’s next…?” – Charlie Thomas

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