Finally, after six hours climbing a staircase carved into the side of Mt. Rainier, I made it to Camp Muir, the main launching station for those trying to summit the peak. As I came over the final crest at 10,080’, I could see the stone ranger station and sleeping hut. As I came up the steps, I felt exhilarated (despite my total exhaustion) as I looked out upon the rows of colorful tents and flags spread across the giant glacier field in front of me. It was everything I imagined it would be. When I finally found Alex, who had been waiting and resting in the sun, I discovered one more visual treat: the site of Alex’s CU Buff flag flying in the wind above our sleeping hut.
While resting, your first impression of Camp Muir is shaped by the clouds below you and the long vistas out to the ocean and at the south base of Mt. Rainer. Unlike Colorado, where mountains are stacked up together in huge groups, Mr. Rainer and the surrounding peaks like Mt. Hood and Mt. Baker are volcanic peaks which literally shoot right out of the low plains surrounding them.
After a short rest, we walked around and took in the other experiences which Camp Muir offers. You can meet climbers who come into camp in the mid afternoon following their 2:00 am trek to the top and are taking a quick rest before heading down. In the large glacial bowl, you can watch the groups practicing their ice climbing skills and getting ready for their early morning attempt. Or, as in our case, you can meet people who came up to have an amazing day hike and are heading down that afternoon.
An addition that made our trip more convenient and fun was staying in the public hut which has bunks for about 20 mountaineers following the rule: First in time, first in right. The shelter also has an indoor ventilated cooking area for your camp stove. In addition to warmth from the cold night air and the sounds of falling rock throughout the night, we got to enjoy the warmth of other climbers who had plenty of stories to share (as well as food to trade) about their experience on the mountain. Our favorite was the father and thirteen year old son pair who were gearing up to leave at two and then camp out on an eastern snow field about three quarters the way to the summit. They were then planning on doing the summit the next evening. Talk about an AdventrueDad!
The final treat of our stay at Camp Muir was seeing a helicopter fly in to drop of supplies and hall out trash and propane canisters from the ranger station. As you learn at the base ranger station, everything that comes up the mountain must come down. That meant that we had to take our CU flag along with us for our quick descent down the mountain.
I recently found out about your website via Twitter and was thoroughly impressed by your mission and your enthusiasm. It didn’t hurt that you were wearing a CU Buffs shirt. (-:
It sounds like you and I have had similar experiences when it comes to sharing our passion with our children. Every year since my daughter was born, I took her up to Montana to visit my family. Shortly after she turned one, we took a slight detour into Idaho for a biking adventure. We met my dad, who was in his late sixties at the time, and rode the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail. Of course my daughter was in a bike trailer for the trip, but I was worried that she would get scared when we biked through the long tunnels. As it turns out, she absolutely loved the tunnels and would start crying when we came out into the sunlight.
We had so much fun on the Idaho trip, that I started looking around for similar trails. I was told that there were a whole series of these things called rail-trails around the country. But back in the 1990s, I had a heck of a time finding information about family biking trails. The internet was starting to fill up with information about wild-and-crazy mountain biking trails and bike races and road rides. But I had a tough time finding good, long family trails. If the rumors were true, they were out there, but it was difficult finding information about them.
So I started collecting snippets of trail information from newspapers and magazines. Friends and family members sent me information in care packages and emails. Pretty soon I had a stack of folders filled with trail information, so I decided to start a website. It was my network of trails on the internet, and I called it Trailsnet.com. Since then, I have traveled all over the country riding trails and sharing them on Trailsnet.com. Sometimes I was able to take my daughter with me, and other times I scouted the trails on my own. But I was always on the lookout for trails that could be ridden by Dads, Moms, kids, and grandparents. At the time, I was a teacher and sponsor of a middle school mountain bike club in Boulder, CO, so I would throw in the occasional mountain bike trail, but most of my trails were focused on family fun and accessibility.
Nowadays, I continue to add trails to Trailsnet.com, but I’ve opened it up so others can add trails, too. Even though the family focus is still important to me, I love it when people add any kind of trail. I’ve even started catering to trails for those folks who enjoy navigating personal transportation vehicles such as recumbents, Trikkes, Elliptigos, inline skates, etc. There is no longer a lack of trail websites out there, but Trailsnet.com is the only one that started as a family-friendly trail site. While the other sites still seem to think the only types of bikers are mountain bikers and road bikers, Trailsnet realizes there are cruisers, electric cycles, hybrids, urban cycles, tandems, recumbents and more. And, in addition to hikers and backpackers, there are trail runners, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and mobility- impaired trail users.
So what started out as a dad/daughter/grandfather trip, turned into a lifelong passion. From the time when my daughter was an infant, we have enjoyed getting out on trails together. That was always our special dad and daughter time. I hope that other parents learn the joys of exploring trails with their children, as I did. It’s healthy, it’s environmentally friendly, it’s a great time for bonding, but most of all, it’s a lot of fun.
Surfer Laird Hamilton wrote a piece in the July issue of Men’s Journal titled Radical Fitness. While you might think it’s an article about the latest trend in working out which only elite athletes are even remotely capable of, the picture of him in a plank position with his two young daughters riding on top of him lets you know instantly where the story is headed.
In a section titled The Family Way, Laird talks about how his most exhausting and fun workouts are with his kids. Jumping on the trampoline, shooting hoops, wrestling and pool time leave him and his girls happy, fit and ready for a good night’s sleep. When he’s looking for extra conditioning, he does push-ups with 70 lbs of girls giggling on his back.
So, next time you are thinking of plunking down money for a gym membership, maybe look at the interactive training systems right in your own home. If your kids aren’t up for fun, look for your four legged friend as a training partner. Check out our story, Puppy Workouts, for a suggestion!
I’ve always enjoyed the solitude and freedom that comes from a long road trip. No more so than when my son is my travel companion. Many a time we have had new learning experiences as well as deeper connections as we ventured down new roads. Doing a spontaneous trip always seems to add some extra excitement as well.
So, on Saturday morning, I asked Alex if he would like to drive to Albuquerque, NM to watch the CU Buffaloes play their second game in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament. “Hell Yes!” was his response and I could feel the excitement and joy of the prospects grow inside of me.
Following a rocket trip down and some fun joking about romantic high school relationships, we were treated to a pregame celebration when we arrived at “The Pit” on the campus of NM University. Already decked out in CU wear, we added to our costumes at the alumni event including a black and gold shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day.
The venue was perfect for college basketball and we found ourselves surrounded by extremely loud CU students. While the outcome of the game was disappointing, we were treated to a back and forth game with lots of screaming and high fives. Most inspiring was the way the fans continued to clap, cheer and sing for ten minutes after the game in honor of how far the team had advanced.
Sunday morning was equally enjoyable as we took the long way home through Santa Fe and the long road up the San Luis Valley. Along the way, we stopped at one of Alex’s favorite restaurants since he was a little boy. Just North of Santa Fe, Gabriel’s offers guacamole made tableside and served up in a volcanic bowl.
On a fun and economic level, Alex mastered the fuel efficiency of a Prius, arriving home with a 52-mpg average. While he has yet to select a University, many a student told him they hoped to “see you at CU” next year!
Here’s another entry for our Winter Contest. You will have to get started pretty early if
you are going o beat Phil and the camping adventure he took with his 5 month
old daughter! Thanks Phil and many happy adventures.
Just came across you site via you following me on Twitter. Fantastic site!
Well my family adventure this winter was taking my 5 month old daughter on her
first winter camping excursion; we had booked a yurt on Mew Lake in Algonquin
Provincial Park. The weather was pretty lousy as it was raining and
unfortunately we had the yurt rented 5 months in advance, but we were going to
make the best of it. We did manage to get a small hike in and then just
enjoyed the noise of the rain on the yurt. She was having a blast in the
sleeping bag as it appeared to be a new sensation for her and all she was doing
was kicking it off and waiting for us to put the sleeping bag back on her so
she can kick it off. A great introduction and many more adventures with the
little one in the future.
Phil C. http://www.TeamCassell.com
our 4 month old puppy. You’ll also hear some great tips from her trainer about how to involve the whole family in yourworkouts. While Allie’s weight is now near
the threshold as a work out tool, any of you with smaller canine companions
could do this for many years to come.
that he’s taught his dad to “chill”. Well done PJ!
The original seed was planted by my Uncle Bernie over 30 years ago when I moved from Ohio to Colorado to work for him. I was intrigued when Bernie first mentioned that it is very possible to ski 12 months in a row here. While I knew that ski areas often opened in October, and might stay open until July, Bernie reminded me that one could hike and ski on St. Mary’s Glacier during the summer months, and thus complete the cycle of year-round snow sliding. Although I’d skied from Halloween to Memorial Day, I never actually took it to the next level…not until my son proposed THE QUEST.
My son Jordy (age 12) has become quite a skier, sharing my passion and joining me on many of my favorite runs, including some that I’ve already chronicled here at AdventureDad.org. And he must’ve heard me mention Uncle Bernie’s notion of a year-round ski season, because one day last spring Jordy said to me “Dad we need to do that, we need to ski 12 months in a row!” Twist my arm was the first thought I had, and I soon began to consider what it would take for us to successfully complete this quest. As I noted in a couple of earlier postings, our ski season began with some amazing early snow in November and December, along with a special Christmas Day slope-side picnic at Loveland Basin. The new year began with an artic cold day at Winter Park/Mary Jane, and then found us at Copper Mountain every weekend for Choppers (group ski lessons), plus some fun with friends at Vail. In February we ventured north to explore Steamboat Springs, where we also returned for a couple of days in March, after an awesome backcountry ski and hut adventure. And in April we celebrated the month that most major areas close by skiing back at Copper and Loveland.
To keep our quest alive, Jordy and I made a point of sampling the spring and summer snow at Arapahoe Basin in May and June. While the terrain was limited at that point, the spirit of the snow riders was jovial, including those who dared to try pond skimming. While neither of us wanted to risk a dunk in the icy waters, we laughed aloud watching skiers and snowboarders attempt to stay dry going from snow- to water-skiing across a makeshift pond located in a flat area halfway down the mountain.
A-Basin closed on July 4, and we were already on vacation on the west coast, but with some advance planning – I shipped my telemark boots and our helmets, gloves, and layers ahead – and the support of friends in Portland, Oregon, who loaned me some tele skis and gave us directions, Jordy and I ventured to Mt. Hood for some rare and wonderful turns at the famous Timberline Ski Area. What a kick to see racing and snowboard camps in full swing during mid-summer, and to mix with tourists staying at the massive timber and rock lodge built by Federal Works Progress Administration in 1937. And that’s where Maggie, the Adventure Mom of our family, awaited us after we checked off the July date of our quest.
Back home to a blistering Colorado summer, where temperatures reached 90 degrees for more than 45 consecutive days, August found us without an actual lift-serviced ski area, and thus taking our quest to the next level. We ventured to St. Mary’s Glacier near Idaho Springs, Colorado, where a short hike to a year-round snowfield offered us the best way to keep our string of consecutive months on skis alive. Joined by our friends, Adventure Dad and Copper Mountain Ski Patroller Jamie, and his daughter Sasha (age 16), fresh off of a 30-day NOLS course, we enjoyed bluebird skies, and light winds on our hike past St. Mary’s Lake, and up the Glacier. With skis lashed to our packs, and our ski boots packed inside, our load and the slick surface made for slow going. At a level area near the névé (top) of the glacier, we pulled over to the edge, put on our ski boots, and carefully made our turns down the crusty brownish snow that was cut with strange, undulating ridges for most of the way down. Not the prettiest skiing we’d done all season, but each of whooped with the joy of midsummer’s day fun at a typically winter time activity. Jamie, Jordy, and I repeated our sojourn to St. Mary’s again in September and hoped that a Colorado ski area would open the next month and permit us to come full-circle and complete our quest.
When October commenced with unseasonably warm temperatures, I became just a little worried, but soon learned that cold nights at altitude were permitting snowmaking at two front-range ski areas. Arapahoe Basin was the first to open for skiers on Thursday, October 13, with Loveland following the next day. And just one day later, Jordy and I were aboard Chairlift #1 for a few quick runs on “Mambo,” our quest complete, having skied 12 months in a row.
Our friends Jamie and Sasha are now aiming for the same goal, and Jordy and I plan to join them, wondering how many more consecutive ski months we might be able to tally.
We always thought of zip lining as something you did at a team building camp or above the canopies of some rainforest (the later one being one we’ve yet to try). Needless to say, we were excited when we heard about Zipline Adventure Tours located just outside Salida, Colorado. CaptainZipline.com offers a variety of packages including nature and history tours of the surrounding area. We chose the Zip and Sip. A two-hour late afternoon zip line experience with coupons for beverages at one of several Salida establishments. We chose the local brew pub for a root beer and fresh brewed IPA. The instructors were very helpful and fun and were particularly patient with those whom were a little more anxious with sailing over the canyons below. Mounting the Go Pro video camera on my helmet made for some fun shots!
This July, Alex, Utah and I set out to climb Mt. Shavano located in south central Colorado in the Collegiate Range. When pulling into the campsite late Friday night, we were surprised to see how many hikers were there for this long and steep peak.
Along the way, we ran into lots of young adult hikers, as well as, numerous families with young children. As you can see on their post (http://adventuredad.org/667/adventures/a-sons-first-attempt/ ), Bryson was one of the youngest kids hiking the trail at 8 years of age as he and his dad ventured from the flatlands of Kansas. When reaching the summit, we were amazed to see a young couple that had taken up their 15-month-old daughter. As we talked, we found out that this was her 12th fourteen’r since starting at the age of 3 months. As you’ll see on our tips post (http://adventuredad.org/665/tips-and-gadgets/outdoor-parents-outdoor-kids/ ), you don’t have to give up your favorite couple’s adventures when children arrive.
You’ll also see Utah hiking along with lots of other hikers and dogs. She loves to take the lead and is often referenced by the hikers coming down before us.