Colorado April 2015

Dates: April 5 - April 11, 2015

People: Mark, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Denny, Marcia


  • 4-5 (Travel Day)
  • 4-6 (Snowshoeing Tennessee Pass)
  • 4-7 (Skiing Monarch)
  • 4-8 (Skiing Monarch)
  • 4-9 (Mt. Yale)
  • 4-10 (A Day of Passes)
  • 4-11 (Travel Day)


Today was Easter Sunday. We were up early celebrating our Lord's resurrection in worship and then home to finish our packing. We spent the afternoon together as a family and when we had finished pack, at about the last minute, Sarah drove the boys and I up to the airport. We decided logistically it would be easier for the boys and I to grab food at the airport rather than figuring out the timing of doing so along the way.

We had some concerns about flying with Luke today as we had found out Saturday morning that he had an ear infection. I bought some gum ahead of time for him and brought water along hoping to do everything we could to help him. The boys and I made it through security without any trouble and grabbed food at McDonald's. Luke didn't have much of an appetite. We had about 30-40 minutes to wait at our gate before boarding and it passed fairly quickly.

On the plane, the boys sat all 3 together in a row and I sat across the aisle from them. This worked out pretty well. During takeoff each of the boys had a stick of gum and I made sure Luke continued chewing and swallowing. For the most part he did well. Never speak of any great pain.

We all kept busy with books and devices through the flight and the boys enjoyed getting their own drinks. Seth didn't care much for any of the onboard snacks which was mostly crackers and peanuts. Our flight was on time arriving in Denver. Mom and Dad had gone out a day early and spent time with some of her cousins and so they had a rental car all ready and were there to pick us up. Our bags took quite some time to come out and Seth's car seat seemed as though it never would. We kept waiting by Denver's over-sized luggage pickup and it just didn't come. I finally walked around the baggage claim and beyond to one of their holding areas and a desk and saw his carseat sitting there waiting behind the desk. By this time Mom and Dad had just parked and were starting their way in from short-term parking.

We headed out of the airport and started making our way through Denver to 285. We didn't make any stops along the way and I ended up sleeping some of it as it had been quite a long day by now for me (almost 20 hours). It was around midnight when we made it to the cabin.


Woke between 6:30 and 7am because I was still physically on Michigan time. Bright morning sun coming in the east windows of the cabin. Spent time relaxing and reading. Spent time getting things ready for the day’s snowshoe hike. Last night we had slept Luke and Seth in the bedroom to the left upstairs and Jonah joined me in the bedroom on the right. Mom and Dad took the downstairs room.

When we had everything packed up, we drove into Buena Vista. Along the way we stopped at one of the "scenic vistas" that has a great view overlooking Buena Vista and the Collegiate Peaks. We spent a few minutes there getting pictures and walking around. We then headed into BV to hit the City Market for a quick stop of granola bars, cheez-its, and Gatorade for the hike. We drove on up to Tennessee Pass. We had concerns about what kind of snow cover we would find as we were not seeing much along the way. As we neared the pass we had hope as we were seeing a lot on the peaks.

Snowshoeing Powderhound-Treeline Loop at Tennessee Pass

On our way back to Leadville we hit the Subway for lunch, though it was almost 2:30pm already. We were all pretty famished. Back in Buena Vista Mom, Luke and I hit the City Market again for a fuller grocery run. This time we stocked up snack foods, some food for meals for the week and some more hiking food.

Getting back to the condo we set back and relaxed and Mom started on supper which was soup and garlic bread. The boys and I played a bit of Bananagrams. Dad followed the NCAA Championship between Duke and Wisconsin on his phone, although our Verizon data connection was pretty poor. We would end up getting used to this for the week of pretty much having a poor and almost non-existent internet connection. As a whole, its for the best as it forces you to disconnect and unwind for the week.

After supper we watched Chicken Run. Some of us adults fell asleep during. All in bed probably by 10pm. I had a pretty bad headache middle of the night.


Up about 6:30am for breakfast. Got our snow and ski gear together and were in the car headed for Poncha Springs at 7:30am. We hit Wilderness Sports in Poncha and grabbed our rental gear which we had pre-reserved on the internet. They offered better rates this way. Seth at age 6 was free. The gentleman there was very helpful and got everyone fitted well.

Got to Monarch just before 9am and grabbed our lift tickets for the day. The temps were already pretty decent at the start and it was a clear sky morning. I was wearing a t-shirt, long-sleeve tech shirt, and blue gore-tex on top. Poly-pro bottoms and windpants on the bottom. This all worked pretty well for the day. I filled up the pockets in my gore-tex with odds and ends. One pocket held my gloves off and on. One pocket held my GoPro and headmount. One pocket held my S4. One pocket held my radio. I could see in a future time wearing the Rev 6 backpack to add hydration and be able to carry things in there.

We spent about the first 2 hours getting our “ski legs” on the bunny hill. They had what was like a black conveyor belt in a tube to shuttle people to the top of this short hill. The big challenge at first was getting used to controlling speed and stopping with the snowplow. Luke and Jonah started to pick it up well. Seth rode between my legs for a run or two and then moved on to riding next to me with me holding his hands and sometimes I would put a hand on his chest and one of his back to really control him. Seth eventually got frustrated and headed in. We then took Jonah and Luke up on the chair lift for a run. It was slow and they struggled, but made it.

When the boys took their lunch break Dad and I made a couple of runs. Mom sat in the lodge the whole day and had a bunch of lunch food.

In the afternoon Seth worked on more runs down the bunny hill with me holding his hand once more. Jonah and Luke made some more bunny runs to to get their practice in. As Luke and Jonah started to feel like experts on the bunny hill we took them up the mountain again and this time they started to make the higher runs with more confidence. Their ability to control speed and stop had greatly improved.

Around 2pm Seth came outside again and I worked with him for another 45 minutes. Dad took turns with Luke and Jonah taking them individually up the hill for more runs. My last run with Seth I went down the hill backwards keeping him right in front of me to let him work more on his own while I was his safety net. This worked pretty well.

For the last hour of the day we made a couple more runs with the older two and they were really enjoying it. Our last run put us at the bottom right at 4pm as the lifts were closing. We gathered up back at the car and headed for Poncha Springs. Dad let the people at Wilderness Sports know we wanted the gear for a second day.

We headed over to Buena Vista and had supper at the Coyote Cantina. Great Mexican food choices but also some American ones as well. I had a Coors with a cheeseburger and it was nice. Jonah had the kids cheese nachos, Luke a kids burger, and Seth a hot dog. Pretty decent food.

In the evening we played some more bananagrams and started tending to some sunburn. I fell asleep on the couch about 8:45 while reading as did almost everyone else. Woke up at 12:30p and just Jonah and I were left downstairs.


Up at 6:30a with Jonah and Papa for breakfast. The others were all still asleep. Took things easy getting ready for another day of skiing. We were evaluating our various sunburns from yesterday as it was a bluebird day of skiing.

We finally left condo around 8am to head for Monarch. Left later today not needing to stop for gear and knowing the slopes would be a bit more frozen first thing.

On the slopes around 9:15a or so. Dad took Luke and Jonah up the lift right away. I worked with Seth on the bunny hill. First couple times down I held his hand again. 3rd or 4th time down I started working backwards with him again letting him ski to me a bit more. Half way down of doing this one time he said he wanted to go on his own and I let him finish the slope completely free and he did well. Next time up he did the entire run on his own and I got this on my GoPro. He did it again a second time instantly looking more confident. He then asked to go up the chair lift so we tried this. He got on pretty well. At top getting off he started to cross his skis about 5 feet off the chair and he fell and I dragged him out of the way a bit. I had heard from Luke and Jonah that Little Joe was a nice green run and close to the lift so Seth and I tried that. Big mistake. It was a steeper green run and also still pretty frozen. I held on tight to Seth the whole way and did everything I could to snowplow us at a slow speed. I think he and I did take one spill together. We made it to the bottom of the slope alright but he didn’t want to go back up right away. He worked the bunny hill a few more times with me on his own and then went up the caterpillar lift and back down the slope entirely on his own with me watching from the bottom.

He went inside for a break finally and I did some runs with the others running the other basic green slopes. We did finally get them to try a few blue slopes today. First we tried “Romp” which was just off of the Round About run the boys liked. It was short and pretty manageable. This led us over to another seemingly short blue hill called “Toddler”. It was fairly steep and firm. Jonah struggled down it, Luke did fairly well. Jonah wasn’t too interested in anymore blues after this one.

One of the bigger challenges of today as compared to yesterday was the wind. There were times as the day went on when gusts would really pick up and nearly knock us over. As Jonah and I neared the top of the Garfield lift we got hit with a bad gust full of ice crystals that hit us in the face and caused us both to crash coming off the lift. We also were on Round About and got hit with a gust and ice crystals that knocked Jonah over and had him crying.

Had a lunch break for awhile. Was pleased to see the Cubs/Cardinals game starting up and watched that while we ate.

Right after lunch Dad and I went up hill to test out the Great Divide run to see if the boys could do it. We rode the Tumbelina lift up and also tried the blue Beeline run. It was fairly steep and very frozen, we opted not to bring the boys on that. We then rode the Panorama lift up top. The Great Divide run really could be classified as green, but since everything below it is blue or more I could see why it is called blue. It leads into Snowburn. It had one steep section which happened to be pretty slushy. We figured the boys could handle this well. I dragged Luke and Jonah up here later in the afternoon while Dad was helping Seth. They ran Great Divide without any trouble. The steep hill on Snowburn gave Jonah troubles and again he grew frustrated with blue hills. The lower end of the run was pretty easy and eventually joined the green runs.

Dad helped Seth to head back up the lifts again and he ran Rookie twice doing well. He did have an incident of losing a ski at the bottom of the lift but they helped send it up the hill after him. He fell right at the bottom after his second run on Rookie and grew frustrated again.

Near the end of the day Seth gave the lifts another try and I ran Rookie with him twice and he did great. We then got him on the Garfield lift and took him up to the Sleepy Hollow run. It was still a little slick at top but he handled it well and did the run without any incident. We ran Rookie another time or two to end the day and he was doing great on it. Another great full day of skiing with all 3 boys doing well by the end.

We headed back to Poncha to drop off the gear. I tried to get Seth to tell Sarah all about his learning on the phone on the drive back but he decided he wasn’t much of a phone talker.

In Salida we opted to hit the KFC for supper but it was out of business, so we tried Wallbangers Sports Bar and Grill. They were pretty decent, though a bit pricey. I tried their smoke buffalo wings with hot sauce. It was pretty spicy but the taste was great.

Back at the condo we had a pretty easy, laid back evening. We had less sunburn today which was a plus. Dad and I spent time getting our gear together for tomorrow's 14er hike. As I tried to fall asleep tonight and even during the midst of the night I was surprised the anxiety I had. Probably not too much of it was for the actually potential difficult of the next day's hike, but it was good pre-14er anxiety nonetheless.


Up at 4:20am for the 14er start. Didn’t sleep well the night before. Some of it was I never sleep great at altitude. Some of it was healthy anxiety for today’s hike. Dad and I were mostly already packed the night before so we got our essentials together and hopped in the car. It was a relatively short drive to the Denny Gulch trailhead. We nearly hit a deer on the way. We were at the trailhead about 5:25am and hit the trail at 5:35am. It was still dark and pretty cold. I was shivering standing there at the TH.

Mt. Yale Winter Ascent

We were back to the cabin around 4:30pm. We were pretty hungry so Mom started making one of our supper pizzas not long after we got home. Dad napped pretty quickly after eating some pizza. Around 6pm we made the rest of the pizzas and some supper for the boys. Spent the evening starting to get things packed up. In bed about 10:30pm.


Spent the morning packing up and getting the cabin cleaned up. Around 8:30am I went out for a 4-mile run on the roads around the cabin. Was going to go earlier but it was 27 degrees when I woke up. It was about 35 when I started and almost 40 when I finished. It wasn’t until about 11:30a that we finally were finished up at the cabin and on the road. We opted to do lunch picnic-style at Hoosier Pass. Temps weren’t too bad and it was mostly sunny. The boys enjoyed walking on the snow drifts at the ends of the parking lot while they ate.

We drove on through Breckenridge and on to Silverthorne heading around Lake Dillon. It was still ice covered. We got some gas, hit the bathroom and then headed up to Loveland Pass to hike. By then it was past 2pm. It was chilly up at Loveland Pass and the sun was barely poking out. We started up the trail to Point 12,915. Mom and Jonah turned back after 15 minutes or so. The rest of us made it up to about 12,500. There were small snow patches on the trail but not deep and easy to walk through. Finally Luke and Seth decided they’d had enough. They were also getting cold. We headed back down to the car.

We drove into Denver and hit a Red Robin in Arvada for supper and then made it to our hotel, the Quality Inn DIA. The boys immediately got changed and headed down to the pool and hot tub. They enjoyed swimming for a couple of hours while Dad and I joined them. We tried to play some football in the pool until another family came in.


Everyone mostly up around 7am this morning and lounged and watched TV a bit. Dad took the boys downstairs to swim about 7:30am. Mom and I went downstairs for breakfast just after 8am and I instructed the boys to finish up swimming before long for breakfast as well. They joined us eating about 8:25am. We ate till 8:55am when we hit the room to pack up our things and head for the airport. We made it to DIA at 9:25am, the Quality Inn not being too far away. Dad dropped us all off including Mom since we were taking two of their duffel bags back with us. They would be flying to New Orleans two hours after us for a conference Dad was attending and we were taking their non-essential hiking gear with us.

Mom helped us with the bags til we got them checked and then we said goodbye. We made it through security pretty well, except they pulled Seth’s bag aside. This was almost humorous as his bag got flagged last year because he had a plastic water gun in there. This time they wanted a closer look at his Pokemon cards tin which the lady quickly realized was nothing.

We hopped the shuttle out to Concourse C and were at our gate with about 20 minutes til boarding. I checked with the gate agent to see if we could board with family boarding between A and B groups. Our boarding passes were B28 and up to B51. He was very kind and let us join the other family boarding. He said officially it is 4 and under but he was letting some others board with older kids too.

We were boarded in good time and probably took off about quarter after 11. We were on one of the new 800 series SWA jets with the more open head space. Luke watched Battle of the Five Armies the whole way. Jonah played various games on his phone. Seth played Plants vs Zombies 2 and I finished reading Endurance by Alfred Lansing which I had grabbed on Kindle on Sunday and had read throughout the week. An awesome book!

The End.