Tag Archives: colorado

Hiking Colorado’s Highest Mountain

Since Steve and my Colorado vacation was last minute, we didn’t have the training time that we had other summers to prepare us for hiking 14,000 foot peaks. We didn’t have any real conditioning preparation time on this short notice. We thought we would at least try one and turn back if we couldn’t make it. 

We chose Mt. Elbert, even though it is Colorado’s highest mountain, since it was only an hour from our cabin, a class 1 (on a scale of 1-4 with 1 being the easiest) climb, and a reasonable round trip distance—9.5 miles. It was also the first 14er hike I ever did 8 years ago. We thought we had good potential to summit.

We started our hike at 5:00 a.m. in the dark using headlamps. I love starting in the dark and then seeing the forest begin to be light as the sun rises. 

The first 1.5 miles was pretty tame, but then it took off from there. We quickly felt our lack of training! There were some parts still in the tree line that were quite steep—zapping our strength. Switchbacks definitely make it easier.

We summited about 10 a.m., ate lunch there, took photos, and enjoyed the vast beauty of God’s creation that only the top of a 14er provides in its views. Then we started our 4.5 hour trek back down. Most of the other hikers on the mountain hiked faster than we did both up and down, but they were a lot younger too!

Steve and Teri on Mt. Elbert

This hike, the Lord gave us two different great, extended conversations about spiritual things with other hikers as we went down.

Steve and I were both exhausted when we still had two miles of the downhill to go, but one step at a time, we made it back to the trailhead. We were blessed to have cloud cover for those last two miles and to get back to our vehicle before the storm hit. As we got in the van, it began to rain.

We are grateful to the Lord for the health that allows us to hike a 14er, especially considering Steve’s coronary artery disease, angina, and stents last year. He didn’t have any hint of angina during our hikes indicating the diet is working well. We don’t take for granted our hiking together, knowing that there will come a time when we can no longer do it, and that each hike might be our last. 

Trusting in Jesus,

“His foundation is in the holy mountains” (Psalm 87:1). 

Hike on Pike’s Peak

Steve and I decided a good training hike for a possible 14er our second week in Colorado would be to hike a ways up Pike’s Peak, (on the Barr trail) while we were staying in Colorado Springs the first week. Pike’s Peak is a 26 mile round trip 14er, not something we would be capable of doing in a day.

We arrived at the trailhead at 4:30 a.m. so we hiked the first 1.5 hours in the dark using headlamps. That gave us beautiful views of the lights of Colorado Springs. It also gave us quite a surprise at about 2 miles up.

Steve and Teri Maxwell

There we reached a place where we had to climb some steep steps. They were so steep, we had to lean forward and use our hands for support for the next step, much like climbing a ladder. After about ten or twelve of those steps, thinking we must be about done with them, we looked up, since it was just getting to be a bit light, only to see the steps go on and on and on. We both knew we couldn’t make it up them. So we began to slowly clamber back down.

This is a view down the steps.

About that time, a very fit young man passed us going up the steps. In our conversation with him, we discovered we had made a wrong turn in the dark (just a few feet back), left the Barr trail that goes to Pike’s Peak, and had gotten on the Manitou Incline. The Manitou Incline is a series of 2,744 steps that gain 2,000 feet elevation in a little less than a mile.

We backtracked and found the trail again. We were impressed as we hiked on to find out that some people (obviously quite fit) climb the Manitou Incline and then run down the Barr trail. We met several of them as we continued our hike.

At about 2.5 miles up the trail, we stopped to talk to some hikers who were taking a break. When we picked up our hike, we hadn’t realized we were at a junction and ended up heading the wrong direction for about a half mile before discovering our mistake.

We hoped to make it to the Pike’s Peak base camp, which is about 6.5 miles up the trail, but decided with the extra mileage of our wrong turn and how long we had been hiking, that we should turn around at the 5 mile marker.

We were happy we did. Going down, the temperatures quickly rose to close to 90, and for the last 3 miles we were hotter than we have ever been on a Colorado hike. In the end, we clocked 12.25 miles with 2600 feet elevation gain. From start to finish, it took us 6.5 hours.

Trusting in Jesus,

“And the heavens shall declare his righteousness:
for God is judge himself. Selah” (Psalm 50:6).

Colorado Get away

Steve and Teri Maxwell

This year we didn’t think we would go to Colorado. The timing simply didn’t work out with the girls’ schedules and work projects.

Through the years of our marriage, we have tried to have at least one weekend away a year, but that hadn’t happened for us since 2017. Also starting with our 25th anniversary, we have taken a longer trip with just the two of us every five years. For our 45th, last year, it didn’t happen. So at the last minute this year—just two weeks before leaving—we made plans for a husband/wife vacation.

There is something else special about this trip. Since we got married on my birthday, we always celebrate my birthday on the 17th with the family and then celebrate our anniversary another time. This year we celebrated Mary and my birthday together on the 15th, drove to Colorado on the 16th, and celebrated our anniversary on the 17th.

We will spend a week in Colorado Springs doing our walks at altitude. Steve saw his cardiologist the end of July and was given the go-ahead again for strenuous hiking at altitude. The caution was that he listens to his body. We felt the time in Colorado Springs before going to higher elevation would be good for both of us. Then we will head up to Buena Vista, our normal Colorado vacation spot for the next week.

We look forward to beautiful long walks, time with the Lord, extra reading, writing, prayer time, and just being together without the normal responsibilities of daily life.

We brought most of our own food that fits Steve’s eating regime, but we also had an anniversary date at our favorite—Longhorn Steak House. And we have a few other treats with us since it is vacation and not the norm!

We miss our girls because except for our 25th anniversary trip out here, they have always been with us. They had such sweet and encouraging words and hearts to us about coming when they couldn’t. They bless us in so many ways —even something like that!

Trusting in Jesus,

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be
joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great
mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let
every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the
wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:31-33).

Handies Peak

As the sun cast its golden rays, it was a beautiful sight.

To get to the trailhead for the 14er Steve and I could do, Jesse rented a jeep. We left the cabin at 4:15 a.m. and were hiking about 6:30. Because it was a short 14er—5.5 miles—we didn’t need to start hiking in the dark. 

The hike began above the treeline, and we enjoyed several varieties of beautiful wildflowers, especially in the first mile of the hike. 

We also saw a type of bird we hadn’t seen before and haven’t identified. Anyone know what they are (see the picture below)? They were lying among the rocks, and looked so much like the rocks we could hardly discern them, even when they were pointed out right next to us.

You can click into this picture to see it bigger.
Jesse Maxwell
Mary and Anna Maxwell

A little over halfway up, it appeared we could have rain moving in so Anna, Jesse, and Mary took off at a fast pace to summit in case we needed to turn back. Steve and I just continued plodding along. The weather held, and Steve and I summitted as well after three hours of hiking.

After a quick ascent, Anna took this picture of Jesse and Mary.
Steve and me coming up.
Jesse is very knowledgable of the surrounding peaks
The Maxwells on top of Handies Peak

We didn’t stay long on top because of the incoming weather, but long enough to get a few photos and take in the amazing panorama of God’s creation. The others had been there long enough to enjoy the views and get pretty cold with lower temperatures and wind.

Anna found herself a great recliner rock on the way down
Notice how much the light changed by mid-day.

For our week in Colorado, Steve planned progressively more difficult hikes every other day, with a rest day in between, to make sure his body was able to take on a 14er after his stents in March and be as acclimated to the altitude as possible. He did great and was happy to be carrying 30 pounds less body weight up the mountain too! 

If you are wondering where Sarah was for this hike, she was at the cabin working on her next book. She has developed some altitude sickness the past couple of years that make it increasingly unpleasant for her to hike at altitude. So she takes advantage of the 14er hikes to have hours of writing solitude in a writer’s paradise. She’s currently brainstorming and plotting the outline and structure for the sequel to Finding Change.

Sarah walked to a little coffee shop
Enjoying the mountain views and quietness
Jesse with the jeep

While we love 14er hikes, this is our greatest joy: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Part of those hikes for each of us is praise, worship, and thanksgiving to our glorious Creator.

Trusting in Jesus,

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”
Psalm 8:3-4

Colorado Odds and Ends

We had a delightful time in Colorado and arrived home last night. There is something refreshing about leaving your normal routine/work schedule and being away. The mountains truly are a symbol of God’s majesty. Saturday evening, we took our family photo next to a gorgeous mountain stream.

We have more hikes to share about but in the meantime, here are some random pictures.


The little grocery store wasn’t your typical store–but it had most groceries.
The girls brainstorming ideas for their Bible club.
The VRBO cabin we stayed at in Lake City.
Dad grilling for us
On our way out of the mountains, we stopped in the town we normally vacation near. Some of us went for a short little hike after church.
We enjoyed sweet fellowship with our friends outside of Denver.
We helped them with some projects, including cooking.
Jesse working
With our friends, we made desserts with at least one unusual ingredient, and then let our families vote on them.
The brothers cut and served the desserts so that things would stay more anonymous.
Yesterday, on our final leg of the trip, we stopped by friends to share a meal with them.

“Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the
glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in
the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom,
O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.”
1 Chronicles 29:11

Two Miles Short of Expectation

We are so grateful to have this time away in the mountains. Since Lake City, Colorado, is all new territory for us, we’re enjoying our exploring.

On Mary’s birthday, we wanted to climb a mountain we can see from our cabin — a 12 or 13er.

We started bright and early and enjoyed our time hiking.

Lots of beautiful aspen

When we got above the treeline, the views were so pretty.

We climbed to this scenic overlook and made some decisions. Based on the time, the looming clouds, and the distance yet to go, we decided not to attain the top. We were about a mile short of getting to the top. 🙂

Dad and Mom

Since we’d taken two vehicles to the trailhead, Jesse took the descent fast, so he could get a half-day of work in. We girls went a little further for an adventure and later caught up with Dad and Mom who headed down.

The clouds continued to build.

As we enjoyed a break (can you spot Anna on a recliner rock?), the storm with lightning began to move in.

The storm added some moisture and the lightning a little drama to the end of the hike but thankfully we were below the tree line.

Anna signing out of the trail log book
FaceTime with Calia and Elissa

We finished with a treat for the birthday girl in town. Happy Birthday!

“I press toward the mark for the prize of
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:14