Sunday, January 31, 2016

Our Mt. Cutler Summit

This weekend, David woke us with the declaration that he had a surprise hike planned.
He even packed and prepared all  of our lunches for a picnic on the trail.
It is hard to say no to a man who has packed five sack lunches himself. 
: ) 

Although it looks frigid, we had temps in the low 50s.
It was perfect hiking weather.

We are expected to get 24 inches of snow by Tuesday, so this hike was kind of like the last supper before we are buried again for a few weeks. 

I had no idea where we were going. David loves to surprise us and we get used to it.
Mostly because I think he thinks I will say no to some of the more wild hikes he finds for us!

When we pulled into a dirt parking lot at the base of a steep, snow covered path, I saw the sign:
Mt. Cutler.

We have discussed hiking this area for quite some time, but Henry, at three years old, is just old enough now to have the stamina to pull off a few miles on his own two feet.

We crossed a darling wooden bridge as the path wound up the mountain.

The path was steep and icy.  Both boys fell once or twice.
Even David slid a bit, but regained his stance.

I'm just going to go ahead and say that this summit wasn't the best for young children.

If our kids weren't so conditioned at this altitude with numerous big hikes under their belts,
I would say it wasn't a great choice.

But, they did great and we had a load of fun!

More and more sheer drop offs became part of the scenery as we gained altitude.
Thankfully, the trail was wide in these sections and the kids could stay on the inside.

We could see way out over the horizon.

Nature is just so gosh darn beautiful to me.
I could photograph fallen logs, mossy rocks, and pine cones for a living. 
: )

Shooting on manual was tricky during this summit.
We were in the sun, in the shadow, under a cliff, beside a drop off.
My light was really challenging.

This shot is overexposed, but I loved seeing Hollin and Henry giving it their all with their Dad.

We finally hiked high enough to enter a heavy coniferous forest.
Jagged peaks could be seen through the tree cover.

Such a feast for the eyes! 

As we rounded the mountain, the snow lessened and we had several stretches of warm, packed dirt.

Little Henry, age three, was busy picking up pine boughs and using them as brooms on the path, his dirty face as happy as it has ever been.

Many sections were treacherous.
Steep with drop offs and loose footings, these areas were not great with small kids.

This is a picture of David telling me to put my camera around my neck and fully concentrate.
He had scouted ahead and what you don't see is that around the bend to the left, they are only a few feet of walking space and complete cliff face drops to the right.

Henry ended up being carried much of this distance with Harbor wisely hugging the edge, ever the Boy Scout in full concentration.

The views were stunning.

I felt like Bilbo in the Hobbit, pushing hard toward the Lonely Mountain, a little bit terrified and a whole lot adrenaline focused.

The scary sections were brief and short.
90% of the hike was wide and safe.

Always know what you are in for, read ahead, and prepare for hikes.
Especially in Colorado where weather is unpredictable at high altitude.

The wind gusts were around 30 mph as we narrowed in on the summit.

So thankful for this strong and able hiker Daddy of ours!
There is always room in his arms for one more.

We decided this spot was basically Hollywood motion picture worthy and set up our tripod {my responsibility to lug to the top} for a family picture.

I mean, seriously?!
Have you ever seen a more rugged and wild and free place in your life?!

I know I say it about every hike, but this view is my favorite.

Wind whipping my ponytail

This place was deemed our picnic lunch location!
We dropped our packs and camel backs and enjoyed David's sack lunches with gusto.

Our littlest hiker was content to sit in a bowled out section in a slab of wild granite, munching a grilled cheese.

Isn't she the sweetest!

The granite made a perfect table and chair combo for us all.

We used the tripod to snap a few posed pictures of our picnic...

and then let it take random pictures on the timer.
I love this natural, real life shot it captured.

Harbor is such a smart and mature kid.
He is so fun to hang out with.
I really mean that.
He is just easy.

I like to tell people that adventures don't have to stop once children are born.
With a little planning and a will to succeed, you can continue exploring.

David's lunch.
: )

Photo by Harbor

I just adore this little girl.
What a trooper!

Dirty knees and all.
: )

Totally unstaged as I captured a tender moment between father and daughter.

After Harbor finished eating, he and I explored our picnic area a bit.

I would love to have a party- or a wedding shoot!- right here!

Summit point!

After our summit, we headed back down.

David pointed out several frozen waterfalls, suspended in motion, across the valley.

This area was another knee knocker.

The drop off began with a slope before emptying out over the edge.

David is carrying both little ones in this section.

And there is Harbor, following in his well-placed footsteps.

I watched Harbor round the bend through my lens before hanging my camera around my neck and following suit.

Going, going..

My turn.

And then we were back onto the snow laden trail once again, all very happy to be off the top.

This guy.
Geez, he is pretty swell.

Photo by Harbor

I can't recall what he said that was funny, but this picture is a favorite.
Good job, son.
At least your mom gets to be in a few photos, right?
: )

Photos by David

When we saw the little wooden bridge in sight, we knew we had made it!

It was getting colder, as the threat of snow was slowly moving in.

After the hike, David stopped to check the map once more to see the exact elevation. 

Such a bland little spec on a big map, but such an awe inspiring afternoon.

Happy hiking!

We hope you had a great weekend!

Mt. Cutler summit-

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