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Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

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Skokie
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Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

We will be traveling around Aspen and Glenwood Springs in late July, for ~ 5 days. In addition to rafting, biking, and hot springs, my sons really want to hike a 14er, if possible. Is there a reasonable possibility of doing this in the area we'll be in? All 5 of us are fit, active, athletic, and accustomed to hiking. But. We live in Chicago, where it is flat and low altitude, so I am trying to be reasonable about expectations. thanks for suggestions!

Nederland, Colorado
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1. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

The Elk Mountains surround Aspen and there are several 14ers but many of them are difficult and not suitable for first-timers.

Castle Peak may be one you could do. I read this:

14,265 feet is the highest in the Elk Range. With a 4-wheel-drive road to 12,800 feet, it is a relatively easy hike and a good introduction to the Elks. This peak also provides excellent spring skiing on a fourteener. The trailhead is located up Castle Creek Rd, past Ashcroft.

You will want to check on trail conditions because there will still be snow.

Perhaps read this article: aspenpeak-magazine.com/living/articles/a-pea…

You might also check out some of the 14er forums online to get info: https://14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php…

Edited: 03 July 2013, 18:28
Aspen, Colorado
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2. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

I second Castle as an easy 14er near here. You could also look at some of the peaks on the other side of Independence Pass uch as Mt Elbert, which has more elevation gain but has a trail to the top.

Fruita, Colorado
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3. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

Hiking and climbing a 14er can be quite different things. To do a 14er during the middle of summer when there is a possibility that a severe afternoon thunderstorm can come upon you in a hurry is a challenge. To beat this you would have to be on the trail very early in the morning since these hikes can take 7 or so hours. You really need to be very far down by noon at the latest. Many people use crampons and ice axes on these hikes also, I know Castle has ice fields and loose rocky areas that need to be traversed with care. Also some of the roads getting to trailheads require 4WD vehicles (not rental SUVs from your general rental companies which forbid off road driving). imho, this is really not doable with your other scheduled activities and lack of acclimation to altitude.

http://www.14ers.com/safety.php

WestSlope,CO
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4. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

I'm not sure that 5 days is adequate time to acclimate. I'd talk to a guide service and ask their advice on whether this is doable and which hikes to do on your first three days. If those hikes go well, then plan to do the hike with an experienced guide. If you read the advice from the linked article, you notice she talks about "bonking" and "zoning out." Will you know how to recognize this and help your kids, or would your kids know what to do? And what if you succumb to altitude sickness or fall...will your kids know what to do?

Aspen, Colorado
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5. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

Mount Elbert is the tallest and easiest 14er. The extra drive is worth it - just start really early as afternoon weather can be an issue. Or camp or stay at the cute little cabins near the base. There's a clearly marked trail all the way to the top. From what i can remember no shady areas where climbing on all 4 or walking through snow/ice is required. It's brisk and windy at the top so be sure to wear layers, bring lots of snacks and water (kids and adults get cranky when hungry) and a quality lunch to eat at the top. Your boys will definitely be able to do it.

Here's a great link to the details on how to get to the trailhead and what to expect. summitcountyexplorer.com/HIKES/…20Trail.htm

It states that it's an "advanced" trail, but that's comparing to other hikes, not 14ers. Mt. Elbert you can do. Hiking poles definitely help, so bring some if you can. Slow and steady as the altitude will be tough to handle.

Aspen, Colorado
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6. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

Here's a nice blog on the Mt. Elbert hike. Note: 11 miles and 7.5 hrs for guys who look pretty fit.

hiking.hyrumwright.org/hike/Mount_Elbert

Skokie
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7. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

Thank you all for your thoughtful and informative replies. I appreciate the tips and concerns about safety, and am concerned about that, too. I certainly don't want to take undue risks for the sake of a 14er. I was just looking over Mt. Elbert, too, and thought it looked appropriate (acclimation permitting). I will keep reading and talk to people when we get out there, too.

-Una

8. Re: Hiking a 14er with kids aged 10, 13, 15

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