It was August 25th, 2020. My friend and I were both about to leave Fort Collins for college the next week. We had talked about hiking Longs Peak all summer, but due to various unforeseen circumstances, our plan of training for the great climb had fallen through the roof. We decided to do it anyway. Earlier that summer we had hiked the family-friendly Mt. Bierstadt (my only 14er at the time) together and we considered that sufficient. We drove up to the trailhead that night so that we could get onto the trail by 3 am. We knew that we should eat healthy the night before so stopped at Safeway and bought a rotisserie chicken and sushi. When packing for the climb, we packed everything you could need… except for utensils. So here we were, sitting in the Longs Peak Trailhead parking lot, eating an entire chicken together with our bare hands. When the clock hit 10 pm we attempted to go to sleep. Attempted is the keyword. Our alarm went off at 2:50 am and neither of us could confidently say that we slept at all. Regardless of the night behind us, we decided to continue. We packed our bags with water and snacks and set out into the night. The first 3 miles of the trail were fairly straight forward. You look at your feet and follow the path illuminated by your headlamp. At approximately mile marker three, however, the trail splits into the Longs Peak trail and the Chasm Lake trail. Because of our prior research, we knew that at some point, the trail turned into a free climb at the “boulder field.” The sign at the fork said “Chasm Lake: Left” and “Boulder Field: Right.” To the right and slightly in front of the sign there are a few boulders. Because we were sleep-deprived and it was 4:30 am and still pitch black, we immediately walked towards these boulders. After about 100 ft of strategically climbing over these boulders, the rocks began to get smaller. Then the rocks disappeared. Then bushes become more and more frequent. For the entirety of the hike up to this point, we had seen distant headlamp lights in front of us and behind us. These lights could no longer be seen. We decided to head to the left since that is the direction that we thought Longs Peak was in. After about 10 minutes of doing this, the sun began to creep over the horizon and we noticed that we were heading towards a cliff. Naturally, we switched directions and headed to the right. Finally, we moved over a small ridge and saw headlamps far, far below us on what looked like the trail. We later found out that we had walked right off of the trail and trudged straight up the mountain without realizing it. We finally met back up with the trail at around 6:30 am. After half a mile of the refreshing, clearly marked trail we were sent off-path once again into the boulder field, (only this time bulls-eyes painted on rocks guided our path). It was another two miles of intense and strategic climbing before we reached the summit, but we made it around 9 am and boy was it worth it. We were the highest visibile thing in any direction. Wildfires created a mystical haze that contrasted the crisp skies. While our lack of preparation and training had our legs crying the next day, it proved to be one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life.