Posts Tagged With: 14er

Mount Massive

Mount Massive is huge! Well the landmass under it that is. Mt. Massive is the third highest mountain in the lower 48 (behind nearby Elbert and Mt. Whitney in California), though it is the second largest mountain in North America behind only Denali, in Alaska, nearly 6,000’ higher. We rolled into Leadville and needed to decide our plan of attack. We only had one day and it came down to Massive or Elbert. Although Elbert is higher (by a couple feet) Massive seemed to be calling. As we looked at our possible routes, the trailheads were only about 2 ½ miles apart, I wanted to go up one side, down the other, and have Seth run and grab the van when we were done so we would get to see both sides of the mountain. Perfect!

We decided to take the shorter route up, just four miles but all the climbing in it, sounds like a good plan right? The drive from the lower trailhead was a little crazy but luckily we drive a super van. We got up to the trailhead in the afternoon, made dinner while the little people played in the creek, and went to bed in the van.

 

Sometimes you cook for 7 people on a JetBoil, no big deal.

Sometimes you cook for 7 people on a JetBoil, no big deal.

 

For some reason we usually are late starting up the mountain. This is aside from once when I made banana bread the night before Redcloud. I believe we started up around 9, Tenny on my back, Tru on Seth’s, and a pack on both of our fronts. The beginning of the hike was super pretty in the trees but quickly we were exposed on a boulder field, and for me things became interesting. The big three were far out in front and Seth and I kept having to ask them to wait for us to keep up. Here’s the secret: THEY WERE PLAYING! They had just spent a ton of time with an awesome new family/ little friend in Silverton. She loves horses and she really sparked our kids’ interest in them. They all began reading and learning as much as they could about horses, to the point that the entire way up and down Massive they were “riding” their horses. Let me tell you, this was the best motivator ever for Tay. Usually he bonks 1-1 ½ hours in. That was not the case this time! They were all in front the entire way, and although that was amazing, it was also frustrating for me.

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A ride on Momma's back! She ended up loosing that Buff... my favorite one.. book!

A ride on Momma’s back! She ended up loosing that Buff… my favorite one.. book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This intense climb with a pack and a 30lb toddler on my back, plus the added pressure of my oldest three killing me on the climb, was stressful for me. About half way up Tenny was in my ear asking repeatedly when she could walk. I finally said “now” and put her on the ground. I secretly thought she would be tired in 10 minutes and back on my back for a nap and I would have won. I mean, we are climbing over rocks, what three year old can last?! Apparently mine when she wants to spite me! She marched on and we lost Seth and the big three… ummm… where are we?

Fast people!

Fast people!

The "Slow Ladies"

The “Slow Ladies”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used my poles to help direct her to the next boulder and to help make sure she didn’t fall, but at a couple of points I lost the trail. With no Seth in sight we ladies were on our own. To be honest, I didn’t trust myself to find the way. At one point a marmot sat in our way on the trail refusing to move. We stood back staring at it hoping it would scurry away but it wasn’t willing! I threw a rock in its direction and it stayed. Tenny asked “does it want to bite us Mommy?” I think it did! I threw another rock and off it went. Thank goodness! They also have white marmots up there which Tenny thought was pretty amazing.

A friend!

A friend!

Not a friend...

Not a friend…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a while Tenny and I turned a corner to see all the big ones plus Tru sitting on the trail, alone. Ummm??? Apparently Seth had headed up to try and see if the weather was going to turn. The weather on 14’ers can change quickly and be really dangerous. It was starting to look a little gloomy but being that we were on the west side we could not see the weather coming from the east. We all sat and had a little snack until Seth came down and informed up he thought we could make it. Perfect! Onward and upward!

The crazy gang!

The crazy gang!

 

 

Along the way we saw a mountain goat, which was pretty awesome for everyone. We all happily trudged along eventually hitting the summit for some awesome views! Little Tenny had just hiked almost 2,000 vertical feet and as she said “Mommy this is real rock climbing!” This little girl is amazing! We only spend a few minutes on the summit since the weather far to the North of us was looking a little crazy and the lightning off in the distance did not make me feel too stellar. Hiking down was harder for Tenny, but we made it down to the trail to the lower summit with her tripping the entire way. I could tell she was tired so I put her back on my back (with her pleading to stay on the ground) and within minutes she was asleep. Rough life.

 

All those fast people ahead of us!

All those fast people ahead of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boys on the summit!

Boys on the summit!

 

Girls on the summit!

Girls on the summit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The way down the children continued to play happily and Seth and I tried to keep the pace up, afraid of it becoming dark and of the weather turning on us.  Tenny woke up and got back off my back to “run 50 miles”. The trail on this side is pretty tame so I didn’t mind too much but we had to encourage her to keep up. Eventually we ran into my +1 (stalker!) and he joined us for the rest of the way down. At some point +1, Tenny, and I were pretty far behind and I had a mommy intuition to throw her on my back, which she again did not agree with. We picked up the pace and right as we hit the trailhead it began to hail, hard. My +1 drives a truck so there was no way to send everyone with him. I told Seth to take the babies and he, the babies, and my +1 went flying up the crazy road to the van.

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Heading down

Heading down

The big three and I were in pain. They hail was unrelenting and we ended up taking shelter under a short tree which didn’t help much (there was no lightning and the tree was the smallest in the forest, don’t judge!). Somehow Tay’s The North Face shell did not make it into his Camelbak before we started, so he was wearing my not-so-amazing jacket and I was wearing fleece. It was cold! Eventually the hail stopped and it was just rain so we stood in the middle of the parking lot waiting huddled together. This is where our talk about marriage came up (      ).

 

My +1 literally came flying down the road and I stripped the kids of jackets and threw them in his truck. It took Seth longer since he had to put the babies in their seats, so they waited for him somewhere a little warmer. Once he came, we got them all down to their underwear and in their seats in the van. No hypothermia here! Of course a short drive down the road the rain stopped and the sky was blue again. Got to keep it interesting for us!

Suckers for an awesome view! Somewhere near the top, always worth it!

Suckers for an awesome view! Somewhere near the top, always worth it!

 

What we learned:

-To be thankful for +1 showing up and the hailing waiting for us to get off the mountain

-Double check the kids’ shell is always in their Camelbak

-The babies do not like hail, at all

-Mount Massive has beautiful views!

-We eat a lot of nutrition/snacks when climbing 14’ers

 

Why we hike 14ers.

Why we hike 14ers.

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Categories: Our Homeless Summer | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Handies and The Terrible No Good Very Bad Day.

Last summer, when we were visiting Silverton for a few days, we tried, and failed, to hike Handies Peak. Here is how it went from both of our perspectives.

 

We left Silverton right after breakfast. As we were driving out of town, we were relying on my quick look at a map of the area and Sabrina and Paulette’s memory of having driven to Grouse Gulch, the start of our hike up Handies, during Hardrock over a month prior. We ended up taking the wrong road out of Silverton and wasted quite a bit of time before we realized where we should have been. We got to the Grouse Gulch Trail Head around late morning.

KIds and Nature

Kids and Nature

 

As we started up the trail, a series of long switchbacks, the kids quickly started to feel the elevation and the hike. We had made it up the switchbacks and about three quarters of the way up to the American Basin-Grouse Gulch Pass when a break became absolutely necessary. Several kids were bonking hard. We stopped at a small glacial lake that had a rock outcropping to shield us from the building wind and had snacks. Nourished and rested, we headed up the rest of the way to the pass, which tops out above 13,000’, which would end up being our highest elevation for the day.

Seth and Tenny looking amazing!

Seth and Tenny looking amazing!

 

Snack time.

Snack time.

During our hike up, Sabrina’s stress fracture hadn’t seemed to inhibit her greatly. The kids were moving slowly and the lower impact of uphill travel did not seem to be affecting her too much. As we started down into American Basin, things started to turn to shit. The boys took off down into the basin and within minutes were several hundred yards in front of us. I tried to stay back with Sabrina to help, but trying to keep up and the impact of keeping her footing moving downhill produced visible winces of pain in her face. We regrouped at the bottom of the basin and started our climb up Handies, now nearly 2,000’ above us. This quickly proved to be too much. On top of this, it started to hail. Fucking great. Sabrina sat down and we all put on our rain shells. This is the point that the day turned from a poorly executed hike to a total failure.

Sabrina still feeling "OK"

Sabrina still feeling “OK”

 

From the moment I got out of the van it was a disaster. I was my usual self trying to get everything done and in the rush slipped out of the van causing some ridiculous pain in my facture area… oops. Not being willing to admit failure, I strapped Tru on my stomach and threw the pack on my back. I’ve never hiked with poles but thought possibly this could relieve some weight from my leg and gave it a go, not too gracefully. As Seth said the up hill was fine, down I was just hoping to not cause a full fracture. My careful steps still hurt and how slow I was going began to scare me more and more. At some point I knew this was going to get terrible, I just wish I had known how terrible it could get.

 

Sabrina couldn’t get back up. She was either in shock, or early hypothermia from sitting down and having her body temp plummet in the now quickly worsening wind and hail/rain. The decision was made for me to run across Cinnamon Pass to see if the route would be possible in the van. This would prevent Sabrina from having to climb back up and over the pass and down Grouse Gulch. From where we were in the basin, it was only about a mile to the American Basin Trail Head. As I ran over Cinnamon Pass, I realized that this would be a real challenge to get the van back over. I also realized that with the worsening weather, the near impossibility of getting Sabrina back over the pass which we had crossed, and the much longer trip over Cinnamon Pass than I had anticipated, I had no choice but to drive back over. I finally reached the van maybe seven miles from where I had started, and at least an hour longer than I had estimated (I had guessed the pass to be three to four miles). I got in the van, turned the key, and the bane of my existence, the gas light, flicked on with three quick chimes. My heart sank. Not only would I have to make it over Cinnamon Pass, I would have to hope like hell I didn’t run out of gas in the process. The first side of the pass was sketchy, but not too stressful in our 15-passenger van. As a tangent, our van is built on a truck chassis, but at the time, we had some pretty suspect tires for what I was trying to pull off. Since, we have put commercial-grade off-road tires on the van to help ensure we are prepared for our adventures. Anyhow, the second half of the pass is where the day became truly terrifying for me. Our 15-passenger van, though it is built on a truck chassis, and has decent ground clearance, is still a 15-passenger van. It is really long. Trying to navigate the worst hairpin turns I have ever encountered in my life, as the van is making all kinds of noises indicating that it is about to break under the stress that I am putting it through, while trying not to look off the edge of the road that drops a thousand feet to the dabin below only a few inches away from where I am maneuvering six-point turns still sends chills down my spine. Somehow, both the van and I made it down the road to the American Basin Trail Head, passing Jeepers with their jaws on the floor at the sight of what this jackass in a 15-passenger van was trying to pull off.

 

So Paulette, myself, and 6 kids sat. Paulette and I sat very close together huddling for warmth as the hail/rain continued on and off. The kids quite surprisingly and to our benefit played happily most of the time. Tru even stayed  pretty silent maybe sencing the same thing Paulette and I were feeling. The conversation with us was kept to mundane topics. As time drew on it was later discovered that we were thinking the same thing, there was no way it took this long, something terrible happened. I watched the small amount of cars leave the trailhead and the daylight slowly go away, what were we going to do? Could we hitch a ride with someone? Not knowing what the road out looked like I wondered how terrible it would be to take all the kids sans carseats out of here. At what point would we have cell phone reception again and be able to call seth, my +1, anyone for help? The thoughts stayed terrible but neither of us talked about them…

 

I parked the van below the 4WD point for the trail head access road. Both to get my feet back on solid ground and to preserve what little gas we had left. I had been gone hours longer than I had told Sabrina and Paulette that I would be at this point. As I ran the road the rest of the way to where they were waiting, the looks on their face puzzled me, at first. They started to yell “Where is the van??”. It hadn’t occurred to me that approaching on foot would scare them. It was nearly dark. I told them that the van was just down the road. I also suggested that Cinnamon Pass wasn’t the road that I would suggest for us getting back to Silverton. They agreed. At this point, I the gravity of what I had just pulled off sunk in and I almost started to cry. That was the scariest shit I have ever done.

 

Paulette and I basically freaked when he came on foot. After he described his journey we were happy to take the 4 hour drive around and we shared our fear of him being dead all around. Im pretty sure he was not the only one that cried, that day was probably the most emotional day of all of our lives. So today Handies and I have a beef. Although I may be healing from a stress fracture (undiagnosed from before the trip) I am ready to finish what we started last year. Hopefully with no Cinnamon Pass stories this time!

 

Categories: Our Homeless Summer | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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