On one of our last gorgeously temperate days, S decided he wanted to take his oldest boy on a “man’s day” hike.  Many years ago, S hiked to a particular CO peak called “Eagle’s Peak,” and wanted to take his son there.   It was a several mile hike, so they planned to leave in the morning, in hopes of reaching the summit before JR collapsed from exhaustion.

Being mom, I, of course, insisted they pack plenty of food and water, and I dressed JR in layers so he could be sufficiently warm or cool as they climbed over 2000 feet or so in altitude.  That may not seem like much, but that 2000 foot climb means the trail winds up to 9368 feet high.  Needless to say, temps can change significantly at that altitude! 

Around 8:30 or so, I dropped S and JR off at the trailhead.  As I drove back down the road, I passed another hiker headed to the trail, and his gear included hiking sticks and shoe spikes for traction.  I looked up at the sheer rock face of the summit and I seriously wondered what I had sent my son off to do.

The trail head. Notice the white sign over JR's shoulder. It is a "Beware of Mountain Lions in the area" sign.

I shouldn’t have worried, though, as shortly after my departure, they were having tremendous fun–in a man sort of way, of course–hiking, exploring, performing dangerous stunts that would never be allowed if mom were around…you get the idea. 

A little rock-scrambling

They found a comfy little tree-bench just perfect for a rest stop.

More rock scrambling

This tree was actually growing around a large boulder. JR is sitting in the portion of the trunk that hasn't yet closed up. You can see the boulder behind him.

By mid-morning, they were getting close to the summit, but after all the rock scrambling, climbing, and maneuvering of the slippery, steep trail, JR was starting to peter out.  S decided it was good time for a snack break.

JR willingly agreed to that idea and collapsed on the ground, complete with apple in hand. I think it took him a while to find the strength to raise his hand to his mouth to actually eat the apple!

After a revitalizing rest and snack, they set out once again.

The trail meandered through fields and forests at times, and S said this area was just full of aspen trees that had shed their leaves for the winter.

Finally, they reached their goal, the 9,368 foot summit of Eagle’s Peak. 

At the summit

The summit marker

Enjoying a spectacular view of the U.S. Air Force Academy

Someone set up a tribute to veterans. The sign says, "Veterans, past, present, and future, Thank you!"

A memorable father/son moment

The fun didn’t stop at the summit, though.  After a lengthy break and a while spent enjoying the view, the father/son team headed back down the mountain.  Some areas of the trail were very steep, and JR spent a good bit of his time sliding down.  During the trip, they encountered the same guy I had passed as I left.  He and S helped JR pick some good sticks from the side of the trail, and he showed JR how to use the sticks properly to prevent sliding.  JR had a great time practicing his new skills and improving his traction. 

JR and a new-found friend working their way down the trail.

On the way down, they passed a small waterfall.

They made it down quite a bit earlier than expected, ultimately completing the entire trip in around 4 hours.  JR showed impressive stamina.  In fact, I had spent the morning running errands, and had not planned to pick them up until around 2 in the afternoon.  They were done just after noon, so instead of waiting, they hiked another 3/4 mile or so to the U.S.A.F. Academy visitor’s center, watched a video, and learned some Air Force history.  After an hour or so there, JR said he was bored and wanted to hike some more, so they headed off down the road where I would be traveling to pick them up.   JR, however, had finally tuckered out a while later, when they reached a big hill.  Just before 2, I found S walking down the side of the road, several miles from the visitor’s center, carrying his exhausted little boy on his shoulders, and, I suspect, just enjoying that precious time together.

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