Grandby Colorado Second Time Around

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After the bike races we spent two more days riding and hiking Crested Butte and then packed up and headed north. Last summer we had a great time hiking to high elevations in Rocky Mountains National Park and we wanted to hike another tall peak. We also really enjoyed camping right on Granby Lake as the water is calm and warm and easy to access from our campsite. We were able to get a spot for 7 days for both us and my parents in the campground that we stayed in last year. As soon as we were parked and leveled we set about pumping up the paddleboards. 30 minutes after we had parked we were on the lake enjoying the warm sun and cold fresh water swimming. We spent days swimming and paddling on Lake Granby. We even were able to convince my mom to try standup paddle boarding. She bravely climbed aboard and soon was paddling around on her feet. 

We spent one of our afternoons riding in the trails in Winter Park. This was the same trail that we were chased by the moose last year. Needless to say we were all on alert. The trail is a challenging 8 mile single track trail with lots of ups and downs beginning with a steady climb of nearly two miles. Last year the kids rode it well but it definitely challenged them. There were many times that we had to push our bikes as well as many rest stops. This year was very different. The kids took the lead up the long hill at the beginning and never looked back, never stopped for a rest and as felt by mine and Ashley’s legs never slowed down. We even added an additional 2 mile climb on a black diamond trail and that did not slow them down either. They just obliterated the trail the whole time grinning ear to ear as their marked improvement was on full display for them to see.

One of our goals for our time in Granby was to climb a 14er. A 14er is a peak that has an elevation over 14000ft and Colorado has lots of them. Last year we climbed to 13000 ft and were rewarded by lightning and hail. This year I told the kids it would be different. We found a hike and checked the weather forecast. The forecast did not call for thunderstorms so we headed toward the trailhead. To get to the trailhead we had to drive up a 4 mile road that took nearly an hour to traverse. It was a brutal and jarring ride but we survived. The trail began just below 10000ft so we were already feeling the effects of the altitude and we still had 5 miles and over 4000ft of elevation to climb. As is usual Alexander took the lead. He pulled us up to just 1000ft below the summit when the weather moved in on us. It had been a nice day with a few clouds and all of a sudden fog had socked in the peak and we felt as though there was a ceiling right above our heads. After avoiding a injured mountain goat on the trail who decided we were not worth visiting once he had eyes on Ranger, we decided to head on up into the clouds. We fought our way up the last airless 1000ft but we were a little disappointed that we would not get any views other than that which is 20ft in front of us. However, we lucked out because just as we neared the peak the clouds lifted just above the peak. And when we say just above we mean we could nearly reach up and touch the clouds. It was really cold up there and Ashley and Alexander were beginning to have a headache so we took a couple of pictures and headed back down. Not 30 seconds into our decent we all felt the hail begin. On the way up the mountain the trail was super steep, rather loose under our feet and wound around many big loose boulders, but it was dry. What felt like light hail quickly turned into heavy, pelting and a thick downpour of ice. And then came the thunder! In no time at all the trail could barely be seen due to the thick layer of hail building up all around us, thunder was crashing just over our heads in the clouds not 100ft above and lighting could be seen all around us. Victoria and Alexander just laughed it all off! For three hours they were freezing cold under their ponchos, every single step into an inch and a half of ice was cold and slippery, their footing was not once secure on the loose rocks and deep slush, lightning was flashing all around and thunder boomed in their ears and they laughed and chatted as they fearlessly made their way back to the safety and warmed of our car. And as maybe Colorado’s way of saying sorry for its third failed attempt at killing us, just before we got to our car the skies cleared and we were finally able to see a nice view of our 14er.

The hike started with decent weather as we made our way up this valley
The trail became much steeper and more hazardous as we climbed
Victoria and Ashley with their heads down, heart racing, lungs burning and quads screaming! But still progressing up!
Alexander showing us the way as the clouds move in and hide our peak.
Ashley and Victoria struggling to maintain Alexander’s wicked pace!
But they keep on keepin’ on!
A Pica cheers us on as we pass by.
Victoria and Ashley catch up to us as we take a quick break. The valley we started in is behind them and you can see the clouds moving in above.
A mountain goat show lots of interest in the kids.
But once he sees Ranger with us, he decides to abort his visit. Alexander was OK with that.
We are getting closer and that valley looks really far down there.
Alexander back on point and nearing the summit.
He is tired and battling altitude sickness but his pushes on entirely of is own volition.
At the summit
At the summit
At the summit
And then quickly heading back down. Hail is already pelting us.
We can almost touch the clouds above
This is less than 5 minutes from the beginning of our decent.
That is not snow, but hail build up.
Almost to the car and the hail and rain stop and it begins to clear up.
Just like that the summit is clear and ready for a picture.
I tried to get everyone to go back up for this better view but I was out voted.
One last picture before heading home.

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