Part II: An Exciting family Adventure up Pikes Peak

Random / Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Part II of An Exciting Family Trip up Pikes Peak.

So my father-in-law and the three kids and I made it to the peak but we weren’t sure yet how much longer it would be before the three hikers, my husband and his mom and his brother, finished their nice little hike up to join us. I think it was around 2:30 when we go there.

So once I gave him a call and let him know we had made it and asked how much longer they might be, thinking he’d say maybe 20-30 minutes or so based on the last conversation we’d had with him back at the reservoir visitor center. It was a lot windier up there so it made it hard to hear him but he said something like, “Well we slowed way down now and so it’s probably going to be [kkrrrkkkrrkrrkrr]…you might want to turn around and go back down for a while….” [krrrrkkrkrkrkrkr] I couldn’t hear the rest of what he said and I wasn’t able to ask him anything else before the call dropped. I tried to call him back but the signal on my phone was completely gone. My father-in-law (FIL) tried on his phone but it wouldn’t go through either. We tried my mother-in-law’s phone and my brother-in-law’s…nope. Dead.

So we weren’t sure what to do. I could tell my FIL wasn’t about to just turn back around after driving all the way up here. He had come up here to climb back down and gosh-darnet that’s what he was going to do. It had started raining a little but he said he was going to go out and see if he could see them below with his camera. “I’ll be right back”. So I waited there in the car with my seven-year old daughter, the almost five year-old son and the toddler, who was still snoring away in his carseat. I took my book out and also kept trying to call my husband, still wouldn’t work. Funny though I did receive a text from my little brother (yes you are still little even though you have bigger muscles than me) telling me he won 2 free airplane vouchers by giving up his seat twice on his way back to school for the year. I tried texting him back but it didn’t go through.

We were sitting there when I happened to look through my rearview mirror to see a dark cloud rolling in quickly behind us. Suddenly the ‘spitting rain’ turned into more like a sleeting/hailing wind storm. It’s ok, I thought, we are safe in the car and it’s just a little rain. Although I did wonder if it was possible for our car to be blown off the mountain–that may not be very fun.

The almost five year-old was ecstatic. “Snow!!! It’s snowing!!!” He really loves snow and the hail piling up on the ground was close enough to snow for him. I looked over to my sleeping babe and realized his window was still open a little from when we opened it earlier to let air in while we sat there. I reached for my keys so I could close it but realized my FIL had taken them with him! I really didn’t want him to get wet and wake up so I went to the back and found some blankets in the trunk I had put there for ‘just in case’ times–thank you past self! I draped it across him and that seemed to help. The other two kids and I pretended we were in an airplane flying through a cloud.

Almost as quickly as the storm came in it also passed. It was kind of amazing to watch it pass in front of us and see it pour down its rain over the land in front of us. My FIL returned but unfortunately didn’t have any luck finding our hikers from where he tried looking. So we sat there, we two, (and the three kids) not quite sure what to do. We just sat,



And laughed at the lady who was walking around the top of Pikes Peak in high heals and a skirt.

As we sat there, we heard a low moaning sound from behind us. I turned around to see it was coming from my daughter whose face was suddenly rather white and her lips rather purplish/bluish. I had been making the kids drink water all the way up and while we were there and giving them a special Altitude Sickness remedy but it looked it that wasn’t working anymore. So I got out the snack bag and we all had some crackers and nuts. The toddler was now awake and restless so this seemed to be a good idea for everyone, except it didn’t seem to help my daughter. Her mounings were now louder and closer together and the face was getting all scrunched up; I knew exactly what that meant.

So we decided to get out and go into the shelter and get her to the bathrooms quickly. I walked/held there quickly while trying to keep her body in the right position in case we didn’t make it in time. Thankfully we did make it there, just barely. We stayed there in the bathroom for a verrryyyy long time. I was so thankful my FIL was with us so he could help with the boys while I helped my daugher. The bathrooms were hot and horribly disgusting. It was obvious that my daughter wasn’t the only one who had suffered her same plight in here. I finally convinced her that it would be better to get outside and get out in the fresher air.

There had been another storm while we were in the bathrooms and they were starting to let people back out and down the mountain then. It was maybe around 3:30 or so now. I remember hearing a guy say, “I don’t care, I am not staying on this mountain any longer!” I wondered just how long he had been up there.

We got back to the car and we tried calling them again but our phones still did not work. My FIL decided he would try and see if he could go down the trail a bit and see if they were close enough to see yet. This time I made sure he left the keys with me, not that I was planning on leaving him there but I didn’t want to be without the keys again either. Again, he said he’d be right back.

I was able to get my daughter settled in her seat, telling her to go ahead and rest a bit. I made sure to keep talking to her every now and then though and checking to make sure she was still breathing. Her lips were still purplish/bluish but some color had returned to her cheeks again. My boys were doing just fine, jumping around and being their usual selves, except not so annoying somehow. I got my book out and tried not to think too much about our situation and just be patient, whispering prayers in between pages asking God to help my husband and everyone be safe and get here soon!

We were sitting there for a bit when another storm suddenly rolled in. This one was different. This one had rain, sleet, hail and…LIGHTNING. This concerned me. Here we were in a van on the top of a mountain in a lightning storm. Even worse though, my FIL was out there and so was my husband and his mom and brother, exposed completely to the elements and lightning. Yeah.

My daughter must have heard my fingers tapping my book and asked if I was scared and I said I was concerned. (I knew I couldn’t tell them I was scared or they would then be scared and that really wouldn’t help). I honestly didn’t really feel anything. I couldn’t do anything. They weren’t people down the mountain because the roads were still being cleaned of snow from the last storm and I wasn’t about to get out in the middle of a lightning storm. I couldn’t get a hold of my husband or anyone. I didn’t know where my FIL was. I tried not to think any negative thoughts about how he and the others were surviving being the tallest things on the top of a mountain in a lightning storm. So my daughter and I said a few prayers and then I kept reading my book.

The boys had been making a lot of noise but suddenly I noticed it had gotten quite. The toddler was occupying himself with something but the other one had disapeared! I looked in the back and he was laying down on the floor not moving.

I quickly went back there and got him up. His face was pale and his lips were purplish/bluish. I slapped his cheeks a bit (gently) and then put him up in his car seat and had him drink some more water. I checked his heartbeat (a little faster than usual) but his breathing was alright. So I let him rest there and I went back to my safe seat in the front, looking back at him every few minutes and at my daughter in between prayers and pages of my book. (I had to keep rereading whole pages, I don’t think I actually read any of it).

It was now probably around 4:15 or 4:30. My FIL had not returned, I wasn’t sure where he was, if he had survived the lightning storm or what the fate was of my husband and his mom and brother. I was definitely getting nervous and agitated now. Though you wouldn’t have known it by looking at me. My daughter and I prayed a bit more and then I told her that if Grandpap wasn’t back by 5 then we would have to get out and look for him. (I had no idea how this would actually work with me and three young kids).

The minutes dragged by. Tick…tick….tick….

I looked at the clock around 4:45 and still nothing. Around this time I started thinking about what I would say to everyone when they finally made it up. I decided that if my husband wasn’t dead, I wouldn’t get mad. But if he was….well that would be a different story. I looked back at the kids and wondered if I was killing them by staying up there. (There was still no choice though as the road was still closed!) Well, I thought, this really is totally up to you God!

I looked again to the same spot I’d been staring at hoping that if I stared long enough I could will my husband and his family to suddenly appear. I looked and looked. And then….

Oh man it’s past my bedtime again….

Sorry, I still have to upload pictures in here again so goodnight for now, I’ll be back again tomorrow!

Kidding. So around 4:50, it happend. My husband, in his yellow poncho, appeared along with his mom, brother, and dad! They made it! It was like a moment in a movie about people who’ve been stuck in a mine for days. My heart surged, I think there may have been some tears in my eyes. They made it! I honked the horn in celebration! Yay! Thank you God!!

Now, let’s get off this mountain!

It really is past my bedtime now and this has been entirely too long. If you’ve stuck around for the end here are some pictures of part of their journey up and then some pictures we took on the trip down.

They hid under that big rock during the storm and tried to stay low. They got to see a double rainbow from above after the storm.

I like the way storm looked from far away

Back down at the reservoir visitor center.

Not so many clouds up at the peak now!

Kudos to my wonderful husband for the amazing photos! And that’s the story of our family adventure up Pikes Peak! All in all I am very proud of my husband and his mom and brother for accomplishing their goal and getting to the top! And I am incredibly thankful that everyone survived and the kids all felt just fine once we got down. Next year we can take the train up, and no matter what I and the kids will go back down on the train as well. One day, maybe I’ll be able to join them on their hike but for now I’m content to use my children as an excuse for not partaking in that family tradition.

4 Replies to “Part II: An Exciting family Adventure up Pikes Peak”

  1. The pictures. Amazing. Wow. I love the mountains.

    And the story, OMgoodness, I would have totally freaked out. That is INSANE!!!!

    So you all drove back down then, no hiking down? The hike sounds very grueling, I’d be curious to ask S more about it. I was thinking something like that would have trails the whole way, but I’m guessing no? So. Very. Cool.

    OOoooooooooh, makes me want to go to Colorado.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh I knew I left something out! Yes we all drove back down together. My FIL was very disapointed that he didn’t get to hike back down. At one point I thought maybe he had decided to just go down without them when he hadn’t come back. But it was too late, it would have been dark by the time they got back down. Yeah I think S could tell you more about that part of it. There is a trail the whole way but it gets steep the higher you go and of course the higher you go the less oxygen there is so it makes it harder. I think that’s why they slowed way down towards the end.

      I loved the trip all in all. Even though it was INSANE! 🙂

  2. Wow!! That was a great story!! How scary that the kids got sick!! I’m glad you all survived. Colorado sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to take our kids….someday.
    You remained VERY calm….I don’t know if I would have. I abhore lightening.

  3. And your patience with S was very nice. I would have been planning all kinds of nasty things to say in my head. And may or may not have said them.

    And I love the pic of the lady in a skirt and heels. What the…??

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