I've been to the top of this mountain. The picture was taken from Rocky Mountain National Park and the mountain is Long's Peak, which is over 14,000 feet high and is one of the most difficult fourteeners in Colorado.
The best time to hike this mountain is in mid to late August when the snow pack is the lowest. The hike is sixteen miles round trip and must be started early in the morning..... like 3:00 am. Some hikers start up earlier. It is very cool that time of the morning, but don't worry, you soon will be sweating. You will need a pack with several bottles of water, energy bars, ibuprofen, a rain shelter, and some band aids. You will also need very good hiking shoes, a light, and a partner to hike with. You will also need good knees and ankles and not be afraid of heights. Oh, and one more thing.... not be afraid of dying: many have on this mountain.
You will start out at the trail head and join in a line of several hundred other hikers in the darkness of the morning. As you gain altitude and look back you will see a long winding snake of lights from other hikers who are coming behind you. The trail is always steep except for the boulder field which is about half way up and is a place where some hikers camp over night. After the boulder field, which is above the tree line, comes the eye which includes a short vertical climb and going through a small eye in the mountain. This is where a lot of the hikers drop out. Those who are afraid of heights.
Once you are through the eye the trail gets narrower with the mountain on one side of you and air on the other side. The trail also gets much steeper and there is a small rock climb on this portion of the trail. Unless you are in really good shape and used to the altitude you will be stopping often to get your breath. At one point you will turn the bend in the trail and come to a place that is perfectly flat, except it is tilted at about a 45 degree angle. This is where the push to the summit begins and this is where a whole bunch more hikers drop out. This is also the most dangerous part of the trail.
The push to the summit may not be the most difficult part of the trail. It runs about a quarter mile, but it is definitely the most nerve racking and the most dangerous. On this portion many hikers have lost their gripped and simply rolled off the mountain to a drop off of several hundred feet. If you have shoes or boots that grip well, you can walk up this portion of the trail to the summit. If you are fearful or don't have great shoes you can kind of go up here on all fours, grabbing fissures in the rock with your hands. Don't be embarrassed, most people go up this way as the drop off below looks pretty ominous.
Then suddenly you are at the top, which is flat, and is about the size of a football field. Here you will find rock shelters that have been built to protect you from the wind.... and you will use them because the wind is blowing and the temp is about 40 degrees. You'll take some pictures because the view from here is awesome, you will eat some lunch because you are famished, you will drink some water because you sweat a lot even in spite of the coldness.
After a fifteen minute to half hour stay you will start back down. You want to beat the afternoon rain and lightening that often occurs at this altitude. And guess what? You are a good conductor of electricity.
The hardest part of the descent is the first part. As you start down you see the flatness, the steepness, and the abruptness of the drop off. Again, with really good shoes and fearlessness you can walk down this slope. But don't trip or you might do summersaults right off the mountain. Or you can do as a lot of hikers do, plant your butt on the mountain and like a crab scoot down on the seat of your pants. It's weird, but safe. After that it is a long steep hike back to your car. Believe me, the seat of your car is very welcome.
If you have any Starbucks left in your cup, that is welcome, too.