Hiking mountains in Colorado is fun and a good way to exercise. I had been putting off this hiking trip to the mountains for the longest time ever (about 9 months actually) and my son Josh was becoming irate about the whole thing. Had he not woken up on a school day and packed for the hike, maybe this one day vacation would never have happened! My wife found him in the kitchen busy making sandwiches and other snacks to bring to his hiking trip and jokingly helped him with it. One look at them and I realized something had to give. A resolve was made and everyone pinky promised that the first weekend of the following month would be it.
In Search of the Perfect Challenge
I started Googling immediately for the best hiking trail for beginners since we had not done this before. With 140 trails and 54 peaks to choose from, this was becoming strenuous by itself. One helpful website broke down the trail difficulties from easy to strenuous and this helped us decide on the best fourteeners for beginners. I included the “crew” for a final decision and at last we had our pick, Mt. Bierstadt it was! We figured it was the best way to start since it’s a very popular family hiking trail and you can get quick help in case anything wrong happens.
Practice Makes Perfect
Preparing for the mountain hike was just as fun. We made it a habit to walk whenever we could to build endurance and get our leg muscles accustomed to long walks. Josh rode everyday to school on his bike. I did a couple of morning and evening runs to get my lungs into shape. I was super-dad and there is no chance in hell I was going to cave in before my son! I also read about AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and that wasn’t going to be either, hopefully.
Packing for D-Day
I had no idea how to pack for a hike in the mountains and I had to seek the help of a friend to get it just right. We pulled out the hiking boots from the attic and dusted them in preparation for the family’s day out. We packed light daypacks each for three of us and made sure we had enough water, food (mostly granola and jerky), cell phones, sunglasses & sunscreen, 3 flashlights and 2 head lamps, a pocket knife each for me and my wife, matches, a compass, first aid kit and a map. I also packed a small radio for entertainment and listening in on any news especially about the weather. I bought hiking poles for the three of us too. Lastly, we packed some extra warm clothes just in case. The one thing we never travel without is a camera and everyone carried theirs.
Journey to the Top
The day finally came and everyone in the house (including the cat) was unusually happy. Our road trip to Denver started early Friday morning. We thought the road trip would give us a chance for more sight seeing as opposed to flying there. I’m glad we did this. Josh was gleaming all the way and he practically stuck his head out the window the whole way asking about every interesting thing we came across which of course I had fun answering (making up some of the answers too!). We got to Denver late in the evening made a quick stop to counter check if what we’d carried would be enough (I added tinned sardines and some “adult supplies” from Tommyknocker to my menu). From here we headed straight to the trailhead at the top of Guanella Pass through Grant where we camped at Burning Bear campsite.
Our hike started early Saturday morning and by 7:30 am we were almost at the mountain lakes past the creek (Scott Gomer Creek) and the willows. We were determined to summit it so we kept a rather fast pace with stopovers to enjoy a few bites and take some photos against the lush background. Three miles up and the green disappeared leaving a rocky trail to the top. Josh led all the way running ahead and taking photos of small creatures for his travel scrapbook. The first mile was a bit easy but things were growing tougher as we ascended the fairly sloped trail. We got to the summit after 4 fun hours and marveled at the beauty of the surrounding peaks choosing which one to try next. The whole journey to the top and back took us 8 and a half hours (we were in no hurry and wanted to save up on energy while enjoying the breath taking scenes). The descent was quicker taking us only 2 hours to get back to our camp. We spent the day at the camp making friends with other hikers and getting tips of which 14ner was best to try next.
What We Liked
The trail is clearly marked so getting lost is out. The hike was not as exhausting as we had anticipated and we can’t wait for our next challenge. Make your way to Colorado and we will find you there a race you to the top. As for the next challenge, we will flip a coin for it!