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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Father's Day weekend in the San Juans

As previously mentioned, I had injured my knee on Sunshine Peak on St. Patrick's Day.  I had tried physical therapy, and even though I had a great physical therapist and I worked hard, my knee was still having issues after a couple months of therapy.  Some days were ok, others I could barely walk a mile down the street without significant pain in my knee.  So, on June 15th 2012 I went back to the knee surgeon and he told me that my right knee was more than likely going to need surgery to fix some patellea tendonitis in my knee.  He also suggested that we try a cortisone shot before jumping to surgery, and that this may allow me to get a little bit of fun out of my summer.  
The mere thought of being able to hike 14ers again was enough for me to jump to a "Yes!".  So, after a cortisone shot on Friday, the wife and both kids and I headed out to the Black Canyon with no intention of hiking 14ers... but these things just happen sometimes.
Friday and Saturday night we were camping at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison on the south rim.  After some pretty bad freeze dried food Friday night, the kids were less than happy with me, but we did get to see a decent sunset that night.  So after some card games, star gazing, and some story telling, we were in bed ready to sleep off our 5 hour drive from Erie.
That first night I was awoken twice in the middle of the night by my dogs growling and barking.  Both times I jumped out of the tent with the Ruger fully expecting to see a bear or maybe a mountain lion, but apparently my dogs are just scared of deer.  Both times I chased the deer out of our campsite so my dogs would go back to sleep.  

With very little sleep, I got up around 6:30am and cooked a tasty "trash" breakfast for my hungry kids.  Trash breakfast is fresh hash browns, cooked with sausage, eggs, and seasonings.  It's a camp favorite.
After our tasty breakfast, and with the heat of the day already building at 9am, we went exploring the south rim of the Black Canyon.
  




The views at the Black Canyon are unreal.
We went on many little hikes around the south rim in the morning.  It was nearly 100 degrees by lunchtime, and we went back to our campsite and cooked lunch.  Everyone was getting miserable from the heat and trying to find shade, which there is almost none of at our campsite.  So, after lunch, we made the decision to drive down to Ouray, CO in search of something to do to get us out of the heat.

My first time ever in Ouray, and I gotta say that the place is awesome!  Just past Ouray, pulled off the road and hiked in a ways.  I don't even remember the name of this place, but the trail cuts back over the road.


Saturday night back at camp my knee was hurting a bit.  We were trying to decide what to do tomorrow to escape the heat.  So, being a 14er addict, I obviously suggested that we go hike a 14er, thinking there was only a 50/50 chance that my knee would even hold up for this hike.  With a clear weather forecast and almost no chance of t-storms, the wife agreed and the kids followed along in agreement.  I know my son was excited, but I think my daughter agreed just because it was Father's Day on Sunday and she didn't want to put up a fight with Dad on Father's Day.
So at 11pm I was asleep, and I woke at 4:30am and we broke down camp and packed the truck by 5am.   We drove the 100 miles from The Black Canyon to Lake City, CO.  We then bounced up a 15 mile dirt road, and another few miles of 4-wheel drive trail.  We finally started our hike at 9am.  This is a late start by 14er standards, but the forecast was great and not a cloud in the sky when we started.

Me cringing in pain when I tweaked my knee.
My daughter moving easily up the trail.






Early into our hike, my right knee was already paining me a bit, but not enough for me to turn around.  I figured I'd just take it slow.  This trail is easy to follow and the views here are questionably the most beautiful of any 14er in Colorado.
My family is moving faster than me and my gimp knee.

View of the beautiful lake.

Nearing the top, it gets a bit steep, but here the views and adrenaline are powering me, and I begin to fly up this mountain, with no care but making the summit.  My wife and kids are less than thrilled because the wind has picked up a bit at this point.
The family making the final summit push.


Amazing Summit Views!

Best Father's Day Ever!

Eating lunch on the summit all by ourselves.

Me trying new ways of hiking that don't hurt my knees as much.
The descent was uneventful and somewhat painful for my knee, but I had a smile from ear to ear the entire time.  This is the first summit I made in 3 months, and many times I thought I would never summit a 14er again due to the struggles I had with my knee.  I hike down with a smile ear to ear just enjoying life with my beautiful wife (her 3rd 14er), my amazing 13 year old daughter (her 3rd 14er) and my awesome 10 year old son (his 2nd 14er).