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Our First 14'er

Ever since we moved to Colorado, Ross and I have wanted to hike a 14'er. 

Note: For non-Coloradoans, a 14'er is a mountain peak that towers over 14,000 feet in the air. Colorado has 53 - the most of any state - and because of the thin air and the beauty and all, it's a great feat to hike one.

 Over the years, we have both had opportunities to hike one or another, but never were able to make it work -- mostly because of childcare. After a few hard hikes last year (Rabbit Ear's Pass, Hahn's Peak and Fish Creek Falls), I thought the kids might have it in them to do a 14'er WITH us... and what better day to make Ross' dream come true than Father's Day?
Hiking Fish Creek Falls last summer. Back when a 2.5 hour hike was a LONG hike!
Leading up to the hike, I tried to get the kids excited. I took Lincoln "snack shopping" with me where we got tons of food I knew they would love - GORP, Snickers bars (the BIG ones), energy chews, I let him pick out the chocolatey-peanut buttery granola bars, teddy grahams - you name it. If it had sugar, carb and/or protein in it, and they would eat it - SOLD!

The day before, we went on a warm-up hike up to Lily Pad Lake - and we were in business! The kids were stoked about hiking. The morning of, Lincoln even asked me if we could hike Lily Lake AGAIN before hiking Bierstadt. Oy vey! This child did not know what he was getting into.
My happy hiker on the way to Lily Pad Lake
Check out my new hiking stick!
 Morning of, we awoke bright and early to pack up our stuff. We were heading back to Denver after a week of staying up in Silverthorne at our new place. Knowing it was going to be cold, I wasn't in too big of a hurry to get out of there. Since the forecast called for a clear day, optimally, I wanted to summit later in the day when it would be a little warmer. We packed up and fed the kiddos breakfast.
French toast, eggs, blackberries = Breakfast of Champions!
We arrived at Guanella Pass around 9:15 and were on the trail by 9:30. Since there was a bike race going on a little later, all of the lower lot was full and we parked in the upper lot. Clue #1 we were not true hikers - we couldn't find our way from the upper lot to the trailhead. Brilliant! But, we got there the round about way. 
BAM! Found the trailhead!
We started hiking and hiking. The path actually goes a little down for the first 3/4 mile and through a lot of mud. We made our way around it as much as we could. Then you cross a river and the kids enjoyed that. Our feet got wet, but it was nothing terrible. That is when you start hiking UP.

We went for 1/2 hour and then had our first snack. Normally, we find some cool spot to stop along the route - a cool rock to climb up and sit on,  an overlook with a view, a lake, etc.- but today we said we would have "walking snack breaks" for the most part. The wind was picking up and I was afraid of stopping for too long.
When we did stop, it was usually to climb up on some sort of rock - boys!
 Along the way, we met hikers coming down and the kids would ask if they made it to the top. About 1/3 of them hadn't, so I started telling the kids not to ask. I didn't want the kids thinking THEY couldn't make it. After that, when we passed hikers I would ask them in a low voice and, if they answered that they had summitted, I would say "Look guys! These guys made it! Isn't that great?!?!" Or something along those lines. We got some great stories and great advice from those passing.
Still below tree line.
 Soon enough we were at 12,000 feet. What I didn't realize then is that you climb a total of about 500' elevation in the first 1.7 miles and then another 2,000+' in the second 1.7 miles. That's a BIG difference! And I am pretty glad my kids didn't realize it so much. They were troopers and just kept plugging along.

It was somewhere right around 13,000 feet where spirits started to get low. I ran up to 13,000' EXACTLY (on my watch) and said "Look guys! We are RIGHT at 13,000 feet!" We stopped, looked around and took some pictures to admire the view. We then found an AWESOME little cove behind/in some rocks that sheltered us from the wind and sat down to have a proper snack break. I think that was a life saver. 
My attempt at a panaramic pict
Look at those happy faces - so excited to be eating!
Hunter hogging the cheese and sausage, while Lincoln snacks on energy chews!
 And from there on out it was plug, plug, plug. We played some hiking games we had made up in the past - like 20 questions, only instead of it being something you saw, it was something you thought of. And you got more than 20 questions. The kids were awesome and started taking breaks anytime they could.
They were seriously SO tired!
At one point (it must have been 13,400' feet or so), I said something like, "we can't rest too long or we might not make it." And from that I hear Lincoln, "WHAT!?!? I am NOT going to let 600 feet come between me and making it!". And he didn't.
My determined little hiker.
 The trail had turned to pure rocks at this point (or, rather, we had lost the trail, so we were hiking/scrambling over pure rocks at this point). Being that the kids LOVE to climb on rocks, they were in decent spirits, just tired. Hunter kept saying how he wanted to just lay down and go to sleep and I assured him that he could sleep the WHOLE way back to Denver... we just had to get off the mountain first.

 The closer we got to the top, the more motivated Lincoln became and he was leading us all.

No one can take this away from me - EVER!
On top of the world at 14,000 feet!

 I was happy to finally be there! We took some token pictures to prove that we had made it to the top.

Then, being Father's Day, I tried to take another one to remember the day by.
We also got him a soda keg and CO2 system for kegging beer, but I somehow think this was the better gift.

After pictures, it was signing the log (more proof that we had made it)!
Linc and Hunter signed their own names!
 And hung out with our new friend who lives at the summit.

After all the logistics, it was more snacks and then it was time to descend. As we went down, I tried to get a better "Father's Day Picture" with just Ross and the boys.
It was so windy on the way down, Ross couldn't keep his hat from blowing off!
Thankfully, the walk down was a lot easier than the walk up!

And there you have it. 6 hours of hiking. 7.5 ish mile round trip. ~2,500 feet vertical. And...
One 14'er conquered.
(If you ask Lincoln about it, he will make sure to tell  you it was 14, 065 feet, not just 14,000 feet up.)

 Happy Father's Day, Ross. I love you.