Friday, October 23, 2015

Pikes Peak Summit {Fall 2015}

A few weeks ago, we were finally able to check a big adventure off of our Colorado bucket list:
our family of five summited Pikes Peak together!

We had actually tried a few times in the past to accomplish this feat,
but the timing just wasn't right.

When we first moved here and Henry was a few moths old, we attempted to go up with my parents. They had come to visit and help us move into our first home here.

The park ranger, however, turned us around as they had an infant stop breathing just a few days before.  Babies under a year aren't really encouraged to go up, especially if they aren't acclimated to the altitude.

We, of course, know all that now.

We have become fast experts in altitude and hiking and mountain safety, but we were pretty green behind the ears when we moved here almost three years ago.

We tried to summit a few other times, but as you  well know, Hollin came right on the heels of Henry- 19 months apart, to be exact.

We had trouble getting pregnant with Henry in Michigan and ended up losing two babies in those four years or our kids would have been much closer in age.

My Michigan doctor encouraged us to have our children sooner than later after those loses.
So, as soon as Henry turned a year old, we hoped for an easier journey with number three.
Hollin was that answered prayer manifested.

Long story short, we were finally {finally!} able to make our Pikes Peak summit!
So exciting!

Our good Arkansas friends, the Gaughans, invited us along on their first trip, and we couldn't say no.
The drive up was foggy and cold and cloudy.

The weather in the Fall is almost always unpredictable.

High cloud cover often means snow in the high country, and we were hopeful for clearer skies up top-
and a view!

We passed hundreds of Aspens in varying shades of yellow and gold.

My favorite time of year, hands down.

As we climbed higher and higher, 

my fear of heights got the best of me, and I had a full blown panic attack.
Hyperventilating, tears, white knuckles.
It is a 14,000 foot mountain without guardrails.

Just throwing that small detail out there.
: )

David held my hand on the way up and kept saying apologetically,
"I'm so thankful you are doing this for our family. You are such a great person."

I think he was trying to make sure I wasn't going to jump out
 and walk back down on my own two feet.
: )

When we finally arrived at the top, we were high above the tree line.

Nothing can grow that high,
It is a cold, barren, dry world.

Up above the clouds, above the fog, and above the jagged lower foothills of the Rockies, we discovered a magical place.

We beat the Cog Railway by a few minutes, which would soon be unloading about two hundred tourists, so I snapped a series of pictures of our friends in front of the iconic Pikes Peak sign, and we hurried inside the gift shop.

And it is a good thing we did- that sign was hopping for the next hour with selfies.

The Pikes Peak gift shop is well known for their fresh donuts.
When you are up that high, treats are a TREAT!

Everyone took turns holding sweet Hollin.

Judith and I in the gift shop, trying to keep an eye {or two!} on our seven combined kids
{running in crowds of 200 on top of the world!}

The Cog Railway runs from Manitou Springs up the 14,000 ft. mountain.
Pricey, but a great way to see the mountain without having to drive and face the lack of guard rails.
: )

Up where the airplanes fly!

Our family
Harbor- 6 yrs., Henry- 2 yrs., and Hollin 14 months

David was so happy to have finally summited together.
He has actually been up before on his motorcycle.
When he took the engineering job here in Colorado out of Michigan,
 he came ahead of us by about a month.
I stayed alone in Michigan with Harbor {4 ys.} and a newborn Henry 
and packed that entire house without him.

Oh, the memories!
Anyway, when David was here solo, he rode his Goldwing motorcycle to the summit alone.

He and I are obviously cut from different cloth.

After leaving the summit, we made a few stops on the way down.
One, to let the dads and older kids climb rocks, and lastly, about halfway down, to have a picnic lunch among the Aspens and Pines. 

I brought my tripod to capture our two families brown bagging it.
You know the funny thing... at home, sandwiches are... meh.
But after a day at high altitude and travel and exploration, a sandwich never tastes so good.

The map of our day showing the upper half of the climb

We stopped one final time at a reservoir and let the kids pan for jewels 
and look at the gold Aspens across the lake.

My Harbor, my 1st grader.
Love this kid!

I took hundreds of pictures, but have tried to just document the ones with a story line.

Kids, if you are reading this someday, 
know that I was terrified to go up,
 but count this day as one of our greatest adventures. 

 I watched you like a hawk up at the top, but I did let you climb trees at the picnic.

And bring home pine cones and sticks, which trashed the backseat of our van.

Awesome, mom, right?
: )

I love you all with my whole heart.

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