As recent transplants to Colorado from Pennsylvania, we are overwhelmed daily by the beauty and majesty of our new home state. As a family, we have enjoyed hiking for several years. Many of our family vacations (New Hampshire, Virginia and the Grand Canyon) were planned to experience hiking in these areas. And now that we are residents of Colorado, we no longer need to leave the state to experience the greatest hiking in the country!
Of course, the biggest challenge for hikers in Colorado are the “14ers” (the 54 mountains that surpass 14,000 feet above sea level). There are many hikers who have made it their goal to summit all 54 of them, including my family. So we figured it was time to get started. Unfortunately, my wife had to work, so it was just going to be Daddy and the girls (Zoe, 14 and Madeline, 11).
We decided to make our first 14er one that is ranked on the easy side (and also fairly close to home): Mt. Bierstadt. Behold...
While we have hiked as much as 16 miles in one day (we did the Grand Canyon, up and down, in one day), and have done some fairly significant elevation gain hikes (over 4000 feet), we had never before hiked at 12-14,000 feet above sea level and, as most hikers know, altitude makes a big difference.
We started at 7:00 am and reached the summit at 11:30. Mt. Bierstadt is a 7-mile round-trip hike with a 2850 foot elevation gain from the trailhead to the summit. While it was at times a struggle for the girls, they managed very well. It was great to see them overcome the difficulties, including shortness of breath, achy muscles, loss of appetite, and the occasional anxiety of wondering whether or not they could really do it. They could!
The summit does indeed make all the work worthwhile. It was great to see my daughters’ relief and sense of achievement when they reached the top. And, of course, the views are magnificent! Mt. Evans is nearby and to the west the majestic Rockies seem to go on forever. God’s creation is awe-inspiring indeed! Whenever I experience the magnificence of the Creation, it is easy to find the proper perspective: we are small and God is great; the troubles of the world are temporary and God’s reign endures forever; the pleasures of spending quality time with family; and the privilege of knowing a gracious God who allows us to enjoy His Creation.