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Love This Kid!

So many reasons I love my Dude. He’s so kind and awesome and amazing and fun and loving and funny and eclectic and laid back and optimistic.

And he laughs – a lot – even when his 100 lb self is carrying a 42 lb. backpack on a 10-day hiking trip.

Here’s to hoping he keeps his awesome sense of humor and optimism. Mwah!

Hike Down Pikes Peak – Barr Trail

For Dude’s hiking merit badge for Boy Scouts, he has to complete 5 continuous 10-mile hikes and 1 continuous 20-mile hike (along with a bunch of other requirements, like hike plans and all that jazz). We decided to get crackin’ on those hikes and get one done before school starts. What did we choose? Hiking the 13 miles down Barr Trail from the summit of Pikes Peak to the trailhead in Manitou Springs :-)

Dude called one of his buddies who agreed to hike with us, which I thought was awesome. I know that when I was 11 I didn’t have a friend who would’ve said “Yes!” when I asked them if they wanted to get up at 6:30 a.m. on the last day of summer to complete a difficult 13-mile hike :-)

Next we convinced Hubby and Princess to get up early and drive us to the summit after we dropped off the other vehicle at the trailhead in Manitou Springs.

***The day after we completed the hike, someone emailed me (from MN!) and asked my opinion on how the hike down is with kids – pretty cool timing if you ask me. I figured I’d use some of my answer to her to explain how we felt on our hike.***

Hiking down Barr Trail is no easier than hiking up Barr Trail – it’s just a different kind of “hard” . . . much more stress on knees, ankles, and hips. But not cardio difficult at all. 13 miles and over 7,000 foot elevation loss. Let’s go!

Summit House…
Use the facilities and make sure to stock up on water . . . next stop for “privacy” is in the forest at treeline, 3 miles down the trail. Next stop for water and actual vault toilets is Barr Camp, 6 miles down the trail. Here are Dude and his buddy at the summit (14,110 feet) before we started our hike down. They look ready!


Miles 1-3…
The first 3 miles are above treeline, so no shade whatsoever. 14000+ feet in elevation, so even though you’re going down, you’ll feel the lack of oxygen. The views are SPECTACULAR above treeline. Trail is rocky, but not difficult. The 16 golden stairs at the top are 16 tough switchbacks. We encountered quite a few runners up here training for the Ascent and Marathon – crazy people!

Here are some photos of the hike down the first 3 miles above treeline…


Can you see Dude and Buddy in the middle of the photo on the left? Gives you an idea of how tiny we are compared to this giant beautiful mountain and trail.



Not sure about you, but I didn’t get to see views like that when I was 11! They say you can see Kansas from up here on a clear day :-)



See my little tiny Dude and Buddy almost in the very middle of the photo?



We made it the first 2 miles! I had to make sure I was in at least one photo – the last time I hiked up Pikes Peak it was cold and cloudy and raining – definitely no photos or views that day!



Dude and Buddy made it the first 3 miles to treeline – woo hoo!



Proof – that we still have 10 more miles to go. After a nature break (finally trees!), some geocaching, and a snack, we started on the next 3 mile trek to Barr Camp.

Miles 4-6…
At treeline, there is an A-frame shelter – just a wood shelter for anyone that might need to sleep over there. Nice place for a snack break or nature break in the trees if necessary :-) Once you get into the trees, there’s not much to “do” but hike . . . for 10 miles . . . downhill :-) About half way down the trail from the summit, you’ll run across Barr Camp. Awesome fun little camp where people always stop to chat with each other and the caretakers. This is the ONLY place with facilities, other than the summit. You can use vault toilets and purchase water, gatorade, and other snacks. There is no free water available . . . you must filter if you get it from the stream. Nice picnic tables and other places to enjoy lunch. If you’ve got a few minutes, check out the cabin – walk all the way to the back and check out the National Geographic library – the oldest book I found was from 1952! Pretty cool. People can stay over at Barr Camp – they’ll cook you an awesome spaghetti dinner with homemade sauce and a yummy pancake breakfast in the morning. They’ve got games and tons of books in the cabin. Be sure to sign the log before you leave Barr Camp.

Some photos from miles 4-6, treeline to Barr Camp…


Duma helps the boys do a little geocaching on a break.



Still 7 miles to go! They boys were doing great, but they were starting to feel their ankles and shins hurting, which meant more breaks for longer periods of time.



We finally made it to Barr Camp! We took a nice break to use actual toilets, grab a couple geocaches, eat lunch, and just enjoy the awesomeness of where we were. Whether you’re hiking up or down, making it to Barr Camp is quite an accomplishment.

After a good break, we headed out on the next 4 miles of our hike.
Miles 7-10, Barr Camp to the cutoff to the top of the Incline…
Pretty boring part of the hike. Your knees and hips will start to ache a bit, but it’s an easy hike. In the trees, so not much to see, although there are a few spots where you can look up and see the summit and marvel at how far you’ve hiked! It really is pretty amazing. Just keep hiking . . . you’ll run into quite a few people trekking up to Barr Camp. At about mile 10, you’ll see a brown trail sign that points the way to the Incline. The incline is the old railway that used to go up the mountain a ways – you’ll see it when you pull up to the Cog Railway – there’s a big scar in the hill. People hike up these railway bars (it’s like walking up a billion stairs . . . great workout on the way up, terrible to hike down!). If you’re not too tired, take the little detour to the top of the incline and look down – pretty amazing (however, we were too tired, so we didn’t do it) – of course you’ll add .5-1 mile to your trip if you hike up there and back.

I have absolutely no pictures of this part of the hike. Like I said, it’s pretty boring since it’s totally in the trees and you just hike and hike. The boys were getting quite tired . . . dude kept forgetting to check the GPS, so we missed a few geocaches. They also started lagging behind quite a bit and taking more and more breaks . . . BUT, they kept going without complaining. I love how they just kept chatting and giggling and even laughing even though they had to have been wondering what the heck they’d gotten themselves into!
Miles 10-13, top of the Incline to the trailhead…
Ick. That’s all I can say. These, IMHO, are the longest 3 miles of the trail, whether you’re going up (done it 3 times – 97, 2002, and 2009) or down (twice, including last Friday). There is nothing to see (except for one pretty cool large boulder formation that you have to hike under), you’re tired, and you can’t wait for it to be over. Just keep trekking and going. You’ll run into a few people coming up behind you – actually running down the trail (totally not me!) after hiking up the incline. Just let them by and wish it was you getting down that fast :-) After about a mile, you can see the parking lot (and you’ll be hearing the train horn) and your car will look tiny. The last 2 miles of the trail are just a ton of switchbacks, none that you can cut, but all that you wish you could to get down faster since you’re so close. You’ll finally hit the last step and feel a total awesome pride in your accomplishment :-)

I’ve only got one photo of this part of the hike . . .


I love this photo :-) You can’t tell because I had to crop the photo smaller, but they’re laughing and giggling even though they were quite miserable at this point . . . I’m guessing they were delirious.



They made it! I was so proud of them . . . they were real troopers. They really didn’t train or prepare for the hike, and I know their legs and ankles were killing them for the last 10 miles of the hike, but they rallied on (didn’t have a choice really) and finished without complaining one tiny bit.



This final photo? My foot on the very last (or first if you’re hiking up) step of Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. This is the LAST time I will step foot on that trail. 3 times hiking up and 2 times hiking down are plenty for me :-)

Overall, it took us about 8 hours (2.5-3 hours more than I wanted it to) . . . but the boys spent quite a bit of time at the caches we found and also stopped quite a bit on the last 3 miles to rest their weary legs. The three of us felt good Saturday EXCEPT our calves really hurt and were still sore on Sunday.

One giant checkmark in the box for Dude . . . I’m pretty sure this was the most difficult of his 10-mile hikes!

Pancakes Anyone?

After my adventure in Manhattan, I was TOTALLY needing to get up to the mountains with my family. So on Sunday morning, we loaded up the kids, the dog, the backpacks, and the GPS and headed out for a hike.

We decided to hike to Pancake Rocks. We’d been on the trail before to go to Horsethief Falls, but had never taken the additional 2 mile trail to the pancakes. The first 3/4 of a mile is up hill – not bad, but definitely up hill. We were geocaching on the hike, so we took a little detour on the Ring the Peak trail to hunt for our first cache.

Have boulder, will climb.


Half a mile down the trail we got to the location . . . but had no luck to start with. Then Dude (who must’ve actually been listening to me at some point in the past month!) mumbled the finding-the-cache-mantra “Natural, but out of place . . . natural, but out of place.” He rummaged around under a giant pine tree and found a string hanging from a branch . . . he followed the string and VOILA! We found our first cache of the day.


It’s always fun to see what’s in the caches. This one was a microcache, so there wasn’t really room to trade anything, but they signed the log and left a little bouncy ball anyway.

After back tracking to the regular trail, we finally came to the turnoff for the Pancake Rocks trail. Woo hoo! We were totally unprepared for this little 2 miles one way hike. We didn’t know we would gain 1400 vertical feet in 2 miles of trail . . . that’s like the trail hiking up Pikes Peak. We kept going, switch back after switch back, waiting for it to level out. I have to say I’m proud of the kiddos for doing so awesome – it was toasty in the woods with no breeze – they did awesome just hiking and hiking without complaining.

Dude and Princess always seemed to find something to “do” during our little rest stops.


No they didn’t build that, but it sure was fun to plan on/in/around :-) Off we were back up the trail. We were so excited when the trail leveled off at “the top” cuz when you reach the top, you’re there, right? Wrong! After a brief flat walk, the trail took us DOWN  . . . which of course meant going up on our way back down . . . ya, I know. Turns out we had to go down and up three times after we’d reached the top! But, looking for the geocaches always makes it a bit more interesting – we found cache #2 at a perfect time we all could’ve used a little rest and snack anyway.


Checking out the log is always fun. Dude and Princess also dropped their travel bugs in there . . . we’d picked one up in a cache in MAY when we went to Grand Lake and the other a week or so ago at Fox Run Park – so the bugs are now officially travelling. Yay! Signed the log and Princess traded her compass for a teeny tiny eraser.

Off to the pancakes! We had to be close . . . but we started to doubt it a bit because it seemed like we’d gone more than 2 miles and it didn’t seem like there would be any coolness just around the next bend or at the top of the next hill.

*** I don’t have any idea why we didn’t check the GPS at the beginning to see how many miles we’d hiked so we had some clue. We’re smart that way. GPSes are for geocaching, not personal location, right? 😉 ***

We kept on and finally made it here…


… stacks of pancakes! Got butter? Syrup?

Nope . . . but we did have PB&J and chips and water and beef jerky . . . so we all picked our spot for lunch. Dude and Princess always find the coolest spots – literally and figuratively :-)


The boy and his dog always have fun hiking and climbing around. Every little boy should have a dog!


We had to take our family photo – you never know when we’ll get that one shot we want to actually put on the Christmas card.

*** 1) it’s not easy to set a camera up to take your picture higher than the camera will be, even with the coolest little tripod ever made 2) after hiking to the pancakes, it’s not easy to make your legs RUN up rocks and climb a bit to get into the picture before the timer goes off in 10 seconds 3) I have no idea where Duma was when we took the picture – probably off pretending to be a mountain goat. ***


We wandered around for a while and found a REALLY cool old sleigh thingy – wooden skis that were rounded to form the sleigh and they had metal nailed to the bottom so they’d actually go on the snow. Definitely looked like there was a spot to tie up a horse . . . maybe it was old, maybe it wasn’t . . . but it was still cool, and we’ll still pretend it was super old and someone tried to be pulled over the mountain with their horses in winter and had to dump the sleigh and just ride the horses down the other side with all the rocks.

We did find cache #3 on our way down.

On the way up, I may or may not have told the kids they couldn’t possibly be going the right way to get the cache and they needed to get back on the trail because the trails usually turn and go right to the caches when they’re a 1 or 2 difficulty and oh my god you don’t know what’s behind that big stack of boulders and you might get eaten by a mountain lion or you might fall right off a cliff to your death and how would we get you out and I don’t want to return all of your school supplies to the store because I can’t handle going to Walmart twice in one week!

They may or may not have found the cache exactly where they were headed on the way up.

I probably hung my head and apologized to them.

But oh – the pancakes . . . look at the pretty pancakes!


Ahhhhhhh . . . family, rocks, trees, SILENCE, and amazing blue sky with big fluffy white clouds.

Home Sweet Home.

Memorial Day Weekend – Day 2 – A Complete Bust

It only got worse from Day 1 . . . on Day 2, we woke up and headed back to Grand Lake for buffet breakfast at the Fat Cat Cafe – TOTALLY worth it. Yummy! The English couple that runs the place is delightful, and the food (especially the pastries and other desserts) is amazing.

With full tummies, we headed back to the cabin to change and get ready for some geocaching! Lo and Behold, the lure of a gravel road around a large beautiful lake got the best of us. There was a campground? Only 9 miles down that dusty dirt road? Of course we went to check it out!

We were not disappointed. The drive itself was fun, but we were happy as clams when we discovered the campground. Finally, a secluded campground that didn’t have all the trees cut down from the beetle kill. We decided to head up the road a little further to check out a little lake that was supposedly up there . . . we were not disappointed. Always ready, we grabbed our gear out of the Highlander and did this.



Again, no luck in the actually catching fish department, but it was quiet and rustic and beautiful and the kids were content. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Back to the cabin, we got our gear to go geocaching! The first one said “there might be a little brush bashing if you take the direct route from the trailhead rather than stay on the trail.” A little brush bashing my ass! THIS was the brush bashing:



Along with the first successful geocache find of the day, Dude and Princess also found this awesome little “fort” as they called it.



Back on the trail, we had successful find of geocache #2 beneath a Juniper bush about 100 yards up (and down and around) the trail.



Back on the trail, Dude started to lead us to geocache #3. After a little while, I made him read me the clue again . . . something about an awesome view of some Peak off to the southeast. Hmmmmmmm . . . if the peak we can see is to the southeast, why are we heading DOWN the trail to the northwest? “Because that’s what the arrow says!” I just have to say that if it weren’t for my logical thinking that maybe, just maybe, the trail that goes up might take a sharp turn, we’d have followed Dude into lala land. The electronics are not foolproof – or 9 year old proof (or 39 year old proof for that matter).

Anyhoo, we had successful geocache #4 find about a mile later.



For those of you who are not familiar with geocaching, you go online to the geocaching web site, locate geocaches you want to find, and download the coordinates into your GPS. You can also print the clues and decipher them for a little help. Then you head out hiking and follow the arrows and distances on the GPS to get you to the cache. Caches can be of all shapes and sizes . . . they usually have a log book to record your name and the date of the find and also have little trinkets inside to trade. If you take something, you must leave something . . . this, of course, is the most fun of geocaching for the kids – the hike is the fun part for me and Hubby :-) Princess hit the motherlode in this geocache and traded a little marble maze toy for a shiny purply fish necklace.

Then we headed on to geocache #4 . . . which required a drive in the car. Successful find #4 was here:



Princess got HUGE eyes when she saw a tube of glittery lip gloss in the tin! I put the cabosh on that trade because it didn’t have a safety seal on it – explaining to Princess why she couldn’t have lip gloss without a seal. She was all bummed, but wasn’t willing to give up the fish necklace for anything else in there.

Then we got half way back to the car . . . and Dude decided he didn’t like his trade and wanted to go back – so he and Princess went back while Hubby and I went to the car. The kiddos got back and we were off. Then we realized Princess had taken the lip gloss; so we made her give it to us so we could throw it away. Oh. My. GAWD! Complete tired hungry thirsty 7 year old girl tantrum – right there in the car. We got to the trailhead of geocache #5 and I stayed in the car with Princess while Hubby and Dude went searching . . . it was an easy find. I got out to help them because they found the location, but not the cache. Princess followed me . . . we had successful geocache #5 find for the day, and Dude made the appropriate trades and signed the log.

How fun! 5 for 5 – WOO HOO!

Time for awesome dinner at a little pub in town before heading to a local kids’ fishing pond to try for some more fish. Amazingly, this happened!



And then this happened!



Could it be a trout big enough to actually keep and maybe eat? Why yes, yes it is . . . until it falls off the hook back into the lake because Dude didn’t bring it onto shore while I shouted over and over at him to look at me so I could get a picture of the very first big enough to eat fish he’s caught.

No fish for us.

Oh well – s’mores at the cabin were a good consolation prize.

Awesome breakfast, great finds on campgrounds and secluded fishing lakes, successful 5 for 5 day hiking and geocaching, yummy dinner, successful fishing, and s’mores. Yes – Day 2 was definitely a complete bust. Check back to see how terrible our last day – Day 3 – turned out to be!

Memorial Day Weekend – Day 1 – A Total Bust

A friend and coworker of mine let us use her cabin up in Tabernash, CO for Memorial Day weekend. We were SOOOO excited! An inexpensive weekend for the fam up in the mountains – what more could we ask for? We got up there later on Friday night because we couldn’t leave until the kiddos got out of school. We instantly loved the awesome cabin – it’s an old ranger cabin on the first acre of a national forest.

After a good night’s sleep, we decided to head to Grand Lake so we could drive a little ways up into Rocky Mountain National Park and go on our first hike of the season – a 7 mile round trip to Lulu City, which has the remains of an old mining town. We were quite bummed to find out before we left that Trail Ridge Road from Grand Lake to Estes Park was closed temporarily due to ice melt on the road. The Ranger said the hike to Lulu City was still too snowpacked for us to make it. So, we decided to improvise our entire day, which you’ll see from the following photos was a total bust . . .

We stumbled upon this little reservoir while looking for a fishing spot for the kiddos. There’s an awesome little rustic campground next to it . . . we’ve already picked our favorite spot.



We went on a different, short hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Princess and I got to practice our balance beam act while avoiding the mud holes.



We also saw a humonstrous herd of elk out in the meadow, right before we got to touch the tiny headwaters of the great Colorado River.



After our mini improvised adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park, we headed into Grand Lake to actually really go on our first real live 7 mile hike of the season to see Cascade Falls, which according to the Park Ranger, were spectacular at the moment because of all the snow melt. On our way to the trailhead, we pulled over to check out a couple of moose that were just hanging out having a snack. I know, the kids look thrilled.



The first couple miles of the trail are on private property, which means it was fenced off. We got to see some cool stuff like this that led to conversations about human’s effect on nature.



We got to navigate around a couple of monster mud holes on the trail where the water spilled over from the creek.



We got to see some awesome frozen samples of the falls.



We got to hike, literally, on the edge.



We got to have lunch with an awesome view of the falls.



We got to hike even higher and further to find a great view of the falls from above.



I’m no genius, but it seems like it would take a boatload of snowmelt to create that much water rushing down the mountain at once!

After this, we got to go fishing at the kids’ fishing hole in Grandby. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any fish. We did, however, make the most of the little park and mess around running the bases on the baseball field before we headed back to the cabin for some dinner.

After dinner, we headed out back to the awesome fire pit to finish off our day with some yummy goodness knows as the s’more.


As you can see, the first day of our long weekend in the mountains was a total bust. You’ll never guess how awful Day 2 was! Be sure to check back to find out.

85 Minutes

That’s how long it took Matt Carpenter to “hike” Barr Trail up to the summit of Pikes Peak for this year’s ascent. 13 miles, 10% incline, 7400 foot elevation gain ending at 14,110 feet at the summit house.

Me? Ummmmm . . . I made it to the top in a mere 525 minutes :-) WOO HOO! Since my goal was 10 hours and I made it in just under 9, I was a happy camper – er hiker.

My hiking buddy and “Common Moms” teammate, MS, and I started the hike at 0500 this past Saturday in the chilly dark hours of the morning. I even have a blurry photo of the clock (yes that is a.m.) and temp in my car and a picture of my very first, and most likely last, race bib as proof :-)




Our spirits were high, our legs were rested, our backpacks were full, and our headlamps were shining bright when we hit the trail. There were about 400 people doing the hike for the fundraiser – not everyone started at the same time – but we looked like a trail of ants hiking up the trail. I had that song “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah” in my head for the entire first 90 minutes until it started getting light out! You’re welcome for getting it stuck in your head now, too 😉

We rocked the first part of the trail and got to Barr Camp at 0800. I, personally, was WAY excited about that! The last time I hiked to Barr Camp it took me over 4 hours and I was mad and crabby the whole way because it felt like it was uphill the whole way. This time, the “flat” part actually felt flat and was a great break. I guess that running I’ve been doing since July has paid off. Here we are at 10,200 feet . . . looking happy as clams.


We took a snack break at camp to get a little rest and put some energy in our bodies. Then we waited in line for the bathroom for 20 minutes and FROZE! It was wet and foggy and chilly and if you weren’t moving, it was downright chilly – this coming from the woman who wears a jacket only while snoboarding :-) Ick . . . but, we set back out at 0900 and were excited to work toward the A-frame at timberline.

We hit Timberline – and the first bit of sun – about 1100 and took a tiny break to soak in the sun. We didn’t stay long because search and rescue was getting weather reports that sometime between 1200 and 1400 the snow was going to roll in. So, we headed out on the last 3 miles of the hike, hoping to beat the snow and see some of the amazing views you can only see while hiking above treeline. Bummer . . . clouds came in just as quickly as the sun had appeared :-( It really was disappointing to not see any of the cool stuff, or the summit (grrrrrrr!!!) but we trekked on. Here’s a picture of Mary Susan and the awesome view behind her – fog. There’s also a view of Sadie’s behind – Sadie just stared at her owner and dared her owner to make her hike down that mountain.


The last 3 miles of the hike above timberline are my favorite part of the hike. I don’t know if it’s the fact that there are only 3 miles left, that you can see the summit, or that the beautiful views make it all worth it . . . but I enjoy the hike above timberline. On this particular day, however, it got colder and the fog got thicker . . . and I got sssslllloooowwwweerrr. It took us 45 minutes to go one mile – UGH! The thing that made me WAY happy was that my lungs were not the part of my body slowing me down – it was my legs . . . they were getting sore. My right leg did NOT want to move . . . my hip was killing me – took a good dose of ibuprofen, hung out until it kicked in, and headed back out. But my cardio – YAY – it was good to go . . . made me very happy :-)

We trekked on, I rested often and made it to the 16 Golden Stairs – WOO HOO! Those last 16 switch backs, which at points involve actually climbing over some rocks instead of “hiking,” are a KILLER . . . it’s so annoying because you’re SOOOO close to the top but it takes forEVER to get there.

But, at 1345 in 32 degree temps, I made it up the last step and saw the BEST smile I’ve ever seen from those cheering us on at the end. I got a medal placed around my neck and a tearfilled hug and the biggest thank you ever from a direct recipient of the money we all raised doing this hike. All the complaining the voices inside my head did over that last 1.5 miles of the hike immediately stopped. Oh the hike was so worth it!

MS and I hung out in the warm building and drank some yummy soup while we watched the snow start to fly about 1400. We have no photo of us on the summit. I know. ME! The person who always has a camera with her, has no picture of us at the summit. Reason 1 . . . we were tired and getting up to walk outside was not something we were interested in doing. Reason 2 . . . I don’t think we could have convinced anyone to get up and take our picture. Reason 3 . . . it was snowing out and we were cold. So, you get this picture of us sitting on some chairs in the warm building that you’ll just have to trust me is indeed at the top of Pikes Peak.


Then came the scariest part of the hike . . . the ride down the mountain in the van. Oh. My. GAWD! I’m an aggressive driver, and this guy scared the crap out of me! They’d closed the Pikes Peak Highway to everyone but the van service that was transporting all the hikers down the mountain. They closed it because of lack of visibility from all the fog, yet our driver thought it was completely acceptable to scream up to the hairpin turns, slam on the breaks, fly around the corners, hit 60 THREE TIMES on the way down, AND PASS PEOPLE! If you’ve ever been on the Pikes Peak Highway, you know how NOT OK that is. Everyone on the van was telling him to slow down and saying that the passing was ridiculous. Sheesh . . .

We did make it down safe and sound and a little sorer than when we started, but so very happy that we’d done the hike.

A huge thank you to all of you who donated to my fundraising efforts for the Brain Injury Foundation! I really appreciate it.

Next 14er on the list? Something quite a bit easier . . . Mt. Democrat here we come! It’s been 12 years since I’ve done that one . . . looking forward to doing it again.

I’m Taking the Pikes Peak Challenge

In a moment when I suddently forgot that I’m middle-aged, overweight, and out of shape, I registered for the Pikes Peak Challenge. It’s a hike up Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak on September 12th to raise money for brain injury awareness and prevention. I get to start hiking at 5:00 a.m. – otherwise known as O-dark-thirty – it’ll still be dark for at least another hour, so I had to buy a headlamp. I’ll continue hiking up the mountain for 13 miles, gaining 7400 feet in elevation until I reach the summit at 14,110 feet. If you wanna feel what the “grade” is, set a treadmill for 8-10% incline and start walking – do that for 13 miles. While I’ve summitted Pikes Peak twice, I’ve never hiked up in one day – I’ve hiked half way, camped overnight, and hiked the rest of the way up and down the next day. This will definitely be a challenge for me! I just hope I make it past the half way point by the designated time so I don’t get turned around!

Why am I doing this hike? I started out doing it because a friend and I wanted to hike Pikes Peak and another friend told us there was a fundraising hike. We figured if we’re going to hike it anyway, we might as well help someone else, right? So, we, along with more than 350 other hikers, are going to raise money for the Brain Injury Association

Once I started reading about the fundraiser, I was even more glad that I decided to hike for this cause.
In the United States, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs every 23 seconds. Based on national estimates, there are more annual incidences of Traumatic Brain Injuries than Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injuries, HIV/AIDS and Breast Cancer put together. It is estimated that over 20% of our American Soldiers are returning home with a TBI.

In this country there are 3 million persons living with breast cancer and public spending is $295 per person; 900,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS and public spending is $18,111 per person. In comparison, there are 5.3 million persons living with disability from TBI and public spending is $2.55 per person.

Here’s where I ask for money for the first time on this blog – I truly believe this is a donation worth making. I’ve already met my fundraising goals, but more money for the association can never hurt.

Please donate if you can . . . $1, $5, $10 . . . whatever. All donations are tax deductible, and you will recieve a receipt if you want one for tax purposes.

  1. In the upper right corner, click Make Donation.
  2. If you want to apply your donation to my fundraising efforts, scroll down a little bit to the Hiker drop down and select my name. Or leave it blank to donate to the general fund.
  3. Enter the rest of your donation information.

Think about me on Saturday around 10:30 a.m. mountain time and hope that I’ve passed the half way point! Think again between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – I hope to climb the 16 golden stairs and summit Pikes Peak sometime during that window :-)

Wish me luck!

Summer Rocks! Part VI

This is the sixth and finall in a series of posts called Summer Rocks! that chronicle our adventures in hiking this summer. Why Summer Rocks!? Because my kids were so lucky this summer to get outside and see so many beautiful things, and it seemed that everywhere we hiked, there were huge rocks for the kids to climb on and beautiful sites to see.

I posted about our family hikes up at Golden Gate Canyon State Park here and here. Go check them out!

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part I hike to the Palmer Lake Reservoirs here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part II hike to Four Mile Canyon here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part III hike to Glen Eyrie here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part IV hike to the top of Hahn’s Peak here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part V hike to Fish Creek Falls here.

Here we go! Summer Rocks! Part VI – White Water Rafting!

I figured this adventure fit the Summer Rocks! requirements because the scenery was awesome and even though we didn’t hike on rocks, we did paddle around them :-)

Hubby and I had so much fun white water rafting while the kiddos were in MN visiting Grandma and Grandpa that we decided to take them rafting to end the summer. We found out that you only had to be 5 to raft the Bighorn Canyon trip, which is above the Royal Gorge, so we signed up. They LOVED it! Queen Taunya and Mr. Terry joined us, which made it all that much better.

Here we are, ready to go. All I can say is it’s hard to look smart in a helmet!



QT tried to get the kids all pumped up for their rafting trip. While they were excited, they were also a little bit nervous about it. Dude was expecially nervous, thinking we’d go over these huge rapids and flip the boat or something. We assured him over and over that we wouldn’t go over anything big and that we would NOT end up swimming.



We’re standing at the edge of the river while the guides unload the rafts and get them into the water. Of course, Dude finds a boulder to stand on :-)



Dude got to decide whether he wanted to just ride or paddle . . . he chose to paddle. Good man!!!



Princess was busy sticking her tongue out at the rest of us while we paddled and she got to sit there in the front and enjoy the view :-) Gotta love the hockey player grin!



Here we are going through our first rapids! It. Was. GREAT! Our guide, Gary, was awesome. He was so good with the kids and made sure they had a lot of fun. Dude was busy paddling away while Princess sat on the front seat between Dad and Mr. Terry.



One great thing about Gary? He’d steer us toward rapids that would get everyone totally soaked . . . Princess wasn’t too keen on that right away because it was a bit chilly, but she got into after a couple times and had a blast. She even started yelling out our commands for Gary – “Forward 2! Forward 4! Forward 22!”



We truly had a great time on the river. Dude, Princess, and QT got out to swim in a couple parts where it was calm enough to. Dude asked Gary if we could hit some rocks instead of going around them, so Gary obliged :-) Princess said she wanted to go backwards, so Gary turned us around backwards. We spotted some big horn sheep on the cliffs above us, which was really cool as well. Gary truly was an awesome guide and we had a wonderful time.

Gary also hooked us up with a lunch spot afterward . . . this place. They have awesome hand-made shakes and truly the biggest burgers ever! It’s just a dive off the main drag, but oh so yummy :-)



Think I was kidding about the size of the burgers? Nope! The burger on the right is about the size of a McDonald’s quarter pounder. Um ya – that other burger, HUGE!



Hubby did his best to put away the monstrosity of a guacamole jalapeno burger, but couldn’t quite do it.


So in addition to experiencing white water rafting and seeing big horn sheep, the kids got to see Hubby’s arteries harden right before their eyes :-)

So there you have it . . . 6 incredibly wonderful adventures all fit into one summer . . . in between 2 weeks they spent in MN with their grandparents.

Are my kids spoiled? Maybe a little . . . but they’re not rotten. We couldn’t do these awesome fun things if they weren’t willing to go on an adventure and hike and get outside and try new things. They appreciate everything we do and everything they get to see. They say thank you every. single. time. To me, that makes it worth every minute.

So how about you? What was your most awesome adventure this summer?

Summer Rocks! Part V

This is the fifth in a series of posts called Summer Rocks! that chronicle our adventures in hiking this summer. Why Summer Rocks!? Because my kids were so lucky this summer to get outside and see so many beautiful things, and it seemed that everywhere we hiked, there were huge rocks for the kids to climb on and beautiful sites to see.

I posted about our family hikes up at Golden Gate Canyon State Park here and here. Go check them out!

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part I hike to the Palmer Lake Reservoirs here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part II hike to Four Mile Canyon here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part III hike to Glen Eyrie here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part IV hike to the top of Hahn’s Peak here.

Here we go! Summer Rocks! Part V – Fish Creek Falls.

After our exciting hike up to the summit of Hahn’s Peak, we took the next day to relax and hang out at the lake, kayaking, swimming, reading, and doing whatever we wanted. But the next day, we were ready to go again, so we headed into town to hike Fish Creek Falls. It’s a nice little trail that gets pretty high traffic, but we’re always suckers for a water fall :-) We were not disappointed!



We hiked the trail down to the falls and crossed the bridge to get a closer look. We decided to head on up the trail further. Yes, we like to live on the edge 😉



Unfortunately, the lake was a 5 mile hike, and quite frankly, it was hot and we just weren’t up for it. So we headed back down to the bridge and climbed around on the rocks in the water and cooled down a bit. Always gotta find rocks to keep the boy happy 😉



Seriously, I think Dude would have sat here all day. He just loves climbing on rocks and being by water and just hanging out in nature, no matter what’s going on.



When we got closer to the falls, Dude spotted that log across the rocks there in the middle of the picture. Of course he wanted to walk across it! Knowing he’d never get to it, we told him to go for it :-) He got about half way there before he turned around and came back and posed for a picture.



After our short little hike, we headed back to the campground and just chilled out the rest of the afternoon. We’d been having so much fun and were ready to just hang out and enjoy the peace and quiet. Since it was Tuesday, it was very quiet in the campground, just how we like it :-) We hadn’t gotten to do any fishing, so after dinner we got some bait and headed Hahn’s Lake, a little lake a couple miles from the campground. You’re allowed to only have paddle boats on the lake . . . it was BEAUTIFUL!



Princess put some powerbait on her hook and threw her line in the water. It took about 2 minute before she snagged a little rainbow trout! She was so excited! It was the only fish we caught, but it sure was fun :-) And really, who cares if you catch fish when you’ve got a view like this?!


After the sun went down, it got quite buggy so we headed back to the campground for the  nightly fire and s’mores. We stayed up quite late on our last night and were treated to a wonderful show! Remember that meteor shower that happened a couple weeks ago? Yup – we got to see some of that . . . or at least we think we did. We saw some of the biggest and brightest shooting stars ever . . . 12 in one hour! So we figure it had to be part of the meteor shower. Regardless of what it was, it was spectacular and a wonderful way to end our camping trip.

Check back tomorrow for Summer Rocks! VI to see what kind of adventure we took the kids on to end the summer.

Summer Rocks! Part IV

This is the fourth in a series of posts called Summer Rocks! that chronicle our adventures in hiking this summer. Why Summer Rocks!? Because my kids were so lucky this summer to get outside and see so many beautiful things, and it seemed that everywhere we hiked, there were huge rocks for the kids to climb on and beautiful sites to see.

I posted about our family hikes up at Golden Gate Canyon State Park here and here. Go check them out!

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part I hike to the Palmer Lake Reservoirs here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part II hike to Four Mile Canyon here.

I posted about our Summer Rocks! Part III hike to Glen Eyrie here.

Here we go! Summer Rocks! Part IV – Hahn’s Peak.

We took our second camping trip of the season a couple weeks before the kids started school. One last chance to decompress and hang out as a family before school starts and we have bed times to enforce :-) We ventured up to Steamboat Lake State Park, about 30 miles outside of Steamboat Springs and spittin’ distance from Wyoming. We’ve been up there before and really enjoyed the camping. This time? Again, we were not disappointed! This was the view from our camp site. 10,839 foot high Hahn’s Peak. You can see the old fire lookout tower on the top.



Anyone who knows the Boedies knows that sitting and staring at this for an afternoon and evening only called out a challenge . . . that we would summit Hahn’s Peak. Reading all the literature online about it, it seemed like a pretty doable hike – rated intermediate/difficult, the trail was only 2 miles one way – we could totally do that. So the next morning, we got up, packed some lunches and headed out to the trail. We had to drive up an old forest service road for 3 miles to the parking lot, the hike up the rocky road for about another 1/2 mile before getting to the trail head. A couple times, we weren’t sure if we were in the right spot, but we saw the trailhead sign and were good to go.

There weren’t many rocks to climb on with this trail, so Dude was a little disappointed. He and Princess both were pretty “not into it” most of the hike up, but they got to enjoy some great views and the beautiful wild flowers that were all over in the forest.



They were both much more into the hike when we got near treeline and could see things. That body of water behind us? Steamboat Lake . . . the campground where we were staying. Isn’t it beautiful?!



When we came around another corner, we could see the car, where we had started hiking. Want to know how far up we’d hiked, and we were only about 3/4 of the way there? The picture below has a large clearing near the middle. To the right of that is a little clearing that’s almost all white. To the right and up from that is another clearing . . . THAT’S where our car is parked! Have I ever mentioned how grateful I am that my kids love the outdoors and are willing to do almost anything with us?



Dude and Princess were doing great and weren’t having a bad time – but they were getting a little antsy to get “there.” I had the talk with them about how sometimes you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone if you want to see and do some amazing things. They weren’t buying it. But when we turned the corner and they could see the peak again, they were excited to keep going! See that road up the peak on the right? That is not where we get to hike. We had to go up this other mountain a ways first.



They were both way excited when we saw some old cabin ruins. They wandered around in there a little bit until we decided it was too unsafe for them.



One more corner after the cabin ruins and we hit treeline . . . woo hoo!!! Treeline is quite low on this peak. Regular treeline is usually around 11,500 feet, but since this peak is only 10,839 feet high, it was quite lower. Here’s the last sign to ensure that we were on the right trail . . . looks a little too much like a grave marker to me 😉 The kicker was that it didn’t indicate which way to go – if you can see, the trail splits. We went to the right, hoping it was the shorter route . . . it was :-)



Dude was so happy when we got past treeline. We were all surprised because the hike above treeline was all really loose rocks. It was like a dump truck had dumped tons of loads of rocks to make this hill. It was really weird! And see how you can see the trail in the photo below? You can’t see that when you’re up there. It all looks like a bunch of rocks and you just kind of pick the shortest route to the top. Apparently we were at least close to the actual trail. Dude, of course, was in heaven because he had found all the rocks he could ever dream of to hike on :-)



As I mentioned in previous posts, afternoon thunderstorms are a danger on the Front Range . . . they roll in almost every afternoon like clockwork, which is why you have to start hikes early. They of course put this sign on the fire watch tower to scare the crap out of you when you get there.



The view of the lake and campground (to the right of the lake) from the summit of Hahn’s Peak. We made it! The kids were so proud of themselves, as they should have been! Sure they’ve hiked 4 miles before, but never at that altitude. We were sooooo proud of them.



There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the hike . . . we saw maybe 3 other groups of people, which was awesome. We were kind of happy, though, when another lady and her dog came up to the summit as well so she could take our picture on the top of the fire lookout :-)



As always, the views were AMAZING! I’m so happy we live in such a beautiful state and can experience so many fun things without going too far or spending much money.



After a lunch of PB&J on the summit, we decided to head back down. Yes, we had to hike right off the end of that hill . . . no it was not really steep on the other side. But again, see the trail in the photo? You can’t see that when you’re hiking. You just have to wing it. And hiking down those rocks was MUCH more difficult than hiking up! They are very loose and we all slipped and fell a few times. But, we made it down pretty much unscathed :-)


After our wonderful hike up Hahn’s Peak, we headed back to the campground to put on our suits and head to the lake for some swimming and kayaking. It was amazing, just an hour later, to be sitting on the beach staring up at that peak that we had just hiked.

Check back tomorrow for Summer Rocks! Part V to see where we went next.