Dragging Kids above the Treeline

Where: Hoosier Pass

Who: The Whole Clan plus Pawpaw

When: July 10, 2014

In my Boy Scout days, hiking miles through the wilderness with 50 pounds on my back was no big deal. Fast-forward 25 years and put me at 12,000 feet above sea level, and it’s a different story.

We knew we’d have to give up our claim to be real travelers if we didn’t take in at least one hike during our stay in Breckenridge, so one morning we decided to hike Hoosier Pass on the Continental Divide, taking Pawpaw and all six kids.

The trail head for Hoosier Pass is about 10 miles south of Breckenridge and sits at an elevation of about 11,500 feet. We parked there and started up the trail, which rose gradually until we were at about 12,200 feet. I carried Son #5 and all our water on my back, and Vickie carried Son #6 in the baby carrier.

We were getting views like this all along the way.

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About halfway up the trail, we crossed the treeline and got increasingly stunning views of several 14,000-foot peaks in the area. The one major obstacle we encountered was a huge snow drift that had never melted this spring and was crossing a big chunk of the path. We had to navigate our way across the drift very carefully. I ended up with a numb right hand from leaning into the drift so often to keep my balance. Of course, as soon as we got across the kids wanted to play in the snow.

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The trail led us up to the top of a ridge covered with wildflowers, where Pawpaw did his best Julie Andrews impersonation. Unfortunately, our kids have never seen The Sound of Music–I know; we’re terrible parents–so they had no idea why he had seemed to take leave of his senses.

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I also let Son #5 get out of the backpack and do his thing on the ridge top. Here he is looking at the wildflowers.

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All in all, it took us about three hours to go three miles. Sons #3-4 got droopy before the halfway mark and needed some motivation along the rest of the way. It all worked out, but I will think twice before carrying Son #5 at that altitude again; I was exhausted afterward!


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