This was my first 14er and it’s supposedly one of the “easy” ones, but this is no walk in the park. I went with a group of mostly newbies and we started at 5:50am knowing we would be slower and wanted to be down early in case of storms. The bridge over the marsh was frosted at the time and SLIPPERY. We opted to jump down and walk through the marsh at areas so avoid a slip and injury. Watch for that. The first 1.5-2 miles is fairly easy. A moderate hike at best. The last 1.5-2 miles is hard and nearly everyone you see will agree....so don’t feel compelled to go fast. Take lots of breaks, even if they are short ones. The trail was crazy busy and lots of people boasting it was their first but everyone was polite and allowed you to pass or was patient until you let them pass. Shortly after the “shoulder” area (tip: definitely stop and have a quick snack here it’s about to get real) the trail gets steep and then you head into rocks. If you have read all the reviews and blogs you’ll be ready for a rock scramble but let me tell you that doesn’t really start until the last quarter mile. Don’t be fooled! By then you are so close you almost forget how tired you are and you power through. Others say you can do this in tennis shoes but unless you are experienced or the most stable person ever I recommend hiking shoes for the traction. Drink lots of water. I drank 3 liters and had an extra for the walk down. Summit is busy (pick your head up to avoid being stuck in an awkward position on a rock when someone unexpectedly stops) and chilly but very worth it. What no one really tells you about your first though is that the hike down is almost as hard. Your legs are tired and you’ve just experienced the high of the summit and now you have to reengage all the tired muscles and your knees and stay upright. You goal now: getting to the bottom and taking off your shoes! Overall I did it in 6 hours with about 30-40 minutes at the summit and I was slow...or felt it...but was consistent and realistic. Thoroughly enjoyed being able to check this off the bucket list! I recommend starting early if you are new just so have the comfort of taking your time and still beating the storms.