Disclaimer: We talked to our doctor and got approval from him before attempting this. Because we have hiked both Grays Peak and Torreys Peak before, we were familiar with the area and felt comfortable taking him up Grays because we knew the terrain and knew what to expect. Knowledge is key. Our little boy Tyler has been hiking with us several times, one of which was a peak at 12,000 ft. We also researched the weather everyday for a week prior to the hike to make sure that we would be hiking on a good weather day.
Start time: 8:40 am
Summit: 1:00 pm
Left summit at: 2:00 pm
End time: 4:00 pm
Most people would think we were crazy. Honestly, it was actually one of the coolest experiences we have had because it was such a big accomplishment. Although it was a great day, it was also one of the most challenging hikes physically, which is why it was such a big accomplishment. We had no expectations of summiting Grays. We thought it would be cool to make it to the top, but felt no pressure since we had already done it in the past. I didn't want to have that high of an expectation because I feel sometimes you get wrapped up into trying to reach your goal no matter what the circumstances are. I would never want to put my child at risk, so we were just out for a family adventure.
We took are subaru forester up to the top. We usually do not like to start our 14er hikes any later than 6:30 am but because we had our little boy with us, we chose to start later so it would not be as cold. On a side note, those who did not have 4WD had to hike an extra 1-2 miles (one way) depending on how far down the line you had to park. Be prepared for a longer hike if you are not able to make it to the top in your car.
The start of our adventure...family photo at the trailhead sign.
Grays Peak Trailhead
We hiked through the willows and then were greeted with an amazing view of Grays and Torreys peak. Of course we had to take another family photo.
Grays (left) Torreys (right)
It was a rude awakening at the beginning of the hike. My husband carried Tyler (30 pounds) which meant that I had all the gear. My overnight pack weighed about 25 pounds and I wasn't even sure if I was strong enough to hike today. The first part of the hike was a consistent elevation gain. Not too steep, but definitely took our breath away with all that weight. Once you get past the willows it levels out. This is where we sped up the pace. We past a short boulder field and then decided it was time to take a "baby break".
We fed Tyler a banana and some milk and then let him sit on the rocks and relax for a bit. Here we took an awesome photo of him with Torreys Peak in the background.
My little stud
With Ty fed and us rejuvenated from the break, we felt strong and headed up the mountain at a faster pace. We got several comments on the way up about how impressive it was that we were able to hike with Tyler. My favorite quote was a gentleman describing how cool it was that we were hiking as a family and saying "that is what makes America so beautiful". I was surprised that most of the comments were positive. I guess I was expecting to get some evil looks as if we were being irresponsible for take our baby up this peak. We were as prepared as we could be and I monitored Tyler very heavily on this hike. My biggest concern was the altitude, so we took this hike one step at a time ready to turn around if there were any signs that he was not doing well. Tyler was loving it and chattering the whole way up. He loves the outdoors!
The trail was great through the valley. The views of Torreys and Kelso ridge were amazing.
The trail gets tougher and a little steeper. This was the roughest terrain of this hike. Not too bad, but you still need to be careful.
Tyler fell asleep in the pack. I made sure he was really sleeping though and not just passed out from the higher altitude.
Tyler passed out (not literally)
The trail starts heading left and places you atop a hill with an amazing view of Kelso mountain and the entire valley you just hiked through. The tundra was so green.
Kelso mountain (left) Tyler is asleep.
You will see a cool rock outcropping to the left of the trail. I thought it would make for a sweet picture with such steep exposure so I headed for the top.
Me atop the rock outcropping
zoomed out pic of the rocky cliff with Kelso in the background.
The next few pics are more family pictures. Might bore some of you....but I wanted to throw them in for my own records.
Me and Ty
Another family pic with Ty awake
Tyler in the pack
The weather was awesome with no clouds in sight, Tyler was happy and we felt great so we continued up the trail. On the way we were greeted by a mountain goat.
The trail splits off so you can either head towards Torreys or left towards Grays. Torreys is a Class 2 and much steeper with looser rock. Grays was the safest mountain of the two with much better trail all the way to the summit. We started up the switchbacks and then took one more "baby break" to feed Ty because we were not sure how windy or cold the summit would be.
Matt and Ty on the switchbacks with Torreys in the background
Me and Ty
We made it to the top of Grays Peak with our 14 month old! It was beautiful weather!!! What an accomplishment The first thing we did was check out the weather around us. The few small clouds that finally rolled in were white and fluffy and did not look threatening. We ended up staying on the summit for about an hour. We just wanted to relax and enjoy this wonderful moment to have our little boy experience his first 14er with us. Many people were surprised that we made it to the top and gave many congratulations for it. Tyler loved being on the summit! He looked like he was doing great and had no signs of altitude sickness. Here are some summit pictures.
We made it!!!
1st 14er at 14 months old! Way to go little man.
He looks so little on such a big mountain
We headed back down at 2pm. It only took us 2 hours to get down including one "baby break". The sun was HOT! I was glad that I had layers on and quickly changed into my T-shirt and turned my pants into capris. The wildflowers were AMAZING! What a treat to see this late in the season. There were also a lot of huge bumble bees.
Bumble bee on flower
Red flowers on the hill
We made it back down by 4pm and took one last family pic on the bridge.
Last family pic on the bridge. Tyler looks like he is ready for another nap.
Overall, It was an amazing day! I can't believe that we actually made it to the top of Grays Peak. Tyler did so much better than I expected and I surprised myself that I was able to do that hike with the weight I was carrying. We were kinda using this as training for our Kit Carson/Challenger hike coming up over Labor Day. It was definitely the workout I was looking for and gave me some insight on how ready I am.
I would not say that I recommend taking a baby up a 14er because everybody's situation is different and everyone's babies are different. It worked out so well for us and we were extremely pleased with how the trip went. Tyler was such a trooper and didn't complain once. He is a great baby and has always been very adaptable. I'm glad we did this trip and I have no regrets. What a great memory that we will cherish forever.