Sunday, March 08, 2009

Cooper bags his first peak

Spring is here, celebrated officially by the start of Daylight Savings last night, and we wasted no time getting into the spring habits. Today Jill, Coop and I headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking. We didn't really have a destination in mind when we left, but after some banter we settled on Dear Mountain. We'd done part of the trail before in the winter on showshoes, and it offers a good hike with great pano views.

So we hit the parking lot about noon, and the temps were fine but the wind was substantial. After some debate, we decided it was OK to proceed hoping that when we crested the ridge, Dear Mountain would give us some shield. Didn't really work that way, but it was a good idea.

Coop is suited up and ready to go.
From Dear Mountain Hike

From Dear Mountain Hike

Up we went. Its a pretty good uphill slog to reach the peak, which sits a bit over 10,000 feet. Its a sustained climb with lots of switchbacks, but we made good time as we pressed on trying to find some shelter from the wind. Normally a great trail for pics, today we snapped just a few as we tried to keep moving.

From Dear Mountain Hike

From Dear Mountain Hike

As we went up, the snow got deeper and temps got colder but it was still quite bearable. Coop was just hanging out in the backpack, seeming to have a good time. He was quite animated a couple of times as we climbed through big rocks, often found him smacking me repeatedly on the shoulder when he got excited.

Trudging up, up, up
From Dear Mountain Hike

Jill hitting yet another switchback
From Dear Mountain Hike

We seemingly topped out, but hadn't seen the peak yet and Coop was starting to get angry so we stopped for some lunch. After feeding Cooper and ourselves, we asked another couple who we saw pass about the peak. After getting a bit of info from them, we decided to press on to the summit. It was a tough final pitch up, but we clawed our way up the snowy hills (Product Endorsement - Yak-Trax are incredible) to the scenic vista.

View from the top, 14k foot Long's across the valley from us
From Dear Mountain Hike

From Dear Mountain Hike

High above Estes, Estes Lake looks tiny from here
From Dear Mountain Hike

Would have loved to have had some time and good weather to snap lots of cute family pics on our first pseudo peak, but the wind was raging up there and Coop was growing antsy. We looked around a bit, then hit the accelerator on the way down making quick work of the snowy descent.

Not really a "peak" per the usual CO standards, but for a 7 month old and a guy who is 4 months removed from an Achilles rupture it sure felt good. Jill has been working out like crazy, and it translated to the hike. Despite being at 10k feet, she did really well on the climbs. I was pleased that my surgically repaired tendon felt so good this soon. Conditions were choppy snow, rocks and ice and I was able to get up and down (while carrying Cooper) pretty well today.

Welcome Spring, we've got big things planned.


Perry said...

Sounds like a blast of a day--great weather too! Glad you all got out and had a great time. Perry

Perry said...

Oh, and we had some chicken last night with the BBQ sauce you gave us--just to kick off the daylight savings/spring thing--it was a great treat--still not as good as yours though!

Anonymous said...

Do you always leave your kid sitting on the road all bound up in a backpack? :)

Jennifer B. said...

How much does Cooper weigh now? That backpack looks really heavy.

Joel White said...

He is in the 18 - 19lb range these days. Strangely enough, the backpack and Cooper felt really light compared to my loaded up backcountry pack.

Good training for sure.