JUNE 2023

Dates: June 25-30, 2023

People: Mark, Anya, Ben, Mom/Dad Witte



We had a 2pm flight on a Sunday which meant leaving church in a very prompt manner and hoping everything went smoothly. Sarah had the older boys as well as the rest of the youth heading up to Mackinac Island for the District Youth Gathering. They left around 915. Sue and Kathleen were gracious enough to help Anya and Ben through the rest of the morning up until it was time to leave. They helped get both to the car and Anya to the bathroom. This allowed me to finish service, wrap up things in my office, change clothes and meet them at the car. It went great and we were on the road to the airport before noon.

I drove our Sedona up to the airport with Kathleen along with us. She would then drive it home. I had my large duffel, we had a roller bag for the two littles and Anya and I each had a backpack. Anya did well pulling the roller bag into the terminal while I carried my bags and Ben. We got the bags checked and made it through security well. As usual with kids, they didn't put us through the new machine but walked us through the old metal detector.

We walked down to Chick-fil-A realizing along the way it was Sunday. So we opted to get a bowl of rice and bourbon chicken at the Asian place next door. I tried to share it with the two littles. We also had a lot of snacks along. We made it back to our gate and passed the time eating and getting the kids moving about. We did one more bathroom break at a family restroom. Then spent the last 15 minutes waiting for boarding by walking laps on the moving walkway.

We stood in the family boarding line with like 10 other families with kids. Anya was excited about boarding. We had setup Ben as a lap child and they did print a boarding pass for him as well. We got boarded and found seats just behind the wing. Anya sat at the window, I sat in the middle with Ben. Unfortunately it was a full flight.

I had both eating through takeoff to help the ears. Anya with fruit snacks. Ben with crackers and also his plug. Ben took a 30-40 minute nap in flight. Sometimes he would sit between Anya and I. Sometimes on my lap. While on my lap it was really tight and hard to put the tray table down. As long as I kept them fed and entertained things went smoothly. Thankfully no ear issues or crying fits.

We arrived a few minutes early and waited patiently to get off the plane. We made our way down the escalators and then to the trains, all of which Anya enjoyed. At baggage claim Mom and Dad had parked and came in and met us to help.

We headed out of the airport and along 70 to get to 285. We made a supper stop at Wendys in Conifer. We did drive thru as both littles were napping. We were amazing at the bumper-to-bumper traffic eastbound on 285 heading back into Denver. It was off and on solid from just west of Conifer all the way to Kenosha Pass.

We made it to the house around 6p. Mom and Dad had some of their friends come over to do smores in the house with us. 


I was up at 4:45 today to get moving along for the big adventure. Did bathroom and breakfast and got things into the Jeep. I have to say I wasn't moving real fast but I was't too worried. It was just shy of 530a when I left the house. I drove up to the Harvard Lakes TH in the Jeep and was ready to hit the trail at 542a.

Harvard-Columbia Circumnavigate Trip Report

After my hike I drove on back to the house. It was after 8p. The others weren't home they were in downtown BV having a short hike on the Whipple trails. Anya really loved the hiking.

I was certainly exhausted from my day so aside from showering and taking care of a few bits of unpacking my pack I wasn't useful for much else that night. They had done meatloaf and corn for supper and I got a reheated plate of that.


Slept in today, as much as that is possible in Colorado. Up at 7:40am. The littles were both up within 20 minutes. Mom made breakfast and we had sausage and eggs. The morning was a simple one in part because of the massive day I had yesterday and I wasn't ready to just go out anywhere. But also Mom and Dad had a meeting at 9am with their realtor. He came in and they discussed the latest on the home sale and where things were at.

The moment the meeting ended, Dad asked if we were ready to head to the Salt Creek trailhead for a go at Marmot Peak. I knew he had wanted to do this as it was one of the last remaining peaks that could be seen from the house that he hadn't climbed. I was in. It was probably around 10am when we left the house.

Marmot Peak Trip Report

We finished the hike around 4pm and were back to the house around 5p. I set about showering and cleaning up. Anya and Ben were both sleeping at the time. Ben would wake first while we were getting supper ready. Mom made chicken, fried potatoes, and corn for supper. We had to wake Anya up finally mid-supper to get her to eat.

Rest of the evening was quiet. I was so worked from the two days efforts. I did get to watch some of the Cubs v Phillies game with Dad.


I was up just after 530am. Didn't have a good night. So much tossing and turning plus muscle soreness all over the body. I took my time getting ready for another day of hiking. Had to really convince myself to get going. I finally got out of the house by 615am. I was driving the minivan today.

Mom & Dad had appointments in the Springs and graciously offered to take the two littles so I could get another day of hiking in. At the end of the appts they were going to head to Fairplay to pickup a trailer and so they were taking the Jeep today. They left at 10am or so for the drive. The littles got lunch at Taco Bell and some playground time along the way.

I drove down 285 to Poncha Springs and then a few miles further to the Marshall Pass Road turnoff. The first 6 miles or so were a hard dirt road much like the road into Winfield. Then it was another 12 miles on softer, rockier dirt. It was all 2WD but had to take it slow and occasionally dodge a rock or slow down for a small rut. I made the Marshall Pass trailhead shortly before 8. Only 1 other car there and it looked like a hiker heading out onto the Colorado Trail for a bit.

Mount Ouray Trip Report

I finished my hike around 1 and headed out. Several more cars and some individuals with ORVs up at the pass now. On the drive out encountered a couple of vehicles coming up including several people on bikes. Also encountered a road grader working on the road who left a several mile long pile of dirt along the center of the road.

Once out I made it up to Poncha Springs where I hit the grocery for a bottle of chocolate milk. Back in BV I stopped at the Subway for lunch as I was pretty hungry. It was just shy of 3p when I made it back to the house. I cleaned up and bit and then took an hour or two to do some writing and trip reporting.

I was volunteered to cook burgers for supper and gladly obliged. First time working a gas grill in many years. I tried to time finishing the burgers with the others arriving home. I was close. They returned around 7p and I think the burgers had been done for only 10 minutes. We ate some leftovers (potatoes and corn) with the burgers.

After supper we had fun outside watching the littles on the patio and enjoying a beautiful evening. Ben was his usual self playing with balls and trying to see how far off the patio he could throw them. 


I was up on my own at 630 today. I decided this would just be a good family day and not worth trying to sneak in another random mountain climb. So I started off with a simple two mile walk out on the road while I waited for others to get up. The littles were both up by 7:45.

Mom made breakfast again and we had sausage to go with cantaloupe. As we finished up breakfast we decided on doing a simple family hike. We opted for seeing the Aspen Arch in the Fourmile area east of Buena Vista. Dad had noted there were a few tough rocky parts of the hike but we thought we could make it work. He had even shown me the map of the area to see where the arch was but the lengths of it all didn't quite sink in for any of us.

We left the house just before 10. We crossed the river and we followed one of the dirt roads to go through some old railroad tunnels as Anya enjoyed that. We then headed back into Fourmile for the Arch. The first 2 miles or so were decent dirt road like we're used to. Then we got on a road that was basically singletrack, rolling and rocky. It took us nearly an hour from there to get to the arch probably covering 7-8 miles in that time. Anya was getting bounced all over the place in her seat. Ben amazingly slept through most of it but I had to hold his head in place while he slept.

When we made the unmarked trailhead for Aspen Arch we all started on the hike. There was almost immediately water streaming down the middle of the trail. This caused Anya problems and then ended things when Anya tried to bypass the water and slipped and fell on her rear end in a wet grassy spot. The trail was also quickly beginning to climb and everyone but Dad and I would be done. We sent Mom and the two littles back to the car. Dad and I continued up. There were 3 spots with large rock slabs and boulders that were border-line is easy (non-exposed) class 3 style sections. If we had the kids I probably could have lifted them through it but these were a challenge. Above those spots the trail was a narrow but easy climb up to a relative flat area where we headed north along more slabs to a viewing area for the Arch. We grabbed some pics of the arch and also some of the views back to the valley.

On the drive out we completed the loop and thankfully the east side of the loop got us off the bad road a bit quicker. We headed into BV to the playground by the river to unwind and have a picnic lunch. Both littles loved the playground. Ben excelled at walking away independently and going down slides.

We spent the afternoon back a the house with both littles falling asleep for naps. Mom and Dad set about work on packing the house while I did some work on my laptop. Around suppertime we were full force into packing the trailer which Mom and Dad would use to drive more stuff to Michigan. We ordered pizza for supper from Elkhorn. We continued working on the truck til dark and we finally had it full. We even got the kayaks and the rocket box in there.


I was up 650 today and actually had a decent sleep last night, only getting up once, and a small amount of tossing and turning. Dad was already up and preparing to finish their packing. I took a quick walk so I could be back to help out. Ben was up and half sleeping on Dad's lap when I got back. I ate a quick breakfast and then I took the sleeping Ben so Dad could help Mom with finish packing and cleaning the house. They wanted the house to be showing-ready in case that were to happen in the next few weeks again.

We did eventually wake Anya up to get her going and eating breakfast. It was a challenging morning between trying to get packed, trying to eat breakfast and do things without dirtying dishes or creating more work. Eventually we decided that myself, Dad, the littles and the Jeep would need to leave by 9am because we were hearing bad reports of how busy DIA was going to be. Mom would stay at the house another hour or so finishing up the cleaning.

We did hit the road as planned and decided on taking the I70 route through Leadville as the driving would be a little easier with the trailer. I was happy to get another trip through Leadville to see what was new in town. We enjoyed our usual game of spotting and naming all the 13ers along the way from Leadville to Frisco. I70 had a fair amount of traffic but things kept moving and we never hit any major slow downs. Anya enjoyed the drive through the Eisenhower tunnel.

As we drove Southwest was updating that our flight would now be an hour late. Things were just that crazy at the airport. This gave us a little bit of extra time in our travel but we played it cautiously in case that delay would go back to normal time. We did opt for Chick-fil-A on Tower Rd for lunch. This would get us close enough to the airport if plans were to change. It took us awhile to get both littles to eat so it was good we had the extra time.

I also had major Dad problems here. Wanted Anya to go to the bathroom but of course she would only do the ladies room. So I had her go in and I stayed at the door. Another woman even offered to help Anya with holding her stall door shut. But I don't think Anya ultimately went. She seems to shut down a bit when there are other adults around. When I get back to Dad and Ben we find Ben has a massively full diaper and it was starting to wet his pants. So we headed back out the to the Jeep. I pulled out my changing supplies and found a patch of grass at the Chili's restaurant (where we had parked the Jeep and trailer combo) and change Ben there in the grass and got him a fresh pair of shorts.

Dad got us into the airport at 1:30p and thankfully the departures area wasn't crazy and we had an easy dropoff even while pulling a small U-haul trailer through there. I got the littles and our bags into the bag dropoff and made that without fanfare. Then the real challenge began. We took a long walk all the way down to south security only to find its line was wrapped around the corner, all along baggage claim and almost all the way to the north end. All this while arm carrying Ben, and Anya's backpack, and holding her hand. That line could have easily taken over an hour. Luckily I remember a previous time at DIA where someone was ushering people up a stairway and telling them to go to Bridge Security. So that's what we did. The line there was not too bad and thankfully it kept moving. I would say no more than 25 minutes for us so that was a Godsend. Anya's bag got flagged at security as I forgot to take her tablet out. After that we were good.

We did the escalators downstairs through A concourse to hit the trains and then out to "C". The concourse was just full of people. We carefully made our way out to our gate, hitting the moving walkways along the way. We got to our gate and we were tired and thirsty. I wasn't willing to drag the littles around looking for a water fountain so we hit the store and grabbed a Gatorade. We did eventually leave the gate to find a family restroom which was about the only way to do bathroom when I have Anya alone.

Our flight boarded around 4:15 which was 1:45 late from schedule. It was a full flight. Thankfully Ben slept most of the flight and Anya watched shows on her tablet. I watched the first episode of Secret Invasion on disney+. We arrived 9:10 which was about 1:25 late. Sarah was there to grab us and we headed home.