After such a fantastic cross-country season, Peter decided to continue his training with some of his other teammates so that he could compete at Nike Cross Regionals in Casa Grande, AZ. He was extremely motivated at first, but then we were hit with a few really bad snowstorms which halted some of his training outside. Then he begged me to sign him up for swim club so that he could start swimming in prep for his HS season in February. Both of those became distractions which made it hard to the train the way he did during his HS cross-country season. Still, he managed to make it to the practices that his coach offered and did as much running as he could with his teammates on the off days to get prepared to run the same course he ran in September where he PR'd and broke 17 minutes. This time it was just Peter and I who traveled to Arizona for the race. We stayed at the Marriott in Chandler where some of the other runners from his team were staying. Sean, Josh, Peter, Hayden, Rodrigo, Dan, and Lauren all ran. They ran the same course from Desert Twilight but ran in the morning instead of the night. The weather was actually not too hot, but the sun was pretty bright. Even though Peter didn't PR at this race, he still ran extremely well, finishing the 5K in 17:01.50. Afterwards we all celebrated by going to eat at In-N-Out before heading to the airport to fly back to Colorado.
I'm not sure any of us were ready for ANOTHER snow storm in Colorado Springs. This was the 3rd one this month and winter hasn't officially started yet because it's only October. When my kids get to go out and play in the snow and have a blast then I am reminded that even in the snow things can be pretty great! In typical fashion, the girls went out and played with Natalie and Noelle in our backyard. I just love that these girls have been such good friends over the last 4 years. There is something so sweet and special about friends who are really more like family. This is how we feel about the Garlock kids. Madeline is even so in love with them that she asks to go to their house all the time and she even prays for them at night like they are her own siblings. All the girls were really great about playing with Madeline in the backyard for a little bit before heading out to go sledding. The girls tried to get Madeline to sit in the sled but for some reason she just wasn't that interested. Madeline loved copying the older girls by making snow angels and throwing snowballs. She even tried racing them across the yard. Mike came home for lunch and was able to play outside with Madeline for a little bit too. After lunch the big girls headed out behind the house to the new development to go sledding. It turns out that spot became a really popular place to go sledding. I could see it from my living room window and there were many other kids who stopped by to sled throughout the day. Snow days are just so much fun for the kids. I'm glad they get to experience the joy of these fun snow days with friends they love!
This October has been way too cold already. We got our first snow at the beginning of the month and our second snowstorm this week and it doesn't end there. We are supposed to get another snowstorm next week. I was relieved and happy that I was on the ball about making sure that everyone had the clothes they needed for this coming ski season - especially Madeline. After Abby got home from school she was so excited to go and play in the snow. She kindly waited until Madeline got up from her nap and then went out back to play with her. Madeline was so excited to wear her new boots and snow clothes. All of my kids are really good with Madeline, but there is something really special about the relationship that Abby and Madeline have together. I love that Abby has the patience and the imagination to play with a 3-year old. It truly warms my heart. They threw snowballs, built a very tiny snowman, and had races in the snow. Abby was cute and ran on her knees so it would be fair. Those two are quite a pair. I love watching Madeline play. She reminds me that everything in life can be so much fun. The smallest things like playing in the snow are exciting to her and that is pretty great!
For Mike's birthday this year I booked a weekend away to Beaver Creek at the Park Hyatt for some relaxation and outdoor adventure. Since the weather was a bit colder than we had anticipated, we left our mountain bikes at home and planned on doing some hiking instead. We left on Thursday evening and got to the resort a little after 9pm. The hotel was exactly like I had remembered it a year ago with some slight updates to the lobby. We headed up to our room, which we got upgraded to a suite, and turned on a movie and ordered room service while Mike finished up some work from the day. It was nice to just sit and watch TV together before drifting off to sleep.
The next day it was so incredibly cold and snowing and so we decided to sleep in. We ate a very yummy breakfast in the hotel restaurant before walking over to the Allegria Spa to check out their services. We booked a massage for the following day and then grabbed our coats from our room so we could head to the village to do some shopping. We went into the various shops and didn't buy much except for a cute pair of ski socks for Madeline. We stopped at Rimini's for a warm ham and cheese sandwich and a Nutella and banana crepe. It all tasted so good. After a few more shops, and talking with some pretty great locals, we headed back in the hotel to grab our suits so we could spend some time in the outside jacuzzi. We love sitting outside in the jacuzzi when its cold and snowy outside. There is just something so magical about it all. The rest of the day was spent napping and relaxing before heading to dinner at Hooked which is a seafood restaurant. We ate the most delicious Japanese rolls. They were like no other rolls we had ever eaten. Then we headed out to find some yummy dessert. We decided to drive down to Vail to grab some dessert at a local Ale House. It wasn't quite up to par but that was ok because the fries we had were delicious. Then we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our free s'mores kit and headed up to the room to eat the chocolate and go to bed. It was much too cold to actually go outside to the fire pit and roast s'mores.
The next morning, we woke up to cold temperatures but sunny skies. We ate another fabulous breakfast and then headed out on our hike up to Bear Lake. We took the Bear Lake trail which followed the creek. It was awesome to be able to hear the creek alongside the trail almost all the way up to the lake. Most of the trail was snow covered with the snow that had fallen the day before. It was actually really great to hike in the snow. The hike up to the lake was relatively easy and we enjoyed being together. It was super peaceful up at the lake and we enjoyed playing with two little birds who enjoyed our crumbs. We decided to head back a different way and took the Overlook trail which had us venture across the various slopes. It was pretty spectacular hiking through dense forests before popping out on the open slopes only to cross and then hike once again through another set of trees. This went on for quite some time and eventually we lost count of how many sections we went through. As we looked at our watches it became clear that we needed to pick up the pace if we were going to make it back in time for our 3:00pm massages. At one point we actually started running on the trail when we could. With only 15 min before 3:00pm, we were getting desperate to find a short cut back. So, like idiots, we decided to get off the wooded trail, and just walk/run/slide down the last sloped mountain straight back to the hotel. It was kind of crazy going straight down the mountain. Mike used his hiking poles and glissaded down some of the snowier sections. We just laughed and laughed all the way down. We made it back to our room with only a few minutes to spare. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting pampered and then relaxing in the 5-Step Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary. It was the perfect way to unwind after our 8-mile hike. After showering and getting ready for the evening, we headed down to the bar in the lobby area and ordered the most amazing appetizer while we killed time waiting for our dinner reservation at Mirabelle's. We ordered the Cheese and Charcuterie Platter and it was DELICIOUS!!! Then it was off to Mirabelle's to eat some tasty French cuisine. It was the perfect way to end a pretty perfect day and a pretty fantastic getaway to Beaver Creek! Of course, it snowed throughout the night and when we woke up to go home it was all snow covered. That was pretty magical!
I’m not sure whether we are just optimistic parents or just plain nuts because we decided to take Peter, Emma, Abby, and Madeline on a 14er up to the summit of Mt. Huron. Mike and I hiked this last summer and thought it was one of the easiest 14er's so we figured our kids would have no problems. Emma and Peter really didn’t struggle at all during our hike while Abby and Madeline definitely had their moments of dislike for us on the trail. The weather was a little cooler when we started and since it was the fall with no worry about afternoon thunderstorms, we knew we could leave later in the morning. We were on the trail by 9:30am and started our adventure with Madeline out of the pack and walking right with us. We put her in the backpack to begin with but she was quick to tell us that she wanted to walk. She hiked for the first ¾ of a mile up the trail and just had the best time. We didn’t stop that much the first mile. It was uphill, of course, but the trail was mostly straight. By the time we made it to the switchbacks we put Madeline in the backpack and Mike carried her through the 16+ switchbacks. We did stop a few times for snacks and to remind the kids to be drinking plenty of water and to just rest our legs from the mildly rocky and steep switchbacks. Mike was really good about letting Abby know when we would be done with the switchbacks. It was important to give her updates about the upcoming sections of the trail. Up until this point most everyone was pretty happy and doing quite well on the trail. Madeline had a few moments of sadness, but it was probably because she wasn’t used to sitting in the pack for long periods of time. We tried to entertain her by singing songs and at one point I turned on some kid songs from my iPhone to keep her spirits up. That lasted until we popped out up and onto the meadow area of the hike.
The meadow section is such a fun part of the trail. It’s not steep and it levels out quite a bit. We told Abby it was flat, to which she replied, “This is not flat AT ALL.” I replied, “This is as flat as you get climbing up a mountain.” I’m not sure she loved that response, but it was true. It was flat enough that you didn’t feel like you had to work very hard. Peter, Emma, and Mike went ahead while I walked with Abby across the “flat” meadow trail. We only stopped a few times to rest our legs for only a few seconds before continuing on. We finally made it to the end of the meadow where we met the others at a large rock at the bottom of the next big push up the mountain. We stopped there for a good 10-15 minutes to actually sit down and have some snacks and hunker down out of the wind. We ate grapes, various cheeses and crackers. It felt good to eat and to sit. At this point it was either turn around and head back or push it to the top. We decided to keep on pushing. Mike continued to carry Madeline, for which I was super grateful. The wind started to pick up and so we decided to grab the bigger blanket we had brought in our packs and put it over Madeline’s pack so we could cover up her legs. Her pants kept riding up and so there was a small section of her leg that was exposed. As strong as Mike is, I could tell that this was taking a toll on him. With the extra weight from carrying her coupled with the ridiculous wind it made our journey quite hard. Madeline was not a happy camper by this point. We had her all bundled up in the pack, but I could tell she was tired and a bit cold. At one point we took her out of the pack and took turns just carrying her in our arms. I could literally only do it for 20 ft at a time. It became frustrating that we were not moving very fast. Where once our hands were nice and warm, the wind started to turn our hands numb and cold. I’m not going to lie; this was a much harder ascent this time around. Between Madeline and Abby, Mike and I were struggling to keep their spirits up and our own. We let Peter climb ahead since he is such a fast hiker and Emma even took off. She ended up coming back down the trail several times because she didn’t want to get that far ahead. Other travelers along the way told her, “You will have hiked more than anyone else as you go up and down and up and down the trail.” She got a chuckle out of that. Once we made it to the cathedral spires, it was the last rocky scramble to the summit. With only 400 ft of rocky scramble we were too close to quit. I think we all cried a little bit as we made our way to the top. Abby had several melt downs and Madeline had fallen somewhat asleep from all the trauma from the wind. I kept checking on her and calling her name just to make sure she was conscious. She was ok; just tired and a little cold. At one-point Abby refused to go any further. Another hiker was making his way down and stopped to give her some of his oxygen. She immediately perked right up. She and Mike took turns getting some more oxygen in their lungs before continuing on. That sweet traveler let Abby keep the remainder of the oxygen to use on her way up. It was really sweet. We all did make it to the top and stopped very quickly for a quick photo. Peter had been sitting there for an hour by the time we arrived. He was pretty cold, but he hunkered down behind some rocks to wait for us. He is pretty experienced with climbing 14ers so we knew he would be ok. The views from the top were pretty remarkable. It was too bad it was so windy because we really couldn’t spend very much time up there.
The rocky scramble back down to the cathedral spires was probably the worst part of the hike. It was hard to find the path we had come up and we got a little off the beaten path at the beginning. Tempers flared a bit, but we did make it back to the real trail. All I could think of was poor Mike. He had carried Madeline in a pack with the wind blowing him all around. I couldn’t have done what he did. I wanted to get down this next section back to the meadow fast and the only way to do that was if Abby hiked at the same pace as the rest of us. I linked arms with her, and we just flew down the mountain. Every time we turned on the trail, we switched positions so that she was closer to the mountain. That made her more comfortable and she was able to keep up a good pace. It was so crazy how our hands started to unthaw the further down the trail we climbed. As we neared the last section of this part of the hike, I noticed Mike was slowing down, so I let Abby and Peter go ahead while I waited for Mike. Emma had already made her way into the meadow by that point. Later Mike told me that his legs were starting to shake uncontrollably so he had to stop more. By the time we made it to the meadow we all met up at the same rock as before and ate our lunch. We should have eaten earlier but it was way too cold at the top so this was the first place we could eat. Mike took off the pack and laid down on the ground. Madeline finally perked up but didn’t eat a lot of her sandwich but was happy to eat tons of fruit snacks. After a good period of resting I took the backpack and carried Madeline down most of the way down. She was quite the chatterbox on the way down and her spirits were pretty good. I think she was happy to be warmer and out of the wind. Just when I was about ready to be done carrying Madeline, she wanted to get out and walk. Thank goodness. She walked the last ¾ of a mile back to the trailhead. It was so cute listening to her little conversations with me. She talked about all sorts of funny things. It made the last part of our hike rather enjoyable. By the time we all made it back to the car we were so relieved and proud that we had made it together to the top of Mt. Huron. Did we push ourselves past our limits…maybe? But what could be better than teaching our kids that they can do hard things. Afterall, there are always life lessons when hiking in the mountains together!