Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  08/08/2011
Date Climbed:   07/25/2011
Author:  jvenrick

 8th birthday summit  

Decided to take my boy on a trip for his 8th birthday and chose a hiking trip to Colorado. We had taken a couple short hikes in the Sierras when he was 5 so thought it was time to step it up a bit. Great choice especially since the weather in Dallas has been over 100 and up to 110 every day since July 1st. Nothing better than a road trip. Other than a couple of small buttes and mesas in Texas we finally saw some small mountains in New Mexico. Nice to see since all we get near Dallas is short trees and prairie. Made it to Raton for lunch (skip The Sands restaurant) then through the pass into CO. Sad to see the fire damage but bet it'll be pretty when it regenerates. On to Aguilar then up towards Cordova Pass where on the way we saw a herd of elk. Even heard some bugling. Drove through the arch in the road, took a couple pics, and pitched a tent near Blue Lake. Next day had breakfast in Cuchara and drove to Great Sand Dunes Nat. Park. WE Stopped and read every historical sign we saw, very interesting, and made our way up the valley towards Buena Vista. Great scenery. Took a road that followed Chalk Creek and hiked the short Agnes Vailles Falls Trail. Headed to Leadville and decided to hotel it since it was getting late and I wasn't sure where we were going to camp. Plus I wanted to go out to eat for Kian's birthday. Stayed the night at The Delaware Hotel. Then went to Quincy's for some protein. Excellent prime rib and the price is right. Rose early to head to the Halfmoon/Mt. Elbert campground. It was very crowded being a Saturday but were fortunate to find an excellent camping spot that a family was finishing up with. Great spot near creek covered in Christmas trees and fairly secluded from other sites. Set up camp, ate some lunch then decided to hike the Halfmoon Lake Trail. This was a beautiful hike with cascading streams, meadows and numerous rocks that had to be scaled. Kian did great on this first challenge of our trip. We made it above the tree line, through snow field and wildflower meadow. Stopped and visited with an interesting couple who were glassing a mt. goat on the mountain across the valley. They kindly offered to let my son and I view the impressive animal as it scaled a seemingly vertical face. Saw some pikas and were working our way past the wetland when Kian developed a sudden headache. We stopped, drank some water, ate a little trail mix and reassessed. He still had the headache so we turned back knowing that I wasn't going to mess around with any symptoms of altitude sickness especially with a young one. Headache disappeared as we reentered the trees. Another hiker said we were only 50 -100 yards from the lake. Next time. But now I'm getting concerned about tackling Mt. Elbert on Monday. Made it back to camp rested and ate. Love the cool mountain air. Rested and fished Sunday. Kian caught one trout in the pond and dad let it get away as he was rinsing it. The campground cleared out that afternoon with only a few remaining. Woke Monday morning at 0530 had a quick breakfast and made it to the trailhead at 0620. Kian really enjoyed navigating the stream and meeting a couple friendly dogs that passed us on the trail. Can't give detailed trail times but we took our time, had numerous breaks and enjoyed every moment. About an hour above the tree line Kian was looking a bit ragged so we ditched his Camelback for the final ascent. This was a good move as he got his second wind, or third, forth, or fifth, not sure. We made it to the top just as a thundercloud was moving in and rumbles could be heard close by. We took a few photos and since we had a signal, made the phone call to mom to tell of our achievement. As we began our descent it began to sleet just a bit. Just before heading down, Kian turned to me and said this was the best birthday ever and the best trip ever and one day he's going to take his son to the top of the mountain. Doesn't get better than that! He's a champ, dug down a accomplished something wonderful that he'll remember forever. We returned with sore feet, knees(me), a couple scrapes but with a great sense of accomplishment and pride. That night we celebrated with steaks cooked over the fire coals and some ginger ale. Kian fell asleep soon after dinner as it began to drizzle. Headed home the next day and took our time through the mountains. Great trip!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Way to go, guys!!
08/09/2011 01:59
Congrats on your summit! The highest point in CO! WooHoo!!


Great Dad
08/09/2011 13:44
Sounds like you're a great dad and gave your son a birthday to remember! My dad HATED hiking but I still remember our first big hike and it started me on a hobby I continue on my own to this day.


08/09/2011 14:42
Congratulations to you and Kian for a great accomplishment. Sounds like an awesome trip.


I'm impressed
08/09/2011 15:38
Its quite an accomplishment for your son to hike for that many hours placing one foot in front of another, should be a proud dad. Lack of paragraphs make this a difficult read.

Congratulations Kian!

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