Tag Archives: 14er

Mount Belford, Another Great 14er

Mt. Belford was the first 14er we have done on a Saturday in quite a while, because it can mean a lot of hikers on single wide trails. Since Anna, Jesse, and Mary had a long hike on Thursday (watch for that post Monday!), we wanted to give them a rest day on Friday, and we were leaving on Sunday so that left us Saturday. Sarah stayed back at the cabin to edit her book. 

It took us 1.5 hours to drive to the trailhead from our cabin. The last 3 miles the gravel road had the worst washboard we have been on so we drove slowly through there.

This climb was supposed to be 8 miles with 4500 feet elevation gain. We were ready to hike just as it got light so we didn’t need our headlamps.

We began the hike through a pine forest that leveled out a bit in a beautiful aspen grove. Once we had climbed above the trees, it was switchbacks all the way up the mountain. With so many hiking on Saturday, we could see the steady stream of people making their way up.

We worked and worked for the summit, only to find it was a false summit, and we still had further to go. We enjoyed conversations with several others who were hiking up about our pace.

Not long after starting the switchbacks, Jesse, Anna, and Mary moved ahead to summit as they still had a great amount of energy. Steve and I planned to turn around at noon if we hadn’t yet made it to the top. We summited at 11:20 while the others had been enjoying the views for an hour. Jesse, Anna, and Mary (and Sarah and John) had climbed Mt. Belford before when they did a double 14er of Mt. Belford and Oxford.

Jesse and Mary on Belford
Anna on Belford
Steve and me on the summit

From where we rested and ate lunch on top of Mt. Belford, we could see the path on to Oxford and people on it, but our plan was just Mt. Belford.

The trail over to Oxford.

There were two ways down–the way we had come up and another trail that appeared not to have so many switchbacks and was a mile longer. After some discussion, everyone agreed that Steve and I should go back the shorter way we came and the others should check out the alternate route.

Going down, we spotted them on their trail, and they spotted us on ours. They were much further down, so they again rested while we poked our way down. Downhill is much easier than uphill, but Steve and I take it slowly because of loose rocks on the trail and our weak muscles after the climb up.

This is where we joined up with the other three.

Steve and I thanked the Lord that we could make this longer 14er hike with more elevation gain than the one earlier in the week.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city
of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.”
Psalm 48:1

Mount Sherman, A 14er Family Hike

On Mary’s 22nd birthday (last Tuesday), we left the cabin before dawn and drove to the Leadville area. The weather did not seem promising with heavy clouds and even light rain as we arrived at the trailhead. We’ve yet to have to turn around on a 14er due to weather, but I thought this would be our first because we are very cautious especially concerning thunderstorms. These didn’t look like the thunderstorms that typically come up in the afternoons.

Jesse is our master route guide, and he planned for us to take an alternate (shorter) route up Mt. Sherman. We parked near an old abandoned mine and began our trek, in the mist and cold.

We hiked up a beautiful mountainside with a great trail. The weather changed literally by the minute, and so sometimes we took a break to get our rain gear out and other times we stopped to take it off.

On the ridge, the trail joined a popular route, so we gained a lot of company, which is great. The wind was really strong as we did the final ascent.

Enjoy the pictures and journal below of our hike!

PS – We arrived home Monday afternoon, and I’ll be catching you up on the hikes later!

On the way, we saw a herd of elk!

The dirt road we took up to the trailhead was gorgeous.

These sweet sisters of mine, all ready for the hike.

Hiking up at a steady pace.

Take a break to de-layer. As you can see, it was at an angle not terribly conducive for
one’s Camelbak to stay in one’s possession.

Notice the rain in the upper left coming in. You can see it approaching, and then when you don’t see it
approaching, and you feel wet, well, you know it’s now upon you!

As we reached the ridge, the wind picked up and it began sleeting ice pellets,
which thankfully didn’t last too long.

Now this is looking back down the ridge as the family approaches.

The ridge consisted of lots of rocks, and the wind was really strong, and the temperatures cold.

The summit itself was flat and spacious. A SAMS sister picture (Sarah, Anna, Mary).

Awesome picture of Jesse!

Dad and Mom summit!

Here’s a view back down to the valley we climbed out of. I circled where are vehicles parked.

Time on the summit is spent chatting with others, eating snacks, layering or de-layering depending on the temperature, texting friends and family pictures, and enjoying the views.

You want to know my favorite summit food? Junior Mints!

Dad and Mom

Anna found this wrench-shaped rock.

The views going down were gorgeous and the weather on the ridge pleasant compared to the way up.

But by the time we got to the bottom of the ridge, the weather changed
again, and it was time to layer up again!

Mary and Jesse

Another great rock shape

Hiking down (down to short sleeves!)

Jesse and Mary decided to do their hiker’s duty and build a cairn for the benefit of their fellow hikers. You need the perfect rocks, so they worked to select the right ones.

The finished cairn with its builders.

I’ll let you in on a little code word Anna has coined: recliner rock. Here Anna is enjoying a recliner rock–if you can really picture a rock being comfortable? It has to be the right smoothness and angle to be able to lay back on, and surprisingly enough, she finds herself quite a few recliner rocks on hikes.

Mount Sherman (we think) is about in the middle of this picture.

Enjoying a break at the stream.

A selfie at the end of our hike.

What could be better than to grab a coffee in Leadville? So perfect!
Mary enjoyed a birthday phone call AND a caramel latte 🙂

Jesse took the opportunity for good WiFi to plan Thursday’s hike, Mount of the Holy Cross, which just Mary, Anna, and he did. I can’t wait to share on that one!

Anna took a picture of Mary’s gifts.

We celebrated Mary’s birthday that evening.

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought
for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!”
Psalm 31:19

Mount Princeton Hike

Monday morning Jesse, Anna, and Mary left the cabin early. The best way to hike Mount Princeton is to have a 4-WD vehicle, otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of mileage! With Jesse’s rented Jeep, they drove up to the radio towers and parked. After that, it was a total of 6.4 miles and 3,688 feet of elevation gain.

They enjoyed an awesome morning hiking Princeton, made many memories together as siblings, and they were the first people to summit that day!

Enjoy the pictures.

An illuminate with head-lamp selfie in the dark.

The clouds were spectacular.

I was not with them on this hike, and the picture I posted of Anna and Mary the other day Jesse took. He’s an awesome photographer and has an incredible eye for it.

After the sun came up, the clouds disappeared.

The route was easy to follow.

On the saddle

They made their summit at 7:45 am!



Lots of wind at the top!

Heading back down.

If you look closely, you can see the faint trail line.

Looking back up the ridge.

Jesse and Mary

They walked on a huge rock field.

Jesse and Anna

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:58

Mount Belford and Oxford, Another Double 14er

Mount Belford and Oxford are located in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. They are close to each other, thus making it feasible to do both back to back.

Because of the importance of summiting early in the day to avoid being caught in a thunderstorm on top, we started out at 2:50 am. 

We hiked in the dark with our headlamps for about 3 hours.

IMG_2139After we got to the meadow, we could see Mount Belford ahead, illuminated by the moon. Gorgeous. We also saw snow on it.

We climbed our way steadily up, one foot in front of the other. As dawn broke, we saw a herd of mountain goats on a far off slope: so pretty (sorry: no pictures: I didn’t have my DSLR camera with me).


The trail was wonderful. We’re very grateful to the Colorado 14er Initiative for all their work on trails! In fact, we saw a group of them working on part of the Missouri trail.

Anna Maxwell and Mary Maxwell
Anna and Mary
Sunrise in the mountains
John, Anna, Mary, and I before our final ascent to Belford. It was cold!
John, Anna, Mary, and I before our final ascent to Belford. It was cold!

We summited Belford at 6:50 am. It was so cold (probably a 15 degree windchill) all we could do was layer up and get moving on to Oxford.

Belford's summit
Belford’s summit
Just trying to stay warm.
Just trying to stay warm.

The trek over to Oxford looked snowy but doable.

This is the approximate path up to Oxford.
This is the approximate path up to Oxford.
A panorama Jesse took in a flat spot between the two peaks.
A panorama Jesse took in a flat spot between the two peaks.

So we set off and warmed up as we walked. It took us an hour and a half to summit Belford, in some places finding our own trail through the snow.

Oxford was beautiful and deserted—we were the first and probably only ones to summit it that day. We took time to eat snacks and grabbed pictures. Oxford’s summit was roomy and fairly flat, unlike Belford which was very rocky with steep inclines on several sides.

Jesse on Mount Oxford
Jesse on Mount Oxford
Anna, Jesse, Mary, and John
Anna, Jesse, Mary, and John
The girls
The girls
Jesse pointing out peaks again
Jesse pointing out peaks again

Then, we headed back. We knew this next part would be hard, as we’d lost a lost of elevation coming down from Belford. And it was hard. Two of us weren’t feeling so well, but we kept at it: slowly and steadily.

This shows the approximate trail back to Belford.
This shows the approximate trail back to Belford.
Jesse taking photos or videos or something.
Jesse taking photos or videos or something.


We re-summited Belford, and the temperatures were warmer, so we took pictures, ate more snacks for energy, and enjoyed spending a little time before making our final descent.

John on Belford
John on Belford
Jesse on Belford.
Jesse on Belford.
Me on Belford
Me on Belford
Anna Maxwell
Anna on Belford
Mary on Belford
Mary on Belford


Around 11 am, we headed down. We saw a search and rescue helicopter fly around the area, and we found out later that a man died on Harvard (from unknown causes: SARs found him early that morning, but he was missing as of the night before). That was sad.


We saw people climbing Missouri, a nearby peak, but we only passed a total of three people on our trail. We watched rain clouds gathering and were grateful for our early start.


You can see Mount Belford peeking out above the trees.
You can see Mount Belford peeking out above the trees.

Around the time we exited the rock fields, it began sleeting little ice pellets. So out came the rain gear! The trail became wet and muddy, and we slipped occasionally but nothing major.


We made it down to the trail head by a little before 2, making our time from start to finish, and including our summit breaks, to be close to 11 hours. It was an intense hike with wonderful company!

In all, we went almost 10 miles and had 6000 feet of elevation gain.


In front of the Colorado 14ers Initiative Truck
In front of the Colorado 14ers Initiative Truck

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee…”
Psalm 63:1

La Plata Peak

Mary’s birthday felt like it came early because we woke up a little after 3 a.m. We had our individual Bible times, finalized loading our packs, and headed out. Since we were unsure of how Dad’s feet would do, we took John’s truck and the van. 

We arrived at the trailhead and began our hike at 5:36 Central. Headlamps were a must. 

IMG_6634Walking in the dark is interesting in its own way. When you come back through in the light, you get to see all the things you missed. At one point, we knew we were approaching water, but we couldn’t find the trail. As the guys searched around the big boulders, Dad found the way to a bridge across a deep canyon! You’ll see pictures of that canyon later.

By dawn, we came to a pretty meadow with a bubbling stream, wildflowers, and tall grass. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to be a camper somewhere in the meadow or see a moose drinking from the brook.

After the meadow, we began more of a climb, but thankfully there were switchbacks to break up the steepness.


IMG_6462Around this time, we saw our first hikers way above us on the ridge. We made our way slowly but steadily to the ridge and then took a break to be ready for the final ascent.


The next area consisted of boulders and places with loose dirt on the trail. As we continued, someone noticed a mountain goat ahead. We neared, and the goat didn’t seem to mind us except for Dad’s red coat, which did seem to bother him.

IMG_6516IMG_6545After pictures, we kept going, and the trail became much harder. Finally, about a 1/2-3/4 of a mile from the summit, Dad and I turned around while the rest went on.

The rest continued on.
The rest continued on.

Even though we stopped short, the views were still pretty. The others summited about 11, which meant it was a 5+ hour hike just to the summit! It was cold and windy, but they still enjoyed 45 minutes on the summit.

The birthday girl!
The birthday girl!
Chocolate on the summit: can't beat that!
Chocolate on the summit: can’t beat that!
Anna loves marshmallows.
Anna loves marshmallows.

IMG_5368The descent was tricky, involving loose dirt on the trail which isn’t a comfortable feeling as you slip and slide your way down. We met many people still working on the ascent, so that broke the hike up as you talked to them.



I love this selfie of the girls.
I love this selfie of the girls.

Below the ridge, we saw the mountain goat again. He was happy to use the path as his trail, which made it inconvenient for people desiring to pass him. He did eventually move off, though, if you worked hard enough. It was amazing to be so close to him.



John made his descent quickly due to a work issue, so we were glad for two vehicles, because he had to go back to the cabin. The rest of us made it down by 3 something.

For those thinking about hiking La Plata, all I can say is it’s a difficult one, with lots of loose dirt and scree, and some areas have a steep hillside next to the path.

The canyon we went over in the dark.
The canyon we went over in the dark.
Mom and Mary after completing the hike: birthday girls!
Mom and Mary after completing the hike: birthday girls!

Happy birthday to Mary!


“And he hath put a new song in my mouth,
even praise unto our God:
many shall see it, and fear,
and shall trust in the LORD.”
Psalm 40:3