Believe it or not, for the last couple of months our family has been in training for hiking up a high mountain. You see, my husband had this dream of climbing a 14,000-foot peak before his 50th birthday. He can never find anyone who wants to go with him. Time was running out, but I didn’t want him going alone either. So I thought, let’s all go and this way the whole family can share in his triumph.
I researched all of the 14,000 foot peaks that are closest to Arizona and actually found one in Southwestern Colorado where the trailhead starts out pretty high up. On some other peaks you have to hike 6-11 miles one way! This one was a short distance of only about 2 miles. Thus, our destination would be Handies Peak in the San Juan Mountains, part of the Rocky Mountain range.
The San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado contain some of the state’s most wild and rugged mountains, as well as some of the finest old mining towns in the West. The San Juan range is part of the Colorado Mineral Belt and featured prominently in the early days of gold and silver mining. Major towns in the area, all old mining camps, include Telluride, Silverton, Ouray, and Lake City. This was going to be a real adventure because none of us had ever been to the Rockies before.
To begin preparing for the trip, my husband and our 17-year-old son hiked up Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona at 12,633 feet. A few weeks after Rich and Pete climbed Humphrey’s Peak, the rest of us went up there. Joshua (7) and I actually made it halfway to the top! Then Josh got tired and couldn’t go any further. I carried him all the way back down on my back – kind of like carrying a 50-pound pack!
The purpose of this climb was to see how far everyone could get, and we made it to the 2-mile mark which is the distance to the top of Handies Peak, so we were fairly hopeful. Every night after that, we ate a light dinner and then went walking up a steep hill near our house to get in shape. We were all pretty psyched about doing this. The only uncertainty was how we would fare at the much higher altitude in Colorado.